Sidney Bernstein, Baron Bernstein
|The Lord Bernstein|
30 January 1899|
Ilford, Essex, United Kingdom
|Died||5 February 1993
London, United Kingdom
|Known for||Founder of Granada Television
Chairman of the Granada Group
Sidney Lewis Bernstein, Baron Bernstein (30 January 1899 – 5 February 1993) was a British media baron who was known as the founding chairman of the London-based Granada Group and the founder of the Manchester-based Granada Television in 1954.
In 1954, he founded Granada Television which was one of the original four ITA franchisees and believed "the North"'s media industry had potential to be cultivated. Granada Television eventually which became one of the most successful British production companies in history and still produces programmes in 2011 under the ITV Studios moniker.
Although born in Essex, Bernstein became an 'adopted northerner', building Granada Television which created a proud heritage of television broadcasting in Manchester - a legacy which continues to this day.
Bernstein left school at 15 and he gradually inherited the property portfolio his father had built.
 Granada Theatres
Bernstein built, with his brother Cecil, a successful circuit of some sixty cinemas and theatres, the first step in the creation of a diversified group of leisure-oriented enterprises. Some of the cinema were on property he inherited from his father. The Bernstein holdings eventually encompassed interests in publishing, real estate, motorway services, retail shops, and bowling alleys, as well as the hugely profitable television-rental business.
Bernstein had been aware of the commercial potential of television from its earliest days, but his socialist principles prevented him from questioning the BBC's monopoly. Bernstein was actually a lifelong Socialist and believed to be a Soviet informer prior to World War II according to MI5.
Beginning in 1948, he lobbied the government to give the cinema industry the right to produce and transmit television programmes, not to individual homes, as the BBC did, but to audiences gathered in cinemas and theatres. The London-based Granada group surprised establishment thinkers by not bidding for a lucrative contract in the affluent Southeast. Instead, Granada pursued the weekday licences centred on Manchester in the industrial North, embracing an area extending across the north of England and Wales. Granada's evidence to the Pilkington Committee on Broadcasting in 1961 justified this decision: "The North and London were the two biggest regions. Granada preferred the North because of its tradition of home-grown culture, and because it offered a chance to start a new creative industry away from the metropolitan atmosphere of London."
 Granada Television
In 1954, Bernstein won a franchise license to broadcast commercial television to the north of England including key urban areas such as Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield. Bernstein wanted the north of England as this would not have any detrimental effect on viewers at his theatres which were predominantly based in the south of England. Furthermore he strongly believed the north of England had a cultural heart that had potential to be cultivated which would translate itself into good television.
The North and London were the two biggest regions. Granada preferred the North because of its tradition of home-grown culture, and because it offered a chance to start a new creative industry away from the metropolitan atmosphere of London... the North is a closely knit, indigenous, industrial society; a homogeneous cultural group with a good record for music, theatre, literature and newspapers, not found elsewhere in this island, except perhaps in Scotland. Compare this with London and its suburbs--full of displaced persons. And, of course, if you look at a map of the concentration of population in the North and a rainfall map, you will see that the North is an ideal place for television".
To achieve his aim, Bernstein ordered the building of the United Kingdom's first television studios. Construction of Granada Studios began in 1954. At Bernstein's behest, the Studios featured a purely decorative white, lattice tower in the form of a transmitter tower to give the studios an embellished and professional appearance. Paintings from Bernstein's art collection and portraits of showmen Edward R. Murrow and P. T. Barnum adorned the interior of the studios to inspire creativity among Granada employees.
Bernstein's instincts proved to be sound. Despite objections to a commercial franchise being awarded to a company with overtly left-wing leanings, Granada began broadcasting from Manchester in May 1956, proudly proclaiming its origins with the slogan "From the North" and labelling its new constituency "Granadaland". The first night's programming began, at Bernstein's insistence, with a homage to the BBC, whose public broadcasting pedigree he had always admired, and closed with a public-spirited statement of advertising policy which suggested an ambivalence about the commercial imperative to maximize profits.
As early as January 1957, Granada was responsible for the top ten programmes, by ratings, available in its region. In 1962, it became the first television outlet to screen the Beatles for the British television audience. Bernstein's company soon came to be regarded as one of the most progressive of the independent television contractors. One famous show Bernstein was not enthusiastic about was the drama-serial, Coronation Street. Bernstein's brother Cecil felt the same and Sidney stated to that scriptwriter Tony Warren had done "is pick up all the boring bits and strung them together one after another" upon hearing the proposal for what was then known as Florizel Street.
Nevertheless, Coronation Street was approved and soon become a popular programme. Granada garnered a penchant for high-profile current-affairs and documentary programmes, such as World in Action, Disappearing World, and What the Papers Say, all of which lent Granada prestige and aligned it, unmistakably, with the ideals of its founder.
 After Granada
In 1969 he was given a life peer as Baron Bernstein, of Leigh in the County of Kent. In the 1970s, Lord Bernstein finally relinquished stewardship of the television company and moved over to the business side of the Granada plc. He retired in 1979 and became chairman of the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. He was named a Fellow of the British Film Institute and received the International Emmy Directorate Award in 1984. He died in 1993, aged 94.
 Personal life
Bernstein was a keen art collector and paintings from his collection adorned the walls of the Granada Studios. On his death in 1993, he bequeathed part of his collection to the Manchester Art Gallery which included works by Chagall and Modigliani. Bernstein was known to a bad driver, something that his colleagues such as Mike Scott used to humorously joke about when Bernstein gave up driving.
- Rope (1948) (producer, uncredited), directed by Alfred Hitchcock
- Under Capricorn (1949) (producer, uncredited), directed by Alfred Hitchcock
- Memories of the Camps (1985) TV Episode (executive producer)
- Frontline (executive producer) (1 episode, 1985)
- "Bernstein, Sidney (1899-1993)". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- Feddy, Kevin (11 April 2006). "Sidney Bernstein". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
- Feddy, Kevin (4 July 2006). "Our greatest-ever business leaders". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
- Howard, Anthony (6 February 1993). "Obituary: Lord Bernstein". The Independent.
- Malvern, Jack (8 March 2010). "Baron Bernstein, creator of Granada TV, ‘a Soviet informer’". The Times. Retrieved 2011-06-25.
- Pearson, Tony. "Bernstein, Sidney". Museum of Broadcast Communications.
- "Bernstein - genial tyrant of Granada: Jeremy Isaacs recalls his former boss and founder of the Granada group, who died at 94". The Independent. 7 February 1993.
- "Corrie: The Road to Coronation Street". BBC. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
- Wollaston, Sam (17 September 2010). "TV review: The Road to Coronation Street". The Guardian.
- "Manchester Art Gallery". manchesterwalks. Retrieved 6 August 2011. "in 1993 Sidney Bernstein, founder of Granada TV, bequeathed a collection that included works by Chagall and Modigliani."
- "Mike Scott". transdiffusion.org. 22 February 2010. Retrieved 2012-02-12.