Gordon Burns recalls the resources that were available to staff working on Granada Reports

It was just Granada Reports when I started – and I was astonished. I’d come from little Ulster television, Belfast – and although we had a major international story on our doorstep night after night, so there was that huge programme, with big interviews to be done, and a very challenging situation, we had bombs going off all over the place, people being killed, pubs being blown up, we were all being threatened almost every day over there on the phone etc., so it was a very different environment. But it was a small group and there were no such things as researchers at Ulster Television, you did everything yourself – in fact, I did a sports programme which I produced, presented and did everything for. There was no researcher; I was out there filming during the week and all that sort of thing, so it was a huge change for me when I came to Granada and saw this new Granada Reports programme, saw their newsroom, which was massive. I mean, I can’t been think how many people there were, but there must have been eight or nine if not 10 researchers, a number of directors… if you went out to make a short film for the programme, a three-minute film, sometimes four minutes if you were lucky, somebody, one of these thrusting young people who had been a researcher – and they were all desperate to make it in television, so there was a great energy there, and great competition – and they fought to become producers and directors, and had to go through a very heavy board system where, if there was a director’s job going, most of the researchers would apply for it, then a number of them would be interviewed, and if they got through that interview they went to the higher level interview, which was with the controller of programmes, David Plowright and Sir Denis Forman and people like that at Granada, which were very heavy sort of state of the world type interviews, which I never thought was the best way of getting the best producer or director, because it was the people who could handle, intellectually, those interviews that tended to get the jobs, rather than the people who had proved themselves good at making programmes as researchers. But anyway, that’s how it worked.

So they were all thrusting young people, so you always went out with a director to make your little films for the programme, and I was just astonished at the budget for all these people – if you went to make a film, you would never take your own car, you called on the secretary to the programme to say, “Get me a hire car for nine o’clock tomorrow morning,” so it would arrive the night before, you’d take it home, you’d do your job the next day, deliver it back the day after, never any question – you were always delivered a hire car to the office. So it was all things like that. It was astonishing!

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