Don Jones on the characters and the best things about Granada

Looking back at it, which characters there impressed you and would you single out as really having made an impression? You talked about Doherty, obviously.

Yeah, Doherty, Tony Wilson, Sue Woodward, and then I suppose a whole host of other people that I met and worked with at various times – people like Tim Sullivan, who had also started at approximately the same time as me, maybe slightly later. I did things with Tim that were hugely enjoyable, because he would bring a high level of intelligence, but also a great deal of fun to everything that he worked on. It was a great pleasure working with him.

I think there were a lot of very clever people about. That was the think that strikes me, looking back at it. I wasn’t academically very good at school, I scraped through a couple of A-levels to get myself into journalism. I didn’t go to university, and I found that when I arrived at Granada, there were a lot of very intellectual people about, there was a massive range of different characters, and some of them were academically very clever and some of them had come up through, from all different backgrounds, but I don’t know, the place was full of fascinating people. You could go into the Stables bar as it was in the old days and later the Old School, or the canteen, and you could have the most amazing conversations with some of the most interesting people that you’d wish to meet. It was just an absolutely fascinating place to be.

I think the best things were that Granada let people try things out. Granada would let people experiment, if you like, especially in regional programmes. They’d take quite big risks, I think. These risks wouldn’t be taken today because people would be worried about the money. They’d let people go and do stuff and they’d let producers try things. There were quite risky things happening at times, I thought. But I think people were allowed to make mistakes to a certain extent. And if something didn’t work, it wasn’t necessarily the end of the world but when things did work, it was fantastic.

They also were prepared to spend huge, huge sums of money on great drama. So, you know, you could go down to the canteen and Laurence Olivier might be there, or some Hollywood star. You could just bump into anybody in the food queue. And that was extraordinary. They spent ridiculous sums of money on some of the things that were going on, and it was very exciting, and I think that kind of “let’s make great telly” was the driving force. And if some of it didn’t quite make it, that didn’t really matter so much, I didn’t think. So it was a fantastic place to learn how to make television.

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