David Boulton on how he was first employed by Granada as a Press Officer

I was working for Tribune and running a campaign for Nuclear Disarmaments Paper, Sanity, and I started writing a series of articles on Conscientious Objectors in the First World War – this was at the time of the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the war – and the articles were picked up by the Managing Director of the publishers MacGibbon and Kee who had just been taken over by the Granada Group. MacGibbon and Kee published my book, which was called Objection Overruled, and was actually reissued only last year on the hundredth anniversary of the First World War and Reg Davis-Poynter, the Managing Director went to Sidney Bernstein and said something like ‘You might be interested in talking to this fellow’ so I got a summons from Mr Bernstein at Golden Square, Granada Television. I’d no idea then even who Mr Bernstein was and certainly no idea what he wanted to talk to me about but I went along. I asked at the desk for Mr Bernstein. They said, ‘Which Mr Bernstein? Sidney or Cecil?’ I said, “I don’t know! This Mr Bernstein wants to talk to me.” So they made the enquiry and it turned out to be Sidney so I was sent up to the top and it turned out that Sidney wanted to talk to me, to sound me out whether I would be interested in joining Granada. His way of sounding me out was that the Sunday Times was just doing a big, full-page profile of him and he had the proofs and he said to me, ‘Read through these proofs and tell me what you think.’ So I read through the profile and he said, ‘OK, so what do you think?’ I said, “I think that’s pretty good.” He said, ‘Well, what about this bit – “Socialist millionaire”?’ I said, “Well, but you are a Socialist and you are a millionaire.” And he said, ‘Well, what about this? It refers to my having being a boxer and refers to my cauliflower ear!’ And I looked at him and I said, “Well, yes, but you have got a cauliflower ear!” At this point he burst out laughing and went on to ask me more specific questions about what I’d done and what I wanted to do and at the end he said that he’d be in touch. I thought, well, I don’t really know what that was about but within the week I got a letter from him inviting me to come and join Granada as one of their press officers. Well, I was a journalist and didn’t like press officers, didn’t like Public Relations but I thought, well, if this is a way of getting into Granada which I at least already knew of as the most radically socially-conscious of the new television companies, I thought this sounded pretty good so I accepted the job, became a press officer for Granada.


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