Granada Theatres Ltd was the first group to attempt to apply for a commercial television licence long before they were actually advertised, writing to the Postmaster General from 1948 onwards. The group, run by brothers Sidney and Cecil Bernstein, had the concentration of their cinemas in the south but eventually opted to bid for the northern licence. They later told the Pilkington Committee: “The North and London were the two biggest regions. Granada preferred the North because of its tradition of home-grown culture, and because it offered a chance to start a new creative industry away from the metropolitan atmosphere of London”.
Initially Granada TV was a coast-to-coast broadcaster covering both sides of the Pennines from the Winter Hill and Emley Moor transmitters – though the latter only came on stream some six months after the launch.
Work had begun on their Quay Street headquarters in August 1955. The designer was Ralph Tubbs who’d built the Dome of Discovery at the Festival of Britain. It was to be Britain’s first purpose-built television studio complex; all the previous ones had been conversions.
On the station’s opening night on 3 May 1956 amongst the delights of Arthur Askey and (an inebriated) Quentin Reynolds was a Tribute to the BBC introduced by former BBC-man Aidan Crawley. Whilst acknowledging the debt it had made to broadcasting it effectively threw down the gauntlet to the Corporation.
Some 36 years later BBC TV celebrated the work of Granada in a theme night on BBC2.
Part of evening’s viewing included this documentary From the North with contributions from such Granada luminaries as Denis Forman, Jeremy Isaacs, Gus MacDonald, Tim Hewat, Silvio Narizzano, Leslie Woodhead, Derek Granger and Michael Apted.
From the North was broadcast on 28 December 1992.
Goodbye Granadaland goes out at 20.30 on Saturday 15 June 2013 on ITV1
Source:Granada: The First 25 Years (BFI Dossier 1981)