Claudia Milne on the challenges she faced when she became a mother


I was on maternity leave. I was the first woman at Granada to get maternity leave on a written-down basis. They had said to a couple of other people, “Come see us when you’ve had the baby, dear, and we’ll see if we’ve got anything for you.” But I wanted to go back onto World in Action. God knows how I thought I was going to do it, but I did. And I went to them and asked. I went to the union. I was London-based. I went to the shop stewards and asked if they would negotiate maternity leave for me, told them what the TUC said, etc. And they said no, it’s pretty much a side issue.

So were you ACTT?

I was ACTT, yes. So I negotiated it myself. I sent a memo to whoever the editor was, Ray or Lapping, and said I wanted maternity leave. And they got somebody called Julian Amyes, one of the early directors of Granada, and he was an absolute sweetie pie. He just said, “What do you think is reasonable?” And I said, “This is what the TUC says, and I’d be very happy with it.” And they gave me three months on full pay, three months on half pay, no loss of holiday entitlement, and kept my job open for a year. It was fantastic. The only thing they said when they sent me this piece of paper – which I wish I’d kept, but of course I didn’t – was, “This is not a precedent.” Well, of course it was. Within a year, Sue Woodford had a baby and got the same deal, so that was pretty good.

After I had Catherine, my second baby, I had maternity leave obviously with her, and that’s when I left. That’s it, I went and said, “What am I going to do when I finish?”

And they said, “You’re going onto World in Action.” And I just thought, well I just can’t, not with two. It’s just going to be too difficult. And Mike (her husband) was a freelance cameraman so he was all over the place. I just thought, I can’t do it. And that’s why I ended up leaving Granada really, because I just thought I didn’t want to go back onto World in Action.

But when I had just given birth, I think Catherine was about 6 weeks old, I got a phone call from the executive producer. And I’d been sort of campaigning for a day nursery at Granada because I just thought it was really needed. And the management knew that. Catherine was six weeks old and I wasn’t due back at work for months. And I was breastfeeding her. And he phoned me up and said that Geoff Moore, who had been was producing Granada Reports at that stage…So Geoff Moore is ill and the executive producer says, “Can you come in?” And I said, “I’m breastfeeding, I can’t come in!”He said, “I’m absolutely desperate, can you come in?”

And I honestly don’t think I thought, a-ha, day nursery! I don’t think it honestly crossed my mind. But I said, “Well I’ll do it for a few days, yeah, but I’ll have to bring her with me, she stays with me in the office, I need a room” – you know, one of the rooms they use for artists down near the studios – “so that I can go and feed here there, where I’m going to be comfortable, etc. And when I’m in the studio, somebody, a mother, has to be with Catherine all the time I’m in the studio from 4:30pm until the show goes out.”

“Fine.” He said. So I go in with this tiny baby. And Mike Scott saw me and he went absolutely apeshit. I was almost hassled out of the building. They were absolutely convinced it was part of a conspiracy to get a nursery!

Was there a campaign at the time for a nursery?

We just started talking about it really. What we were talking about was that it should give priority to women but if there were enough places, blokes should be able to use it as well. But I don’t think there was a campaign as such. It was just something we’d just started talking about. And I think it would have been pretty tough in those days to have got it through the union up there because it was so dominated by old style men.

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