I did eventually meet Sidney, three months in. By which time, I’d encountered the Sidney Bernstein myths and legends. Didn’t like suede shoes, didn’t like cord trousers, didn’t like men with beards, and all this stuff that… anyway, I didn’t own any suede shoes or didn’t have any cord trousers, and I didn’t have a beard. And I had a very relaxed interview with him. I was somewhat in awe of the guy. Even then, he was in his 60s.
He said a number of things, but he said, “We are an independent company.” Which indeed they were in those days, because the Granada share structure. Although Granada was a quoted company with two pluses of shares. The Bernstein family owned the voting shares, and the punters owned the ordinary shares. So when he said we are independent, I mean he was able to be… he said we had high standards and if you see something that’s wrong with this company, tell somebody. And if you have a good idea, you must tell somebody. And then he just got to his feet, shook my hand and said, “Good luck, young man.”
So, when I arrived in Manchester… I had to come up a month ahead of my wife. I spoke to Derek Roberts and said, “Where can I stay?” And he booked me into some theatrical digs. A lovely lady called Marjorie Howie, in Rusholme, and her husband was Harry Howie, who was a foreman scene shifter at the BBC. People staying there at the time were Rolf Harris, a very well-known television actor called Peter Jeffries, a bunch of assorted artists who were doing something at the Palace. And I’d began to get the feeling this wasn’t going to be quite like General… General Motors.