Priscilla John describes the training needed to work in Casting

First of all, I learned from John and Doreen, systems, so you always could double check everything. And how to deal with agents, how to negotiate fees with agents. And in that respect, Granada eased us in, because on Crown Court, you either wanted to do it for a fee of £34 or bugger off. Crown Court was 10 days’ engagement, and you either did it or you didn’t. So the negotiation on that eased you in to how it all worked. And the Equity agreement between the ITV companies. So we learnt all about that, and accounts were jolly helpful. Who was the ginger-haired guy with the beard? He was marvellous. He was so patient, and always willing to help, because of course accountants have very dull job. So when we rang up and said, “Can you help?” he’d be down like a shot! So we just learned off each other. And then, when it came to negotiating, there was a system whereby whenever you booked an actor, they had a card in the card index. I guess it’s all been put on disc, but you would look up to see what their last fee was. And you’d say, “Well, I can’t pay him more than what he got on that.” And you would learn to argue, and the point is, you knew damn well that Granada had this very firm grip on what people got paid, so they would literally lose directors rather than pay what they demanded. They were known to be the most amazing makers of drama documentaries, entertainment – don’t forget Wheel Tappers and Shunters! – and don’t forget Muriel Young’s department, who we also worked for. We worked for every department. When anybody needed to hire someone who obscurely had an Equity ticket, we had to hire them. And we did. 

Who did that kind of financial stringency come from? Was that from Plowright and Forman? 

No, it came down from the Bernsteins, I think. I think that culture came down, and anybody – and that’s still true, not just for the people who worked at Granada, but for anybody I know – they will always do a low budget film for practically nothing, because it’s good. 

And working for Granada was going to get them noticed. 

Working for Granada was going to a) be good on their CV and b) was a good bet. Drama wise, working with some of the best directors and producers.

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