Phil Griffin on Manchester as the second city

If you want to know the difference between Manchester and London, then look at World in Action and Panorama – not that World in Action wasn’t a London-based programme, it very largely was – but it took a different editorial slide, and it did something much more boldly and it didn’t… it hesitated now and again, it wanted a face in front of it, but then it decided it wouldn’t have a face, it would have a voice instead, a few voices, Chris Kelly being the most notable. You know, it did things differently in other words. And I think the Tony Wilson line, the line that carries through and underscores Manchester ever after, is, “This is Manchester. We do things differently here.”

And also, by the way, I think that is part of a more globally recognised condition, which is the condition of the second city, and if the second city doesn’t have its voice and it doesn’t have its print, and if it doesn’t have its dialogue, then it’s not taking up its position – so what was coming through the door at Quay Street was only the consequences of Manchester having its second Fleet Street. Because of distances and because of technologies at the time, Manchester in Glasgow had to have prints for their newspapers, so the legacy of that is very, very significant – and also, all sorts of things happened that might be deemed serendipitous now, but the fact Sidney Bernstein actually chose Manchester and chose a location on Quay Street as close to the city centre as he could get at the lowest rent that was available on cleared sides at that time, meant that Granada was in touch with Deansgate and therefore with the Manchester Evening News and Guardian, and therefore with the Daily Mail and Hardman Street and those prints there, and wasn’t that far away from the Express building wasn’t that far away, obviously, from what’s now called the Printworks and has nothing to do with it. But in other words, it found itself cheek by jowl in the same bars, principally in the same bars and the same pubs, as the hacks had been in for a long time.


One of the greatest advantages to being in Manchester is, broadly speaking, you’re a couple of hours away from probably the most important city in the world. And by the way, your relationship with London is a very important one. And don’t deny it, and don’t turn your back on it. Let’s do Chelsea at nine, let’s get those things kicked off, let’s make ourselves familiar in Soho and Water Street and Golden Square as we’re making ourselves familiar on Quay Street, King Street and Deansgate. And I think that acknowledgement, that whilst you’re a second city you sharpen your teeth somewhere in the bars in Soho quite as well as you do in Manchester, and I think that relationship is one that benefited the evolution of Manchester in the second half of the 20th century extremely well. That familiarity with the metropolis. And you didn’t really hear many people mithering on in Quay Street or the Stables bar about, “Cor, blimey, I’ve got to go to London again tomorrow.” It wasn’t like that. The relationship, and basically the kind of metropolitanism of all of that was something that I think Granada used very much to its advantage.

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