At what point did you decide to leave and why?
Okay, so I got married in 1986, and wanted to start a family.
And you married someone from Granada!
I married someone from Granada! So there were two of us juggling our careers at Granada. I was really looking forward to being a mother, and I was finding it difficult to work out how I could continue with the job, which I really enjoyed, and be the kind of mother that I wanted to be. And Granada had a history of not really wanting to support any idea of childcare, a creche etc., and what I wanted to do was to work part time. I thought I could work on something like sport, Granada Reports, something which had a regular pattern to it. And I could work part time, possibly job share. And I was quite happy to kind of restrict my career opportunities, but to still do a job that I’ve enjoyed, and to be able to raise my family. So this was something that really had no history in Granada. So if you looked around, I can’t remember anybody job sharing, and certainly none of the PAs worked part time, even though some of them certainly had children, so I don’t know how they managed to juggle their lives. And I went to see Brenda Smith, who I think was probably the general manager at that time, to say, “Was this an option?” And she wasn’t interested. It certainly wasn’t anything that they were going to entertain. And so I decided to leave. In retrospect, I’m not sure why I didn’t go to the union, to see if they could support me. But certainly, when I was in Liverpool, worked working in Liverpool as a PA, I was the equality rep for the ACTT. And I think I was probably unrealistic, not realising at that time, that whilst the union were very protective of its members, there was some quite right-wing views in there, you know? There were some people who were certainly not very open in terms of… how can I say this? Well, certainly there were some people who had some racist attitudes. And I found that really challenging. So I’m not sure how much support I would have got from the union. And I certainly think it would have been a fight.
And subsequently knowing, certainly there was one woman who was a researcher who really wanted to push for job share. That was something that was really difficult for her to do, although she finally achieved it. So I felt that I actually had no option but to leave Granada, and I subsequently went freelance and did go back to Granada and do some work for them, as well as the BBC. And so, yes, I was sorry to leave. But I felt that in terms of what I wanted my life to look like going forward, I really didn’t have any option. And I was fortunate that it then gave me the opportunity to go back into education, including doing a Master’s. And what I did for my thesis was to look at the challenges faced by women working in television who were mothers. And not surprisingly, I think, and sadly, I found out that for women across a whole range of roles, and at different stages in their careers, it was really challenging to balance the demands of working in television whilst being a mother. I hope that’s changed. I’m not entirely convinced it necessarily has, but my experience at Granada, and the context that I have, allowed me to reflect on it to get my master’s degree and then to go on to work within initially a college, and then a university. I was lucky, it was a time when Media Studies practical courses were developing, and fortunately, I was perceived to have the practical experience as well as the academic background to allow me to start working as a lecturer. So it was lucky, and it worked out. But yes, in some ways, it was a pity.
And where did you finish up?
I initially worked at a college in Burnley. I also worked at Salford, but then I moved to John Moores University, because they were developing a course called Media Professional Studies, in conjunction with Mersey TV, as it was then, fronted by Phil Redmond, who was very supportive of the course and was offering work experience and input into the course. So I started there as a lecturer, became a senior lecturer, and ultimately, became the director of the of the Screen School, which included media, journalism, creative writing, and drama. Yes, so probably leaving Granada was the best decision at the time, even though, as I say, it was probably the best job I ever had. But it was a job that was all-consuming, and didn’t always allow you to have an outside life. And I think you had to make sacrifices. There were a lot of women who were PAs, whose whole life was Granada, who didn’t necessarily have family, children, partners, because they had given up so much to work for Granada. And it’s not that Granada were a bad employer, but they didn’t necessarily put things in place at the time, you know, to help them. But that was probably as much of the time as it was of Granada, you know? And in a lot of ways, Granada was a great employer, you know, they paid you well, gave you medical support, you know, there was a nurse there. They were not bad employers; that’s probably the nature of the industry.