John Huntley recalls his early days as a researcher in Granada Reports

So you started as a researcher in 1976?

Yes. They weren’t expecting me; Jeremy Fox said, “Oh, God, oh, yes… I suppose we’d better find somewhere for you to sit.” And what happened in those days was – and Jeremy Fox organised this quite cannily to give himself less work to do, frankly – on Granada Reports, half the programme each night was a special section called Reports, so there was Reports Sport, Reports Back, and something else. I was assigned to Reports Back, which was the letters programme, presented by Gordon Burns. So I worked for Gordon Burns, these letters would come in and we would make a little film. I remember the very first thing we did! It was on biorhythms, if they exist and are they important, and how would they affect athletes in the Olympic Games and so on. So that’s what I did. So I did Reports Back, I can’t remember how long, but I think – I’ve been thinking about this – I then gravitated to… what I used to do, because I wasn’t a journalist but I wanted to work in the newsrooms as it seemed to me that’s where all the action was. The news editor at the time was a man called Peter Martin, who was a very, very, very nice man – I think he died, actually – who went off to work for The Economist as one of their correspondents. But I went to see him one lunchtime and said, “Can you teach me how to write a news story?” and I was used to writing essays frankly, and of course they were blue pencilled and so he taught me how to write tight, direct, simple copy and I did that in my spare time. Then, and I can’t remember how long I worked on Reports Back, but I gravitated to… I became Bob Greaves’ researcher. Bob, as well as presenting Granada Reports, presented Reports Sport, which was the Friday part two of Granada Reports, and that was great, so we did all sorts of things, I remember getting footballers in for him to interview, things like that, so I really enjoyed that.

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