Doherty would just not accept anything that was mundane. The great example of his need to make it different was that, I remember one week on a Thursday one of the items for the following day’s programme had fallen down for some reason – somebody couldn’t do something – and he walked into the office and said, we need another idea for tomorrow. So he went round the room and he just dismissed anything that anybody said and he said it was all crap and we’d done it all before. And he said, nobody leaves this office until I have an idea from one of you that I think is good enough for this programme. And we were still there at midnight. He kept walking into the office and he would lean on the filing cabinet and look at us with total disgust. He’d shake his head and mutter something unrepeatable and go back into his office. And then he’d come out half an hour later and say, has anybody got anything? And someone would offer something, he’d say it was crap and go back in his office. We were still there at midnight and I think then somebody had an idea that he said wasn’t any good for the next day but at least it was an idea, and they let us all go home.
How did you react to Doherty? Did you find his behaviour acceptable?
I think there were times when it was… I got the biggest bollocking that anybody had ever seen for one item that I completely messed up, and it became almost legendary. But what I would say is that everybody left his department a much better operator. And after working for him, everything else was a damn sight easier. But you learnt really good habits. There was attention to detail; there was the need to come up with something different, the need to come up with ideas constantly. And the whole thing was encapsulated in the weekly meeting that was the post-programme meeting, in which he would go round the room and ask everybody what they thought of the programme
This’d be 7pm on a Friday night?
Yeah. And the guests would be there. And he’d tear into people, including the presenters, who were Elton Welsby and Gerald Sinstadt. If he thought they’d done a bad job, he’d tear into them. He’d tear into the researchers. The guests would be sitting there shell-shocked, thinking, what the hell is this? Some of them were highly amused, especially the football managers who were often with us. And then he’d go around and ask everybody for their ideas for the following week, and woe betide you if you didn’t have a couple of decent ideas. It was no good trotting out something that you’d just invented or something we’d done before – you had to have something.
You just got used to this, I suppose, did you?
Yeah, you got used to it, and we were all better for it. Definitely. If you look at the people who worked for him, most people went on and did good things in other parts of television and you won’t find anybody who worked for him that would slag him off. He was just fantastic. At the end of the day, his ideas were better than anybody else’s ideas, so you couldn’t point the finger at him! He always had a good idea.
And that went on beyond Kick Off. If he saw something that was going to be successful as snooker was becoming successful at that time, he’d say, we’re doing snooker. So we did our own tournament in the North West, the Lada Classic, and we were the only region the country at that point doing snooker apart from the BBC, and we got the first 147 break, much to the BBC’s annoyance, because they’d been hoping for one for a long time. We got the first televised 147 break, and Steve Davis won a Lada car for that break. That was quite exciting.
Paul Doherty died in January 2016. The Manchester Evening News paid tribute to him here