Andy Serraillier

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Interview transcript

Andrew Serraillier

By Stephen Kelly, October 14th 2015

 

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Stephen Kelly (Interviewer): This is an interview with Andrew Serraillier. Do you prefer Andy or Andrew? And we’d better spell “Serraillier”.

Andrew Serraillier: Andrew’s good. S-e-r-r-a-i-l-l-i-e-r. Just double everything!

SK: Let’s start where I started with lots of people. How did you come to join Granada Television? What was the process and where had you been before?

AS: I saw an advert in the Guardian, as I’m sure lots of people did. They had a page of media and creative jobs on a Monday and it was for a promotions scriptwriter, whatever that was, I’d no idea. I’d been looking for jobs and I wanted a real gold-standard company to work for. I’d looked at all the journalist training schemes like Thomson and Reuters. This came along, and I thought, “Let’s look at it”. And it was Granada. I remembered the Granada ident, which is ‘From The North’. It was kind of muscular. It was a big thing in my life. Even though I was living near Chichester on the south coast, I knew what Granada was: a big part of the ITV federation.

SK: Had you been at university then?

AS: Yes, no. well… If you wind the clock back I’d actually applied to Granada when I was 17 and I’d asked, “How do I become a director at Granada?” And the personnel officer, a guy called Bob Connell, he wrote back and he said, “My advice is you go through the camera department and you work your way up from assistant to cameraman to DOP, and maybe you’ll be a director one day.” Which was odd advice in a way, because I didn’t meet many people at Granada in my time who’d ever come through the camera department, there are one or two. Maybe he was thinking of the big feature film directors like Stanley Kubrick, Nick Roeg; they certainly worked with cameras.

Anyway, that was well before university. I was taking a lot of cine film on my own and that was something I obviously brought to my interview. But I did go to university. I did French and Education which was fairly useless, and made films on the side. After university I joined the Observer as a researcher, which was mainly cutting stuff out to create an archive of useful stuff that journalists were going to lean on, and to be on the end of the phone for people who wanted to know how to spell ‘SWAPO’ and what it stood for. I was also a researcher for Chris [Braicher?]’s Breath of Fresh Air series in The Observer.

SK: What year did you see the advert?

AS: 1978. I’d done a few other things. I’d worked as a printing management trainee, but got sacked from that for fraternising with the printers. I knew I always wanted to do something in television or film, so when this opportunity at Granada came up, I thought, yes, go for it. Actually, I didn’t stand much of a chance because I think hundreds of people would have gone for it. But I threw my hat in the ring, got on the train and made the perilous journey north, and turned up at Granada.

It was the first time I’d ever had a team of people interviewing me. A board. I can’t remember who was on it. People like Steve Morrison, Joe Rigby, head of programme planning, who would be my immediate boss, and a few other grandees. I can’t remember who they were. It was all going as it did, I didn’t know if it was going well or terribly badly. Then they asked at the end, “Have you got any questions?” And I’d done my research. I’d bought the ITV Yearbook 1979, in other words, a year ahead, just published. So I knew they made various local programmes like This Is Your Right and [Arp Car Hack?]. And I said, “What on earth is [Arp Car Hack?]?” And that started a great discussion in the room. They more or less fell about laughing and started having a go at each other right across from me. I just kind of leaned back and enjoyed the spectacle. Then I thought, “I’ve got a train to catch.”

Anyway, the interview was over and I just hadn’t a clue how it had gone. The next think I knew was a few weeks later when my dad rang me up saying there was a letter for me and it was marked Manchester, and did I want him to open it. So I said yes. He did, and it was offering me the job, promotions scriptwriter. And I remember my dad saying, “I throw my hat up into the air!” He was so thrilled – I think even more thrilled than me. So that’s how it all began.

[06:01]

SK: So when did you actually step into Granada as an employee?

