Brian Moser on one of the first important films he made at Granada about the effects of smoking

Well, I made some very interesting and quite an important film then, with a director called Ken Ashton. And it was a one-hour, maybe it was more even, maybe 70 minutes or something, special on bronchitis and its prevalence in the north, in the industrial areas, but all over Britain. And Ken knew what he wanted, and set out to get it – one of these ideal guys for World in Action perhaps. And I disagreed with him because he was a chain smoker. He was going to put smoking into the background. And I said, “Ken, if you’re going to do that, I’m afraid I’m going to have to leave. I could lose my job, but I absolutely do not agree with you. Smoking plays a very, very big part in the damage it does obviously to your lungs.” Anyway, we came to, thank god, a good agreement. We got this film out, which did cause quite a rumble. 

Perhaps one of the unknown things about it was unbeknown to the authorities, both at Granada and in Salford Council, where we decided we’d illustrate the deaths from bronchitis statistics. Not in just a graph or whatever, but we do it visually – and we’d have coffins coming out a back street in Salford. Which really was a Coronation Street, I mean, the ideal situation. And in order to push the environmental effect, we had smoke being pumped out and all kinds of things. But above all, I got a hold of a very big crane. So, we had the cameraman right up on this crane. And gradually, to illustrate the increase in deaths, we had these coffins coming out of each door on both sides of the road. And that made the press, in a sense in a bad way for me. And I was hauled up, I’ll never forget this, I was hauled up in that building,…..

 So, the real brass in Granada was up on the sixth floor. And I was hauled up there to see none other than Sidney himself. And I thought, “My god, that’s it, I’m out.” And the first thing he said to me, “Well, did you get the mayor’s permission?” And I said, “Yes, I did. Yes.” Which is true. To do this sort of illustration. And so I was off the hook, thank God. But that was quite a scare. Because I was a nobody on two-week contracts, and nothing to prove myself except the little film we made in the Amazon, with Donald, and Nils the cameraman. Which, yes, I’ve still got it. It still stands up. It’s a film about the daily life of a group of, well, at that time, pretty well unknown Amazonian Indians. So, there we went. So, the bronchitis thing. And it did cause people to really sit up and wonder should they be smoking. I mean, I think it helped a lot to quite soon after get a ban on smoking. In fact, I’m sure it did.

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