I remember in the winter of ’73/’74 I got fed up with music (there was nothing in it for me) and then I knocked on the doors of Gus MacDonald, for World in Action again, and John Birt at London Weekend. They both offered me contracts! I took the Granada one. So then we have a second phase of Granada, back to World in Action from March ’74 to summer of ’77, so that was my main stint on World in Action. Again, in that period, I didn’t really feel like I was a Granada researcher so much as a World in Action researcher. You were cut off from the rest. You were often out of the office of course, travelling. I did a lot of shows – 20-odd World in Actions. I worked on investigations with Fitzwalter – on Poulson and Maudling, We did one on corruption in Dundee too.
Anyway, at the end of that long period of World in Action, my main stint, I got promoted to Producer – May 1977, during the World in Action series on the Japanese economy. Five weeks in Tokyo! I flew out with Mike Scott and we did three shows in Japan. I started this as researcher and then finished off as a producer. My first credit as a Producer was shared with Leslie Woodhead, as co-producer, so I was chuffed. So up til then I’d done a whole raft of shows as a researcher – The Rise and Fall of the CIA with Mike Beckham, I went to Washington for ages, three programmes, brilliant. The Nuts and Bolts of the Economy was the product of an Economic Unit Gus set up within WiA. I was in the Economic Unit along with Ryan and Blake and I went to Denmark with Mark Ryan, to Italy with him, and Japan was the final series of programmes within that and we did a programme on manufacturing in Birmingham, featuring the Kenricks factory in West Bromwich, which I found. I was very good at finding things. I remember another show in the Nuts and Bolts of the Economy series. There was a big fuss in the 1970s about ‘buying British’, which was disappearing. “Why are you buying a German car?” an Italian fridge? “Why are you buying foreign?” You know? And even things that were British, if you looked beneath the surface, were found to be not really British at all and this was a factor in our imports being so high, balance of payments crisis and all that. So how do we illustrate this? Well Geoff found a freezer company in Ayrshire called BW Freezers and they had a marketing campaign “the great British freezer“. But when you took the freezer apart, 95% of it was foreign; the nuts and bolts came from Sweden, the steel from Korea etc. We dismantled the freezer and laid it out on the floor with little flags on each bit. “You think this is British? Well you should think again” It was great Mike Scott stuff. It really was and it was a really good show. It won an award (as did the CIA series, with Mike Beckham – that won the New York Film Festival Award). .It won the Shell Award for Industry Award 1976, so I think was good for me.
The Japanese have a reputation for scrutinising everything, demanding higher standards than the Brits would and I discovered when the Japanese car people imported Jaguars, brand new Jaguars from Coventry or Solihull or wherever it was they came from, they would not go on sale immediately. They would go to a local garage in Tokyo to be scrutinised and basically buffed up and touched up because the Japs were over there with their magnifying glasses and they were seeing scratches that the blokes in Coventry didn’t see. Because the Japanese consumer is more demanding than the British consumer and Scott did a piece on this and that made a few headlines, so that was good. And I developed a good relationship with Mike Scott over these years. In fact he came to my wedding in ’74 – and the cockney side of my family were so impressed to see Mike Scott off the telly, they all stood up when he came in the room! I always remember that. But he was great. He was great to work with. It was just a great job in those years, you know, you get a lot out of it as well.