TX: Saturday 15 June at 8.30pm on ITV
Granada Studios has dominated the Manchester skyline for the past 56 years – a beacon to the very best in British television. The first television complex to be built in the UK and home to some of the greatest television programmes of all time.
Now, after over half a century, the building will close as ITV moves to its new home in Salford’s Media City. It’s time to switch off the lights with Granada’s biggest fan, Peter Kay, as he goes behind-the-scenes at the iconic Granada building on Manchester's Quay Street.
Using archive clips of some of the well-loved and acclaimed programmes filmed and produced there - from Coronation Street, Prime Suspect, Jewel In the Crown and Stars In Their Eyes, to landmark musical performances including the television debuts of The Sex Pistols, Happy Mondays, Take That and the Beatles – audiences will be taken on a nostalgic and heart warming journey spanning seven decades of programme-making.
Granada has given debuts to some of the comedy giants of the past 56 years, from Woody Allen making his only ever UK stand-up appearance in 1965, through to the broad appeal sitcoms and sketches of the 70s, to the 80s alternative scene and biggest names of the 90s. The strong backing of new generations of northern comedians meant Granada programming enjoyed the talents of comedy legends such as Frank Carson, Victoria Wood and Julie Walters, Steve Coogan, Caroline Aherne and John Thompson.
Pop stars, movie stars, sporting heroes and royalty have all passed through Granada’s gates over the decades and this landmark show brings some of the studios’ most momentous and iconic stories to life.
Peter Kay said: “For me Granada television had always felt like the factory in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. Nobody really knows what goes on inside and nor should they as that's the magic, but tonight we finally shine daylight upon the magic of Granada one last time and bid farewell to a magnificent era."
The documentary tracks the story of Granada from its inception in 1954, including rare archive footage of its co-founders – brothers and entertainment moguls Sidney and Cecil Bernstein, who set out their ambitious vision for the company from the outset: “We still want the best, what’s good enough for London will be good enough for the north, but they want something in addition. What Manchester sees today, London will see eventually.”
The epic story of Granada is told by some of the famous faces that have starred in or worked on its shows. Featuring new interviews with Dame Helen Mirren (Prime Suspect), Lynda La Plante (Prime Suspect writer), Charles Dance (Jewel In the Crown), Matthew Kelly, Sir Michael Parkinson, the stars of Coronation Street, Jeremy Irons, Shaun Ryder and many many more.
Dame Helen Mirren credits the huge impact Granada had on her career: “If I were to break my life up into big chunks, I would say ‘theatre, Granada, and film’. Granada Television created me in many ways.”
The celebratory programme also follows veteran daytime presenters Richard & Judy as they revisit the offices where they began their careers as journalists and fell in love. Plus, Peter Kay gets the behind-the-scenes gossip from unsung heroes like the restaurant staff, security men, wardrobe and props.
From historic performances by the great Sir Laurence Olivier to the gritty reality of The Jeremy Kyle show, the studios have been part of the fabric of British life for almost 60 years.
As ITV prepare to pack away the glitz and glamour, the building’s legacy lives on in the people who have worked there, the audiences who have visited and the millions of people who enjoyed its shows.