Luise Fitzwalter on the change of culture at Granada

Apparently Charles Allen, when he gave this presentation to the board, said, “What you do,” and this is what they used to do on Granada’s… and this is hearsay, I heard this story ……“What you do is you squeeze the client, as it were, until the pips squeak. And if, when they start complaining that their slice of bread is three times smaller then you make it slightly larger again.” And basically yes, they took the model of Channel 4, and said, “We’ll buy in, it’s much cheaper.” What they didn’t realise was… or what they refused to recognise, although so many people told them, was that you’ve got this pool of talent in the north who were all then going to go south, which they did, until they came back again. And one of the things that Plowright and Ray did was set up this conference, this television from the Nations and Regions conference, which was responsible in the end for getting the BBC to bring a huge amount of its stuff back up to Salford, which is what they’d always hoped would happen. But basically the sheer nastiness of it all, that’s what I’m angry about. When Ray left, nobody – nobody, apart from people quite low down the food chain – came to say goodbye. We walked out with our BAFTAs under our arm and a sheaf of notes, not one of his executive colleagues came to say goodbye. You know, they’re just ashamed of themselves, and they couldn’t look him in the eye.

I then organised a sacked person’s party. We had 100 there from all over the world who flew in, and Ray met them… Ray made a speech and said, “Some of you are still employed, and we’ve taken a note of this.” Haha. But it was just so nasty, and people were settling old scores, and people were watching their backs… and the rot had set in as soon as Plowright was sacked – there was no reason to sack Plowright. Granada Television was doing very well, it was Granada board that wasn’t. And he stood up to Gerry and they faced it off… it’s all in Ray’s book. And it… but then from then on you could see that the visions, you know, and who was going to win and who wasn’t. Ray came in one day on a Sunday and he saw all these coats and things there. He realised that there was some big meeting going on and then he asked Dianne (Nelmes), and Dianne said, “You’d better talk to David Liddiment,” and then that was it. We were all sacked. And why?

… I mean, Forman, got very upset that Alistair had been sacked, because he had been such a good public servant. And he was also equally upset that Ray was sacked. And he persuaded Gerry and Charles – or maybe it was David Liddiment – to release some money so we could set up (a production company), which is what we did. But it was the sheer nastiness of it that still sticks in my throat. It was exactly counter to the original culture, which was very in your face, very much so, very tough – but respectful. And that went, and that was horrible. And I think it took them a long time to get it back.

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