Sandy Ross talks about the 1980 ITV licence renewal and the studio in Liverpool

We were coming close now to 1980, Granada was up for licence renewal. David Plowright was masterminding the renewal of the licence process. There was always this issue between Liverpool and Manchester and the fact that the television station was based in Manchester. There was a newsroom in Liverpool but there was always this tension between the two cities in this sense. It’s interesting if you go back and look at it, Liverpool is probably the only major city in the North of England that didn’t have its own TV company based there. You had Tyne-Tees in Newcastle, Central in Birmingham, Granada in Manchester, Anglia in Norwich, stations in Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow. There was the same kind of tension, oddly enough, between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Edinburgh was the capital but the TV station was in Glasgow. So there was always that kind of Liverpool-Manchester conflict, which I always remember was never helped by Tony Wilson. Whenever he was on air he lost no opportunity to have a dig at Liverpool.

Plowright was very conscious of this and realised that in the two and half years leading up to the franchise in 1990, you had to pay special attention to Liverpool.He started concentrating on trying to get programmes that came out of Liverpool. I was involved in two of them; one was called Exchange Flags which basically was a version of Live From Two that we did from a studio that they built at Exchange Flags in Liverpool.

To be bluntly honest the reason the studio was put there was to sort out any potential bidders against the Granada licence who might try and argue the North West franchise would be better served from Liverpool. So they built this studio in Exchange Flags, we did the programme from there.

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