Jollywood!

Episodes

First
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
2003100920040812

A tour around the studios of John E Blakeley's Mancunian Film Corporation, the 'Hollywood of the North' in Manchester where a stream of comedies were produced between 1948 and 1953. The Blakeley family story, across four generations, spans the history of cinema. James Blakeley was a pioneering film renter around the turn of the 19th century and built one of the first cinemas. His son John joined his father in the business, quickly saw what northern audiences liked, and started making films with top music-hall names in them. The first productions were conceived in Manchester and filmed in rented studios in London, but ""Johnny"" Blakeley always dreamed of opening a national quality studio in the north. In 1947, he sunk £70,000 into his dream - multi-millions in today's prices - and a year later the production line started. The studio became the home of BBC TV in the north (famous for ""Top of the Pops"") and many of these artistes and technicians were at the heart of Granada TV in the later Fifties. Fire destroyed much of the archive in 1980, but Blakeley's grandson Mike, a Granada cameraman and now an independent film-maker, found copies of most of them and a largely-forgotten story in British cinema is being re-discovered. The programme is presented by Dr C P Lee, author and cultural studies lecturer at Salford University, with contributions from Mike Blakeley, Jollywood historians Philip and David Williams, Mancunian Film Corporation veterans Wynne and Arthur Merz, former child actress Joyanne Bracewell and others.