TV Pop Diaries
Pop Music on British Television 1955 - 1999


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Tea-Time Pop on Granada 1968 - 1987


The big arrow points to tea-time.


For reasons best known to themselves cinema took a great interest in ITV. Their obvious purpose would have been to sabotage it as, if ITV had got its act together, it could have seen the end of cinema going in Britain. Rank had its fingers in Southern Television, ABC Television was essentially Associated British Picture Corp, while cinema chain owners the Bernstein Brothers looked at the contracts and decided that due to (among other things) Manchester's rainy climate, more people were more likely to spend time at home, so they decided to apply for the north of England franchise. Naming their channel after their Granada movie theatres it began broadcasting weekdays from the 3rd May 1956. Although Granada was known as Manchester's station for the first twelve years it also had to cover Yorkshire, so it also had a base in Leeds. For the first few years they also covered North Wales.


Although they had early success with music and variety shows like Spot The Tune, and Chelsea at Nine it didn't necessarily target the younger audience. But they did broadcast some early evening music shows like Here's Humph and Melody Ranch, but they were the wrong side of 6pm. It wasn't until May 1959 that they tried a tea-time show with some pop content. Orig Yr Ifanc featured some Welsh language rock and roll acts, way ahead of the BBC's Disc A Dawn about ten years' later. Granada just didn't seem that bothered with children's shows, however they did however work with Gerry Anderson on Four Feather Falls in 1961 with the singing voice of Michael Holliday.


Granada had introduced Scene at 6.30 from 1963 which had many pop stars, while future pop stars Davy Jones and Peter Noone appeared in Coronation Street, but again this was still the wrong side of six o'clock. In 1967 the Firstimers talent show was broadcast at tea-time but was not really aimed at a kids audience.


However, with the franchise changes implemented in 1968 they seemed to have a change of heart about tea-time programming and went for the one person that could do it for them.


The one single, wonderful thread that ran through Granada's tea-time output between the years 1968 - 1986 was Muriel Young. Over the years she was auntie Muriel to some viewers, she was the one nice teacher at school to others, but in reality she was someone who knew and cared about what we liked and just gave it to us. Benevolence. She knew we were at home now, not at school and although children want to play, they like to hear stories, pop music and silly jokes too. She had experience in many areas of entertainment, as an actress, as a DJ on Radio Luxembourg, as an announcer on Associated Rediffusion, and later as a presenter of Rediffusion tea-time shows like Tuesday Rendezvous and Five O'Clock Club. It was this array of talent that brought her to Granada as a producer in the late sixties. It also brought Olly Beak and Fred Barker, but that's another story. Even though she was now behind the scenes her name at the end of each show was an assurance that it was going to be good and she would never waste our time. Muriel Young made a station that didn't bother into the primary player. It is to her and the others like her that this whole site is dedicated.


A number of the shows below are also covered in the A-Z section.


Hats Off

31st July 1968 - 23rd October 1968

A new beginning for Granada, this being their first proper tea-time show with pop music guests, but it somehow suggested a link to what had gone before as not only did it feature pop acts like The Rockin' Berries, Dr Marigold's Prescription, Marty Wilde, Don Partridge and Amen Corner but also tea-time veteran Shirley Abicair. It was produced by Rod Taylor and hosted by Jimmy Thompson, who introduced pop music between the variety acts. It lasted just the one series and gave way to...


The Discotheque

1st November 1968 - 23rd April 1969

Covered elsewhere in the A-Z section of this site the show was hosted by Merseybeat legend Billy J Kramer. This was not only Granada's first full-time tea-time pop show, but also the first Granada show that Muriel Young was in charge of. It had quite an amazing guest list over its six month life-span, featuring Elton John, The Idle Race, David Essex, Leslie Duncan, The Herd, Blossom Toes, The Locomotive, Eire Apparent, The Chants, Clyde McPhatter, The Move, The Iveys and many others that kids wouldn't necessarily have heard of. If John Peel had hosted a kids show, it would have been this one. On 19th February 1969 singer/actress Ayshea Brough performed her new single, Another Night. Muriel Young must have been impressed with her and made a note of her name as she was invited to help host the show from 19th March 1969.


