David Liddiment talks about moving into management

For someone of your background as a promotions scriptwriter and a researcher and director and producer, you had done a lot of making, but you ended up a suit.


How did you feel about that?

I loved it. I loved it. I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to have my eyes opened, drama docs, producing soap – and I had, all that time, a passion and an appetite for the way television was. So becoming a suit, arguing the toss for different kinds of programmes, helping… being a midwife to get things on the air, like This Morning, I mean, me and Rod Caird were joint exec producer on that show, it was a thrilling adventure… it wouldn’t have happened if Steve Morrison hadn’t had the, if you like, corporate ambition for it. Granada Television management didn’t want This Morning, it was a pain in the arse… okay, Liverpool, the infrastructure, it wouldn’t make any sense financially… I mean, all of the negativity, institutionalised negativity, all rushed in to try and stop this happening, right? Still on the air today. Extraordinarily still on the air today. And it was completely right, and Steve, rightly, brushed that aside, battled on, and it was a thrilling time,

I can’t tell you what a thrilling time it was, because we were out there competing – we had to compete to get This Morning, we had to compete to get Families, the daily soap we won, we had to compete to get the night time slots. You know, we had to compete to get some of our sitcoms and our light entertainment shows away – it was an incredibly fertile time. Also, it was a great moment for Granada because we had this extraordinary pool of trapped talent that had been trapped by union restriction into their roles, particularly for women. Jane MacNaught, Linda Clifford… I mean, a whole swathe of PAs who were brilliant, but were not being properly, fully realised – and This Morning, more than any other programme at Granada, gave us the chance to give them the opportunity to direct, to produce items, to be day producers, and they have gone on to do amazing things. And if you think of those years of the entertainment department when I was there, it was all home-produced. All those shows… we didn’t import. We imported the odd director like David McMahon, you know, but the producers, the production teams, were all home-made. Home-baked Granada people, all seeped in that same culture, but it was a generation that looked forward, not back. There was another generation of our contemporaries who looked back, and you know, and I look back now because I’m of an age where I look back, you know? But every institution has to kind of move forward, and I think in the attempt to capture what was special about Granada, I think some of the, if you like, later stuff, gets kind of dished out of the way – but it was phenomenal. Steve Morrison made Granada strong enough to lead the consolidation of ITV. Steve Morrison made Granada strong enough to take over London Weekend, because he built a grown-up Granada portfolio through competition, through competing, into the most successful collection of programmes on any ITV station – and the other ITV stations were nowhere near Granada in thinking through the primacy of IP, get the programmes, own the rights… that was all Steve – and he doesn’t get the credit, in my view, for modernising Granada.

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