Granada Studios

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Granada Studios
The Old Granada Studios
Granada TV.jpg
Granada House with the original two-storey studios in the foreground. The broadcasting tower and the red Granada TV logo on Granada House have since been removed
Former names The Manchester Studios Granada (1956–71)
Alternative names The Manchester Studios
3SixtyMedia Studios[1]
General information
Type Former Television studios (Granada)
Location Manchester, United Kingdom
Address Quay Street
M60 9EA
Coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Construction started 1954
Completed 1962[2]
Inaugurated 3 May 1956 (first broadcast)
Renovated 1987 (for Granada Studios Tour)
2006 (to Bonded Warehouse)
Closed June 2013
Renovation cost £3m (1987)
Owner 3SixtyMedia (80% ITV Studios and 20% BBC Resources)[3]
Design and construction
Architect Ralph Tubbs
Other designers Sidney Bernstein[4]

Granada Studios (also known as Quay Street Studios and affectionately as Granadaland) were television studios on Quay Street in Manchester with the facility to broadcast live and film drama programmes. They were the headquarters of Granada Television (then Granada Media Group and later ITV Granada) between 1956 and 2013. At the time of their closure, the studios were the oldest operating purpose-built television studios in the United Kingdom.[5]

The studios were home to the world's longest-running serial drama, Coronation Street, and other long-running shows such as the quiz show University Challenge and the current affairs documentary series World in Action. Firsts at the studios include The Beatles' first television performance in 1962 and the first general election debate in 2010.[6]

Until 2010 the main building, Granada House, had a red neon "Granada TV" sign on the roof, which was a landmark for rail passengers travelling from the west into Manchester city centre.[7] A decorative broadcasting tower was erected at the behest of Sidney Bernstein to give the studios an embellished and professional appearance. At its top, this tower had an enclosed, steerable, microwave dish which, pre-satellite, provided line of sight outside broadcast links to the company's 'Eagle Tower' vehicles. There were three main studios, each covering over 4,500 square feet (420 m2).

The studios were owned by ITV Studios and BBC Resources through a joint venture company, 3SixtyMedia. After a dip in production during the early 2000s,[8] the studios underwent a revival from 2009 until their closure. Countdown moved to Manchester from the Leeds Studios in 2009. Programmes such as John Bishop's Britain, The Chase, Divided, Take Me Out and High Stakes were recorded here and the studios hosted the first ever General Election debate in April 2010.

The studios closed in June 2013, and ITV Granada and ITV Studios moved to MediaCityUK in Salford Quays and Trafford Quays. Granada House is not a listed building but will nonetheless be retained as part of new proposals by Allied London. This will generally consist of exhibition space and a new bespoke hotel.[9] Plans have also emerged for the refurbishment of Ralph Tubbs's Granada House to B+ office space, rather than demolishing the building.[10]

Although there have been calls to maintain the Coronation Street set little appetite exists with local authorities keen to free up new prime city centre land for further commercial development opportunities such as the continuing Spinningfields development.[11] In 2013 the site was sold for £26 million.[12]


After Granada secured the contract for broadcasting to the North of England on weekdays, the company built a television studio complex while the BBC, Associated Rediffusion, ATV and ABC (Granada's weekend counterparts) converted film studios, cinemas and churches for television use. The difficulty was that equipment for film was incompatible and new areas were required for playout and transmission facilities. Granada bypassed these problems by creating new studios.

Sidney Bernstein chose its base for northern operations from Leeds, Liverpool[13] and Manchester.[14] Granada executive, Victor Peers, believed Manchester was the preferred choice even before Granada executives, Peers, Denis Forman, Reg Hammans and Sidney Bernstein, toured possible locations.[14][15] One site was identified by Hammans in Leeds and three were found in Manchester which convinced Bernstein to explore further.[15] Two sites were deemed expensive, and another in Salford Quays was rejected by Bernstein as inadequate.[16] A site on Quay Street in Manchester city centre owned by Manchester City Council was bought for £82,000.[14] The land supposedly hosted a cemetery containing pauper's graves, where 22,000 people were buried.[17] Part of the Manchester and Salford Junction Canal, which linked the River Irwell to the Rochdale Canal from 1839 to 1922, ran in tunnel underneath the site.

The Granada Studios main entrance


The studios were designed by Ralph Tubbs, but Sidney Bernstein was instrumental in influencing designs and giving regular plan briefings.[18] Bernstein was believed to have some architectural knowledge despite no experience or formal training,[18] and was referred to as a "genial tyrant" by former colleague Jeremy Issacs for his influence in many decisions at Granada.[19] In his memoirs, Forman noted that, "Anyone who witnessed Sidney at work in one of these sessions had to acknowledge his practical genius as an architect" as Bernstein lectured and demonstrated his plans for the studios to colleagues.[16] Forman wrote that Tubbs looked "sometimes enthusiastic, sometimes disconsolate"[16] during Bernstein's lecture briefings.

