Dorothy Byrne’s thoughts on Granada as a company

I wouldn’t call it a family. I would say it was a really brilliant and vibrant place to work, full of really exciting, interesting people. It felt… we believed in ourselves as a company, we believed we were the best company, and we were the best company – we made the best in everything. Jewel in the Crown was the best, World in Action was the best, Coronation Street was the best – I don’t feel any doubt about that, that in that era, before I worked there and while I was working there, that Granada television made the best programmes in Britain – and we knew that, and we felt incredibly lucky to work there. You were always meeting interesting and exciting people, and you felt you could say and do what you wanted. You could just… you weren’t held back – there weren’t apparatchiks and bureaucrats and politically correct people – but I couldn’t describe it as a family. …….. but it was a fantastic place to work.

And actually, that all went and Granada became part of ITV, and that’s the way of the world. There’s no point in crying about it, it had to become more and more commercial. I would say that now, Channel 4 was like Granada used to be, and many of the best things about Dispatches, I took from World in Action. In fact, I even took some of the good ideas and recycled them and did them again, you know, that feeling that you can say anything that you want to say, you can do anything you want, and your boss isn’t controlling your every move. That issue of your boss isn’t controlling your every move… I see nowadays that just is not a possibility in the way it was then – you have to have more control now. I mean, now, in TV, programmes have set budgets. I didn’t know what the budget was for my programme. There was even a discussion, when I worked on World in Action, that producer/directors shouldn’t be told how their programmes rated, because if they knew how their programmes rated – I must say I think this was stupid, as an attitude – then they would just make programmes for ratings. I mean, now, everybody has to care about how programmes rate, and if programmes don’t rate at all, then nobody is watching them, and therefore they probably shouldn’t be made. And also now, companies and organisations are, the minute they even get wind that you’re making a programme about them, they are on you like a ton of bricks, and if you get anything wrong they will complain to Ofcom, they will get all their lawyers… the freedom that journalists had then to go out and make programmes about people and not even seek rights to reply often, that would never happen now – and I must say, I think it is right to get rights of reply, and I think some of the stronger implementation of due impartiality and fairness in television now is good, but those days of freedom were exciting.

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