Sandy Ross talks about producing the Granada regional programme ‘Live From Two’

I think the first thing I was asked to produce was a live afternoon show. These were before the days of all day television, but it was beginning to happen. So they needed programmes.

What they decided, I’m not sure who decided, Mike Scott, David Plowright, Denis Forman, whoever, decided they wanted to have an afternoon magazine show. They asked me and Steve Leahy, once he was allowed to leave the promotions department, to jointly produce a show called ‘Live from Two’, which came from Studio Swo, three days a week. Terrible original title; started at two o’clock, came from Studio Two and it was live. Live from Two. It was presented by Nick Turnbull who was a journalist in the newsroom. We also had another journalist called Shelley Rohde who worked on it as well. Later on when Nick stopped doing it, Shelley did it on her own. It was quite an eclectic afternoon programme. It was the familiar mix. If you listen to ‘Start the Week’ on a Monday morning on BBC Radio 4 you always had a sense who was on the book circuit that week. It would be the same people who would come round doing all the regional news programmes and the regional magazines. There would be films that were released that week so there would be the film star, director, producer around selling the product. So it was topical in that sense; books, magazines and we had a studio audience bit.

One of the segments that I introduced which we did for about four or five weeks, but was an absolute disaster, was a popular psychology thing. It was with a psychologist called John Mollison trying to talk to people about why they behaved in particular ways but that wasn’t a very successful segment. We also had a fantasy segment, I always remember that, it was Steve Leahy’s big idea.

It was almost a ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ segment where we asked people in the North West to write in and tell us what their greatest fantasy was. And then we would choose from the fantasies and make them come true for the person in the studio audience. Two that I remember and always stuck in my mind. One was some woman who wanted to share a railway carriage with Cyril Smith. God knows why, but she did. Cyril Smith at that time was the Liberal MP for Rochdale and was a huge, huge, huge man. Whenever we used to have Cyril Smith on any of the politics programmes, or even in the studio, you phoned down to the props department and say ‘can we have the Cyril seat please?’ He needed a seat, which was about twice the size of the seat required by an ordinary person.

For this it was a woman, she wanted to read a poem to Cyril Smith in a railway carriage. So we got the stagehands to build a fake railway carriage. We got the Cyril seat in the railway carriage and we had the railway bench on the other side. The woman sat opposite Cyril Smith and read him a poem.

And Cyril came?

Oh yes he came and sat in the carriage and she did it.

Another one, was some guy wrote in and said he’d always wanted to have his photograph taken with the European Cup, which Liverpool had won that year. So we contacted Liverpool, I can’t remember whether we did it through the sports department.

Anyway, I can remember being absolutely amazed. Ray Clemence came through in a car with the European Cup. He brought it into the studio and we made this guy’s dream come true. Not only did he get himself photographed with the European Cup, he got himself photographed with Ray Clemence with the European Cup. The thing I always remember about that, I remember being shocked at the state of the European Cup. It was battered, it had dents in it, it was bruised. Obviously, you realised afterwards whatever team has been presented with the European Cup they carry it round the pitch, they drop it, they throw it to each other. I still remember the shock of looking at this bruised piece of silverware.

Live From Two was quite successful and it ran for quite a long time.

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