The logo which adorned the building was in a period font and remained in position from 1961 until 2010. Bernstein, keen to save money, had the studios built in a modular, sequential cycle – so new facilities were not built unless there was demand. This led to a jumbled appearance as the company expanded and renovated the site which encompassed a bonded warehouse built in the Victorian era.

The original studios were in a two-story building on Quay Street. Bernstein stipulated in 1956 the company needed the bare minimum of studio space and was unwilling to invest in facilities that would rarely be used.[20] This was the reason construction took from 1954 to 1962 and the save money at all costs mantra was reflective Sidney Bernstein's business plan. Facilities expanded and a tower block was built next and studios expanded over time. From time to time, as extra production, rehearsal or office space was temporarily required, various adjacent buildings were annexed. These included warehouses on the opposite side of Water Street, the buildings between Quay Street and New Quay Street and the old school premises directly opposite the tower block.


In 2000, the Granada Studios were taken over by 3SixtyMedia, a joint venture between Granada Television and BBC Manchester. Granada produced many programmes for the BBC such as University Challenge, The Royle Family and What The Papers Say[21] and the link allowed the BBC use of the three large studios compared with one at New Broadcasting House. Production on programmes normally filmed at Studio A (which was subsequently mothballed but later reused to high demand) transferred to Granada Studios such as A Question of Sport.[22]

The warehouse next to Granada Studios where Granada house offices and produce some programmes such as Granada Reports[23]

In 2002, the studio's reception area was moved from the eastern end of the tower block off Atherton Street, to the western end inside the compound so visitors passed through a secure area before accessing the non-public reception. The old reception area is now unused. Granada unveiled plans to move into the bonded warehouse adjacent to Granada House in 2003.[24] One of the four studios would be decommissioned as part of the move,[24] but this plan was postponed as plans for the BBC to move production to Manchester emerged.

Asbestos was found at the studios in October 2002, but not removed until spring 2006 costing of thousands of pounds.[25] The renovation meant programmes such as Mastermind and An Audience with Coronation Street were moved to The Leeds Studios and The London Studios respectively.[25] In 2006, the 21 acre studio facility employed approximately 1,200 people.[24]

After the BBC selected MediaCityUK as its new Manchester operating base, Granada progressed its £18m move to the bonded warehouse.[26] About 800 office employees moved to the renovated warehouse, leaving 400 employees in the Granada building which houses three studios.[27][citation needed]

The iconic "Granada TV" sign on Manchester skyline, remained in place on the roof and sides of the buildings until September 2010 despite rebranding and the merger between Granada and Carlton. A safety check revealed the signs, that had been in place since the 1950s, were severely corroded and unsafe. They were removed from the penthouse suite in October 2010. Other signs remain on the side of the tower and on either side of the small building on Quay Street. A large ITV logo by the entrance has been placed next to the gate. By the entrance to the studio tour, the signs have been removed and replaced with the ITV logo, and the Granada name painted over.


Despite its iconic status, Granada House has been described as a "1960s nightmare" by staff.[28]

The merger between Granada plc and Carlton Communications to form ITV plc created speculation that the Quay Street complex would be sold. In 2004, a plan for the production centre to be sold for development and the regional news centre and staff moved into the bonded warehouse in the complex. Production would move to Yorkshire Television's Leeds Studios, and other centres including independent facilities.

The company negotiated with Peel Holdings with a view to relocating to Trafford Wharf, next to Imperial War Museum North and the MediaCityUK development. The proposal meant the outdoor Coronation Street set would need to be relocated, and plans to create a media hub at Quay Street abandoned. The discussions continued for many years but in March 2009, Granada reported that due to the poor financial climate, it would remain at Quay Street "for the foreseeable future". Talks resumed in January 2010 after a change of management at ITV plc and Granada announced on 16 December 2010 that it would move production and ancillary staff to the Orange Building in the MediaCityUK complex to produce Granada Reports and production of Coronation Street would take place at a facility across the Manchester Ship Canal in Trafford Park on Trafford Wharf. The new facility, which opened in early 2014, has two large studios with production units, set storage, dressing rooms, space for interior sets and a new outdoor set.


It appears likely that the Quay Street site will be sold for development dependent on Manchester City Council's agreement as the council owns land on the site. It would be a prime redevelopment site regardless of the studios' historical importance. A 2003 article in the Daily Telegraph estimated the plot of land which the Granada House building sits on could sell for £15m,[29] a speculative figure considering the economic situation in 2011.

