How did you come to join Granada? Because I don’t think you set out to be a filmmaker, did you?
Not at all, absolutely not. I knew nothing about film whatsoever. I was a potentially bad academic at the time, and finishing, or writing up, a doctorate at Oxford and worrying about what might have happened to me at that time, which is probably get a lectureship in St Andrews University or something, and ending up there for the rest of my life, and I knew it wasn’t really for me. And I read an advert in the New Statesman, which was Brian Moser advertising for anthropologists to help on a new Granada Television series. And it was interesting, because there I was in a very conservative department of anthropology – Oxford was probably the biggest and most conservative of them all – and the idea of leaving that to go into film and television of all things, it was against everything they stood for in those days. But it sounded fun to me, and it sounded like an escape, so I applied, and as they say, the rest was history. I got interviewed by Brian, and started. I hadn’t finished my doctorate at that time; I got a sabbatical a couple of years later from Brian and went back and finished it. I joined in 1973, and the series had been going for a couple of years by then. And Brian had done the earlier ones in South America with Charlie Nairn. And three of us joined at the same time then.
So who were the three?
Melissa Llewelyn-Davies was one. And somebody called Angela Burr who left quite soon afterwards, was another. And me. And also, we had an undergraduate called Pattie Winter who joined us also at that time, who was basically coordinating the work that we were doing in the department.
So, were you familiar with the programme before you joined?
No. No, knew nothing about them whatsoever, and hadn’t seen them. I mean, I think the first one I saw was The Last of the Cuiva, but that was really when I’d already agreed to join and so on.
So, were you interviewed in Manchester or in London? And what was that like?
Good question. No, the first interview was in London with Brian, in Golden Square. And in fact, it was quite late on when we started going to Manchester. The whole hub of the series was really London. There was Brian, Chris Curling. And in fact, people like Charlie Nairn and Leslie, who came on later, weren’t really based in the Disappearing World office, they were almost like freelancers coming in and out. So, it was quite a small unit we had in Golden Square, which was the researchers, a coordinator/secretary figure, Brian, and me.