AS: I think on the 3rd March 1979. And the first thing that happened was I went and sat in reception and with a woman called Sue and I thought that she must be joining with me in promotions. She was called upstairs and I thought, “Why haven’t they taken me as well?” It turned out she was a secretary, I think she worked for David Plowright. She was starting on her first day in the job. Then I was called and I went upstairs and I me the other members of the team, all women, Helen, Liz and Caroline, and they took me out for a lovely pizza lunch, and that was a great way to begin.

SK: You were working for promotions. What was the job? What does promotions do?

AS: Promotions is a bit like a little advertising unit in Granada. Our products were the programmes. So we were there to explain them to people and to hopefully be alluring and encourage people to watch them. So we made trailers. We produced and edited them. They were scheduled throughout the week. “Coronation Street, tonight at 7:30”, with a clip. They were mostly very simple, often consisting of a bit of action where you put 5-10 seconds of introductory words, and then a clip of 20-25 seconds, and then maybe you cut to a slide at the end. They were just reminding you: tomorrow, tonight, next Wednesday, whatever.

The beautiful thing about promotions was you got the play with every tentacle of Granada: the studios, the film crews a bit later on – I’ll come to that – and the continuity announcers, you were writing scripts for them, standby scripts. But you had this great big toy box. I know it’s a cliché. Orson Welles talked about toy boxes and train sets, it’s just a great thing. I honestly feel like Granada was set up for my personal amusement!

[08:35]

It was good fun to be able to play with all these toys but thinking back it was incredibly basic. For example, if you had a line saying ‘Tonight at 7:30’ it was literally Letraset put onto a black board. So one of your jobs would be to commission all of these captions and inevitably they would be spelt wrong so you’d have to check all that. But then you took this great cluster of cards, and they were big, 2’ by 2’6” cards with a tiny bit of Letraset, and you took them to a studio, Studio 2 which was the first studio in Britain specifically built for television, so it’s historically something important. To get the whole studio brought in just to put a caption on the end of your little trailer just seemed ridiculous. But that’s how it was in those days. So these jobs were rotated between the four of us. And we’d do one day in the studio, one day researching our programmes which were allocated to us, one day writing continuity scripts, and it never felt like work.

SK: And would you have been liaising with producers and directors getting some of the film from a programme, if it was available?

AS: Yes, if they were big things like King Lear or whatever you might go and talk to a producer. But I only did that to sort of get my foot in the door and talk to somebody. I don’t think it was actually strictly necessary. I’m sure some of these people would have wanted to make their own trailers. I know I did when I was a producer later on. You had to collect the material. One of the big things in promos was doing an evening’s worth of entertainment that would run as part of a bigger package. That would be edited by us in the most rudimentary fashion, with somebody there to load the cassette machine which would trigger another cassette machine which would trigger another. It wasn’t a cut and done on film; these were little shuttles of video tape, very crude. I remember some of them couldn’t run for less than six seconds. These days, you might want to run a clip for three seconds if it was a run of programmes, and then spend your time on something a bit longer. What was the question? I’ve been rambling!

SK: Whether you liaised that much with producers and directors. What about if it was for a programme like World in Action, which is being edited right up to the final minute?

AS: They did their own and did a dirty feed from the continuity booth. So that wasn’t recorded in advance. But every other programme was. And of course there were things like feature films that would also need to have a trailer. That was a great day when you went and got the six or seven that you were going to do for that week, and you literally went and picked up a 35mm film, which is a big beast. In fact I probably ordered it and somebody else picked it up and delivered it to the projection booth. Because everything was over-manned in those days, or, adequately manned, depending on your position. So I turned up to Alan in the projection booth and he would play Hawaii 5-0 just to me alone in the theatre, and I asked for the sound to be full volume, lay back with my feet on the chair in front of me – it was just fantastic! And then you’d watch for a bit where you didn’t need to make a cut. It was just 30 seconds of something that was happening, with a little bit of room on the front to say, “Jack has the surprise of his life tonight on Hawaii 5-0” and then you upped the sound. There was a little switch in the dubbing theatre or the viewing theatre, and Alan would be listening out for it, and he’d shove a bit of paper into the machine, into the projector, which is where we were going to sync it up to run live into the studio or into the transmissions suite.

