Steve Leahy on the importance of entertainment

Do you think that entertainment was given enough respect in Granada?

No, but I don’t mind that, because that made you fight your corner more. We were the grotty dustbin in the corner that somebody had to do. I don’t think anyone in drama or World In Action or whatever was ever proud of entertainment shows that were going through; they were mildly intrigued but they didn’t see it as being the flag. Whereas I think we saw it as, if we got a big entertainment show on the network, it was a triumph because it was another string to the bow. I never felt disadvantaged at all, but I’d understood. I mean it was quite obvious, when you’d sit at creative boards at Granada, that the focus was on the heavier side of things and the more illustrious side of things. But they understood there was a need. And if there is a need on the network, it might as well be Granada that makes it. ….

What was Granada’s biggest entertainment show, over those years?

In Johnnie’s terms, it was Wheeltappers and… things were massive on Saturday nights. Big hit Saturday night shows, which Granada subsequently and historically didn’t really get because LWT swept in on all that. Granada wasn’t into stars. LWT was and is. London made front type of shows and we were more inventive in coming up with formats that would work.

 I remember Mike Scott, who I worked with a fair bit when he was controller, he was pretty desperate to get an entertainment hit. I think he took the view that, you’ve got your Coronation Streets and your World In Actions but if only, and I remember him saying about Cilla Black, “If only we had Cilla Black”. The appetite for creating a hit entertainment show was very big.

Also, once you’ve got a hit show, it runs for years. That’s another worry out of the way. You can return for 13 weeks for five or six years.

And Krypton Factor was an important show.

 Krypton Factor was a very important show, a) because it ticked the boxes, and b) it was very popular. You still hear references to it now.

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