Alastair Mutch and Granada’s franchise bid

Being Company Secretary at that point I was at all the board meetings, all the discussions, all the drafts of the documents that went into the submission. And, of course, the secrecy around it was enormous. We knew we were under threat from Liverpool. Phil Redmond was pitching. I don’t know if you know about a certain amount of covert intelligence went on in that direction. Well, let’s say that our researchers were most impressive! So, we knew pretty well everything that was coming from that direction. Should have used as a shredder, shouldn’t they?

And then, of course, we were pitching for Tyne Tees, so we all travelled north in a little plane with one or two of the Coronation Street folks, and tried to impress local councillors and people of note in the northeast, all to no avail because we didn’t win the franchise, but it was worth a try.

I mean it was a forerunner really of everything that happened as ITV amalgamated. But it was a time of great paranoia. We were approached by somebody who said that there was a mole in our hierarchy who was divulging information, and in evidence, he produced some quite telling bits of information. So much so that Plowright certainly believed it to be true. I travelled to meet him in Amsterdam where he was going to reveal all, but he was a scammer. He’d done the same to Phil Redmond, and he’d done it through phone calls to accountants at Granada. And if you’re a good sort of journalist, you can extract more than people intend to give away, so he’d got some facts and figures, but as I say, he was a scammer. But it just showed the sort of paranoia around that time.

We won with a very low quote. I think it was nine million, which was pretty healthy compared with what other companies were paying – and that was all down to Plowright. So it was a good bid, and there was much celebration when the result was announced. Everyone was going out for meals celebrating, and then, of course, shortly afterwards, it all hit the fan. I mean, we’d had Derek Lewis in charge of, chief executive of, group, and Derek was very much an MBA type. He was a businessman, and profit was the key, and all the companies of Granada were kowtowing to his reign, except Plowright, who wanted to go in his own way, making good programmes at whatever the cost. So there was a great deal of to-ing and fro-ing between Derek Lewis and David Plowright, and of course eventually Plowright won out, and Derek resigned and went on to run the prisons, at which point they brought in Gerry Robinson and Charles Allen. And that was a whole different ball game.

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