Claire Lewis describes working on Reports Politics

I came back onto Granada Reports as an off-screen journalist, which I loved. I was immediately sent to Liverpool, to the Liverpool office in Exchange Flags to do a stint there, which was interesting and different, and then very soon, at Christmas, I was summoned to the head of local programmes, who said, “Right, we want you to go off straight away and work on our local politics programme.” Which was Reports Politics. And I started Reports Politics in January 1980, working with Gordon Burns and your good self (Stephen Kelly), and the legendary David Kemp, and it was very, very interesting. It was unlike doing news, I hadn’t worked on anything long form before, so we were making documentaries, and it was right… my first ever job as a researcher – and I had to swap from being a researcher to a journalist, I had swapped contracts, because they offered me this job – they wanted me to do it, so they said, “We want you to go on Reports Politics, but you will have to go on a researcher contract, therefore you’ll have to join the ACTT and you’ll have to give up your NUJ.” So I did. I kept being a member of the NUJ but joined the ACTT as a researcher, working on long form half-hour documentaries.
And my first job, my very first job, was to go to North Wales and make a film about the burning of the Welsh cottages, of the English, who had cottages in Wales. It was a revelation. It was a revelation. I remember driving down to Wales in the dark, because it was January, following the leads, following the story. It was a really interesting story because, of course, the Welsh were really, really concerned and very upset about it. And they were indeed burning English people’s cottages. So I remember getting to Bangor about early evening in January. It was pitch black and I walked into this bar, pub bar, because I was trying to find somewhere to stay or a hotel or something, and I walked in, and everybody was speaking Welsh, and as I walked in the entire pub went silent. The entire pub. As I walked up to the bar and started talking to them in English. The landlord, or whoever was behind the bar, spoke to me in Welsh, replied. I have never felt so foreign anywhere in my life as I did in that pub that night in Wales, and it was a really interesting experience because it kind of set me up for making the film, and I realised how serious it was and how strongly the Welsh felt about their language. Anyway, I don’t remember much more.
I remember working with David Kemp. We had a tradition on Reports Politics that after we’d done the show we would go all go out for a meal, the whole team, which was a really fabulous team, it was great working together, and we would all go out to this very swish Chinese restaurant in Manchester, which was probably the finest Chinese restaurant in the country, and we would all go out and have a wonderful slap-up meal paid for by our exec producer. And we did that every week. And again, I’d never encountered anything like it. And it was really fun, and we would take our guests from the programme with us, so we would have a very good discussion, I met a lot of people, and there was Gordon, and there was David Kemp, and it was very political, with a small p, but also political with a big P. So it was a fantastic experience.

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