I went in the morning. Another lad joined me, Roy Montrose, and the first week we were just sitting there doing nothing. There were five Accounts staff. Two Accountants, an Office Junior, a Secretary and a Cashier. That was it and us two. Then Tuesday of the second week, Bill Dixon came and said “oh, I want you both, you’ve both been asked to go for a little interview with Mr Pierce. Now we didn’t know who Mr Pierce was at that time. Didn’t know anybody.
Well I went in first and chatted about……….he wanted to know why I liked costing and things like this and then he asked for an example. I said, “Well take a bicycle. It may cost 16 pounds to buy but I’ve always been interested, for future reference, how much the individual items are for cost.” That was the end of the interview. Roy did a similar thing. We came back and we both said, “What on earth was all about?” Nothing was said at all. Another week elapsed and then Bill Dixon came I one morning and said, “You’ve both been transferred to Production Office. You will be under Jack Martin, Production Manager and you’ve got to put in a Programme Costing System”.
I thought, “nN, I’ve done too much”. Anyway, what happened, Bill Dixon showed us the form we had to use and there were twenty five columns that may have to be filled in on any programme from Research Rights to Royalties, Scripts, Artistes Fees, Crew Expenses – all these were Direct Charges and the next column at the side of it was Indirects – the use of the studios, the camera users – all this lot.
So what happened then we started doing the programme budgets. In the early days we went together to programme budget, so we would both be learning what we had to do properly. There were a couple of dry-run programmes we were able to get on to and we did the figures as they were being given to us over at Board meetings – in the old Granada House this was – and just gave a figure but then we had to cross the ‘T’s’ and dot the ‘I’s’ and present it to the producer the day after so he could put it to Sidney Bernstein.
Because of the way we were doing all this, Roy and I, because we were going down in the studio alone – we just got Studio2 and we had a make-shift Studio 4 then – we got known as Bulgarin and Krushchev – B and K – like the Russian leaders. They all suspected us but gradually they realised we were simply trying to do a job like they were.
The information that came was amazing. I mean, for instance, if a camera went down half way through a programme, and there were four cameras with a warm-up, the Technical Supervisor, apart from leaving the total hours of usage every morning on our desk, would leave a note – Camera 3 went down after two hours – and we’d alter our figures accordingly.
Well thing was, once we started on May 3, it was the only time no budgets were ever done for Granada programmes because everything was – well it started with a ‘Thank you’ to Granada – ‘This is Granada on the air’ -it showed one or two light type programmes that we might do – like one was – Eleanor Summerfield – can’t remember the title but it was a forerunner of Coronation Street actually – it was that sort of thing – and then a tribute to the BBC – that was Thursday night May 3. That was nothing but the following Monday we started transmissions and we were told every day after transmission, your costs will be presented to SLB by you..
Sidney Bernstein, sorry, Sidney Leonard Bernstein- everybody addressed him as SLB – and you will explain to him any discrepancies and this happened every day. 4 o’clock we’d go across to where the old Granada House was on Water Street – it was an old Gallagher cigarette warehouse – that was the first Granada House – go into him…
The studios were in Quay Street?
The studios were in Quay Street, but we’d only got Studio 2 and Studio 4. If you went in the entrance at Quay Street as it used to be – now as you got down Quay Street towards Granada site, there was a petrol station on the corner at Quay Street and Little Quay Street – that’s where the new Granada House was built, going backwards towards the railway works – and at the side of that was the entrance into the Admin and Production Office – that was all along the front.
So we’d go into Sidney and explain these things to him – if there were any discrepancies – we would tell him about them. Anyway…
Was he a bit of a stickler for figures?
Actually he was very good. We really enjoyed going to see him as if we’d a slight problem, we could mention it to him and word would get round – ‘Mr Sidney’s not happy with this, not happy with that’ it might be something and nothing, but as we went on and once they got used to us, the crews then called us ‘The Bailiffs’ – as far as I am aware, that name existed right until Granada finished. Although the Cost Clerks who eventually transferred from Production into Accounts, and there were eight at the end doing programmes, they were all Bailiffs and that was it because of the things we arranged.
For instance, a 24 hour allowance for an OB man was two pounds and two shillings – lunch, dinner, overnight and breakfast – but the crew could draw a float before they went on location – so what they were worried about was, as the majority of them were weekly paid in those days, how do we leave our wives money to keep going while we’re away and keep ourselves on location? So what I arranged was that the Cost Clerk who went out – in those days it was only Roy and I – when we went on location, we would take their wages with us on a separate sheet. They could sign for their wages there and then on site and the wives would have the float before they went off on location, and it seemed to work. No-one ever complained.
Can we just go back to the Company? The Company started on May 3, did you say?
That was on a Thursday and that was just a one-off?
That was a one-off with, I think it was, the caption came up – the Granada caption – and then a voice over said, “From the north – this is Granada”. Now I think it was Victor Pierce, who was Deputy Chairman that made that statement. Nobody would ever say – all they would say was it wasn’t an actor.
And then the Company really kicked off on the Monday?
On the Monday. We did a little bit on the Friday, which was some bits of film and things like that but nothing really television-wise until we started on the Monday with all sorts of programmes.