Grampian Television

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Grampian Television logo from the 1980s

Grampian Television was the ITV franchisee for the North and North East of Scotland. It launched programmes on 30 September 1961 and lost its on-screen identity on 30 May 2006.



Grampian Television Limited was incorporated as a private company on 11 October 1960, "with the principal object of carrying on business as a television programme contractor in terms of the Television Act, 1954, under the name North of Scotland Television Limited".

On 2 October 1960, the Independent Television Authority announced that it had accepted North of Scotland Television to act as its programme company in North-East Scotland.

Other applicants for the contract included a consortium led by Lord Boothby, "North Caledonia Television" with Lieutenant-Colonel D. H. Cameron of Lochiel as chairman, and groups who included Mr Thomas Johnston and Lord Boyd-Orr.

The name of the company was changed to "Grampian Television Limited" on 11 January 1961. The Company was converted into a Public Company on 25 May 1961.

James Scott and Son built the studios at the site of an old tram depot in Queen's Cross, Aberdeen.

The Company's licence to operate as a television programme contractor was renewed by the Independent Television Authority on 17 July 1964, which, in common with other programme contractors, expired on 29 July 1967.[1]

The first staff appointments by Grampian Television Ltd were made in February 1961: Mr Ward Thomas was appointed sales controller; Alex Mair, company secretary; and Dennis Dick, press and public relations officer.[2] On 6 March it was announced that BBC executive David Brown had been appointed general manager[3], but he resigned in the space of two months, replaced by James Buchan of BBC Scotland. In June, Edward O'Donnell was appointed chief executive.[4]

The station went on-air on Saturday 30 September 1961, initially from the Durris transmitter, situated near Stonehaven (Channel 9). This served about 730,000 people in the counties of Aberdeen, Angus, and Kincardine, and parts of the counties of Fife, Banff, and Perth. It was followed a few months later by the opening of the Mounteagle transmitter in the Black Isle (Channel 12), built by the ITA specifically for Grampian, and which served about 140,000 additional people in Nairnshire, Moray, northern Inverness-shire, and the eastern parts of Sutherland and Ross and Cromarty.


More than £100,000 was spent in the 1968/9 financial year on enlarging and modernising the Aberdeen studio. It was envisaged that this would enable pictures to be put out on 625 lines by July 1969. Colour programmes were estimated as being likely to be provided in the early 1970s.[5]

Inverness studio

The new studio in Huntly Street, Inverness, allowed Grampian to expand its coverage of news and current affairs further in the northern and western parts of the transmission area.

1991 franchise renewal

Grampian held its franchise against two rivals, despite the fact that its £720,000pa bid was not the lowest. It secured it on the basis of the quality threshold requirement.

Stornoway Gaelic studio

A new Gaelic Television Committee was established to spend £9.5m a year on new Gaelic programmes. The funding came into force from the start of 1993. The GTC located its headquarters in Stornoway.

In 1993 Grampian opened new premises in Seaforth Road, Stornoway. The new studio, control room and editing suites allowed the broadcaster to produce daily Gaelic news and other programmes from the Western Isles. The building also included a media centre, offering independent production companies access to studio space and technical facilities to make their own programmes, as well as provide a training facility and community centre for local people.

The former mill building had been renovated by the Western Isles Council at a cost of £1m. It was part of a £1.9m investment in Gaelic broadcasting which, it was hoped, would bring jobs to the islands. This was assisted by a £350,000 financial package from the Highlands and Islands Enterprise network through Iomairt nan Eilean Siar, Western Isles Enterprise.[6]

In June 1992, Grampian appointed its first Head of Gaelic in order to maximise its share of the new £9.5m Gaelic fund. The role went to ex-BBC producer Allan MacDonald, a fluent Gaelic speaker who ran the independent company Media Nan Eilean on Benbecula.[7]

1993 news bulletin expansion

Grampian expanded its news coverage from January 1993, screening 11 bulletins each weekday and four at weekends. Three new reporters were employed.[8]



Grampian TV reporters in the 1960s included Renton Laidlaw, Ron Thompson, Donny B Macleod and Donald MacCormick.

