Arthur Taylor describes producing for the first time

The first series I actually did get round to producing, and looking back it was, there was a thing called Songs from the Two Brewers, which was a folk music series. And I got on very well with Mike. I mean, he could be insufferable, and he was easily distracted. But he was basically a very nice guy, and he knew television inside out. He’d worked his way up from floor manager to executive producer on local programmes. And I’d bent his ear time and time again. And my story was that folk clubs were not what he thought they were. They were not Ewan MacColl holding his ear and singing old songs. They were actually a form of theatre for a nightclub, with a huge spectrum of talent from comedians to instrumentalists to people who wrote their own songs, as well as the usual stuff. And eventually he said, “Alright, okay, we’ll go and talk this over. You’ll have to convince Denis and David.” I wasn’t entirely sure at this stage who Denis and David were! Denis Forman and David Plowright, of course, who were the motors, the engines, that drove the company, I found out. So down in the green room, a few bottles of wine, and I have to play them tapes of various people, and I had worked out – I wasn’t as stupid as I looked – that Denis was interested in music and he was Scottish. So I played him Archie Fisher, who’s a very famous wonderful Scottish singer, and he was swooning over that. David quite liked the comedian stuff. So anyway, to cut a long story short they said, “Alright, go away and do it.” And that was it. And that was part of the magic of Granada. The only hiccup was that Mike wanted to do it in the attic of the Stables. And he said, “We can put straw bales round,” and I thought, “Oh, Christ!” You know? And the other thing about Granada is that you could actually talk to people straight without any nonsense. I said, “That’s a stupid idea. Sorry, Mike. You’ve been watching too much Burl Ives. This is not what I’m after.” There is a folk club up the road, and I want to take the OB unit and do it there – a pub called The Two Brewers in Salford, Regent Road, which was a thriving folk club. And blow me, he said, “Alright.” So off I go, with a budget, to find people for six programmes. And you just couldn’t believe it, that it was so simple. And it was, and it was very good for me because lots of people from Granada came to the shows. So, you know, people like Gus Macdonald and so forth were there. Mike Beckham came and said, “I want to direct one of these.” So I said, “Fine – we’ve got The Dubliners coming, you can do that,” so he did one of the shows with The Dubliners. And that again is part of the strange Granada mystique; that you weren’t compartmentalised and stuffed into a small area, you were part of something and everybody was interested in what everybody else was doing. And the other thing with that is that after the second programme, I told the graphics guy to put my name down as a producer at the end, you see, which I wasn’t entitled to. So it went out and Scott was incandescent. He said, “What the fuck?” And I said, “Well, you gave me the money, I did, I found it. My retainer, my research, we did the play, the whole thing. I produced it, didn’t I? So he carried on swearing but that was it. That was it. I was a producer.

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