Brian Lapping on producing What the Paper Say

So what did you do at Granada? What were the first jobs you had there?

Well, first of all I was put onto local programmes for a few weeks and sort of learned about things, and then I was given What the Papers Say to run, and I remember my first week on What the Papers Say because something odd happened. I’d come up with an idea, which I put to Jeremy Wallington, who was then the executive producer of World in Action, and the idea was to go to Lincoln. Lincoln was the seat of a Labour MP, Dick Taverne, and he was being challenged by a whole group of extreme left wingers in the Party, who looked as though they were going to succeed in throwing him out, and I said to Jeremy Wallington, “Why don’t we go and make a programme in Lincoln about the extreme left taking over the Party?” and he sent me to Lincoln with John Birt. John Birt was an actual producer on World in Action and I was just the young twit who didn’t know much about making programmes. He was there to help. And so we went and we interviewed various people in Lincoln Labour Party and, while we were in the middle of making the programme, I remember something happened. We were going to be doing an interview and I needed something from my hotel room in order to do the interview. So I nipped back to my hotel bedroom and while I was there the phone rang and I picked it up and it was Sidney Bernstein and he said, “Brian, I understand you’re taking over What the Papers Say. I’d like to tell you exactly how that programme runs and, for about 10 minutes, he lectured me on that. Of course, I had to rush back for this interview, there was a chap waiting for the interview, because I couldn’t tell the boss, Sidney Bernstein, to fuck off, could I? So I had to listen to him politely about how I was supposed to run What the Papers Say while he lectured me. And then, of course, eventually he said, “Fine,” and then I was able to go and complete the interview.


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