Sita Williams talks about working in the drama department

I thought, “Well, I’ve come to Granada to do drama,” and David Plowright was the managing director. So I got an appointment with him and I said, “Actually David, I only came here in order to do drama.” The arrogance of a young person. “And this is my background, I worked in drama at the BBC before I became a Parkinson producer and that’s what I’d like to do.” And the joy of television in those days, within 48 hours, he rang me and he said, “You can start producing Crown Court next week.”

I thought it was an extraordinary place. Peter Eckersley was still there, but I think he left shortly afterwards because he wasn’t well. And he started Wood and Walters, Victoria Wood and Julie Walters. Howard, he was wonderful. He was doing… I thought all the drama people were extraordinary. Dick Everett and Peter Rogers, I remember him. And all the women, June Wyndham Davis and they were Diana, I’ve forgotten Diana’s name. They were very good women producers as well. And Bill Podmore was in charge of Coronation Street. David Plowright said to me, “I’ll never let you direct Coronation Street because you will put an Asian corner shop in that street.” People could say things like that in those days.

And you never did.

And I never did.

On Crown Court, that was a long running series.

Yes it was. I was the last of the Crown Court producers and it ran over three afternoons a week. And then at that time we had a wonderful head of scripts called Gerry Hagan. And we had a very substantial script research department and with Gerry’s help I decided that we… and of course through his guidance we decided that Crown Court should now be used because it was such a structured format. And you’ve got wonderful actors because they didn’t have to learn their scripts to be prosecution or defence. So you got Anthony Shaw, you know, big name actors. But I wanted to use it as a forum for new writing. And so my series of Crown Court, I’m really proud of that, had new writers, Debra Moggach, who’s now a novelist, Guy Hibbert, who’s well known film script writer who also does drama-doc type films. John Godber who was in Hull. Richard O’Keefe, who died. A number of new writers because they could be supported by a very rigid structure. And they all, every writer has one thing that really wants to write about, so as a new writer they all had fantastic stories. So that was that. And we had a jury as you probably know, of people off the street, to decide on a verdict. And I got very tired of the not guilty verdicts. I thought this was a drama. So I’d go into the jury room and try and sway it a bit because they got enamoured and I would ply their performances. So I did a little manipulation, so we got a change of verdict.

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