Luise Fitzwalter on the end of her Granada career

Let’s just continue with your career, to where your career ends at Granada.

Huh. Right, well… I suppose I’m still very angry about it. What happened to Ray particularly. I think two people suffered the most from the whole debacle when Gerry came in, Gerry Robinson and Charles Allen, and one was Plowright and one was Ray, because both of them were absolutely seeped in Granada and therefore were targets, obviously. Plowright went first, and then Alastair Mutch.

And we were all shown a PowerPoint thing, which showed that the board was divided. And actually that’s absolute rubbish, because up until then the whole ethos of Granada had been robust debate. And fighting your corner, and no hard feelings. You know, you were meant to, from the moment you entered the place, you were meant to fight your corner. And yet I digress, but you know, I’ve been in cutting rooms where I’ve said, you know, “That is absolute rubbish,” in much stronger terms than that.

On one occasion I remember David Hart picking me up on Union World and physically carrying me out over his shoulder and depositing me at the end of the corridor and locking the door, and I was banging on the door as the producer saying, you know, let me in. This kind of thing disappeared overnight. You had to be one of them or you were out. And Alastair said exactly the same thing, and so much happened with the board. Alastair was a company secretary, and when they were discussing how they were going to slash this, slash that and slash t’other, he said, “I don’t think that’s going to work, because we have a pool of talent here which is superb, and what you’re suggesting is getting rid of them and buying in, and it’s counterproductive. We are as good as our talent.” And for that he was sacked. So anyway, they sacked the board, and then they summoned us all – I think you’ll remember this – to three meetings in different studios.

I’d already gone.

You’d already gone, had you? And it was utterly horrendous. That morning they had sent round notes, they had got hold of different people in departments and they had sent around… they had earmarked who they were going to sack, and there was a lot of point scoring going on, and the people who helped to do it – it was just like the Third Reich – the people who helped to do it also got an envelope and got sacked. In many cases. One man had a heart attack and had to be sent off in an ambulance, people were shaking – I mean, they were literally shaking – and I remember going in to the studio where we were being briefed and we already knew that Ray was going to be sacked. And I said to Ray, “You must keep quiet.” I then stood up and yelled at Liddiment, and said, “What has happened to Granada?” I was so angry, I was… you know. I committed suttee actually, I think that’s what I did. But I said, “What has happened to Granada? Until now it has been our duty as senior people in Granada to challenge constructively, and now suddenly anybody who challenges is regarded as a traitor. What are you doing?” And he yelled back at me, “Your job is to incentivise people. This is a disgrace.” And I said, “Look, people are dropping cameras on the floor in the studio because they are shaking so much. We had to stop recording What the Papers Say the other day because the crew were too upset to go on. What are you doing to this company?” We had this terrible row, and then of course I was out too. So basically what they did was they sacked the board, then they sacked anybody who wasn’t going to take the oath of allegiance, or they had earmarked for sacking like Ray, then they sacked anybody who disagreed, and then they sacked a lot of people who shouldn’t have been sacked and they had to bring a lot of them back in again. And it was a destruction of a huge pool of talent. And about three years later, Gerry Robinson did a programme with the BBC where he said, “Look, you see the thing is, I really do think that the BBC is so wonderful because it had staff rather than buys in.” Ha! So having destroyed Granada, he then was a convert. But by that time, of course, it was history.


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