I was at Edinburgh University. I had started a life as a perpetual student; I had done two degrees and was starting a PhD, but then I thought maybe I should try and get a proper job. In those days, the Guardian on a Monday had a strange thing called “Creative & Media Recruitment” and there was a very big notice I think for researchers, and I applied for a researcher’s job. I didn’t get that, and then I applied for something that was called an assistant transmission controller. And I got swept down from Edinburgh to the boardroom at 36 Golden Square, this massive boardroom, and I got interviewed. The chair of the interview board was this magnificent woman looking like the Duchess of Kent, but with very dark hair, and this was Joyce Wooller. And we did a very good interview, I thought, and she said, ‘Why do you want to be a transmission controller?’ and I said ‘X, Y and Z’ not actually understanding what an assistant transmission controller was. Nevertheless, it was a very good interview and then she said at the end, ‘Well that’s a very good interview Brian, but I think there’s one thing I think we’d all agree on in this board that life as an assistant transmission controller is not for you.’ I was a bit disappointed. But she said, so we would recommend that you probably become a promotion scriptwriter.
So I then got boarded by Rod Caird and David Liddiment was certainly on the board, maybe Sandy Ross, I can’t remember. Anyway, I tramped down to Granada, Quay Street, for the interview, I think in February/March 1980. The first thing I always remember is that you sat when you went in, and you looked at Francis Bacon’s Screaming Pope, which was part of the Bernstein art collection, and if there was anything more discouraging than having to look at Francis Bacon’s Screaming Pope, when you were about to do an interview in your ill-fitting suit that you only wore for interviews and weddings and funerals, then I’d like to know. But despite Francis Bacon’s Screaming Pope, I became a promotion scriptwriter in April 1980. That’s when I started.
So were you aiming for the media while you were at university, did you any media-related activities?
If I’m going to be honest, I just didn’t… I wanted to do anything apart from making a sensible living. So while other people went off and became chartered accountants or lawyers, which was of course what my parents wanted me to do, I wanted to do something that was seem as slightly more sexy, more slinging. So I’d applied for jobs as a journalist and/or television or radio. So it was one of those sweeps that you did, not really maybe… no, I didn’t have a huge burning desire from the age 12 to become someone who worked in television. I just thought it had an aura, an air of glamour about it and being a very shallow person, I pursued it.