Jim Hancock on the night of the long knives

I don’t know how personal you want me to get here, but obviously…

Luise Nandy was my producer, and towards the end of my time I used to present specials from the party conferences, and Luise Nandy was my producer. Obviously she was in relationship with Ray Fitzwalter and Luise was in despair, and Ray was as well. They just didn’t feel they had a future under Charles Allen. And when David Plowright was sacked, and I think that’s the word we have to use, there was great turmoil and upset at the way in which that actually happened. After all, these people had founded the company, had built it up to what it was. This change, of course… I don’t think it was completely clear what the project was going to be at that stage, at the time of the long knives it appeared to be personal judgments and soul. On reflection, I imagine that Gerry Robinson would say that he knew that Plowright was not going to be on board for the dismantling of the regional structure, and going for one ITV. I imagine that’s what the politics of it was, but it was an unhappy time.

Things were changing and I wasn’t as comfortable under the new regime. I mean, I worked very well with Sue Woodward who was definitely the editor of Granada Reports. Although Sue, she obviously thrived under the Charles Allen regime. I was very happy working for her, but I always had this ambition to be a national correspondent for the BBC. So, I began to look around to do that, and in 1994 I left Granada and became a national correspondent for the BBC. But that was a very brief time because there was always this tug in my career between working at Westminster and my family in the north west. They were very much rooted in the north west, and so I went down to London and worked as a national correspondent for about seven months. The other big thing, apart from the family ties, was that at Granada I’d had great freedom to identify the stories that I thought were important, and editors who supported me. As soon as I got to the BBCs Millbank operation and realised you were just a small cog in the wheel, and a decision was taken about what stories we’re going to cover today. I mean, I should have given it more time really, but it was a tremendous shock. And I thought, how many years is it going to be before I can make a difference here? 

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