Jules Burns on how Granada became more commercially competitive

When I first arrived on the sixth floor as part of programme services, or when I was first settled in there, I was surprised that entertainment was regarded as really a bit below the pale. Drama and current affairs, they were the things that Granada did. I remember Paul David as the head of entertainment, taking up from Johnnie Hamp, found it really hard to get attention in the system. So, that was a bit like it’s Granada’s attitude to business as well. Business was something that somebody else did. Our purpose was to make good drama and current affairs. It did change. It changed quite dramatically when Charles Allen arrived, of course. Because, we were in competition. There was a flexy pool to go for. That was a portion of the network budget.

Oh, yes.

Do you remember? That’s what fundamentally changed our business. Where we lost our right to, I can’t remember what it was. 11% or 12% of the network output, a whole slice was taken off and created as a flexible pool that people had to bid for. It was at that time that really that Steve Morrison was coming through. He was Mike Scott’s successor, as the programme controller. I can’t remember the sequence of events, but Andrew (Quinn) was the managing director then. Steve was the programme controller. Steve, being as competitive as he is fought like hell in the flexi-pool, which is what eventually got us to be a huge over supplier of programming to the network by comparison to other companies. We were, by far, and we were the largest single producer on the network, and that was simply by competing on price and, and content. So, I think it’s because of Steve Morrison that we turned into a business, not Charles Allen. Charles Allen arrived, and Charles did something different. Which was, Charles in a very brutal and efficient way, slimmed the company right down. Cut out a lot of the noise and the complexity of the running of the company and the politics of the company. It was brutal but it was quick. Fascinating exercise to watch, and also for you and I, fascinating exercise to be survivors of, rather than victims. Because, a lot of people went. I think, 25% of the workforce and a third of the management were made redundant within four months of his arrival.

I know you’ve described it as being brutal or culling.

It was brutal. Yes, it was a cull. So, combination of that. And Steve’s commercial competitiveness really transformed Granada. There was a new management team on top and it was now competing against other companies who’ve gone to get commissions.


Leave a Reply