Steve Morrison on his first day at Granada

On my first day, they didn’t have an office for me because this documentary unit was a gleam in Gus’s eye, but nobody knew about it. So what the hell are we going to do with this guy who has turned up, and they said, “Look, why don’t you go into the studio and observe Crown Court?” which was a daily drama, each episode lasts three days and at the end of each episode the jury are taken off to a committee room, given loads of orange juice, and at the end of 20 minutes – they’re only allowed 20 minutes – they come back with a verdict. And the programme has got two verdicts scripted, and whichever one the jury comes up with, they do. “Why don’t you go and watch this? It might be interesting.” So I thought, “Amazing,” so I went into the committee room, I don’t think anybody in those days, in 1974, had actually made a film, a real documentary about a jury, and I was listening to the jury, and they all came into the room and said, “That guy’s obviously guilty, you can tell by the look of him, and there’s no point in us going on further, let’s just say guilty,” and then eventually, as in the famous film 12 Angry Men, the Henry Fonda type says, “Hang on a minute, shouldn’t we check the actual facts?” So they discuss it for 20 minutes and then come up with a verdict. So I went back to Gus and said, “Gus, I’ve only been here two hours, but you’ve got the cheapest, most interesting documentary you can ever imagine – two rolls of film, 22 minutes, in this committee room, it’s a real jury deciding the verdict of Crown Court. That’s a documentary.” And he said, “That could be a problem.” And I said, “But that’s going to cost next to nothing.” He said, “I think you’d better go up to the sixth floor and see the head of Human Relations.” I said, “Really?” I was thinking, “What have I done? Am I out of here on my first day?”

So I go up in the list to the sixth floor, you come out of the lift, the atmosphere is totally different – it’s completely quiet, thick piled carpet, doors shut in offices, no noise whatsoever, and I go down the corridor until I find the door that says Julian Amis, and Julian had been a drama director, and typical of Granada, he was now the head of Human Relations, and I knocked on the door. “Ah, Mr Morrison! Come in, take a seat. Cup of tea? Welcome to Granada, absolutely fabulous to have you here. I hear you’ve had the most wonderful ides for a documentary, Gus tells me, it sounds absolutely terrific. Of course, there’s just one problem.” I said, “What is it?” and he said, “Equity. We persuaded Equity that 11 out of the 12 members of the jury should be ordinary members of the public, and not members of Equity, because obviously that wouldn’t be representative, but the foreman who says guilty or not guilty has to be a member of Equity because he speaks – but the rest of the 11 could have been members of the extras and walk-on committee, but after a lot of negotiation, we have managed to persuade Equity that it should be genuine members of the public. You come along, you make your film, it’ll be absolutely fabulous, gets a lot of attention, wakes up Equity who says, “Who is this jury?” and they come back to us and say, “You can’t have members of the public, these are jobs for Equity members,” Bob’s your uncle, Crown Court goes down the pan.” So it would be a huge relief to us if a man of your ability came up with another documentary idea pretty quick.” But it was done in such a gentlemanly manner, that this introduction to Granada was… in a way, what with Centre Point and Crown Court, you just saw how unusual a company this actually was, and life went on more or less in that manner – as various opportunities came up, one just took them, and Granada usually backed them.

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