Lift Off / Lift Off With Ayshea

5th November 1969 - 17th December 1974

Basically Discotheque with a new name, but this time the hosting emphasis would be on Ayshea Brough. Her co-host Graham Bonney would leave after the first series, but an old friend of Muriel Young would replace him. Ex-Five O’Clock Club regular Fred Barker, voiced by Wally Whyton would help create a new double act with Ayshea. The show would give us a glimpse of glam with early appearances of bands like Sweet, and among the many highlights was David Bowie's Starman from 1972, a full two weeks before the more famous Top Of The Pops version. Marc Bolan's appearance on the show in 1973 was apparently because of his fondness for Fred Barker. Lift Off was the best and most loved tea-time pop show of the seventies.


45 / Rock On With 45

4th April 1974 - 28th August 1975

Hosted by Emperor Rosko this was another one of Muriel Young's shows, but this one would rely on new talent. Ayshea appeared on the second show, suggesting some kind of continuity. The first series appeared to fill in the gap between series of Lift Off. It would play host to the tail end of glam with appearances by Slade, The Bay City Rollers, Geordie, Gary Glitter and the like while the second series, now hosted by Dave 'Kid' Jensen kicked off with Supertramp, Ace and The Pretty Things, suggesting that the album chart was being targeted. This second series played on a Tuesday while Lift Off was on Thursday. But despite the talent on offer the show was not networked across ITV.


Shang-A-Lang

1st April 1975 - 26th August 1975

Muriel Young in something a coup caught the Rollers at the summer of their success, but it only lasted the one series. It not only captured the deranged scream of Rollermaina, but also through embarrassing between songs patter revealed them up as the shy, or ego driven personalities they actually were.


Look Alive

14th October 1975 - 6th January 1976

Hosted by Stephanie De Sykes and another show that lasted only the one series. This long-forgotten show not only featured pop, but also fashion, so in the post-glam era it seemed to be aimed more at girls. Ayshea Brough made an appearance as her recording career continued after Lift Off was cancelled.


The Arrows

2nd March 1976 - 21st December 1976

Muriel Young, producer at Granada had been looking for a proper replacement for the Bay City Rollers' Shang-A-Lang series and had seen the band perform their flop Hard Hearted on Granada's Look Alive in November 1975 and gave them to chance to audition, leading to the series. The band, however good they might have been, never got the support they deserved from their record company, leading to just a couple of small hits. Maybe if the show had been given to Hello or Kenny it might have worked better, but then again, neither of those bands wrote I Love Rock N Roll.


Get It Together

6th April 1977 - 22nd December 1981

This one looked like something of a step backwards, as the show seemed to target a much younger audience. The cheerful hosts sang the very jolly theme tune, and smiled throughout the whole show, like a pop version of Play School. Like Stephanie De Sykes and Ayshea before them the hosts also sang songs in the show. But it worked, and was on the air for over four and a half years, nearly outpacing Lift Off. But this was not the one you talked about the day after at school. Fred Barker and Ollie Beak were brought back, so that was worth watching.


Marc

24th August 1977 - 28th September 1977

Maybe it was the intention to have two shows for two audiences. Get It Together was aimed at the under teens, while Marc took care of the snotty, punk wannabee teenage crowd. Bolan was back in the UK after his tax exile and American adventures and wanted to place himself firmly where he thought he belonged, with the new wave. After all, many of the punk bands grew up listening to Bowie and Bolan only five years before, although they were too cool to admit it. He ingratiated himself a little by inviting them onto his show, and tried to out-pose them which was a little embarrassing. This was safe punk as it was pre-recorded, so there would be no Sex Pistols / Grundy shenanigans this time around. It was popular and it worked for the guests, but failed to get Bolan back into the top twenty, even his death wouldn't do that.


