In hindsight I’ve realised that what Granada gave me was the ability to be able to thrive in all sorts of different situations that I might not be qualified to do or not. But that really was invaluable when I came to move to produce Blind Date. I just realised your instincts are so honed by that stage.
Did you find much difference in the culture of London Weekend to Granada?
Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Granada, it was like you were all on the same side. You were all kicking the ball the same way. And at London Weekend if felt… cliquey. My first producer, if you didn’t drink with him in the bar he was… he was very clever, and he’d turn a story around in a second for Surprise, Surprise. But it was very much separate, all these little teams. So we were in light entertainment, and so was the floor below us that did the kind of chat shows, but ne’er the two would meet. Just no communication. So although World in Action, for instance, at Granada – and Anthony used to say, “They’re the serious filmmakers. I’m going to be like them one day, I’m going to make serious films one day.” – and I’ve got lots of these letters going… he signs them off “Your Anthony”. The next David Frost is always following that. Although they were the other side of the corridor, although they were a separate entity, there was still this interconnection between people like Shepherd and… I’ve forgotten Bruce’s name. Andrew Cockburn. Paul Greengrass. So you weren’t separate. And then there was drama at Granada, and they would mingle. You’d see each other in the canteen, you’d see each other in the Stables, you’d see each other in the corridor. But you were all of one, if that makes some sense. Whereas at London Weekend, and at Thames Television before that, everyone was separate.
So for instance now, the legacy of that is that after all these years, I’m still friends with Sandy Ross. If I see Andy Harries, we’re friendly. Paul Greengrass came into my office at Blind Date, he was doing something else, I think. David Jenkins are still friends. You and I are still friends. So I know it sounds like a cliché, and people have probably said this to you a lot, but it is like being part of an extended family. And the thing with families and school friends, there’s a lot unsaid; you don’t need to say it. It’s there. We all get each other. And I haven’t found that anywhere else, except with Cilla, or on occasion I’ll see Paul McCartney. It’s that thing of being all out of the same pod, if that makes sense.
And I think the legacy also of Granada is that so many people there… the tentacles spread. So you know, there was John Birt, Barry Cox and Nick Elliot. Sandy went to have an important role at… Scottish. Gus MacDonald, Paul Greengrass. Anthony. And I did Blind Date, and it was already successful when I took it over but there were battling Noel’s House Party. And then the training I had at Granada and Krypton enabled me to be able to instinctively select contestants that would deliver on screen. And then I endeavoured to sauce it up. And I know it sounds trivial saying I disapproved of Judy Finnegan and Barbara Machin wearing black bras under white shirts, but then that element in me with Blind Date contestants to say, “I don’t want your every day dress. Come here with something sexy on.” I kind of knew by that stage what was going to make it successful. And then we got the BAFTA when I was producing it. Unfortunately, I didn’t go and get it, Cilla did it. But I do have a photograph of myself with it. But that’s all the Granada grounding, you know, going through Krypton, and knowing which… just something you know without having to consider.