Leslie Woodhead talks about his role on World In Action in the mid-60’s

But (David) Plowright – who I should have mentioned, since he was always an immensely important person in my life, and remains so – he had been the second producer on People and Places, and he had then gone on and I had worked for him on All Our Yesterdays and What the Papers Say when he was doing that, and indeed for the party conferences, but he then became the producer of World in Action, and it was then heavily based in London with Tim Hewat, and when David took it over, he relocated it to Manchester, and I was one of Plowright’s original producer/directors on World in Action, so that we’re now in ’64-’65.

So when did World in Action actually start?

In ’63 with Tim Hewat. This was 18 months later when Tim Hewat moved on to other things, and Plowright took it over, and that was kind of my launch pad really, for everything I then did. There were about eight or 10 of us as producer/directors on World in Action. The wonderful thing for me was that we were all allowed to do everything – in other words, we were our own researchers, we were our own directors, we were our own producers, we edited our own films, and in some cases did the narrations, always wrote the scripts, so it was a fantastic grounding in the full range of doing documentaries – always in a hurry, usually with a lot of overnight edits and all that went with that, but a very, you know, uplifting and energising time, especially given all that was going on in the world at the time as well – revolutions here, there and everywhere.

Did you feel that, if you came up with an idea for a programme, you could pretty much get it made?

Not at that time. At that time, David was firmly in control of the agenda. We had our conferences and tossed our ideas in, and those were sometimes taken up. The period when I began to be able to initiate things and have them followed through was really in the 70s. Up to the end of the 60s I was heavily involved in World in Action, it was my obsessive employment in lots of ways. It began to take me to crazy places.

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