Gordon Burns describes how he joined Granada

Before Granada, I was at Ulster Television in Belfast because I come from Northern Ireland, I’m Belfast-born, half Belfast-bred – I moved to England when I was five, and back when I was 13, to Northern Ireland, hence the lack of Northern Ireland accent! But I had worked on local newspapers, then I’d gone on the BBC Sport in London, on radio, and then I landed the job on Ulster Television, which was largely on sport, but in the end I became a presenter of the evening news programme, the nightly news programme for Ulster Television, just as the Troubles broke. So for four years, I covered the Troubles in Northern Ireland, battled with all the politicians, Ian Paisley and John Hughes, and ministers, and even the British Prime Minister, Ted Heath.

After six years at Ulster Television – and four years covering the Troubles – I wanted to move to England to try myself in a bigger pond, if you like, so I left without actually a job to go to. So I went off to England, and I got a call out of the blue from a guy called Chris Pye, who had just been appointed head of local programmes there, he was in charge of the brand new, just about to be launched, Granada Reports, which was taking over from whatever its predecessor was, and I got a call out of the blue saying would I be interested. Well, at the same time I had a phone call from whatever the equivalent of Newsnight – I think it was Midweek in those days – and I went to see Midweek, who offered me work on a short-term basis “to see how it went”, whereas I went to see Granada, and they then offered me the job as one of the presenters on the new Granada Reports on a longer term basis, so still on a contract, and in the end I decided that, as I needed to buy houses and [get] mortgages, that I would take the Granada offer. And so, when Granada Reports was launched in, I think, September 1973, I was one of the three presenters. They only had two presenters a night, so they permed two from three, but I was one of the new brigade, and I presented alongside the established favourite at Granada, Bob Greaves, and a guy called Brian Trueman, and we were the presenters. Note: not women. There was… in those days, it wasn’t that fashionable at all to have a woman presenter, and the producer of the programme – in fact virtually all the days I was there – the producers were all male, and the head of the region was male, although there were a sprinkling of females in the research team, and going on in the end to be producers and directors. So that’s how I started in 1973.


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