In 2012, a planning application had been made to list some parts of the studios. This includes the Coronation Street building and the Granada House building. A decision is believed to be made by April 2012 and would save parts of the site from demolition.[30] This is believed to include the Coronation Street set and possibly Granada House, while the Bonded Warehouse to the west of the studio complex is already listed.

Granada Studios Tour

The Granada Studios Tour entrance in 2006

The Granada Studios Tour operated from 1989 to 1999 and gave the public the opportunity to visit the Coronation Street set and explore other Granada productions. Although such theme parks based on television and film had been successful in the United States, the idea of such a scheme was unprecedented for a British television company. John Williams, head of studio operations at Granada, promoted the project to provide a new revenue stream for Granada,[31] the only television company to embark on such a venture. The park featured a replica of No. 10 Downing Street, and visitors were shown how television is produced, had the opportunity to present a weather forecast and learned about special effects.[citation needed] The main feature of the tour was the set of Coronation Street, which allowed visitors access to the street.[citation needed]

In 1997, Granada built Skytrak, a "flying roller-coaster" which tilted riders forward as the ride progressed. Skytrak, an uncomfortable ride, was considered a failure and was plagued by mechanical unreliability. Nevertheless, it was the first roller-coaster of its type in the world.[32]

The tour was initially popular, attracting 5.5 million visits between 1988 and 1999,[33] but the attraction fell into disrepair as Granada concentrated on other priorities such as the launch of OnDigital (ITV Digital) in the late 1990s. Visitor numbers waned and the tour closed in 1999.[33] The entrance to the park remains, but the Granada Studios Tour sign has been removed and painted over.


Live studios

The studio complex comprised the original building and office block accessible from Quay Street, with other studios around the complex. When completed, Granada's studios were numbered evenly to falsely embellish the size of the complex and make Granada Television appear to be a large broadcaster. Granada Studios main studios – Studio 6, 8 and 12 – were housed in Granada House.[34]

The Studios at the Granada Studios were:

  • Studio 1 – An In Vision Continuity Studio, used by many of the In Vision Continuity announcers for junctions and the late night news from the early Eighties, mothballed in about 1998 and became a storage cupboard.
  • Studio 2 – Formerly home to Granada Reports and the northern operations of ITV News (among the first operations to move to MediaCityUK, on 25 March 2013).
  • Studio 4 – A small in vision continuity studio was mothballed, then converted into offices and later part of reception.
  • Studio 6 – A compact studio measuring 414m² (4,456 ft²). It was intended to be mothballed to reduce maintenance costs in 2003, but was reprieved after programme production increased (largely due to becoming home to The Jeremy Kyle Show).[24]
  • Studio 8 – A medium-sized studio measuring 491m² (5,285 ft²) with a capacity of 240, historically has been used for filming quiz shows such as University Challenge.
  • Studio 10 – Not in the studio complex. Studio 10 was at the Chelsea Palace Theatre, London and used for interviews and filming acts outside Manchester. It was sold by Granada in the 1960s.[35]
  • Studio 12 – A large studio measuring 733m² (7,889 ft²) with a capacity of 524 is used for entertainment shows. The Beatles filmed their first television performance in this studio and the studio hosted the First Election Debate in 2010.[36]

In addition to the original studios, there are other studios located around the complex. The Garden Studio was located in the garden, south of the tower, and is 477m² and used for interview based programmes or press shoots.

Drama studios

Granada Studios backlot which features the Coronation Street sets

The Starlight Theatre was part of the Granada Studios Tour changed into two studios of 700m² and 424m². It was used for drama productions and late-night ITV Play programming. It is located in the southwest corner of the site. The Blue Shed which measures 1577m² is not available for public hire.

Post production facilities are located in the tower block as are green rooms and other guest facilities. The site contains the set of Coronation Street on the south of the site, and the bonded warehouse on south west.

Granada backlot – Coronation Street set

Adjacent to the main studio building and behind the Bonded Warehouse is the Coronation Street set. This version of the set was first created in 1982, but was replaced in January 2014 by a new set at ITV's new facility in Trafford Wharf Road.[citation needed]

Productions at Granada Studios

See List of television programmes set, produced or filmed in Manchester for further productions made at Granada and in Manchester

Programmes recorded at Granada


This list includes fictional programmes or documentaries that were/are produced or partly filmed at The Manchester Studios. This list includes productions from Granada Television, Red Production Company and RSJ Films who are all based at The Studios

See also



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  • Cox, Michael (2003). Granada Television: The First Generation. Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-6515-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Fitzwalter, Raymond (2008). The Dream That Died: The Rise and Fall of ITV. Matador. ISBN 1-906221-83-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Forman, Denis (1997). Persona Granada: Memories of Sidney Bernstein and the Early Years of Independent Television. Andre Deutsch. ISBN 978-0-233-98987-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links