Born in Ilford in Essex on the 30th January 1899, Sidney Bernstein was a socialist millionaire, and one of Britain’s first television “barons”, the show-business entrepreneur who won the first independent commercial television franchise in the 1950s. Sidney Bernstein left school at the age of 15, and had inherited control of cinema chain from his father, and in 1921 had been a founding member of the British Film Society. He was, from the outset, a most successful businessman, who had acquired control of some 30 cinemas by late 1930s as well as becoming chairman of the Granada Group, encompassing films, television, and publishing. From 1940-1945 he was film adviser to the Ministry of Information, 1940-45 and during this time he collaborated as producer with film director Alfred Hitchcock. Bernstein set up Granada Television in 1956 with his brother Cecil, and became its president from 1979-93. The name “Granada” reflected Bernstein’s love of all and anything Spanish. He chose the station’s Manchester base as a result of consulting maps on population and annual rainfall, convinced that the region’s high rainfall levels would keep people indoors watching television(!). The studios were set up in Quay Street, where they remain to this day, and broadcasts for the northwest of England began in May 1956. The Granada Group’s profits during its first year were �218,204 and by 1980 that figure had grown to over �43 million. Sidney Bernstein, Socialist millionaire and “benevolent despot”, is the visionary who brought this empire into being. He was chairman of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester 1983-1993 and created a Fellow of the British Film Institute in 1984. In 1969 he was created Baron Bernstein of Leigh. In the 1970s, Lord Bernstein finally relinquished leadership of Granada Television and moved over to the business side of the Granada Group, retiring in 1979, after a long career. He died in 1993, aged ninety-four. He had been married to Sandra Malone (who died in 1991)and had a son and two daughters.
(Born 1947) Mike Sweeney, the local broadcaster and radio DJ, was born in Rudman Street, Salford on 15th September 1947. He attended Mount Carmel School, after which he worked at AEI in Trafford Park, before becoming a plate-layer at the docks, a labourer, a miner and then a computer programmer, while performing in a local pop group known as the Salford jets as singer and songwriter. By the age of 30 he was regularly performing on Manchester’s Piccadilly Radio, and had begun to include short interviews into his act, when he was offered a 12 show trial as one of the station’s disk jockeys, where it was thought that his strong regional accent would go down well with local audiences. By 1980 he was occupying prime time slots on the station, which continued well into the late 1980s, and he branched our into interviewing, sports reportage and documentaries. He has continued to play football, has boxed for Salford Lads’ Club and swum for the city, as well as continued as a lively and respected local broadcaster.
(Born 1976) Born in Berlin, Germany, on the 8th December 1976, Dominic Monaghan’s family moved to live in Manchester when he was 12 years old, and he is consequently bilingual, speaking fluent German as well as, (of course) English. In the early days he was probably best known for his part in the 1996 British TV series “Hetty Wainthropp Investigates” . He was offered this pivotal co-starring role whilst still studying English Literature, Drama and Geography at Sixth Form College. His other television credits include “This Is Personal: The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper” in 2000, as well as a leading role accompanying the late John Thaw in the “Monsignor Renard” series. His film debut was in “Boomber” which starred Rutger Hauer and Martin Shaw. On the stage, Monaghan has played in the United Kingdom première production of “The Resurrectionists” , as well as in “Annie and Fanny from Bolton to Rome” , and “Whale” . He is a self-confessed science fiction film fanatic, surfer and football supporter. He frequently returns to Manchester to visit his family and to support Manchester United Football Club. He has recently been propelled into the limelight on the world stage by being cast as “Merry” in the 2002 multi-award winning film of “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”.
(1908-1986) This diminutive comedienne was born in Farnworth near Bolton in 1908 into a professional entertaining family (her father was a comedian). Hylda was educated at Plodder Lane Council School, and from an early age she showed all the signs of following in her father’s footsteps and developed a distinctive style based on “Malapropian” double-entendres and mispronunciations. Her regular appearances in live Music Hall from the 1940s to the 1960s made her a box office success and one of the UK’s top comediennes. She made several brief excursions into television comedy in the 60s notably with the hit show “Nearest and Dearest” in which she played Nellie Pledge, proprietress of a local pickle factory, accompanied by comedian Jimmy Jewel. The series ran from 1968 until 1973 and regularly topped the charts for viewing figures. She was known for several catch phrases of which “She Knows Ya Know” was her favourite. Other examples of her quaint and hilarious mispronunciation were: “Oh Dad, how could you treat me so flatulent?” and “I don’t want to see a pieciatrist – I’m not menthyl you know!” . At that time her husband “Tex Riter” played her on-stage stooge, and she repeated this format later with “Cynthia” a character who, though appearing on stage, was silent and acted as a foil for Hylda’s humour. She was also a popular and regular entertainer on BBC Television’s “The Good Old Days” which was hosted by Leonard Sachs. Throughout the sixties she appeared in stage plays, including “A Taste of Honey”, “Fill The Stage With Happy Hours” and the musical “Mr & Mrs” . On a serious side she appeared in much acclaimed roles in films like “Saturday Night, Sunday Morning” (1960 – playing the part of an abortionist) as well as roles in “Oliver” and in “Up the Junction” . She managed a surprisingly unusual musical coup in August 1978 when, at the age of 73, she made a pop hit with a comic cover version of the song ‘You’re the One that I Want’, (a send up of Olivia Newton John and John Travolta’s duet from the film “Grease” ) partnered by Arthur Mullard. Hylda Baker began to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and increasingly struggled to remember her lines. This tragically brought her career to an untimely end. She spent her last years in a nursing home and died alone and virtually forgotten in hospital in May 1986 at the age of 81.