SK: That would be run live?

[13:27]

AS: Well, actually I’m gilding the lily. Maybe it would have been in the studio and would be recorded on tape.

SK: So you would edit it?

AS: No. I think it might have been live, you know. Because we knew where the start was because I would write the in cue, and they would roll it back however many seconds it was. No, it would have been live. They would have rolled it back enough to get the machine up to speed, and then transmission, who knew exactly how long the trailer was and exactly when it began, would cut from whatever they’d just done to a cue off the tele-cine machine – the projector, if you like – and they’d cut it up onto transmission, and there it was! There it was live.

In fact that’s something to think about there, because when you think about programming planning and presentation, how many hours of TV are there in a day? It wasn’t 24 in those days, in 1979, but every single minute and second of the schedule was accounted for. So whilst things may not have started exactly on 7:30 – Coronation Street might have started at 7:30 and 40 seconds – they knew when it was starting. So, to answer your question, if we were rolling in live it wasn’t so frightening because we knew how long the roll up was, we knew how long the voiceover was, we knew how long the trailer was. It was all marked on the script several days in advance. That’s what the presentation department did, and you may well talk to somebody who would explain it much more clearly than I will.

SK: And did you do any scheduling?

AS: The scheduling was done by the promotions editor who was over the four of us, the three girls and me. I think Steve Leahy did that job for a while, but just before me. I never did that job but there was someone called Stuart[sp?] [Daltin? 15:42] to begin with and then Nick, and then I moved on.

SK: Is there anything else you want to add about programmes?

AS: I’ll think. I need a drink of water. I’m rambling.

SK: You’re doing fine. So it was just the four of you working there, the same team, more or less?

AS: We had a wonderful guy called John Fleming who used to come in “off the bench”, as it were, because there’d always be a reason, like we were on holiday, or whatever. So he would come in from wherever he was and he was [“Orange John”? 16:35] and a fine fellow and fitted in perfectly.

The other thing about promotions is that the promotions scriptwriters worked with continuity announcers. There were four in my time. There was Charles Foster, Jim Pope who was the voice of World in Action and I think University Challenge, Graham[sp?] James, and a guy called Malcom. All these men – women came later – these men had fantastic voices. They really did. They didn’t have to write any of the words. Anything was done by us, except at the end of the night they often did personal things. If anything went wrong, if presentation broke down for any reason, they’d have one of our scripts standing by. But the great thing about these guys is that whatever you wrote, no matter how rubbish it was, it would always sound fantastic because they had these lovely fruity voices, deep voices, melodic voices, maybe a voice which had a chuckle in it.

The big thing you learned in that department was how to write for different voices. And I can imagine that real writers, scriptwriters, have these voices in their mind and they can get it right. And after you’d been there for months you knew who was going to do different bits and you could write for them. That’s one of the things that I loved.

SK: It sounds like you really enjoyed your time.

AS: I had a lovely time at promotions, yes.

SK: But you wanted to move on?

AS: I did. It took me a while. I got a bit stuck. I applied quite soon for a director’s job, got an interview and didn’t get the job. The obvious next step was researcher, and I couldn’t crack it somehow. I don’t know whether I was too comfortable doing what I was doing, but I waited a long time for a researcher’s job. It did come along. And you needed a different ticket for that. You got an ACT card. Is that what I mean? It was ACT wasn’t it? And I had an NUJ card. Again I applied for a director’s job reasonably soon, and was told, “I’m very sorry…” – actually they weren’t very sorry, they were pretty nasty about it. They said, “Listen, you haven’t been in the ACT team for two years yet.” There was a cut-off point. And that was a bit frustrating.

SK: So you went to work as a researcher, starting in locals? How many years?

