Thelma McGough on the day John Lennon died

Here’s an interesting story about my work at Granada Television. At some point, I was living in London but working in Liverpool. I think it was after the strike, and it was when I came back. And so my mother would travel down to London to look after my kids, and I’d travel up to Liverpool to work at Granada in Liverpool. And I’d stay at her flat in Woolton, and it was literally less than a quarter of a mile from where John Lennon lived, and the house I knew well, Mendips. In the darkness of morning, I had a phone call and it was Bob Whittaker with his lovely Geordie accent. He said, “I need you to come in.” And it is still dark outside. It was December. “John Lennon’s been shot.” And it just seemed so… preposterous that John Lennon would have been shot. And I said, “What are you talking about?” I was waking up from the depths of sleep. And he said, “He’s been killed in New York, he’s been shot.” And it just did not make sense to me at all. And he said, “You need to come in. I need you to come in.” And so I got in my car, and I drove past Mendips, and I looked at the house where I’d spent many a time. And it just the whole thing just seemed absolutely surreal. So I got there, and he said, “We need to get as many people as we can to talk about him.” So I contacted Bob Wooler, I got hold of him. Eventually I got hold of Cilla, she was I think in Dubai. I talked to her down the line, wasn’t in vision. And they wanted Cynthia. So I contacted Mike McCartney’s ex-wife who was working in a restaurant they ran together in North Wales, I think it was a Ruthin. And Angela said, “She’s not here. She’s on the way back from London. She’s been staying with Maureen Starkey.” And she said, “I’ve being asked to keep…” What’s John Lennon’s son called?

I was going to call him Jude. “I’ve been asked to keep Julian.” Anyway, she wouldn’t… she got back, so I rang later in the day and she was back but she wouldn’t speak to us. So the irony was, there was I, who had spent a lot of time with John Lennon, who knew him at a certain stage in his life really well, and instead of them interviewing me, I was employed trying to get all these people that hardly knew him to speak about him. It just seemed a missed opportunity there, but I wasn’t going to say, “Hey guys, do you not think you could interview me on camera?” because nobody else was available. But that seemed daft to me. You know, they had somebody on their doorstep, somebody employed by them, that they could have asked whatever questions they wanted. So it was 30 years until I was interviewed about that by a programme… a Scottish company made.

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