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Sidney Bernstein

Lord Sidney Bernstein


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.


Mike Sweeney


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.


Dominic Monaghan


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.
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”.


Hylda Baker, Comedienne

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
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!” .
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” .
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.
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.

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This page last updated 20 Dec 11.