Chris Kelly on his work on World In Action

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I worked on World in Action for years. I was the sort of principal commentator sort of thing… well, for one season, Bill and I did the links live in the studio, which was great – although it can’t have been that great because they dropped it! And I didn’t get a credit to begin with. They were like this. They didn’t like giving you credits unless you were sort of the brains behind the show, or the producer or director or whatever. And I finally thought, “This is not really very fair.” I’m a freelance, and freelancers live or die by people knowing their work. So I wrote to David Bolton, I think, who was the exec at the time, and said, “Not having a credit is like an acrobat having one leg; it doesn’t really work.” And so they luckily saw it my way. I did it for at least 10 years, I think. I lived in Cambridge at the time and I drove up from Cambridge pretty well every Monday and back again. And the M62 wasn’t built in those days. I remember one November when I was driving a fairly clapped out Volvo, the windscreen shattered as I was coming over the top. And it was bloody cold! In those days we wore these silly voile shirts – very trendy but not very practical. So when I got to Granada, I practically had to be chipped out of the seat it was so cold! But that was great, because although my role was tangential, you might say, there were big things we were talking about, And World in Action had an enormous influence in those days. I remember doing a story about (John) Poulson, the crooked councillor, or architect, one of the two, in Newcastle, and I remember them saying, the researchers said they went through the details 16 times to get it right. Took months and months; something that would never happen now, of course. And it got Poulson his mayor, T. Dan Smith, he was the councillor. Got them both kicked out. So… and I think governments quaked in their boots at World in Action – it was strong. It was very powerful. And that kind of influence has died, and I think that’s to the detriment of all of us, frankly. Because investigative journalism is expensive and we’re not prepared to spend the money on it any more.

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