Derek Granger on Tony Warren and how the writer was treated by Granada

I was very close to Tony and we were very good friends there.

Tell me more about Tony.

Tony was wonderful. And I had a huge admiration for him. One of the less good things about Granada was the group thing, it always pretended that no individual did anything – it was company. And when Tony produced this absolutely extraordinary piece of work with characters as immortal as any in Dickens…Elsie Tanner, Ena Sharples… you know, they are wonderful characters which endured forever. And the idea is that it had become a joint effort of Granada’s so that it wasn’t really his – that is absurd. He created it entirely. The actual creation, the characters, the setting, the theme, the idea was entirely Tony’s, and including, as I say, this superb set of characters. Absolutely superb. I mean, unbeaten in the whole of television really. And I think it was very sad actually that Granada did such a rotten deal for him. He was given the choice that he could only have a credit or a royalty, which is extremely mean of them. And I always kicked against this, and I must say I think in the latter years it was David Plowright who also felt a lot like I did and was very much on Tony’s side and I think worked out a better deal for him. So I don’t think he was quite as bereft in the end as he was during the early time. But I think it was Granada’s great marker. I mean it was extraordinary. It was their network bargaining tool, it was everything. It was their biggest rating. I mean, it’s gone on forever. It’s one of the biggest shows, probably the biggest TV serial in the history of the world. And it was, as I say, entirely Tony’s creation. And I always thought a little bit sad that Granada tried to insist that it was a kind of company enterprise rather than his – it wasn’t. It was purely Tony’s.

Am I right in getting the impression that Sydney didn’t particularly like it at first?

Hmm. I think people didn’t understand it. I think people didn’t understand Coronation Street at the beginning. I think… I’d been very much a part of it, but the wonderful man Harry Elton had fostered Tony. Tony was extraordinarily neurotic. This hardly camp boy from the promotions department. He was camp. He was irritating. He was very full of himself and he used to have temperamental hissy fits he wants. It’s absolutely true! He once sat on the top Harry Elton’s filing cabinet and refused to get down until Harry had made him an offer! But Harry nurtured him. And Harry had great faith in Tony and he knew that he was going to produce something. He had written a little series before. I think it was called Biggins, wasn’t it?


Biggles. He’d written Biggles, and Harry persevered with him. And in the end Tony wrote Coronation Street and I think it went on the air with six or eight of Tony’s episodes complete. And by that time Tony was very exhausted. He was slightly hysterical anyway, and a bit wiped out and couldn’t do any more. And they then got Harry…


No, the next big…


Harry Kershaw. They then got Harry Kershaw in. And Harry rather took over. But as I say, Tony had produced these marvellous early scripts. And Minnie Cauldwell, Ena Sharples, Elsie Tanner, (??10:38)…


Annie Walker.



Stan Ogden.

And yes, Hilda, and… And how wonderful it was. I was very proud to have done it. I loved doing it. As I say, the best time.

When you did it, was it done live?

Well, I was producing, as I say, from about March, April 1961.

And was it done live in studio?

Oh, yes. Yes. They were all live.

Okay, after Coronation Street.

I was very glad when David took up Tony’s cause. You know, David knew that there was an injustice there. I mean, even you know, I mean, Granada is not unblemished in its benevolence and paternalism. And I think the treatment of Tony is a scar.


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