When you joined Granada, Yorkshire Television was still part of the…
How did that work?
I don’t know. As far as I was concerned… by going out and doing reports in Yorkshire. I remember interviewing Laurence Olivier at the Sheffield Playhouse. One story with Les Woodhead directing, which was a guy who had made a model of Leeds Town Hall out of matchsticks – this was a pretty intellectual stuff we were dealing with, you understand! – and I went to Scarborough and did films… and yes, we just seemed to have a wider brief.
It’s a huge area.
Yes, a huge area. Yes. I don’t know whether Yorkshire felt hard done by us, as everyone thinks of it as being Granadaland, you know? Sidney wanted it to be called Granadaland, didn’t he? He wanted passports at the front here, and… maybe a different language. So yes, it felt broader.
Was there an office there?
I don’t think there was an office there, no, there was in London of course, so in Golden Square there was a office run by a man called Denis Pitts, he was a charmer of the old school. Dennis used to have to get people in for interview, and they would be inserted into the programme. I think he dragged them off the street half the time! It was all very exciting, but… and that was another thing, I mean there was the London element. You were bigger than just Manchester and Liverpool. Wider horizons.
And how would that show itself?
Well, by stories set in these places and by the feeling that, you know, here’s a man in London who’s talking to somebody else a long way away from, 200 miles away from, Manchester. And different perspectives.
And the celebratory… I mean a lot of people… how do you view Granada now? Do you see Granada as a company that was outstanding and worth working for? Were there problems?
Well, the first part of your question, I regard it as a city on the hill. I mean, it was unique. I mean, it was just… adventurous, progressive, creative, brave – everything you wanted it to be. And you know, you had The Beatles in one studio and Laurence Olivier playing Lear in another. I believe the first – according to the book – the first drama series they made was a Jacobean tragedy. So as well as the streets, it had a foot in both intellectual camps. And famously, Sidney had portraits of PT Barnum in his offices, to remind you that the business was show fundamentally, but it was much more than that. It was intellectually curious, and… what other company can you compare it with? Thames? I don’t think so. It was a powerhouse. And there aren’t any powerhouses now.
And it was northern.
It was northern, yes – but it felt a bit more than northern. It felt universal in a way. As I say, it reached out beyond the north.