Steve Leahy reflects on the strengths of Granada

Looking back on your Granada years, what are the strengths and weaknesses of Granada as a company?

I can’t think of weaknesses. I thought it was cocky and it did the hell what it wanted and it fought the network on everything, but they meant it, and they were great. Certainly working for Granada I didn’t find any negatives whatsoever, I really had a ball. Absolutely privileged.

That world has gone now. … That sense of community in the same environment, that’s gone now in television.

Yes. In a funny way it’s probably easier to get a job in television now than it ever was because there are more courses and more training at colleges and universities, and also there are independents galore. But the trick is obviously to find the right independent who’s creative enough and big enough. Because in my experience of independents they don’t tend to build people. You have to leave and go somewhere else to become a producer if you’re a researcher. You’re not recognised in your own country. I think it’s much harder, therefore, for people.

And I think a lot of people I know in independents are in development, which we never used to do. We used to have day jobs, and developing was on the side. We didn’t have an office with the word ‘development’ on it, ever. We literally carried on with what we were doing, and, by the way, I’ve had an idea, and we’ll have a meeting on it, and while we’re producing this show. So it’s turned differently now. I don’t think television is anything like the fun it was at Granada, but that’s maybe me in hindsight, sitting back a bit. It was fun. All the time.

Are you sad about what happened to Granada? Other people have expressed regret at the way it went.

I suppose I’d like to see it still doing what it did, but I’m not World In Action, not as sad as they are. We know from the books written and all the stuff, there is a lot of hurt there. I’m not, because the areas I worked in would have changed anyway. I think it’s a shame that there isn’t the creative hotbed that we enjoyed, but then there isn’t anywhere now. BBC is decimated. It’s a completely different world. We were just in a bubble. I think television was in a bubble. Everyone was making money. ITV was very prosperous. There were only four channels, and Granada had the license to print programmes. I can’t remember anything being denied in productions terms. We had budgets, but they were bloody good budgets, certainly in entertainment if it’s network, bloody hell. I know it was political because we wanted to wave our flag in Liverpool, but we did things like Rock Around The Dock, and in those days that was about 800,000 quid, and that’s several million now, on a rock show at night in Liverpool! And I know they wanted to make big noise for Liverpool, but that money was there, and you just went and put your hand out for more.

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