From the age of 17 to the age of 21, I spent four years at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art, which is now part of Bournemouth University. I primarily went there I suppose, because I wanted to be a photographer, or I thought I wanted to be a photographer. While I was there, I gradually came to the conclusion that being a photographer wasn’t going to be as good as perhaps working in television, so what was essentially a three-year course, I made it a four-year course by doing what they then called ‘Film’, they used some sort of vague idea of what working in television and film was. So in the summer of 1968, when I left college, it was my practice to ring around the various television companies and ask the HR department if there were any vacancies – because then it was a closed shop; very little was advertised in the press, it was more or less by word of mouth that you found these things. So what happened was at Granada, they told me there was a vacancy for a… excuse me while I try and remember the exact title. They were the people who did all the commercial breaks, sort of thing. Can you remember what they were called?
In the Promotions Department?
Yes… they were the people who were considered royalty; they earned so much money, they didn’t marry commoners. But anyway, I went for that interview, and within almost half an hour of the interview I was being told it was unlikely I would get it because an internal applicant had applied. So he was a very nice HR guy, and he said, “We’ll keep in touch, and if anything turns up we’ll let you know.” So subsequently, it seems crazy, this, I rang them a week or two later, and they said, “Oh, yes – we want a trainee camera man. Do you want to come up for an interview?” So I went up for an interview, and duly got the job – which sort of surprised me, but I got the job. And that was in November 1968, which was when I started work, and it was a nine-month trainee period, when really you were a skivvy in many respects, and you spent most of your time pulling cables – because then, of course, cameras had long, heavy cables attached to them, and the camera operator could push his camera around on a pedestal, but it needed someone to trail around behind and make sure the cables didn’t get in the way. So I did that, and after nine months you were promoted – it was very much like an old-fashioned apprenticeship, in a way. You had nine months to see if you fitted in, I think they called it a probationary period, and kept your nose clean, didn’t shout and didn’t make yourself a nuisance, and then after that nine months, you then became a first year, second year, third year, fourth year, fifth year camera operator – so I just gradually went through those hoops.