AS: I was four years in promotions, till 1983. In 1983 I went straight onto a network programme in entertainment, so I skipped locals. But I went back to locals because locals is actually a much better place to be. If you’re working on an entertainment programme as a researcher then you’re really booking and you’re just doing a lot of fairly mundane things. If you want to make programmes then you need to step into locals where you’ve got lots of opportunities. The main ones were on things like Granada Reports.

SK: Speaking of locals, what programmes were you working on there?

AS: The first one I worked on was called Some You Win, which was kind of cruelty television. I remember one of the items. It had five or six elements to it, short films really, or studio items. I’m not even sure of the premise now but I remember very clearly one film. I had to find a scriptwriter who’s never ever had anything published, produced or performed in his life. In other words you were looking for people who were life’s losers or life’s unlucky ones. It’s the first time I’ve talked about this or even thought about it for 35 years. I invited this guy up and we had his script and we went to a little church in Rostherne in Cheshire, and it was basically a kind of melodrama in which I think somebody was jilted at the altar. So I got a full film crew and a drama director and it had the full works and it was going to be three minutes of prime time television. And I don’t know whether I was stupid or caught up in it all but it wasn’t until I actually heard these actors reading the lines that I realised they were actually mercilessly ripping the mickey out of the text. And this chap who’d obviously come along very excited, he left. And I just felt dreadful. And I thought, “I don’t want to be anything to do with this.”

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SK: So you felt that Granada, or at least the actors, were exploiting..?

AS: No, I think that came from the director. The programme was not a very nice programme. A lot of TV is like that. It isn’t kind. Anyway, I didn’t have to do that for very long. I worked on pop programmes. Again my job was to meet record reps and be around for the filming and liaise with the bands and the band management. It wasn’t a huge job from my point on view. New Brighton Rock is one example. There was a good little one called Hold Tight which we filmed at Alton Towers. It was a children’s programme, again, network, with children going up a massive Snakes and Ladders board. It was a Leahy invention. It had bands doing their bit. It was presented by Sue Robbie and somebody.

[01:22]

So I did a lot of entertainment, but I think going into local programmes was much more my thing because I was working on half-hour films, so everything was longer-form. This England was a series that I think had enjoyed quite a reputation as a network series. But it wasn’t a network series when I joined, it was a regional programme. But I made loads of those. And they were half-hour films. I had about six weeks on each. The first three weeks was to think of something and then cast it, get people, think of locations, and design the story. Then a freelance director would be assigned who would have three weeks. They would have a week to walk the course with me, a week filming, and a week editing. That was one This England. I did 15 or 20 of those. I loved it.

SK: And what kind of thing were they doing? Was it quirky?

AS: Some were quirky. In Search Of The Wiggly Woo was about pantomime dames. Freshers’ Week was about Lancaster University. One of my favourites was about Shap[?] in Derbyshire, the highest village in England. It was cut off by bad weather and snow. It was one of those films that literally sprang from, “What are we going to do this week?” We were in The Stables then, it wasn’t the Green Room, the pub attached to Granada or the relaxing area, or whatever you want to call it, and we were well into our cups. Andy Mcloughlin was my boss at the time. He had this idea of going into Shap[?] with two researchers. One was Phil Griffin who went in behind the post van, and the other was me and I went in the helicopter. And the idea was that we both met in the village and literally, like a grenade, we just splashed out and talked to whoever we could find. And so in a day’s filming we had one half-hour film. And it was really good I thought. Lots like that.

SK: Did you work with good directors on those?

AS: One or two good directors. Do you want me to name them? People like Tony Bulley. And one or two not so good.

