Sylvia Cowling on some of the famous people she met

Real relationships were set up. Sometimes people would actually come from London to view. They’d come, they’d stay overnight because they wanted to view a lot of your material. And I remember Tony Palmer came up. He was writing the Beatles’ All You Need Is Love, and making a series of programmes about it for an LWT, I believe. And he came up and wanted to view all our Beatles material. 

Which I suppose leads me to one of the main highlights, which is The Beatles, of course, who had split up by the time I’m talking about. But a newsroom told me one day that George Harrison was coming in to be interviewed. So I just said, “Oh, I’d love to meet him. Do you think I could?” I said, “Because actually, we’re about to do a deal.” And I think it was the Tony Palmer deal with Tony Palmer for the Beatles material. “I’d just like to know that he knows about it,” not that it came as a shock to him. And in fact, we had two editing rooms off the film library on phase five, and George Harrison walked into one of them to sit with an editor while the interview or something that he’d done was being recorded. So as he came out, I went up to him and said, “Excuse me.” And he shook my hand. Shook my hand! So I’ve never forgotten that. But, yes.

There were other lighter moments, nothing to do with the job particularly at all. But in the early days, I used to go into the canteen. And then I didn’t, just because I thought, “This is ridiculous, having a hot meal at lunchtime and a hot meal at tea time. This is silly.” So I used to take sandwiches. But when I used to go into the canteen, I remember one day David Plowright carrying into the canteen a bottle of champagne and two glasses. And he was followed by Laurence Olivier, because Olivier was here to film, what was Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, was it? No. The other one.

Yes. Well, he did do that. He did a whole series of Laurence Olivier plays. Yes.

He did. Yes. I remember. I think it was Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, I went to see. The set for that was fantastic. They spent thousands of pounds on the set. I remember going to the studio to look at it. But it was funny. And then I think behind them, came canteen staff carrying their meals or something. ….And so, along with Coronation Street people and everybody else, there was Olivier in the canteen.

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