Jon Woods on the importance of the Granada canteen

Inside the building, your duty of care almost, the canteen was the fantastic heart of the building, in its very first incarnation the canteen sat as a building that jutted out into the car park at the back of Granada and it was an L-shaped building with sort of banquette type booths that you could sit in, and if you wanted to meet anybody, if you were looking for somebody, you would always find them in the canteen, because nobody really went out to eat because it was totally subsidised. Friday was mad because it was fish and chips day, and it was brilliant – it was well-cooked and it cost you next to nothing! But also, not only that, but you generally saw the Bernsteins in there or David Plowright, or all the exec producers – nobody really ate anywhere else. Of course, there were exec dining rooms which all programmes used for guests and stuff, you know, on sport I spent a lot of my evenings in the exec dining room after shows, having drinks with guests. So that we know was absolutely brilliant.

Also in terms of the more social, adult, there were bars. There was the Old Stables, which was a club, because you were a member of Granada you were a member of it, it was supplemented, it was a non profit-making organisation, it turned all its profits from drinks back into providing more drinks cheaper, table tennis tables, jukeboxes, gambling machines… it was certainly a place, if you were ever looking for a film editor you would always find one in there somewhere.

I suppose in the canteen and the Stables, there you had the wide-ranging community of all sorts of people who worked to make a television programme, who would all sit together and mingle, from actors to directors, to costume, everyone. You don’t get that any more.

No. I think you said it exactly. It was an absolute core where you could relax with everybody from the lead actor down to the props guy – everybody would be there, everybody knew each other, we knew the bar staff, they knew you, it was almost like your local when you walked in and they would be pouring you whatever you wanted, they knew what it was. But also, most of the Coronation Street staff would be in there.

It was almost too irresistible. Did that become a bit of a problem?

I think as time went on, I think the management thought that it was probably taking the mick a little bit – the lunch time became more than an hour, sometimes more than two hours, and it was different… it was different for myself, because basically as a film cameraman you generally weren’t there during the week, if you were filming, you only had an hour, because basically you had the hour break and that was it – you’re back on set again, whereas editing was a little more laissez-faire. Yes, they worked a bit later in the evening, but it was swings and roundabouts. But generally what you were talking about was the project. If you were sitting together, you weren’t talking about football too much, you were talking about what you were doing, and discussing it in a more relaxed way about what to do. And to be quite honest with you, I don’t blame them to some extent, I’ve spent enough days of my life in dark edit suites to know that it’s quite nice to get out of it for a little while.

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