The Studio Tours project, tell us a little bit about that. Was that Plowright’s idea?
Very much so, yes, yes. It was a good idea in an inadequate location basically.
Yes because we put a lot of work into it in advance, even to the point I would go to America on National Association of Broadcasters’ Convention thing and I stopped off at Disneyland in Orlando and I had heard that you could have a guided tour. You paid a bit more and you got a guided tour, so I signed on in the morning for the guided tour and a very attractive young lady from the Walt Disney University, graduate, appeared in fancy dress and she was the guide and she knew everything about it. There was on about six of us and I had a chance to sit down with her and discuss it and one of things that emerged and that we were able to verify later on is that these tours, and this is America we’re talking about, the size of America, these tours actually need refreshing every so often, more capital investment. I made a note. I thought that was interesting. Then we went farther in to it and we realised that in the space we had, you can’t let in more than a, given fire and safety rules, given number of people, so if you did the sums, took a view about capacity and what you’re going to well in that limited space and we worked out quite rightly, you can probably sell out every time you did it, but there weren’t enough people that went through to give you a profit and enough money for capital renewal, so it was never going to be… it wasn’t going to be a growth investment.
David wanted it badly, and in those days, if David wanted something, he got it. It didn’t matter if you were going to lose money. We also had one of those theatres put in where surround sound and the seat moves with the action on the screen. All that did was make a lot of people sick. That wasn’t a great hit actually, but that was the problem. The idea that people would queue around the block to… that’s true and it would still be true today I’m sure, but it always comes down to logistics, doesn’t it. The fire brigade would not agree to any more than about 350 being in at one time. I can’t remember the exact details and the capital renewal programme was eating up profits.
You’re saying that the site wasn’t big enough?
No. Absolutely not, but what it was good, in a way David was right about this, the Studios Tour, the Stables Theatre, the hotel… well, David’s feeling and I’m sure that if you want a regional television service in this country, you will not get anybody more regional than Granada. That’s true, but when the money men arrive, particularly when you want an open-ended franchise which is what the final thing was for the broadcasting at 1990. Those franchises were open-ended. They were deemed to be held on a commercial basis, therefore they were deemed once you got it, you got it.
Then the money men just look at it and say, “Well, that’s not making any money.” Although I don’t know… I think it was after Charles Allen came in. I think that was one of the first things that went. He’s an accountant.
Was there ever a move to relocate the main Grenada building, Granada TV, that was ever under consideration to go to somewhere cheaper in Warrington or something?
Well way before we seriously said, I actually at one stage made the proposal because I mean I looking ahead, I couldn’t see how this brick and mortar in Manchester were going to be what would need and the technology changing, location activity. I suggested at one point that we should actually build two, seriously modern all singing and dancing studios adjacent to Manchester Airport, but that didn’t get very far.