Roland Coburn on working in local programmes

What kind of programmes did you work on after doing those initial dramas?

Well, it was a bizarre setup really, because when I was an assistant, ITN used to have a north-west reporter, who used to come up to Manchester and do little north-west news items. The very first thing I cut was a fifteen-second mute item — no sound, just four pictures cut together — of a rail delay somewhere in the north-west. It went out in ITN, and that was my very first thing. Just to see fifteen seconds of your own item go out was amazing.

I then started Granada Reports News and, because it was shot on film, or what they used to call reversal — once you make a cut, that’s it — you could stick it back together, because they had sellotape to cut the joins. So you had to make a decision. What it taught you was to make a decision, and hopefully the right decision, because if you changed your mind, you’d always get that flash where the shot was rejoined back together again. So you knew you had to make decisions and make them quick. Often, the item would come in at half five and it would be transmitted at six o’clock, so you had no time to mess about; you had to make decisions. That was good, because it learned you to be quick, understand what the reporter wanted and things like that.

Granada Reports, in those days, used to do nice little half-hour documentaries. You’d do a few little documentaries, which gave you more confidence. After that, I went onto a great football show called Kick Off, which was run by Paul Doherty and, in fact, in those days, someone like Paul Greengrass — the now Hollywood director — was one of the researchers. Elton Welsby was the presenter and Gerald Sinstadt was another presenter. It was great, because I loved football and I was doing all these shows. I did that for quite some time — or it seemed quite some time.

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