I arrived at Piccadilly Station, Manchester, the day Labour won the 1964 election. “Told you the trains’d run late once they got in” I heard from a voice behind me, but I cared nothing for late trains or election fever. I was on my way to my first proper job: Call Girl at Granada TV.
My prospects hadn’t looked good. After graduating with an English degree from Exeter university, all the Careers Advisor could suggest was a job as an air hostess. My application to Rediffusion TV, then holders of the Midlands TV franchise, met with an apologetic note from the Personnel department saying they didn’t employ women except in a secretarial capacity. Wish I’d kept that letter but fury made me burn it.
And then came the offer from GTV. Granada was a forward-thinking company whose management saw the need to bring more women into the industry. Call Boys had been employed since the launch in 1955, following theatrical tradition, but their job of liaising with artistes was changing in the new studio set up. So, Boys would be replaced with Girls, who would then have a chance to learn about programme production literally from the floor up. Union membership was obligatory, in this case NAATKE. Did I have any objection? I did not.
So, five Call Girls duly reported to the Production Office and were inducted into our duties by the witty, wordy Peter Cuff. My first taste of the studio floor was unforgettable: a Motown group called Martha and the Vandellas singing ‘Dancing in the Street’. I’ve just listened to it on YouTube and it still gives me a buzz. That day, watching from the side-lines, it was electrifying.