Current Affairs





The Very Rev George T. H. Reid was appointed Grampian's first religious adviser.


In June 1994, Bob Kenyon was promoted from senior producer/director to head of Gaelic. He had been with Grampian for 20 years and, as assistant head of news and current affairs, he played a leading role in developing the daily news programme, Telefios.[9]

Other business interests

Blenheim Travel

Feeling it was not getting a sufficiently good service from travel agencies in Aberdeen, in the early 1980s Grampian established its own as a wholly-owned subsidiary. Blenheim Travel was initially dedicated to providing business travel services, but in 1985 it decided to open a retail unit in Aberdeen's St Nicholas Centre. At this time, the company did not make any great profits, merely described as having "more or less washed its face".[10]

By 1987, the company had opened 10 offices in Scotland and one at the Metrocentre in Gateshead, these offices being located in outlets of John Menzies stores. However, when the Government published proposals in 1988 forcing independent television companies to re-bid for their franchises, Grampian's management decided it was best to concentrate its investments on its core television business and the subsidiary was sold off.[11]

Glenburnie Properties

Aberdeen-based property subsidiary.

Central Scotland Radio (Scot FM)

Grampian had a majority 55% stake in the company which successfully bid for the central Scotland regional radio licence (Border Television held 35%, while 10% was available for public subscription). Scot FM broadcast a mix of talk and adult contemporary music to an area with an adult population of 2.3 million.

On the board were Sir David Steel (chairman), Susan Baird, Gay Grossart, Donald Waters, George Mitchell, Graham Good, Peter Brownlow and Kath Worrall. Consultants were Ron Coles and Art Sutter.

Grampian's Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive, Donald Waters, explained his company's involvement: "I believe Grampian Television's experience as one of Britain's most popular regional television stations can benefit the listening public of Central Scotland. We have a long-standing committment to local radio through our Moray Firth Radio shareholding, which we recently increased. And there is an excellent relationship between Grampian and Border Television, whose experience covers both their regional television service and Radio North East."[12]

The Investors Chronicle magazine noted that: "It could be a good time to win it. Radio companies are reporting sharply higher ad revenues."[13]


Year to end Feb Turnover (£m) Pre-tax profit (£m) Stated earnings per share (p) Gross dividend per share (p) Comments
1962 -£46,368 Covers period 11/11/60–28/02/62
1963 £47,421
1964 £64,316
1965 £196,984 Increase mainly attributable to the abolition of Television Advertisement Duty on 29 July 1964, the increase in the number of homes equipped to receive the Company's programmes, and the general improvement in trading conditions in the television industry.
1966 Some loss of revenue resulting from the prohibition of cigarette advertising from 1 August 1965.
1969 £106,628[14]
1979 £476,000 Some loss of revenue resulting from the prohibition of cigarette advertising from 1 August 1965.[15]
1984 1.225
1985 1.22
1986 17.8 1.66 6.9 2.83 Exchequer levy fell to £28,000 from £385,000.[16]
1987 19.3 1.77 7.6 3.17
1988 19.2 1.48 6.5 3.35
1989 21.4 1.97 8.8 4.00
1990 20.9 2.41 10.3 4.67 Boosted by cuts in employee costs and the Exchequer Levy plus increased investment income.[17]
1991 20.7 2.43 10.8 5.47 Maintained profits despite a 2.8% drop in advertising revenue, a 9% increase in programme expenditure and an exceptional charge of £472,000 for a staff redundancy scheme, which reduced staffing levels by 15%.[18] Substantial assets led by swelling cash balances and £5.5m of freehold property in and around booming Aberdeen.[19]
1992 20.4 3.18 14.2 7.33 In a year of sluggish advertising, Grampian was one of the few ITV companies to show an increase in advertising revenue, the 3 per cent rise reflecting the buoyant North-east oil-related economy. Staff numbers were also cut.[20]
1993 20.6 3.21 14.8 7.72 A 3.7% dip in advertising was offset by cost-cutting and increased income from programme sales, sponsorship, and facility hire.[21]
1994 20.5 3.8 18.7 9.37 Improved contributions came from hire of facilities. New technology helped to contain higher investment in local programming and increased staffing necessary for Gaelic production. Glenburnie Properties made over pounds 100,000 more.[22]
1995 21.3 4.40 21.7 9.0 A change of advertising sales houses to TSMS halfway through the year saw growth in ad revenue become more marked since the start of 1995. Grampian also cut costs in the television operation.[23]


