I didn’t decide to leave. The writing sadly was on the wall. I took a redundancy, but it was becoming quite evident that finances were playing an important role, and it had become an unrecognisable company in many ways. We were then under the auspicious ruling of, I think, Charles Allen, and I think Gerry Robinson was still involved. But it was all about finances, budgets, and what had been spoken about with this merger of the BBC at Oxford Road. And we did create a fantastic opportunity for a design company within Granada TV called 360 Media and the facilities was second to none. And the BBC designers that came across were excellent designers. And our output, our designer output, was I thought very, very of the highest calibre. But it was all monitored so strictly by budget, and of course we now had to pay very high rates to rent our department within the building at Quay Street. So finances were always there in the background and the number of meetings we would all have as designers with budgets and, “Why are you going over spend?,” etc., etc.. It was becoming more and more evident. So, in the end, I think Granada didn’t feel we were commercially viable and had no energy or enthusiasm to support us anymore. I’ll just take this opportunity to say that the general manager of Grenada, who was head of design services, management head of design services, Michael Taylor, Mike Taylor, was a big supporter and he really pushed us. I’ve got to say that, very much. And although of course Mike is a manager and knew a spreadsheet, but I think without his will and I think an enthusiasm and I think a bit perhaps like Margaret Thatcher’s tunnel under the channel, I think Mike might wanted to have that as a legacy perhaps to a degree to his managerial time. And yes, Mike was a big supporter of the department, the electronic graphics department, and the design services. And of course he went on, as we all know, to become general manager of Granada. But again, Mike then left the company. But yes, sorry, getting back to an earlier point. Yes, the writing was on the wall. And the senior designers, as a head of a department and what’s called a production designer, my level was then production designer, we had a reasonable salary, quite a good salary. And yes, so I was encouraged to take a redundancy while the terms were pretty good, so I took it. And then the department haemorrhaged a number of people over the coming 18 months. And then finally, when they moved to Salford Quays, I think they moved with just two designers. And sadly that’s all gone now.
But no, if I had my choice I would happily have stayed on for another probably five years or so I think. But certainly, yes, it was neither the company nor the department that I had started out in all those years previous. Yes, but that’s progress.
Was it a good company to work for in the earlier days?
I think so. I think so. In a way, I can’t compare it to many because I was fortunate enough to work for ITV from leaving college at the age of 22 up until my early 50s. So that’s the only company I’ve ever known, Granada, ITV, ATV for nine months or so previous. And looking back, it’s a bit like I was at college for nearly 30 years, 28 years. It had that slight feeling of a university environment, campus. We’re all there trying to do whatever show you were working on. It was a bit like doing your final show as part of your final qualifications, if that makes sense. It had that slight feel to it. I think, yes, Granada was a good company. I think they looked after us as long as you did your work. Like any company, you’re going to have your run-ins with people and you’re going to have your issues. And the unions were a strong, major part of my early time at ITV. I mean, ironically, I was only working there for about three months when there was the major summer strike where all of ITV went off the air for about three months. So I was actually, at that time, not a member of the union so I had a whole summer of full pay because I wasn’t on strike. I wasn’t a member of the union, I wasn’t on strike, but I couldn’t cross the picket line because there was no work to do. So I had a paid summer. But, excuse me, through that particular summer strike, which I’m sure a number of us will remember, there was a huge percentage increase in wages across the board at ITV. There was a lot of frustration with the unions as well, of course, with the demarcation of jobs when you were filming things or shooting things and strict time breaks and woe betide if you did something you should not do on a film set. So, in many ways, the restrictive practises were very frustrating as a designer when you were trying to get something shot, when you were out filming for a title sequence and time was against you. And then there would be the protected breaks, all the protected jobs, what someone can and can’t do. Or if someone wasn’t on that set that could do that, you’d have to wait for that person to come out to your shoot. So there was an awful lot of frustrations, but the unions I think evolved as well, because they had to. But it was a closed shop. I had to join the union. You were either management or you were a foot soldier I guess. And you had to become part of BECTU whether you wanted to or not. But I think, again, when redundancy was facing a number of us, the unions were supportive. And I can’t remember his surname, Gerry, the very broad Irish gentleman. He always spoke passionately and eloquently in various heated meetings that happened. So I think, on the whole, the unions were good to me and generally supportive. And I think they did modernise within themselves, within the company, because they realised that things had to change as well. And again, as things change and there were certain new job titles and certain new allowances for what people could and couldn’t do.