Joan Riley remembers working in the Promotions Department – and meeting Pat Phoenix

Promotions department; the duty announcer would give a run down of all the programmes for that night and would pick out the special ones, do a few more words on that. And the scriptwriters would write these small scripts out, minute long for the afternoon and evening, and we typed them out. We’d get black and white stills to promote whatever.

At that time, they went from black and white to colour, so all the stills of people were redundant. They arranged to have a small photographic studio in the green room and it was one of my duties to collect the ‘Coronation Street’ people.

They had plenty of spare time then, they used to do all sorts of things in the green room. Bill Roache and Annie Walker used to play bridge, some of them were cutting dresses out. One day Pat Phoenix walked in. Now Pat, when she was fully made up was very imposing. She walked in and said “Get that TV Times girl out of here!” She’d guessed really, because I worked for TV Times billings afterwards, but of course I had to leave the studio. But when she found out I was just doing my job she took my under her wing and I went on personal appearances with her. She was very kind. She took me out a couple of times for a meal. One time there was Tony Warren, the bloke that started Coronation Street, and Tony Booth, the father of Cherie Blair. It was very interesting, he’d just started to go out with Pat and he told us stories of his out-of-life experiences. He’d died when he was burnt and he told us these out-of-life experiences. I’ve never seen it in any of his books or anything written about him but it was very, very interesting what he said.

Joe Rigby in Presentation had a red phone, which was used to connect all the networks together, and they’d have conferences. Once a week we had the red phone in the Promotions department and I was connected to all the Promotions departments where we exchanged film clips and stories. You had to have lines to connect all the companies together so we had to arrange for the lines. The Promotions scriptwriters would select suitable clips of all the main programmes; ‘Coronation Street’, ‘Family at War’ or whatever and these clips I had to look at and select suitable opt out points. They usually ran about three minutes but then you had to have opt out points, thirty seconds, a minute. They went down the Network and the Network sent them back as well, did the same thing. That was very interesting.


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