Forman said to me, “I want you set up a new thing called head of production services,” and that means everything behind the camera. The creative guys and the director… they’re in front of the camera and the whole point is to service them, and we’ve got to find a new way of forecasting costs, of controlling costs. In fact, Sidney Bernstein was on that meeting as well. And so we discussed this at some length, and at the conclusion of the meeting Denis said, “We want you to make the TV centre a place where all the best talent will want to work.” And Sidney said, “At the right price.”
Well, that then led to… I was invited onto something called the Programme Committee, which was a Forman-led thing, which met every month with the top programme makers of the day in Granada, and they debated what we’d done, criticised what they’d done. I didn’t criticise. Talked about where the focuses should be in current affairs, documentary drama. And it was a marvellous thing to attend, because there were a lot of very talented people there, like Peter Eckersley and Jeremy Wellington, the wild man of current affairs, Derek Granger, the most articulate man I’ve ever heard in my life, particularly when he was cross. And so management became involved in the creative process.
So, the changes that we brought about was that we had to look at location management, and we created six new jobs, six new guys. I think three or even four of them had been a floor manager. Another one was Keith Thompson, who’d been the librarian in the film library. I can’t remember the others’ names. There’s just… but we struck a kind of modus operandi where, when a project was being put together, a drama say, and the team were appointed, everybody involved, had to read the script and we attempted something called, from what we knew, which wasn’t a great deal at the time, something way ahead of the actual budget, it was called ‘cost magnitude’. In other words, we tried to put in the big cost blocks that were going to surround this particular project. The location managers were to be just that. They were to find locations, manage locations, be there so that from the very beginning. There was a dedicated team that had read the script, knew the director’s and producer’s ambitions, formed views which then would go back to Denis Forman, who supervised just about everything going in those days. And eventually we got the green light to get into absolutely detailed… the location managers had ridden out and determined accommodation costs and all that good stuff. And off we went.
And the ambition really was to have a kind of constructive collaboration between production manager and the creatives, and I think it worked. Well, Country Matters was a huge success. Brideshead Revisited became the legend that it is, even though it got interrupted halfway through by a national strike.
Jewel in the Crown, that was a miracle really, Jewel in the Crown, because again, Denis Forman asked me to see him one day and I went to his office and, on all available wall space in his office were diagrams, arrows going… and Jewel in the Crown was a kind of production of four different novels, all telling the same story, but from different points of view.
And Forman, who was a genius in my opinion. It’s quite interesting. While he was doing all this, he actually wrote a definitive book on Mozart’s piano concertos, so you’re dealing with quality. And he said, “All they’ve got to do,” he said, “is we’re going to need a lot of money and it can’t all come from Granada, and I doubt it can all come from the network, so it’s going to have to come from you-know-where, America, as had Brideshead, so we’ve got to put a price on this.” And so, not just with me, all sorts of people. He sat there and people came in and, in the end, we sort of had enough for him to go to the group board and persuade them that he wasn’t off his head.
So that’s what that was all about, and that was a big sea change in Granada, because up until then, as I’ll touch on again in a moment, everything really in the past had been engineering-led, because at the start the engineers actually kept you on the air, and the technology was not reliable. Things were substantially reliable, but things still needed to be mended but now Granada was becoming a programming engine, really, and all resources from behind the camera were going to be focused. It was mostly, the big project stuff, was going to happen outside the building, and that was exciting at the time.