Roland Coburn remembers working on World In Action for over 20 years

Ultimately, it came that there was an editor’s job. I applied for it and luckily I got it. You then started editing ‘proper’ programmes. I was lucky enough to do a Bulman and a Strangers which, in those years, were ITV’s top drama programmes. Not many people now will remember them, but they were great, great programmes. After that, there was a chance to work on World in Action which, of course, was everyone’s idea of being at the forefront, and I said, ‘Yes, I’ll have a go at that’. Twenty-one years and just short of seven hundred programmes I was on World In Action.

You spent your whole time on World in Action then? 

I was on it for virtually twenty-one years. Occasionally I was taken off to do particular one-off programmes because, perhaps, World in Action was off the air, and things like that……..

Who would you have worked with on World in Action?

Lord Gus Macdonald was on World in Action as a producer and, later on, as a deputy producer as well. There were great producers like John Shepherd and Brian Blake; people who made wonderful programmes and wrote beautifully. It was the writing of them. You can argue the rights and wrongs, that the visuals weren’t perhaps as inspiring as they are today — because you didn’t have that kind of technology — but the way they wrote, you could follow what was going on and you were never in doubt as to who was the baddie. And there were quite a few baddies around!

It moved on at such a rate of knots that, all of a sudden, people like Paul Greengrass — who I’d worked with as a researcher on Kick Off — then was a researcher on World in Action, and other people, like the Geoff Seed’s of this world, went on to be great producers and write lots of books and things. So there were lots of people there who really knew the industry inside out and could really make a wonderful programme.


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