George Turner’s memories of Sir Denis Forman and David Plowright

David (Plowright) I got to know moderately well. I mean he knew more of me than I probably did about him. But that’s only because of course in my early days he was actually the editor of World in Action. And like Denis (Forman), these were people at the top of the company that even in the position I was in, I always thought these were good people to work for, and it think that’s why a lot of people stayed with Granada for such a long time. The figureheads at the top, you could respect them. Some people might have a different view, but when I think about most people I knew that were there, you either were there for three or four years or you stayed there for 30 years. And that could be various reasons. Job satisfaction, which is quite important. People need the money. Their family’s there. Schools. There’s lots of reasons why people stayed there. But you know it was a very secure business to be in, because once you got a job in television it more or less was for life. That’s how it was in those days. Today if you get a long term contract for three weeks you think you’ve done well. Zero contracts doesn’t help. And we’ve got some more problems but I’m not going to go into that.

Why do you think they were good people? What was it about them?

Well I think Sir Denis, obviously what he did during the war, he was involved with the Film Units and all that lot. I think they were very visionary people. So for example in my career, today if you said to somebody, “Oh, by the way, you’re going to let somebody do the World in Action programme,” if it still existed, “and he’s 24 years of age and he’s done a bit of drama, he’s done a bit of news, and he’s only been there six years”, it’s pretty dramatic. But that’s what they did. So if you could prove you could do it, they’d push you. So you want to be pushed. It’s a bit like an athlete. You can run the minute mile but we’ll try to do it in fifty seconds. And that’s what we did. ……

But I think the thing about people like Plowright and Sir Denis, was you’d see them in the canteen and you could be stood in front of them or behind them and they’d be having mash and roast from Irma; they weren’t necessarily up in their ivory towers. Maybe there were times when they had to have meetings but you could bet your life that sometime around 1:30 you’d see them in the canteen. They weren’t there at 12 o’clock waiting for it to open but they’d be there. So I think it’s a bit like on a ship. If you see the captain and he’s down with the men, then you feel as though it’s all working well together. And those two people definitely were able to do that.

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