(Richard Madeley born 1956; Judy Finnigan born 1948)
Richard Madeley, born 13 May 1956, had begun his career as a journalist working on local newspapers in Essex and London and joined BBC Radio Carlisle at 19 as a news presenter on the “Lookaround” programme. His break into TV was at Yorkshire Television, where as a young presenter he fronted the “Calendar” programme – acknowledged to be one of the best regional news magazine programmes in the UK at that time. He went on to leave YTV and joined Granada Television in Manchester for a new local news programme called “Granada Reports” where he met fellow reporter and presenter, Judy Finnigan. Judy was born 16 May 1948 and raised in Manchester and had studied English and Drama at Bristol University. She had joined Granada TV as a researcher in 1971 and in 1974 moved to Anglia Television in Norwich to become its first female reporter. In 1980 she came back to Granada and Manchester to work on several programmes including “Flying Start” (with Anthony Wilson), “Granada Reports” and “Scramble” . Richard and Judy met at Granada in 1982, were married in 1986 and set up home in Didsbury village in south Manchester, where they became familiar figures. They began co-presenting a new Granada show called “This Morning” in 1988, and proved to be a great success and they became instant celebrities – the undisputed king and queen of daytime television in the UK. Originally broadcast from Liverpool’s Albert Dock, the show went on to celebrate its tenth birthday by winning a National Television Award for Best Daytime Show in 1998. The programme, (and Richard & Judy), moved to London in 1996. After presenting “This Morning” from London for about 5 years, they were tempted to move to Channel Four to host a new early evening programme called, surprisingly “Richard & Judy” . After seven successful years at Channel Four, Richard and Judy began hosting a topical prime-time chat show on UKTV’s brand new digital channel, “Watch” but viewing figures began to fall off dramatically and in July 2009 the show came to an end.
(19342011) Robert Morgan Greaves was born in Sale on 28 November 1934, and joined Granada Television in Manchester as a News Editor in 1964. He had previously worked as a journalist on the Sale & Stretford Guardian , the Nottingham Evening News , and the Daily Mail (in Manchester). He also was a soccer reporter for several national newspapers, including the Mail on Sunday. Greaves, is best known regionally as a well known jovial local television broadcaster, and has been a regular face on Granada’s regional programmes since the late 1960s, with news bulletins and other programmes such as “Put it in Writing”, “Police File”, “Six-O-One”, “Newsview”, “Exchange Flags” and “Scene” , the latter dating back to 1967. From 1973 through until the mid-1980s he regularly presented “Granada Reports” and after that “Granada Tonight” . He was also the presenter for the majority of Granada TV’s major regional outside broadcasts, including the Royal visit to “Coronation Street” . Known as “Mister Granada”, he has also produced and presented many personal television series including ” Bob About”, “Family Trees”, Bob’s Bygones”, “World on a Plate” and “Bob’s Century” . Bob Greaves died at his home after losing a long battle with cancer on 14 March 2011, aged 76. His funeral service took place at Timperley Methodist Church.
