Well I joined in 1966 and it’s a slightly strange story how I joined. Basically I was an academic, which sounds a bit pompous. I’d done two degrees in History and I was working on a big project in London on the history of parliament. I’d done three years of that and was beginning to get a bit bored.
I suddenly saw an advertisement in the New Statesman which said, “wanted: Northern graduate to join television company.” I wasn’t a Northern graduate, in fact I graduated from Bristol where I read History, but I came from a small mining village in Durham. So I thought well, maybe that’s alright. So I wrote a letter saying ‘I’m not a Northern graduate but I’m a graduate from the north of England’.
I was summoned down to London and on the board were two of the grandees, Denis Forman and Mike Wooller, typical Granada style; shirt sleeves rolled up, red braces showing, gin and tonic on the table. So we went through all of this and I’d no experience of television, I’d hardly seen one, never had one at home. The final question came after all of this, “How do you feel about living in Manchester (moving from London where I was working)?” So I said, “Coming from where I come from, Manchester to me is the North Midlands.” Whether that got me the job or not I don’t know. But I got a job.
In a sense that was the typical Granada style, you had no experience of television, they just took a gamble on lots of people who they thought ‘he or she could be interesting we’ll go for it’. That’s what they did, so I got the job.
So I joined in 1966. For nine months I worked on the seventh floor and the idea was Granada was into publishing then. They decided to become a publishing company and they owned one or two paperbacks, Grafton and Panther.
The idea was ‘World in Action’ did a lot of research on programmes which never hit the screen so they though they’d publish these pamphlets, maybe one every three months, on a particular subject which had lots of research on. It could be anything really, from Northern Ireland to whatever. After nine months, typically, Granada lost interest in the whole project. So they said just go down and join ‘World in Action’, just like that. Again I had no experience in television, I didn’t know anything about it whatsoever and suddenly I was thrust into this job on ‘World in Action’.