Brian Blake on trade unions

Let’s talk a little bit about the trade unions, at that time in commercial television, whether you thought there were certain rules which inhibited programme making or made life difficult. Whether they were they justified or not.

I think the one that irritated me was you had to have a card to become a director. That used to annoy a lot of us on World in Action because we were producers, but also directors. Most of us didn’t have a card because a card was something you got mainly through directing drama and none of us were interested in drama. So that was a little niggle.

I remember when the people in London went on strike and they brought in two or three producers from Manchester working in other programmes to come onto ‘World in Action’. One of them I particularly remember is Jim Walker. Now Jim Walker was a producer on other programmes but he couldn’t direct on ‘World in Action’, they wouldn’t let him direct. He would set up a film, and you would have to have somebody like me who was not working at that moment. I’d go out with him and sit and let him do it even though it was his programme. There were silly things like that, he couldn’t actually produce a film on his own, he had to have a director standing there, probably having a drink at the bar while he was doing it. So that was a silly thing. Some of the undermining was a bit silly.

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