Granada Television is the ITV station for the northwest of England, and the producer of many well-known television shows. The station began broadcasting in 1956, and is the only survivor of the original ITV licensees.
   Part of a much larger leisure group, Granada television was founded by Sidney Bernstein, the managing director of a company owning numerous theatres and cinemas around the North of England. Based in Manchester, the company vigorously campaigned for the Northern licence from the newly created ITA in 1954. The licence encouraged television companies to not only broadcast, but to create and produce innovative programming for transmission on the new ITV service. This Granada did, and has continued to do over the years. Its early programming reflected the local area, none more so than Coronation Street, Britain’s first twice-weekly soap opera (see soap operas), and the world’s longest running television drama programme. Started in 1960, the Street, as it is affectionately known, became Granada’s flagship programme, quickly gaining a dedicated audience with viewing figures topping 19 million in the late 1980s. Other early programming included arts documentaries, one of which gave the Beatles their first television appearance in 1961. Other innovative programming by Granada included the launch in 1963 of a weekly current affairs programme, World in Action, which has won over fifty awards for television journalism since its introduction. Adaptations from novels, such as Brideshead Revisited (1981), A Kind of Loving (1983) and The Jewel in the Crown (1984), also enhanced Granada as a quality programme maker, a fact underlined by Channels magazine (a US media publication) describing the firm as ‘the best television company in the world’.
   The ever-changing face of television broadcasting has meant that Granada has had to move with the times. The company introduced a new cable and satellite network in 1996, adding four more stations to their ever-expanding empire, which includes London Weekend Television (LWT), taken over by Granada in 1995.
   Programming for other networks, including University Challenge and What the Papers Say for the BBC, is also a major part of Granada’s ethos, as is the production of feature films, upholding the belief that the British film industry can only survive with the financial backing of companies such as Granada and Channel 4. Determinedly populist but renowned for its quality, Granada has become both the most successful and the most powerful of all the independent television companies.
   Further reading
    Nown, G. (1985) Coronation Street 1960-85, London: Ward Lock.

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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