Brian Blake talks about Granada as an employer

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You talked about the Granada ethos, what kind of company was Granada, would you like to expand on that?

It’s difficult not to be clichéd about it. It had a genuine interest in all the people, in the early days certainly. Some moved from London to Manchester, you’ve still got the same thing now with the BBC in Salford. There’s this problem of getting people to move to the North from the South. We didn’t have that problem so much; it was only ‘World in Action’ really that had that problem. The management always lived in London of course, they came up on a Monday say and they had flats in Manchester and back on Friday. The ‘World in Action’ team was half London, half Manchester roughly speaking. Everybody was going up and down. They wanted people to move to Manchester, I remember one producer he said “I can’t afford to move to Manchester” and they paid his deposit. That’s the sort of thing they did.

People who were drunk, there was a tremendous amount of drunkenness in those days; it was the old journalists tradition of hard drinking. People were sent to sanatoriums to dry out, a lot of that went on behind the scenes, it wasn’t broadcast. So in that sense a very benevolent company.

As I said earlier they took gambles on people, like Brian Armstrong a fine documentary maker suddenly became head of comedy. How did that happen? It couldn’t happen anywhere else. They just looked at people individually, they had time to do that and they took flies.

I must say they were a very good company to work for, good fun. A few ups and downs, a few shouting matches but of course they encouraged that. They used to invite people up to the seventh floor at Granada for a dinner party. The whole idea was to get everybody drunk so that you would actually speak out what you thought of them or what you thought of Granada, a sort of bonding session.

There was one famous one with Denis Forman. We were all up there about ten ‘World in Action’ producers, all sparky individuals, all thinking we’re pretty good. He said “There’s only been two directors in the whole history of television and cinema who are great, who are famous, who are really good.”We all said “Oh yeah, who’s that then?” “Orson Welles and Ken Russell.” And we all started throwing bread rolls at him. People were picking up bread rolls from the table and throwing them.

He loved that, that’s the sort of thing they did. They wanted controversy, they wanted people to let their hair down and speak their minds. And you could speak your mind, you could say what you liked. So that was all good, no complaints there at all.

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