Jim Grant on how the ITV network operated

In my current situation, where I’ve been involved with film and television as a content provider for 20 plus years, and actually, 99.99% of it is just endless bullshit talking, and very little ever happens. And it was, of course, exactly the opposite back then. Programmes were made as a right. And there was a worry that it… the network politics as a whole, there was worry that the minor companies would get squeezed out. And so, there was a formal process whereby a minor company could make a programme and designate it Category A, which meant that the rest of the network was obliged to carry it, whether they wanted to or not, whether they believed in it or liked it or not. They had to carry it. And that was a sort of… I liked that, to be honest. It was a very democratic process. And it also threw up the golden fleeces of entertainment, the thing you don’t predict, the thing you don’t expect. And, in a way, it really taught me that you can never predict in show business. You never know what’s going to work or not.

Because I do remember this scandal really; people talking about it in the most disparaging way, that it got screwed over category A, because Tyne Tees was forcing this awful show on them that they were going to have to run network peak time that would undoubtedly be a total disaster. And everybody was very miserable and very down on the category A process as a result. But that programme was Auf Wiedersehen, Pet which turned out to be a huge hit. Exactly the kind of upscale suburban viewers that Thames and Granada were worried about hating it, loved it. They clasped that show to their bosom. So that really taught me you never know, you can never predict what’s going to work and what’s not going to work. And I was very glad about category A because that forced that on the air that it would not have happened otherwise.

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