Chief Executives

Managing Directors

Derrick Thomson, 2000–2007 (Deputy Managing Director of STV. Thomson was not replaced, thus becoming Grampian's last MD)

Programme Controllers

  • James Buchan, (production controller until 1970)
  • George Mitchell, director of programmes, 1980s
  • Alistair Gracie, 1997–1998
  • Derrick Thomson, 1998–2000

Head of News and Current Affairs

Editor of News Programming

Donald John MacDonald, 2007–

Continuity announcers

The first three announcers appointed were Douglas Kynoch, June Imray, and Elizabeth Mackenzie, a 22 year-old Forres-born teacher. Mackenzie, however, resigned for "health reasons" the day before the station launched, and was replaced by London-born James Sleigh.

Daphne Penny (1962–), David Chalmers (1963–?), Graham Roberts (1963–), Jimmy Spankie, Jack McLaughlin, Lesley Blair, Christene Burn, Kate Matheson, Kennedy Thomson, Lyn Cunningham, James O'Hara, Gordon Radley, David Strachan, Lesley Macleod, David Bennett, Maggie Palmer, Barrie Redfern (1980–??), Ann Brodie, Margaret Donald, Anna Maria Ashe, Daphne Neville, John Jason, Isabelle Jarrett, Colin Lamont, Kay Duncan, Diana Speed, Robin Galloway, Arlene Stuart, Tracey Crawford, Kate Fraser, Fiona Pagett, Scott Brown, Rachel Robertson, Gary Stein. Also Elizabeth Burns, Susan Calland.


Selina Scott

YouTube videos

We The Jury




  1. 'Abridged particulars', Glasgow Herald, 7 July 1965, 2.
  2. 'First Grampian TV Posts', Evening Express, 8 February 1961, 10.
  3. 'Grampian TV Appointment', Evening Express, 6 March 1961, 10.
  4. Unnamed article, Evening Express, 29 June 1961, 7.
  5. 'Company reports: Grampian Television', Glasgow Herald, 13 June 1968, 4.
  6. 'Grampian goes west', Herald, 6 May 1992; Financial concern over new TV centre, 8 May 1992, 15.
  7. 'Post will aid Gaelic funding at Grampian', Herald, 16 June 1992, 2.
  8. 'More news time', Herald, 26 November 1992, 6.
  9. 'Grampian's head of Gaelic', Herald, 25 June 1994, 9.
  10. 'Grampian down, but confident', Glasgow Herald, 7 November 1985, 37.
  11. Herald, 25 April 1992, 14.
  12. 'Central Scotland Radio wins new FM licence', Press Association, 10 December 1993.
  13. The Investors Chronicle, 17 December 1993, 63.
  14. 'Grampian Television profits drop', Glasgow Herald, 3 May 1969, 3.
  15. 'Grampian wants cut in levy', Glasgow Herald, 5 July 1979, 12.
  16. 'Grampian TV's profits higher', Glasgow Herald, 25 April 1986, 15.
  17. Investors Chronicle, 6 July 1990, 68.
  18. Independent, 31 May 1991.
  19. Investors Chronicle, 12 July 1991, 58.
  20. Herald, 24 April 1992, 16; Investors Chronicle, 1 May 1992, 42.
  21. 'Grampian makes headway', Herald, 30 April 1993, 17.
  22. Investors Chronicle, 6 May 1994, 49.
  23. Investors Chronicle, 5 May 1995, 53.