Claudia Milne remembers filming Margaret Thatcher and Jim Callaghan at the party conferences

I was heavily pregnant at the time and we were at the Tory Party conference in Blackpool. There was no security in those days. We had to finish shooting by the Wednesday I think because it went out on Thursday night, or was it Friday?

Friday, 10:30 I think.

So we filmed the first few days of the Tory Party conference. Dave Jones was huge, he looked like a rugby player and he was very funny. He was from Liverpool. We decided the theme would be him going round and trying to get Thatcher to dance! So we found every ball that was taking place and we filmed at every single one! And at every single one, Dave would go up and say, “Could I have this dance, Mrs Thatcher?” And he ended up saying, “Any chance of a dance, Missus?” It was hilarious. And she was sort of saying, “Oh, not you again!”

She made more remark like, “I suppose you’re one of those comprehensive school boys aren’t you?”

And Dave said, “No, actually I went to a very good grammar school!”

He went to Merchant Taylors’ I think!

I remember that programme well. Then I think we did the Labour Party as well. I don’t remember much about that.

We were so naughty in the Labour Party one. It was just before the winter of discontent. Do you remember this? Callaghan had been doing, “Will I-won’t I go for election?” and it was the last Labour Party conference before an election. And we went to film at Welsh night. Do you remember Welsh night? It was absolutely full of MPs and there was a Welsh choir or something, and a big piss-up, basically. One of those funny things happened where there was a big crowd of people, there was a row of chairs at the end of the hall where this party was taking place, and there was Callaghan the Prime Minister sitting on his own! So I said “Dave! Get over there and ask him for an interview!”

So Dave pushed through all these people to this figure sitting isolated on his own, and just as we get there with the gun mic, you could head Callaghan saying, “No, no, no! Leave me alone! I’m here to enjoy myself!”

So when we were in the cutting room we wrote a line of commentary which went, “I begged him to go back to Downing Street and sort out the country!”

Then says the Prime Minister, “No, no, no! Leave me alone! I’m here to enjoy myself!” We left this in. God knows what would have happened today. Nobody said a word. Nothing happened. I don’t know whether anybody upstairs ever noticed it because they probably weren’t watching Reports Extra. Great line.

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