There was a parallel series called Celebration and that was an art series. I did some network editions of Celebration, but also when it wasn’t commissioned again they wanted to keep making them and they put them out locally. We did one about Nicholas Hytner, a profile of this young associate director at the Royal Exchange who went on to run the National. He’s just left now and he’s made a few feature films and he’s got lots of projects. A very clever man. And my experience on that film was one of the frustrations of being a researcher. What had been commissioned was a profile of this man. He had worked at Exeter Northcott and he’d worked at various regional theatres and done bits of this and that, none of which was very interesting. At the Royal Exchange he was doing Mumbo Jumbo which was a brand new play which won a new writers’ scheme run by the theatre. One afternoon we’d scheduled a bit of rehearsal filming just to see this man at work. For me, that should have been the whole film. Seeing a director at work. The cameraman on that day was Lawrence[sp?] Jones, who was a superb cameraman but also very strong hand-held. And so he literally followed Hytner around the rehearsal space, and Nick Steer probably did the sound because he did an awful lot of those ones with me. And between them, they got what was cooking before our very eyes. In those days film came in ten minute magazines so we ran one off without a cut. Nowadays you’d probably run off 34 minutes. Dreadful, slack film-making. But if you knew what you wanted, you’d normally work in small bursts. And then we ran another ten-minute film magazine off. And then perhaps a third. And I thought that was the film. We didn’t need any more. That is a working director. Let’s stick it out. But of course, it made three minutes of the final film and it was very disappointing.

[07:36]

So that was the frustration of a researcher’s job.

SK: So you stayed on This England for quite a while?

AS: Yes, I don’t know how long it was. We rattled through them. I don’t know what else I did there. I should have a list of programmes. It’s all gone into the ether, I can’t remember.

SK: After This England did you continue on locals?

AS: I can’t remember. I get confused because I went back as a director. I think around that time, it must have been coming up to around 1988, that’s when Granada was commissioned to make This Morning, which was a 2 hour 10 minute live middle-of-the-morning programme. I don’t know if it’s just because I wasn’t doing anything at the time, but they made me the producer on that. Probably technically acting producer, but producer none the less. My job was to get it up and running. There were two guys appointed on that first day: Pete Connors and me. And then three more producers came on board. And we each had one day.

SK: So you had been promoted to being a producer now?

AS: Well, I wouldn’t say I had been promoted. I was still a researcher but acting as a producer. Which had its own frustrations. But it seemed like a good idea at the time, and again, was a very enjoyable experience. I can take you through that if you like.

SK: Yes please.

AS: It’s a programme that was made out of Liverpool. This Morning was the brainchild of David Liddiment and Rod Caird, if I’m not mistaken. But I kind of got it. It was TV that could touch a lot of bases, and was there to entertain and had various things that the ITC had put in – not ITA; BA – about educational strands. So it had a whole load of stuff. But I seemed to be getting on Friday’s programme a lot of beauty and fashion which eventually – I don’t think people realised at the beginning – was almost the most popular element of the programme, so it got stripped through the week and almost took the programme over. That was a programme presented by Richard and Judy, who were a force, because I don’t think that had been done before, a husband and wife, or certainly partners. They were married at that time. And they were just fantastic, and very easy, I thought, to work with. They were both very experienced and the whole chemistry of the programme was to do with their relationship really, and they tried to relate most of what was done in the programme to their own personal experience. So everything was, “Oh, yes, that happened to me!” And that worked as a formula.

SK: And were there problems being Manchester-based and working out of Liverpool?

AS: It was unbelievably kind to people who were based in Manchester because we got an allowance. We got expenses for working away from base. So I not only got paid for doing the job, but I was also paid extra for being 30 miles away from where I lived. It really wasn’t a very difficult commute from Manchester to Liverpool.

SK: How long did you spend on This Morning?

AS: I did nearly the whole of the first series. I was yearning to be a director. Remember, I hadn’t been a director yet. I’d done little stuff on Granada Reports, we can come back to that later, but I hadn’t actually done what I’d set out to do when I’d joined the promotions department in 1979. I was doing a lot of producing but not a lot of directing. I thought, “I’ve got to leave the company in order to be a director”. I remember having this conversation, saying, “Okay, I really enjoy this and I’ve done a good job on This Morning and it’s gone really well, and now I want to direct”. And I had a number of projects I wanted to direct. And they said, “But that doesn’t suit us. You’re a producer. You’re producing this programme.”

