Jon Woods’s thoughts on the ethos of Granada

I think a lot of the ethos of the company, Made in the North, was down to the Bernstein family. It was a Bernstein company. I think Sidney obviously had a great insight into the media, and the newly developing television media, he had a great insight. He had cinemas, and saw a great opportunity, and obviously I’m sure there’s some apocryphal tales that he chose Manchester because it rained so much that people stayed in at watched television, all those sort of tales that I’m sure aren’t quite true, but is a good story. But I’ve got a great deal of respect for the Bernstein family and I was very sad to be there like a lot of us were when they left and sold out to Compass in terms of management. Just to say I think it was a family and I think it best to mention, you know, the Bernsteins, David Plowright, you know, Mike Scott, Denis Forman, obviously Sir Denis Forman, who had a huge influence on me during Jewel in the Crown. He spent a lot of time on location with us, and you could ask him almost any question you wanted about the Raj and he could tell you why this was so. So great people.

But I did one project for Sidney, a personal project. He was working for the Ministry of Information during the latter part of the Second World War. Obviously as a Jewish family, he had great interest when the concentration camps were being discovered, and he himself was one of the first people into Belsen to see the horrors of what had happened there in the extermination camps. And several years later we made a film about his experiences, and I shot it. I spent quite a lot of time in his company in his office in London and I got on very easily with him. It was very interesting to actually meet the man at the top, whose idea, Granada Television, Made in the North, was. So I think the company was brilliant because it had that sort of heart, delivered by that man, who was not only a good businessman, had great foresight into what the industry was going to be, but he also had great insight into art – the whole place was an art gallery. The whole of the Granada building in Manchester was an art gallery. And I think that rubbed off on everybody. You only had to go up to the penthouse, I’ve used the penthouse hundreds of times as a location, run training courses there, and done dozens and dozens of interviews in it, and when you look around at what he bought and put there for our education, it was brilliant. And I also have to say that when I broke my neck, they looked after me like a son, really. David Plowright used to send me bottles of alcohol into hospital to wile away the hours, you know, they were very good at looking after the family.


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