Dame Thora Hird OBE
(1911-2003) Born in Morecambe, Lancashire, on 28 May 1911, Thora Hird is a grand dame of the British theatre and television. Having, (as she put it) “trod the boards since the age of eight” , she was a veteran of show business, respected and widely liked and became an established and much-loved British institution. Her first known stage performance was at Morecambe’s Royalty Theatre in 1931 – it was here that her talent was spotted and she was signed up by the Rank Organisation as a promising young actress. He film career began in 1948 when she acted in “The Black Sheep of Whitehall” with comedian Will Hay. In a long career she has appeared in more than 80 other films including “The Quatermass Experiment” (1955) , “The Entertainer” (1960) , “Over the Odds”, “A Kind of Loving” (1962) , “Terms of Trial”, “Rattle of a Simple Man”, “Some Will Some Won’t”, “The Nightcomers” and “Consuming Passions” . She had a brief time playing Shakespearean roles, notably as the Nurse in “Romeo & Juliet” . She has also made guest appearances in many UK television shows including “Meet the Wife”, “Dinner Ladies”, “That’s Showbusiness”, “One Foot In The Past”, “All Creatures Great & Small”, “Blankety Blank”, “Momento Mori” and “The Frank Skinner Show”. She won a BAFTA award for Best TV Actress 1987 in Alan Bennett’s “Talking Heads” and a second honorary BAFTA award in 1993. Bennett actually wrote many short plays and monologues specifically with Thora Hird in mind, including “Waiting for the Telegram”. As a devout Christian during the 1970s she was presenter of many BBC Television religious programmes including “Your Songs Of Praise Choice” (later known as “Praise Be!” ), “Songs of Praise”, and “Hallelujah” . She was the subject of BBC1’s “This Is Your Life” at Christmas 1996. More recently she has played the role of Edie in “Last of the Summer Wine” for which she is, perhaps, best remembered. In 1983 she received and OBE (Order of the British Empire) and in 1993 was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) for her contributions to the Arts. She was the mother of actress Jeanette Scott and thereby ex-mother-in-law of singer Mel Tormé. She was married to James Scott for 59 years until his death in 1994 – he was also her manager for much of that time. Increasing arthritis had curtailed her activities in her later years and her appearances had been somewhat limited as a result. After suffering a stroke in the first week of March 2003 she was moved to a nursing home in Twickenham, South West London, where she died a week later on 15th March, aged 91 years.
Violet Carson OBE
Violet Carson, actress, pianist, radio star and stalwart of the early days of “Coronation Street” , was born in Corporation Terrace, off Oldham Road, Manchester in 1898. After studying the piano for several years, she began her professional career playing piano accompaniments for silent movies in local cinemas. By the 1939 she had become known on radio, and spent the war years touring factories and army camps to entertain workers and soldiers. She continued in this role as pianist for Wilfred Pickles’ “Have a Go” radio quiz. After the war she appeared regularly in BBC radio’s “Woman’s Hour” , before being chosen in 1960 to fill the role as Ena Sharples in Granada television’s planned new “Coronation Street” show. Her portrayal of this strong gritty northern character endeared her to millions of fans, and it is for this role that she is probably best remembered. It was planned to be a short event, but she actually played the role for 20 years and more than 2000 episodes of what was to become one of Britain’s best-loved and longest running soap operas. In 1965 she was awarded the OBE and was made an honorary MA at Manchester University. Her last few years were dogged by poor health and she died in 1983, aged 85, at her retirement home in Blackpool.
Sir Jimmy Saville OBE KCSG
(Born 1942) Gordon Burns, born in Northern Ireland on 10 June 1942, is a journalist by trade, though he has had a long and successful involvement with political and current affairs programmes, and is, in the minds of local people, indelibly associated with Manchester regional television news. His newspaper career began at the East Antrim Times and Belfast Telegraph in Northern Ireland (where he was born) before moving on sports reporting in BBC Radio’s London studios on shows like “Sports Parade” and “Sports Report” . After becoming a freelance journalist and broadcaster, he moved on to report for the “Today” programme on Radio 4, for the BBC World Service and for South East Regional News. Next he was anchorman for Ulster Television’s nightly “UTV Reports” through the first four years of the “troubles”. At Ulster he was given his own live chat show “The Gordon Burns Hour”. He then moved on to present Granada Television’s evening news magazine, “Granada Reports” and was the reporter on many award-winning “World in Action” programmes. He presented ITV’s top rating quiz show, “The Krypton Factor” since the early 1980s. “The Krypton Factor” regularly appeared in the top twenty rated television programmes since it began in the late 1970s, and often attracted audiences in excess of 15 million people. Later he moved over to the BBC, where he acted for many years as anchor presenter for “North West Tonight” , their nightly news programme, which has the highest viewing figures for any BBC regional news programme in the UK. Other shows with which he has been involved include many quiz shows like “Cluedo”, “Relatively Speaking” and “A Word in Your Ear” , as well as light entertainment shows like “Surprise Surprise” (with Cilla Black), and regular election and other political programmes including “Searchline”, (which he hosted for five years). Gordon Burns retired from broadcating in September 2011. He remains a keen golfer, a football supporter at Manchester and Liverpool, as well as being a cricket lover. He is married with two children, a son and a daughter.