Coming up to around 1988, that’s when Granada was commissioned to make This Morning, which was a 2 hour 10 minute live middle-of-the-morning programme. I don’t know if it’s just because I wasn’t doing anything at the time, but they made me the producer on that. Probably technically acting producer, but producer none the less. My job was to get it up and running. There were two guys appointed on that first day: Pete Connors and me. And then three more producers came on board. And we each had one day.
So you had been promoted to being a producer now?
Well, I wouldn’t say I had been promoted. I was still a researcher but acting as a producer. Which had its own frustrations. But it seemed like a good idea at the time, and again, was a very enjoyable experience. …
It’s a programme that was made out of Liverpool. This Morning was the brainchild of David Liddiment and Rod Caird, if I’m not mistaken. But I kind of got it. It was TV that could touch a lot of bases, and was there to entertain and had various things that the ITC had put in about educational strands. So it had a whole load of stuff. But I seemed to be getting on Friday’s programme a lot of beauty and fashion, which eventually – I don’t think people realised at the beginning – was almost the most popular element of the programme, so it got stripped through the week and almost took the programme over. That was a programme presented by Richard and Judy, who were a force, because I don’t think that had been done before, a husband and wife, or certainly partners. And they were just fantastic, and very easy, I thought, to work with. They were both very experienced and the whole chemistry of the programme was to do with their relationship really, and they tried to relate most of what was done in the programme to their own personal experience. So everything was, “Oh, yes, that happened to me!” And that worked as a formula.
And were there problems being Manchester-based and working out of Liverpool?
It was unbelievably kind to people who were based in Manchester because we got an allowance. We got expenses for working away from base. So I not only got paid for doing the job, but I was also paid extra for being 30 miles away from where I lived. It really wasn’t a very difficult commute from Manchester to Liverpool.
How long did you spend on This Morning?
AS: I did nearly the whole of the first series. I was yearning to be a director. Remember, I hadn’t been a director yet. I’d done little stuff on Granada Reports, we can come back to that later, but I hadn’t actually done what I’d set out to do when I’d joined the promotions department in 1979. I was doing a lot of producing but not a lot of directing. I thought, “I’ve got to leave the company in order to be a director”. I remember having this conversation, saying, “Okay, I really enjoy this and I’ve done a good job on This Morning and it’s gone really well, and now I want to direct”. And I had a number of projects I wanted to direct. And they said, “But that doesn’t suit us. You’re a producer. You’re producing this programme.”
I wasn’t going to win so I left at that point, and was immediately re-hired as a director! But I guess it was win-win.