Thelma McGough describes her first contact with GTV

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Well, long before I joined I was very familiar with the building, and a lot of the staff before I actually became employed there. In the late 60s, I’d done a fashion show with a friend of mine, we were students at Liverpool College of Art. I was a painter, but we decided to set up a label. It was in the Sink Club, which was a trendy club in Hardman Street, and it was attended by Jean Muir, the fashion designer, and a reporter. There was a lot of publicity, so Granada whisked us over in a limo, and we were interviewed by a very dashing and ebullient Mike Scott, with a shock of black hair, and we were dressed in the clothes that we’d done. So that was my first visit. The second visit was… Chris Kelly was producing a programme called X. The letter X plus ten, T-E-N. And I was screen tested for that in the Manchester studios, as one of the supposedly bright young things in the audience – not in the audience, I beg your pardon – in the studio. And X was the person being interrogated in the chair, and I was selected. We were sent every week a package in the mail of written notes about X who we were meant to grill to death. So Anna Ford was one of the other nine people, young people. I think she was the president or something at Manchester Uni at that time, and a guy who became a producer at Thames television later when I worked there, whose name escapes me. I think I was absolutely useless as part of that group, because I rather admired some of the people that we had, or admired their achievements, rather than despised them and wanted to put them on the spot. And also the other nine people were very eager to have their voice heard. And I’ve always been a watcher really, someone who is serious and looks at things before I make judgments. But also it seemed cruel to me. Godfrey Winn was one of the X people, and he seemed old and frail, and I wasn’t going to give him a hard time. And Quintin Hogg was another, and he walked into the studio on sticks and with a orthopaedic boot, and I just felt that it was too easy to mock people that were – mock isn’t the correct word – you were meant to interrogate them, and I had no stomach for it. One of the people that came in was a journalist and a writer called Robert Pitman, who wrote for The Express. And he got a real ribbing from the crew. But afterwards we always went to a club, I think it was the Twisted Wheel, and I think John Birt was the exec producer, and Bob Pitman was sat there, people kind of shunned him, and he said to me, “Why don’t you go and ask him to dance?” I thought, “Why not?” So I did, and we became lifelong friends until he died of leukaemia in, I think was it… ‘69. During this X Plus 10 show, all 10 of us were taken to London – so Granada must have been flush with funds – to stay in Brown’s Hotel, which is not cheap, because Vic Lownes, Victor Lownes, the chief exec of Playboy UK, was going to be the guest. So we were taken there, and we spent the evening in the Playboy Club, interrogating bunny girls. We were meant to be tearing them to shreds, but the bunny girls I spoke to really enjoyed the job, so I couldn’t quarrel with these things, personally. So I knew the building from that. John Birt also produced Nice Time with Germaine Greer and Kenny Everett, and I was invited to be in the audience for that and go to the wrap parties. And then being married to Roger McGough, we would go over – because he doesn’t drive – and so I’d drive him over to take part in Johnny Hamp’s programmes and other programmes. So I was very familiar with the building, and I loved the building because, as an artist, the walls were dripping with wonderful, up-to-the-minute art. So if you went in through the car park entrance, there were John Bratby’s on the wall. In Committee Room C – but I didn’t know this until later – was a Robyn Denny painting which I always admired. Huge painting. And of course, in the foyer was the Pope, by Francis Bacon, obviously. So it was always a joy to be wandering round the corridors of Granada Television. So I was very familiar with the building.

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