Saturday, 26 February 2011
The North - Pt. 10: Granada TV and 'The Street'
More text that never made the edit on the current project:
Granada Television represented a significant piece in the puzzle of 'The North' that I put together as a child.
It was a progressive, regional enterprise that unpicked the cultural monopoly represented by the alien BBC Received Pronunciation voice of London. Through Granada a regional accent that I recognized - the sardonic, flat Lancashire voice - entered the proliferating televisions then beginning to arrive in the homes of ordinary people. At Granada, in the pivotal years, the entrepreneur shook hands with the auteur and went for a drink. It embraced a new generation of drama writers, actors, directors and producers - and investigative journalism (the groundbreaking 'World In Action' from 1963 and 'Seven Up!' from 1964) with a global reach, to boot.
In my imagination, as I grew older - out on a limb in the Lake District – there coalesced a myth of Manchester formed from the wit of good writing and performances, plus provocative film-making with a heart. For the reality - hats off to the likes of Ray Gosling, Tony Wilson, Anna Ford, Pattie Caldwell, Gordon Burns, Trevor Hyett and Bob Greaves and, for the imagination, I'd like to tip the hat also to those behind 'The Squirrels', 'The Cuckoo Waltz', 'The Lovers' and – that most special police series (it's as if 'The Sweeney' were written by Pinter or Ibsen) 'Strangers' - starring Don Henderson, Dennis Blanch, John Ronane, Frances Tomelty, Fiona Mollison, Mark McManus and Thorley Walters.
And, in closing, none more marvellous than 'Coronation Street', which – at 50 years young, continues to flourish. The basic humanity that creator Tony Warren set in place with his initial episodes remains, and the constant thread of humour which leavens the dramatic mix is, I think, what sustains the show over the histrionics and misery of certain other Southern counterparts. That and an extraordinarily good, consistently surprising cast and writing team.
The achievement of the '50th Anniversary Week' of episodes - including a flawless hour-long 'live' segment - is startling.
My own appreciation of this national institution may be detected between the lines of the accompanying sketchbook image. As with every other image here, if you click on it, it gets bigger.
Relish the detail and read the roll-call!