Jules Burns’s view on the shift of power from north to south

Well I think it’s regrettable in that it gradually has dismantled the production capability in the north, it’s an inevitable consequence of it. When I first arrived, Manchester was completely buzzing. Probably 80, 90% of its production staff, its creative staff were actually based in Manchester. There were some in Upper James Street, but that was half the World In Action and a few features people. By the time I left, it was a very almost the reverse, I think. Maybe not 90% in London. But I think it’s an inevitable consequence of moving into a competitive environment. You could sit in Manchester and base everything in Manchester for as long as you had an absolute right to make programmes. The minute you lost that right and you had to go and compete, you’ve got to go down to where the decisions are made. You’ve got to be in the building that the people who make the decisions in order to win the commissions. So I think the creation of flexi-pool was one big factor in it. The acquisition of London Weekend was another very big factor. We were always clear that we had to have a seat in London in order to keep our place in the network. So if Carlton had managed to buy London Weekend, which I think probably wouldn’t have been allowed, but if one of the southern companies had bought London Weekend you would have had a very strong north/south split. The north would have shrunk very badly. So we knew we had to have a place in London, and the only one available was London Weekend. Then use that as our lever to… towards the end we were providing, if you say the network was broadly split between Carlton and Granada, I know there was still Scottish and Northern Ireland and all of that not quite sorted. But we were providing close on 75% of the ITV network from our companies, compared to Carlton’s around about 25%. We were by far and away the biggest producer.

Yes, the London Weekend takeover was a key moment, wasn’t it?

Absolutely fundamental, yes.

Flexi-pool, London Weekend.

Yes. Then becoming such a dominant producer.


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