Andre Singer on taking over the role of series editor for Disappearing World – and then leaving Granada

Well, it was different for me. Brian (Moser) had the wonderful sort of patronage and support of Denis and basically, I think things were challenging but much easier at that time. By the time I took over, we had, besides those union problems which I described, Disappearing World was no longer… it had been going for quite a while. It had been going probably for about 10 years by then or a bit less, so it was not in its full flush of glory, and it was difficult for me to find the money and the budget and the support inside Granada to do as much as Brian was able to do. So I was constrained to doing about three films a year, rather than six, which we’d tried to do before. Editorially, it was absolutely fine. Nobody… I think at that time, first of all, it was Mike Scott, programme controller, and then it was Steve Morrison. So, I worked with both of them. Steve Morrison took more of a hands-on interest than Mike Scott did.

And so, I did three films, first of all, which were interesting and successful films, in Africa, that was when we did the first all-female team with Claudia Milne going off to West Africa, when I did one about Witchcraft Among the Azande.

And then I wanted to do something different, and wanted to do China, and no foreign crews had filmed in China at that time. And Steve Morrison was quite excited at the thought of that, so he and I went to China together to negotiate. And that again was one of those slightly surreal – and just on the gossipy level, Steve wouldn’t deny it, was quite a funny event – because Steve Morrison was in full economic mode for Granada and he was a very ambitious man, really wanted to transform Granada, and we went and sat down at banquets with the Chinese and instead of negotiating, what I wanted were the three tribal films that I wanted to put together there, he wanted to negotiate a deal with the Chinese to sell Granada televisions. Granada was in the rental business then. He wanted to sell Granada televisions to China. Immediately he saw this fantastic business opportunity. So, all these meetings were dominated by Steve trying to do business deals, which nobody there knew what we were talking about because that wasn’t why we’d been invited in the first place.

But it was a successful trip and we got the permission. And so, Leslie and I then went off and did the two films and cancelled the third one. But it was the first time a Western crew had filmed there and so it was clear it was a successful sort of… for me, it was a successful swan song because that stopped the series again and I had the choice of either staying on in Granada and them finding another role for me, and I, even though I’d done two years on World in Action, I was not a journalist, and I didn’t have the same sensibilities that they have, and I was stuck with a non-role.

So that’s when I had been made an offer to go and make a big series for Central, for Richard Creasey again. And so I left. (in 1982)

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