So your dad, Alastair Houston, worked at Granada. When you were growing up, was that your memory of your dad always worked there?
Yes, always, and I always wanted to be with my dad. And so one of my very earliest memories is being pushed in my pushchair across the cobbles, which would have been outside the front reception at Granada. I can’t remember the name of the street, but not Vera Street, the next one down. And Dad was rushing, because he always rushed everywhere, and he tipped me up and I fell out, hit my head on the cobbles, and he had to take me to the first aid, the medical centre. So, my first memory is the nurse, really, at Granada. But I went with him a lot and just loved everything about it and just knew that’s what I wanted to do. Even though I was quite academic at school, but when I said I wanted to go work in television my teacher, she said, “No, get yourself a proper job,” because I was good at maths and they said computing was the way forward. Go and get a job. And I thought about it, but no. I wanted to be in television. And I wanted to do what I do now. I wanted to do drama, a script supervisor, because my mum used to meet… do you remember Hilda Miller? My mum used to meet her on a Saturday morning and I’d sometimes go with them and I’d listen to all these stories where she’d been and who she’d met, and what she’d worked on. I just thought it sounded like such a glamorous lifestyle. Sometimes when I was standing in the middle of a field in the pouring rain, I remember back to that and think, “Yes, that’s why you’re here. Because it’s glamorous!”
Do you think that was the main reason that you wanted to join? Because it sounded exciting and glamorous?
It was exciting, yes. I’d say fun, and it didn’t seem like it was a regular job, really. I didn’t want to… I was going to say I didn’t want to go to the same place every day, but I did for a long time because we did at Granada. Nowadays I never go to the same place twice, but you did. But it was every show was different. Every sort of job I worked on was different. Even when I was a secretary, every job was different. You met so many people, which was one of the things I liked. So some jobs where you work with the same people every day for 30 years or more, and even at Granada, there was such a big group of people that you were working with. And I think that suited me. I enjoyed that. And I just loved it. I loved everything about it from the moment I started, really.
Thinking about as you were growing up, did you have any involvement in kind of social activities or children’s parties or any other things like that?
Every Christmas, staff would be given a bonus, and the bonus would come on a Friday, and on a Saturday, there’d be a children’s party. So, the idea was that you could leave your children at the party and then go and spend your bonus, do your Christmas shopping or whatever. And my brother, Andrew and I, always went to the Christmas party. I can remember Therese Meek, vision mixer, she was a year older than me, and she took me under her wing and looked after us at the parties because our dads were very friendly. And so they were great. They’d have, I can remember Sandie Shaw being on in the 60s, when she was a big star, and Lionel Blair. I can’t really remember any other people apart from one thing. The snake keeper at Bellevue Zoo was one of the guests. And I don’t know what he did with that snake. He must have released it, but I can remember standing on a chair screaming, and I’ve been terrified of snakes ever since.
I definitely remember that!
So that’s as a result of one of the children’s parties. But there was quite a good social life in the early days that my dad was quite involved in, because they had a theatre club at the stables. So, like an amateur dramatic thing, and they put plays on, and Dad would get involved with that. And Mum would go as well. So, Mum and Dad both knew a lot of people and had quite a lot of social activities and there seemed to be an awful lot of parties as well. Well, more than ever is these days!