I wasn’t going to win so I left at that point, and was immediately re-hired as a director! But I guess it was win-win. I don’t know what was going on really. But I joined a local programme called Down To Earth with Bob Smithies. I did a couple of those, and then I went to the BBC in London and joined the BBC documentaries unit in Kensington Road. All network programmes. And then the natural history unit, and TV features in Bristol.

[13:44]

SK: When did you leave Granada?

AS: 1989.

SK: So the company at that stage was beginning to change quite radically.

AS: Right, it was. But I was fairly insulated from that change. I think the change was about to come and I noticed it more when I left and came back. Do you want me to talk a little bit about the change?

I think the only insight I can offer is that when I was working for an independent production company, we were commissioned to make a film for the combined sales houses of ITV. The film was not for broadcast to the public. It was aimed at media buyers who placed adverts at ITV. The industry was changing because it was more fragmented. Car manufacturers were being encouraged to spend their money on motoring channels. And the thrust of the little film that we were making was that you get more bangs for your buck by hitting a bigger audience with ITV, because you pick up all these guys anyway. But they were trying to save money, obviously. Anyway, as part of this, one of our ambassadors making the case was Jerry Robinson who was running Granada at the time. So I went down to Golden Square where he had his bare office, and I commented on his bare office.

SK: Bare, in that there was nothing in the office?

AS: There was nothing in the office. And he made a fantastic case, saying, “Why would I spend any time in this office when I could possibly avoid it, when I could be somewhere else?” This seemed quite a cogent argument at the time. We were going in, we were doing a job, we were somewhere to do it, and here’s an interview. But this is the point I was going to make. He said, “You work for Granada. Can you tell me, how do you think morale is?” So I think that was playing quite high in his consciousness and he was trying to address that probably, and I don’t know how he did it because I was in and out of Granada, or whether he did it. But I think he detected quite a lot of dispiriting murmurs coming out of the place and some downright rebellion, I would suggest. But I wasn’t a part of any of that because I wasn’t as Granada at the time.

SK: What kind of company was Granada prior to that? Was it a friendly company? Patronising? Paternalistic?

AS: I think it might be slightly different coming from the promotions perspective because we were running our own little outfit and we touched all the other departments and there wasn’t the family feeling of the camera department, for example, or ‘film operations’ as it was called. We weren’t in the makeup and costume department. We were touching everything, so I didn’t feel there was particularly somebody putting their arm around me.

What I did find is that all the individuals I met might be divided into people who would encourage young people and others who’s kind of rough them up or resent them a bit. There were very few of the latter. I only met people who I thought were trying to help me. And the kind of example of that is that in promos you’d always be trying to get machinery but you hadn’t booked it, not because you were incompetent, but because things moved on and you hadn’t quite got round to it. People would help you. They’d say “yeah we can do that for you.”

As for whether it was paternalistic, I have heard people say that. But I kind of think you need to have a mentor or somebody that’s looking out for you or trying to guide your career. I didn’t get any sense of that. I’ve always felt a bit of an outsider. And maybe I was unusual. I didn’t really ever fit in snugly.

SK: Were they encouraging to people to develop their own ideas? I talked to a lot of people about the BBC, and they say programmes at the BBC get made in spite of them, whereas Granada was just the very opposite.

AS: I think the advantage that Granada had, and we’re going back to the early days here, is that it was a big beast in the jungle. We were one of the big five in a federation of fifteen. We had a big chunk of the schedule. So if we wanted to make a programme we had our share and we just commissioned ourselves to do it. At the commissioning level, not at my level. So programmes got made. And probably didn’t need a lot of people to convince to do that. All my ideas were through the local department. I never had any network ideas because I was usually assigned to an existing network programme. So I didn’t feel I was encouraged in that sense. But later on as a freelancer they were all over you. There was an awkward time when you’d get a three month contract or six month contract and if you were going to have an idea that you felt had to be made, you wouldn’t necessarily share it with Granada, it just didn’t work like that. So some of my best stuff never got near Granada. And I think they began to address that later on after my time with trying to incentivise people and say, you know, you will get a bit of a percentage.