Blue Jean Set

Autumn 1977

Described by Music Week in March 1977 as a "straight pop show", it never materialsied.


Paul

9th May 1978 - 20th June 1978

There would be no second series for Marc, so another pop star had to be chosen to host the next show. To be fair to Paul Nicholas he had been approached in early 1977 to host a show, but had already agreed to appear in the movie version of the stage musical Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band which meant he would be unavailable. His pop hits in the mid seventies, together with his stage and movie experience made him an obvious choice to host a show, but maybe he would have been better suited to an early evening series like Leo Sayer's. Another show, like Look Alive, that seems to have been forgotten about, and like many others it only lasted one series.


Breakers

27th June 1978 - 1st August 1978

The week after Paul exited the schedules, this showcase for new talent arrived. It wasn't a judged talent show, it gave thirty minutes to show us what they could do. Both Child and The Pleasers already had recording contracts, so they weren't all amateurs, but the public took no notice and the show was cancelled.


Pop Gospel

13th February 1979 - 6th May 1980

An odd one here, produced by Muriel Young as usual, but directed by Michael Dolenz during his time in the UK when he directed many children's shows as well as a few straight dramas for both the BBC and ITV. Featuring Cliff on a few shows, but mostly dependable, but unsuccessful, white gospel poppers, rather than black gospel.


The Solid Gold Top Twenty Show

28th December 1979

A one-off Christmas special, surveying the biggest pop hits of the last twenty years, hosted by Jimmy Pursey, loud-hailer for Sham 69.


Moondogs Matinee

14th April 1981 - 26th May 1981

A bit of a gap until Granada's next tea-time treat, a visit by Northern Ireland's second finest band The Moondogs. Despite Granada's belief in the band the series wouldn't make them stars, but they played host to those that were, both in the studio and on video.


Hold Tight

13th September 1982 - 4th November 1987

Shows like this would now come under the Children's ITV strand, but the ITV companies were still autonomous at this time, so Granada was still able to contribute. Filmed at Alton Towers theme park, it featured many big name chart acts, rather than just newcomers or some of the cheaper cuts from pops casting central. And when I mean big names, how about Public Image Limited and Iggy Pop? As you can see from the previous entries, Granada displayed a bizarre pattern of either allowing shows to run for five years or for just one series. Hold Tight deserved its long run.


Teach Yourself Gibberish

24th September 1982 - 22nd October 1982

Normally shows like this would be scheduled daytime during schools broadcasts, but luckily we all got to see it. Manchester based rock anarchists Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias performed sketches and songs based on a letter of the alphabet each week. Once again, a one series wonder.


Pop Goes Christmas

26th December 1982

Granada produced several one-off pop specials in the first half of the eighties, broadcast from locations like Gibraltar, New Brighton near Liverpool, plus a Guy Fawlkes show hosted by the great Gary Byrd. This was the first of the two broadcast at tea-time and featured current pop stars covering songs from the past. Sadly, the show has become a kind of totem for lazy journalists or compilation show talking heads desperately wanting to prove things are so much better "now", because shows like this were broadcast "then".


Pop Goes New Year

31st December 1983

The second of the tea-time end-of-year specials. There's no demand for a theme this time, so stars like Culture Club, The Eurythmics, Tracey Ullman, The Style Council and others, celebrated the new year just by playing their hits.


Stop That Laughing At The Back

30th September 1987 - 28th October 1987

A justly forgotten comedy show, which sounds a little like 1968's Do Not Adjust Your Set, starring Paul Bradley later of EastEnders and Casualty, but instead of a band like The Bonzos joining in with the gags, this show for some reason chose finger-pointy poppers Hugh and Cry.


By this time Muriel Young was gone and the likes of David Liddiment had taken over. It had to end.