Granada Plus was launched on 1 October 1996 at 19:00. From launch, the channel initially showed only programmes made originally by Granada Television and London Weekend Television (itself recently acquired by Granada Television), such as On the Buses, Crown Court, The Comedians and The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club. One of the channel’s biggest attractions was a thrice-daily repeat of classic Coronation Street episodes from 1976. Broadcasting hours were shared with Granada Men & Motors.
Many of these programmes would have been unshown since their original transmissions, and hence were of value to those interested in classic television, but these early schedules lacked the commercial appeal of rival channel UK Gold, which had long since moved from showing little-seen gems to showing TV’s ‘greatest hits’.
It wasn’t long before Granada Plus revamped their on-screen identity, and in order to look more contemporary, they started showing more recent programmes made by the ITV network (at the time, Granada were busy buying up old rivals such as Yorkshire Television and Tyne Tees Television, in preparation for a unified ITV plc), as well as programme stock which had been originally shown on the BBC. Granada Plus also began screening many classic US shows popular with British viewers and airing promos with the stars of those shows (such as James MacArthur for Hawaii Five-O, Cheryl Ladd for Charlie’s Angels, Philip Michael Thomas for Miami Vice and Ben Murphy for Alias Smith and Jones). The channel also aired British premieres of at least three US series: 10-8, Fortune Hunter and the 1988 revival of Mission: Impossible.
Many of the channel’s programmes were cut by up to 5 minutes for commercial timing purposes, which was not a popular choice with viewers.
In early 1998 the station was rebrand as “G Plus”, the idents were updated again in early 1999.
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