Chris Kelly on the faith Granada had in its young staff

The other great thing about Granada was they had enormous faith in young people. I mean, I remember once, I had read about a Picasso exhibition in Paris, 16 rooms, and he walked into one of them and allegedly said, “I didn’t paint a single canvas in this room.” Mind you, Picasso was known to be a bit naughty and sometimes he had painted then and he said he hadn’t. And then I read another story about Cologne Cathedral where a couple of artists had been hired to refurbish a very ancient fading wall painting. And so they covered the site with hessian, and in a few weeks later they emerged. And it turned out they were conmen, and they painted the thing, not just restored it! So I went to Barry Ellison and I said, “How about we do a thing about art fakery? And I told him the story and he said, “Yes, let’s do it.” I said, “Well, who’s going to direct it?” He said, “You. You do it.” I’d never directed in my life! It was extraordinary though, the faith they had in you.
And also, they were incredibly supportive. I men, I had, as it turned out, a fairly disastrous episode when John Birt was my researcher for a heady six weeks, and I ran a show called X Plus 10 which I’d sort of dreamed up, which was a major guest of the week – one week it was Edward Heath – and 10 bright young people, among them Paul McCartney’s brother Mike McGear, Roger McGough, and Anna Ford, in her first television gig. And this week, between us, John Birt and I had devised a happening, because that was the great word at the time. And what was going to happen was that a woman, played by Annette Robertson (?) had got a message at home saying, “We want you to come and appear on Granada’s whatever it was, X Plus 10, and talk about life on the breadline,” you know, for a young mother, unmarried to her bloke. And the bloke was to be played by Warren Clarke, who subsequently became a great mate. And John had worked out what we should do was to warn nobody on the set, not even Brian Trueman, the presenter, or the 10 people, and he would burst through the fire door half way through the show, because the scenario was he’d gone home and seen the note, she’d gone, left the baby, and he was supposed to be very cross. So what happened was he was through the fire in the middle, a cameraman left his camera to hit him, pandemonium broke loose, and finally Brian managed to get it under control, but it was chaos – and the following morning, five newspapers had the story, all very angry about it, and one of them turned up to take a picture of the baby! And I was hauled up to the sixth floor and I thought, “This is it. It’s back to Norwich now, mate.” And Denis Forman simply said, “They want your head, and they’re not going to get it.” So that was pretty impressive, really. Wouldn’t happen now.

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