I was freelancing in Birmingham, ATV – which no longer exists, of course – in the centre of Birmingham. I got a contract there straight from college. I was in the design department, and I had, I think, a nine-month contract to work on their winter campaign of 1979. So this was 1978. A number of the graphic designers working in Birmingham were friends with, or ex-colleagues of the design department in Manchester. They mentioned that there was a possibility of a job coming up in Manchester, and mentioned it to me, linked to access to notice boards. That’s how it came about. And in a way, it just shows all those years ago, the various companies… there was a certain comradery I think, as well as rivalry with the various… well, certainly in the art and design departments around the country. In fact, we ended up playing ATV, Granada TV. We arranged a few football matches in years to come. Yes. That’s how it came about. I heard of it because I happened to be in the right place at the right time. Yes.
You were working as a graphics artist. You had completed art school?
Yes. I went to Leicester, it was then, Leicester Polytechnic, doing a graphic design degree. No universities at that time actually did it, in fact. Or, only Reading. Leicester now is De Montfort University. While I was there, one of our tutors developed a relationship with the graphic design department in Birmingham, ATV. We used to get some associate designers come across and talk to us. I got quite friendly with one of them, and he set projects for us and he quite liked some of the work I did. And he said, “Well, keep in touch when you finish.” And I duly did. He offered me then a contract in the September, October to work on what was called their winter campaign, when the ITV companies had a huge region… well, regional stroke national campaigns to advertise and promote ITV programmes throughout the country. They were very big. This was a national winter campaign. Yes, so that was my first taste.
So you applied for the job at Granada in Manchester.
Did you have to go for an interview process?
Oh, yes. Yes. In fact, funny enough, that interview came about in the February, I think, and I’ve started at ATV in the September. It was funny, I had never been further north I don’t think, than Birmingham at that time, within this country. You know, I had to check exactly where Manchester was on the map. I always remember the interview I got, I didn’t make. Because it was one of the few times it was snowbound mid-February and I didn’t get further than Crewe. And I sat in Crewe Station for a couple of hours realising I was going to miss this interview. So as soon as I got back to Manchester, Piccadilly, I found a red phone box. Then phoned and apologised. Of course, there were no mobile phones then. That I didn’t make the interview. The secretary of the design department said “Oh, don’t worry. A few people struggled today. Look, we’ll rearrange.” And I think I had an interview in about 10 days or so later, towards the end of February. But yes, I can remember sitting on Crewe Station thinking, what’s happening? Where am I? Anyway, it’s a very nice station.