Eric Harrison on his early days at GTV in the mid 1950’s

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I was working at the BBC in television in the north region, I was a general assistant as they call them, in other words cameraman, sound engineer, general dogsbody – and due to various reasons I got quite upset about the BBC and I saw this advert for Granada. So I applied. And I’ve since found correspondence, I applied in March of ‘55, and in the September of ‘55 I was asked to go to London to talk to them and to be interviewed by Harry Watt, who obviously said the fact they wanted me. Then I got a contract from them; I joined officially on January 2, ‘56. I went to London with two other people from BBC north region. ……So I joined on January 2 but they didn’t start a training course until the January 9 at the old Viking studios, as they were called, an old film studio in London which was operated by Marconi Demonstration Unit

After a week of helping to train people, I left for Manchester to pick up the outside, two outside broadcast units, which Granada had got, and in their great wisdom decided to call ‘travelling eyes’. This was Sidney’s (Bernstein) idea from the logo of CBS television in America, because he thought it was… what Americans called outside broadcast, ‘remote’. But he didn’t like the term ‘outside broadcast’, so it was called ‘travelling eye’, which we felt a bit self-conscious about at the time. We were parked first of all at the old tobacco warehouse, which is no longer there, because they knocked it down. It became the college across the way from Granada. And next door to it was a pub called The Balking Donkey where, needless to say we all congregated. In the building we then showed the new cameraman how to operate cameras, because Mike Waller was senior cameraman of one unit, and the unit I was on, we were still waiting for somebody to come from BBC Cardiff, a man called Eric Prytherch.
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So we arrived in Manchester and as I say it was the old tobacco warehouse, and then because at this time they hadn’t built the garage at the back of Granada, which was still being built, if you remember it was built by Ralph Tubbs who did the Festival of Britain. There was no parking room for the outside broadcast unit, so we were sent out to the Cusson’s soap factory in Salford, and we all began to smell of roses of course, because the whole place was… I mean, at Christmas it was great because you could get discounted soap and things for girlfriends and wives and what have you. And we worked out of that for four or five months at least. Before they went on air, the two outside broadcast units every day went out and did do a job. In other words, we went to a town, we set up, we interviewed the local mayor who could see himself on the monitor, and then rah, rah, rah, we’re Granada television, and that’s what we did, until… until we went on air the first day.

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