I joined Granada as a promotions scriptwriter. Joe Rigby hired me, and the only reason I got the job was, having applied for it before, I decided to apply for it again because I didn’t get it the first time round. Unbeknownst to me, I had narrowly lost it the first time around, so when I applied for the second time the job was advertised, I was invited up for another interview and offered the job. At the time, it was very difficult to get into television, you had to be a member of the ACTT to get in, having got in you had to be a member of the ACTT – it was a closed shop. Promotions scriptwriters, however, were designated as part of the NUJ, and the advert for the job specified that no experience of television was required. And I think Joe Rigby, who was a great man, rather enjoyed bringing fresh blood into TV, and it was one of the few places where you could join from outside of telly. And I had left university the year before and I got a job in London, in my naivety, at an advertising agency, thinking advertising and television were adjacent to each other, and I decided it wasn’t for me. I was all set to go off and become a teacher, which was my second choice after television, when I saw this ad in the paper. And then I joined Granada as a promotions scriptwriter and I discovered that Jack Rosenthal had been a promotions scriptwriter in the beginnings of Granada, and of course Tony Warren, famously, was a promotions scriptwriter. And we wrote the links for the continuity announcers, and we made the trails for Granada’s programmes.
Tell me about the interview process.
Well, it was a board! Obviously Joe Rigby was on the board, Joyce Wooller was on the board, and Joyce Wooller was an extraordinary woman – is an extraordinary woman, she’s still alive – and she was head of programme services, she was the only woman director on the board of Granada. I think she had been one of the vision mixers on the Coronation. She was a key lieutenant to Denis Forman and David Plowright and Mike Scott in the early days of Granada and she was responsible for journalists, producers, directors, PAs, all the services that support a production were her responsibility. And so she got heavily involved in the recruitment of PAs, researchers, promotions scriptwriters came under her auspices, trainee directors when those jobs came along.
What was competition like?
For promotions scriptwriter there was just one job, and a guy, whose name has just gone out of my head, from advertising, got the job the first time round when I didn’t get it, and I got it the second time around. Colin Callender, now a seriously successful drama executive, and who ran HBO movies for many years, was the promotions editor, and a coming man at Granada at the time. So I got this job in promotions, it was the most wonderful way into television as it turned out, because you were involved with the schedule, you got to see every programme that was coming up, you got to meet all the producers of the different genres, because you were promoting their shoes, and you got to understand how a television schedule worked, and you got a sense of how the ITV network worked with the network calls and the rivalry between the companies and so on, and you got a real flavour of that in my first job in television, and I think that was quite influential in the way I thought about what I might do.