Steve Anderson on how he came to work on World in Action

‘79. The strike happened August, I think. July, August. Yes. Maybe slightly earlier. What we did, actually, we stumbled on what turned out to be a very big story, John and I. It was the death of this man called Jimmy Kelly who died in police custody in Merseyside. With Mike Short particularly, because he’d just come back from World in Action onto local programmes. We actually made something like a 15-minute report for Granada Reports. The night before the strike happened, we had this big report out. You know, George Jesse Turner came out to Liverpool and shot it for us, a proper two plus two crew. We filmed it; it was like a mini World in Action. We showed how a man had been killed by the police, really, in police custody when he was just a drunk, essentially, and he’d been beaten up by the cops. It was very difficult for John and I because it’d happened at the same police station, which we both used to cover as local journalists. We knew nearly all the detectives involved. So yes, I did that up until strike, ‘79


So what happened after the strike was resolved?

Well, I then get offered this job in Manchester, essentially. I was, essentially, made the assistant news editor. There was a man called Tom McPhail, big Irish guy, who’d become the news editor. And Richard Gregory had been hired; Richard and I became the two assistant news editors, and we would do a week on, week off, on the lunchtime news. Then the next week you’d be, essentially, deputy news editor. So, I, then, started working in Manchester a lot more. I wasn’t doing as much in Exchange Flags now. And I did the lunch-time news. Got on the air. Everybody was very happy with it.

And, then, Granada was launching a new weekly politics show. It was like a, sort of, politics review show. It was called A Week on Friday, if you remember it? Gordon Burns presented it. And I’d had enough of doing the lunchtime news, after a bit, so I said I’d like to work on it. So I got a job on that. It was a team of, Gordon Burns, Mike Short was producing it, Stuart Prebble was the reporter. I was the researcher. I was trying to get into the ACTT now. Charlie Kitchen was the studio director. It was a Friday night programme, half-an-hour, after the news. It sort of took the place of Report Politics, essentially. I think Colin Bell was also a researcher on it. I worked on that for about… I joined World in Action in November 1980, so I must have been about six months on A Week on Friday, and then I got a job on World in Action.

So you were a researcher on A Week on Friday?


And then you became a researcher on World in Action?

Yes. And I was in the ACTT then.

Who brought you into World in Action? How did you get there?

Well, again, Mike was being very supportive. And I think the Jimmy Kelly thing had gone a long way. Ray Fitzwalter had seen it; it was becoming a story that was being talked about. There was job going, which I think John Smithson got. And I think it was at the board that it was suddenly decided, actually, they really needed two people. And as I understand it, Steve Morrison said to Ray, “Steve Anderson’s desperate to come and join World in Action. He’s absolutely made for you. Why don’t you give it a go?” I’d met Ray a few times and he’d be in his classic, non-committal, “Make a few more programmes and we can talk.” And Ray was just told, “Here’s somebody’s who’s here. He’s ready to go. He’ll run…

Did you have to go through a boarding process?

I didn’t. Funnily enough, I just sort of got it. I’d had lots of sort of semi-interviews, but I don’t think they had a board. I think it was just like a meeting. And then, suddenly it was, “If you want to join World in Action you’re on next week.”


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