Leslie Woodhead on the importance of Granada being in Manchester

How important do you think it was that Granada was based in Manchester? How significant do you feel that contribution was to the North West?

I think for Granada, the separation from London was terribly important. I mean, rather like the arrogance we felt about being young producer/directors on World in Action, they felt about… they used to rejoice in some quotes they would come up with like, “What Manchester thinks today, London will think tomorrow” and they really, really felt that. There was a close involvement with the Guardian – the when Manchester Guardian – and there was very much a feeling that Granada was the TV equivalent of the Manchester Guardian, both in terms of its liberal tendencies and its interest in journalism. So that separation from the metropolitan take on things I think really was valuable, and I think when Plowright pulled World in Action back from being a London-based programme in the mid-60s, that had a lot to do with the way the company then shaped up.

It was funny that this obsession with what Sidney called ‘Granadaland’ was devised by people who simply didn’t live in Granadaland. Sidney, apart from going into the Penthouse occasionally, I don’t think he ever spent a night in Granadaland! Denis didn’t, Plowright did live in Granadaland, which was terribly important for Granada, and there was a feeling that being in this region gave us a certain take on the world that wasn’t quite the same as the one in London. We didn’t tend to either hang out with or find places for mainstream politicians on Granada programmes – World in Action barely ever featured them, much to their dismay. And that separation from Westminster gave us a certain independence of spirit over the years, and so I think that was important for the region. I would imagine – although I am less familiar with this – that having a company committed to the area based in Manchester and eventually with outstations in Liverpool, all that that meant was terribly important. It really did provide a sense of regional cohesion and worth that to some degree centred around the region’s TV company. It really was significant, I think.

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