Derek Granger on his close working relationship with Sidney Bernstein

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And then I suddenly – ha! – in Granada’s typical way, I was made head of the play department, and rather eccentrically they didn’t call it head of drama which would have been sensible, I became head of the play department. But the interesting thing there was that I was working directly with the proprietor Sidney Bernstein, who really presided over the play department in a totally personal way – and this is the other thing about Granada in those days, it was extraordinary that the two proprietors had this intense intimate relationship with the programmes they made. I mean, Sidney was passionate about drama, and very kind of well versed in it. I mean, he knew his theatre, just as he knew his cinema. And he had a very special taste, and we sometimes rowed about it… I once accused him of losing a rather interesting English play, which was a play by Clive Exton. And I said, “Well, you didn’t want it!” And he said, “You should have opposed me more fiercely! You must oppose me!” So one had a very, very intimate relationship with the proprietors, and it was wonderful in a way because in the early days, Sidney had… after every single programme that went out he would have one post-mortem in his office and all the key people who’d made the programme would rush up to the office. It didn’t matter whether it was a current affairs programme or a news programme, we would go in, and he would have his various obsessions, one of which was women with clanking earrings. He couldn’t bear pendant earrings – he said they swung about and put people off who were watching. So he had this little quirks, but he was wonderfully really… he had this intense interest in everything that Granada did, but from a creative point of view, and in the play department he really played a fundamental role; I sometimes saw that was a bit redundant. But anyway, that’s what I was. As I say, he was very much part of it. He had very, very… we did a lot of Arthur Miller plays. He had a very, very strong case for the social conscience plays of the good American writers like Arthur Miller. He’d liked Tennessee Williams, Tennessee Williams is a bit flamboyant for his rather austere tastes. But Arthur Miller we did a great deal of, including obscure plays like A Memory of Two Mondays as well as the main ones. As I say, Sidney had a very, very powerful influence on the development of Granada’s drama.

 

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