I remember the old caption From the North on the captions, and that was very much Plowright’s mantra. And the Studio Tour is evidence of how Granada saw its place in the region.
I think the Studio Tours was an idea that came out of a will to advertise itself and to let people have a look in at the mystery of what television was. I don’t think anybody really in the 80s and 90s had much of a clue about what was happening from the box in the corner. They watched it but had no real clue about what happened behind it, how it actually arrived on their screen, and I think having Granada looking at all sorts of business venture and branding and expanding the brand and expanding the forward-facing element of Granada out to the country and out to the world, they looked at, I guess, the Disney model, I don’t know, looking at the brand of Disney and making a theme of it, a difficult concept in downtown Manchester/Salford border around the side of the Irwell, is quite a challenge, but it had its roots there. I think it was an interesting concept which was slightly skewed in its delivery – it wasn’t big enough, it didn’t have enough variety, but it tried like mad to show you what was behind the scenes of, you know, a studio, Coronation Street, make-up areas… it was themed. It was a commercial venture, it had shops selling merchandise – I’ve still got a couple of Rovers Return models that came out of the Studio Tours, so yes, they were trying to expand the brand and attract people, but I think it had a couple of calamities – there was an overhead railway system for a ride, a little ride that went around that never, ever worked properly, and it was probably was too small a site, and also too open a site, so if it rained you were a bit stuck. But I thought it was an interesting concept, though it may have been slightly better if they’d had a bigger site to put it on.