I always wanted to be a film cameraman. Not a television cameraman, a film cameraman. When I was about 9 or 10 years old, I had a shed at the end of the garden that my parents used to put me in, and I had a projector and 30 large reels of 9.5mm films, and I used to put on little cinema shows for friends and things like that. So, I always had an idea that I wanted to be a cameraman. And it was film.
When I pursued my career, in the last year of school they suggested if I wanted to get into films that I went and did a course in photography and cinematography. So, I went to the Nottingham College of Arts and Crafts, which later became the Polytechnic, and is part now of Nottingham University. I studied photography and cinematography. Towards the end of the course in 1964, I decided that I needed to find a job, so I wrote to lots of companies, did some research with the union, and disappointingly found that, with the union, you had to have a card before you could get a job because it was a closed shop. And you couldn’t get a job unless you’d got a card. So, it was like one of those… it’s a wheel that keeps going around with a mouse in it.
So, anyway, I decided to apply to all the television companies and I only got two replies back. One was from Rediffusion in Wembley, and one was from Granada. This was in May 1964. So I got two interviews, and I went to the one at Rediffusion and the guy actually said, because I had friends who knew the guy at Rediffusion, he said they weren’t looking for anybody at the moment, but they would keep me on file and let me know as soon as something came up.
I also went for an interview with Granada. I think it was around about the middle of May 1964. I had an interview, and that went quite well as far as I thought, in July, and August came and I’d heard nothing at all from them. So I thought, “Well, I need to get a job. I need to do something.” So I applied to Kodak at Harrow for a technical representative job because it might enable me somewhat, somehow, to get a union ticket at some point or another. So, I applied for that job and subsequently, got it.
So at the beginning of September, I started to make arrangements for digs in London, in Harrow, and moving out of my parents’ house and everything else. Now, my father was a commercial traveller. So he said, “I’m going up to Manchester.” He said, “It’s a shame that Granada hadn’t even had the decency to reply to you.” I said, “Yes.” I said, “`I’ll come up with you. You can drop me off at Granada and I’ll go and find out why they didn’t even reply.” He dropped me off at Granada on Quay Street, and I went to front reception, and they phoned Personnel, and they said, “I’ve got John Scarrott here. He came for an interview three months ago. He’d like to come and see you.” They said, “Oh yes, yes, yes. Send him up.” So, I went up, and I walked through the door and they said, “John Scarrott?” I said, “Yes.” They said, “Oh. We’ve got a letter for you here in the outbox. We were just going to post it to you.” So I said, “What is it?” They said, “Well, we’re offering you the job. You can start as soon as you can.” Sugar! “I’ve got everything arranged for London, but yes, I want the job.” So I had to go through the whole process of cancelling my digs, all the moving to London. I had to phone Kodak and say, “I’m sorry, I can’t start because I’ve got the job I really wanted it in the first place.”