I joined in May 1957, which was just a year and a few days after the company had gone on the air, and I joined because I wanted to be in the press office, really. I was interested in journalism at that time.
A friend of mine, who was working for the chief accountant, told me there was a vacancy for the assistant chief accountant. So I applied and got it, and instead of doing journalism spent seven years of my life in the Accounts Department.
But you hadn’t trained as an accountant?
I couldn’t add up! I didn’t even take maths for O-level. So that was a bit of a hoot. But, of course, I didn’t need to, because there were other people doing the figures; I was just a shorthand typist in those days, as we all were. Granada secretaries, on the whole, had their eyes set upon becoming Production Assistants. But I didn’t, for some reason. Then I moved into what would now be called HR — we called it Personnel.
How many years were you in Accounts?
Seven. Against all the odds! But I began to enjoy it, and they were a lovely bunch. I’d never worked with a big team before, so that was rather an eye-opener for me. And, of course, they were exciting times, because we started off in the old Gallagher tobacco factory, which was across the road.
Where the college is now. If you went out of the main entrance of Granada and crossed over the road, it was over there. Now I’ve completely lost the layout of the streets, because they no longer exist. But there wasn’t enough room in the first build of the TV centre to accommodate the admin staff, so the accounts department and several others — and, in fact, the directors — had an office in that building. I think that was for about three years, because the TV centre, proper, opened in 1961, and we all moved over.
We used to go over to the main block for lunch, because the canteen was over there. We had no facilities in our block, apart from Agnes — and I’m sure everybody’s talked to you about Agnes — who brought the trolley round. It was irresistible in the afternoons: teacakes, buns, biscuits!
She would just go round, office to office?
Yes, with a trolley of tea, coffee and goodies. I mean, you’d never get that happening now; you either go to a machine or you go to a building, don’t you? But that was 1957.
So what do you remember of those very early days of television production?
I had no conception of what went on in the studios, and we never went over there. I can remember going to one production, when Woody Allen did a gig, but that was much later. I think that was in the mid-60s. Just as a member of the audience.
We were all asked to look at the first episode of Coronation Street, of course — that historic night. But we just got on with the figures, and did what had to be done in admin terms.
There was very little contact, really, between, say, the studio floor and us. People like Frank Clarke and Roy Montrose bridged the two, because they were doing the costings. But we really didn’t see — except at lunchtime, in the canteen — anybody who actually made television, and they were like another species!
But gradually, particularly as we moved into the office block, you did get to know more people, because seven floors, instead of two isolated sections, made a big difference.