Luise Fitzwalter on the importance of Ray Fitzwalter’s northern identity to him

Was that northern identity important to him?

Desperately. Yes. Again, Paul Greengrass said at the award, at the luncheon for Ray’s award, you could see the curl of the lip as you came into London on the train with Ray as you approached Euston – and I think this is what gave him as a journalist such – and as head of current affairs at Granada – such strength, because he was utterly uninterested in cosying up to power at any level – which is what finally led to his downfall at Granada, of course – but he didn’t do the smarming in and out, he didn’t try to climb the greasy pole. I mean, you never saw him in the Old School unless it was somebody’s leaving do – far too busy for that. And as regards the whole London bubble, both in television and in the corridors of power, he just wanted to be an outsider, he knew it gave him strength. When he died, I had a service for him, he wanted to be buried in Ramsbottom, and we had this celebration of his life. And it gave me enormous comfort to know that I could say this is where it’s going to be, in Ramsbottom, and 300 people would turn up! You know? We couldn’t have gone to London, and we couldn’t really have gone to Manchester – it had to be here. And that…

And when we were… when he was under such pressure with Who Bombed Birmingham? and Thatcher was calling him out by name … and things, he did a piece for the Manchester Evening News where he said how consoling it was to go back to this peaceful spot on the side of a hill, you know, and I know that’s absolutely what he felt. He’s a working class lad from memory. And that’s what he remained despite the fact that he had many honours and lots of respect and a top job. He knew what his roots were. And he knew who he was. And I think that gives you an enormous strength, both as a journalist of course, but also as a leader, because it wasn’t about him – it was about the job. That’s what was important. And very unusual in television.


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