North by Northwest 

27 August 2018 tbs.pm/67299

In 1968, franchise changes at the heart of Independent Television led to the type of “Peyton Place”-type family events all of us have been prone to: shotgun marriage, favouritism, divorce, reprimand, death and dysfunction. We all know who was there, what was said, and the outcomes that occurred… there are many stories, let me relate one of them.

The situation in the North left Granada with a dilemma, not of their own making.

With the area east of the Pennines awarded to Yorkshire Television in June 1967, Granada lost half their area: the departure of their Didsbury neighbour ABC to form a joint venture with Rediffusion, meant that London weekdays were to be programmed by Thames Television with panache and flair.

Granada was left with the North-West over seven days, but Granadaland wasn’t from the North anymore. A change of ident was required on screen to reflect a new era, and to re-establish and maintain local connections with their audience. Also, what would the new companies be providing in terms of programming? Would they lose their unique selling points to them?

The new ITV era established a new house style in idents, what was then a rather trendy idea in 1968 – use the name only. London Weekend and Thames both did this too, although Geoffrey Lugg stated in 1970 that what LWT did was on the advice of an advertising agency, and cost them quite a lot. Thames had the skyline ident with the plain caption, eventually dropping the latter.

Harlech certainly used a more imaginative approach in the optical illusion ident.

The name “GRANADA” between two lines (in Clarendon font in white with a black shadow on a grey background) was used for most of the first year of the new Granada, and there was even an animated frontcap with jingle. Even the salutations “Good Afternoon/Good Evening” failed to provide any real pizzazz.

It’s arguable that it lacks any real defining local characteristic, but the company persisted with it. The new logotype was used on interstitial captions, underlined, even on the ITA Picasso tuning signal. However, a countdown clock was used for start-up purposes, building the kind of dramatic tension associated with the Rediffusion and ABC start-ups pre-July 1968, and matched perfectly with the New March for Granada introduced in November 1967. It was the first sign that Granada were rediscovering their sang-froid, looking to their past to build their future.

The strike that blacked out a lot of the ITV companies in summer 1968 led to lost revenue and a drift in the audience towards the BBC, even during the time of the “National Network” makeshift service. On the return of normal programmes, a lot of contractors – including Granada – felt that to make up for losses and lost time, the need to make popular programming and generate advertising cash had to take priority, so any high-brow pretensions that LWT might hold were irrelevant compared to the need to sell washing powder and entertain the audience.

However, like a lot of ITV companies, they held LWT in contempt, and a lot of the new company’s programmes were either time-shifted or not shown. Examples include the Frost shows, which were placed later in Granada’s schedule on Friday and Saturday, only the Sunday show was placed, like LWT’s schedule, at 9pm. Please Sir and Thingummybob were shown on Mondays at 10.30pm; Complete and Utter History Of Britain and We Have Ways Of Making You Laugh appear not to have been shown on Granada at all. Of course, part of the reason for sidelining the LWT programmes was to enable Granada to put their own programming in prime time slots, or to take popular shows from the likes of ATV. Now that Granada could programme into Saturday and Sunday, they were able to make contributions to sport, religion, documentaries and drama – even to Saturday Special, staging a version of Hair.

The situation around Granada settled, with their North-West audience remaining loyal, and the wider ITV viewers still watching Coronation Street and World In Action, and specials like The Doors Are Open attracting comment and brickbats in equal measure. The quality of programming was widely praised.

The ident, though, looked dull and tired, and with colour TV months away, something different was needed to make the station stand out.

Presciently, there was a promotional sting from the spring/summer of 1969 which had the jingle “You’re looking in on Channel 9 – Granada”. One of a series of blocks had a logo which showed a huge arrow pointing to a rather smaller Granada logotype, before zooming out to reveal a new ident – the company name above a letter G with an arrow pointing to the name. This was to serve the company well for over 40 years, and was used by other branches of Granada company business like TV rental and motorway services. How did this logo come about?

Anecdotally, a graphic artist based at Granada designed the “G-arrow” logo to go on T-shirts worn by kids in a children’s TV contest, which was apparently seen by Sidney Bernstein who viewed activity at each studio from CCTV in his office, and the logo was adopted at his suggestion. After a little research, I have identified the programme as Anything You Can Do, shown on Wednesday May 14th, 1969 at 4.55pm – made by Granada in Manchester and presented by Ed “Stewpot” Stewart, and featuring ATV vs. Granada! I wonder if this show exists on tape?

The new ident redefined the company’s identity, without referring to the North West or the North. Soon enough, the identity crisis passed, with the company serving their new area with zeal and supporting and assisting the viewers and businesses, who returned Granada’s loyalty manifold.

They soon settled into their new Granadaland, not caring about the trials or tribulations recently endured: it was a place where the viewing public had the most generous natures, the biggest hearts and the greatest loyalty. And if you ask anyone of a certain nature where Granadaland was or is, they will always tell you, “the North” or “North-West”. Granada need never have worried in 1968.


You Say

6 responses to this article

Martin Jarvis 27 August 2018 at 6:51 pm

A later edition of ‘Anything You Can Do’ from 1974 appears on the Network DVD ‘Look-Back on 70s Telly – Issue 3’ featuring STV vs UlsterTV.

Jeremy Rogers 28 August 2018 at 3:34 pm

Always thought it rather interesting that all those that eschewed symbols in 1968 went back on that decision within a few years or so (Anglia went through a period in the 60s downplaying its full knight image in favour of just the pennon too).

At least Granada didn’t retreat into initials like HTV or LWT. In both cases this makes the name more cryptic; Harlech possibly deliberately so, finding its name a hindrance outside of the Welsh part of its area where no one could pronounce it properly (!), but LWT lost the power of ‘London’, which ATV and Rediffusion carefully exploited.

bogan 29 August 2018 at 2:47 pm

Listening to the Granada closedown, it’s 1970 and the weather is cold. Colin Weston’s bio. says he spent 18 moths at Granada, starting in late 1968 at the latest, so he left in the middle of 1970 at the latest. This clip is therefore most likely to date from early in 1970, with a frosty night ahead.

Which is apt, since ‘a’ David Frost programme, of some description, has just ended- Frost on Saturday? If so, the most recent series had finished, on LWT, at the end of November 1969 so this might be a first showing – or, perhaps more likely, a repeat. As the great man might’ve said – soo-per.

To put the tin-hat on it, C.W. informs viewers that the then-new UHF service had been on half-power anyway so for anyone who had just shelled out on a brand-new colour telly, it was probably a fuzzy old Frost – if it was viewable at all.

Ed Burek 1 September 2018 at 8:37 pm

Has anyone noticed that the “G-Arrow” logo points squarely on the N of Granada’s wordmark? And in previous idents, the arrow on the original Granada “From The North” idents went right through the N, and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen screen grabs and stills of Granada logos that have the arrow pointing towards or right through the N.

Kif Bowden-Smith 12 September 2018 at 1:53 pm

Yes Ed that was policy on purpose by Granada. N for North! There is an article (partially) about this on our front page called “North by North West” by the excellent Andrew Hesford, one of our top staff writers.
If you see this reply too late and it’s off the front page it will then be in our Television Features (Granada) section..

Kif Bowden-Smith 12 September 2018 at 1:54 pm

Yes Ed that was policy on purpose by Granada. N for North! There is an article (partially) about this on our front page called “North by North West” by the excellent Andrew Hesford, one of our top staff writers.
If you see this reply too late and it’s off the front page it will then be in our Television Features (Presentation) section..

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