SK: You talked a bit about The Stables or the Old School as it then became. Is that were ideas were fomented?

AS: I think it was a very rich place to be. I suppose it always helped to have a drink in your hand but I rarely went up through [this strata? 22:28], I wasn’t hanging around with executive producers at this time. I would be hanging around with my mates, people I was working with, some people I was playing football, because a bit of the family side was that we had a football team and a cricket team and we ran competitions with other ITV companies. But no, I think the example of make the This England where you’re just sitting having a drink with your mate and then it pops into your head, yes, but that also happened at lunchtime during allegedly working hours. So I think it was a force for the good.

Occasionally, I would go and break the ice with somebody I didn’t know, and I could think of one particular example, and that was a producer called Peter Eckersley, who was a drama producer. And I just wanted to go and talk drama because I wondered what it was about. And he was most generous, and we just sat there and talked about it, talked about the programmes they were making, and it was just a lovely time. But I didn’t make a habit of going round tapping people on the shoulder. It happened more organically I think.

SK: And you mentioned the canteen?

AS: The canteen was fantastic. Irma lives long in our memories. She came round with a tea urn actually, right round the building. Irma in the canteen – “CHIPS OR MASH!?” But very soon, she’d know whether you were a chips man or a mash man so you’d get it if your plate went forward. Very irritating if you felt like mash. But Irma was a legend. All of them actually. Pretty good fun. Not grumpy. And that was a great feature. There weren’t very many grumpy people at Granada. Only later on.

SK: Did you ever work in Liverpool?

AS: I was one of the five launch producers of This Morning. I worked on Exchange Flags for a season. I think Shelly Roadie was presenting it with Nick Turnbull, was it? And Mike Short was the producer. There was not much for a researcher to do, really. You had an idea of who you might want on that week’s programme, and you rang them up and you had a little chat and you did some notes for the presenter. None of this is work. It was just good fun! I’m trying to think who we had. John Cleese and Billy Connolly and the nun…

SK: The nun?

AS: The skating nun. Not Phil’s nun. Yeah, if you fancied meeting someone you just rang them up and said to come on the programme, if you just ran it by someone first. What else do you want to know about Exchange Flags?

SK: Was it different working out of Exchange Flags? Was it a closer-knit operation?

AS: No. I don’t know.

SK: You clearly like art. Did the Granada collection of art appeal to you? Was that something important?

AS: I loved that Bacon right in the foyer. I wasn’t really conscious. I just heard that when people got their own office, and I never got my own office, they got to choose something and put it on the wall. I was never that rarefied and I never got am own bit of art. But wouldn’t it have been nice to have a Lowry or something up there? I know the Barnum and Bailey stuff was in the canteen, and I understood why it was there. It was all part of the myth, really, of Granada, and trying to make a story.

SK: Did you ever really come across Bernstein or Forman?

AS: No. I think Scott and Plowright would have been on a couple of boards. I probably did four directors’ boards and didn’t get any of them. That horrible moment when you get through one that’s not gone very well. One time I was just desperately grasping and I said, “There’s something I wish I’d had the time to talk about, and that’s [presenting director camera?]in a drama like Alfie, and you’re involved, and the characters come out of their role and engage you directly.” And I think it was Plowright who said, “It’s alright, we can stick around, you’ve got two minutes.” But of course that’s not what you want to hear. And you just dissolve into jelly and run out with your tail between your legs.

But on that board I have to say there were several Hollywood directors. People that make Star Wars films who went on, David Castle and all that. There were six of us on that final board I think. And Gareth. People who had a huge reputation in the theatre. And little me. I kind of think maybe I was shooting too high.

SK: Is there anything else you wanted to talk about?

AS: If you pause that, we’ll have a little chat.

<end of audio file: Andy Serraillier.2.MP3>

<end of interview>

 

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