So I came up to Manchester. I knew a couple of people up here already, which didn’t make it any easier. But anyway, so we then went through the induction, then we were put onto Granada Reports, which I just found the most terrifying thing that had ever happened to me. I just couldn’t understand why I would be sent out to Stockport Post Office headquarters when there was a strike, with a cameraman, John Blakeley, Mike Blakeley’s uncle. Kind of a classic Northern kind of, “Who’s this whippersnapper,” type. I just didn’t get it.
I remember going to interview John Bond, who was the new head of Manchester City, and I didn’t really know anything about management. I knew about football. I had my team, but I didn’t know anything about, you know. So off I went to Manchester, it’s at Maine Road, and on the way there I read the Guardian, and there was this long piece about Bond, so I kind of memorised it. Then I asked this absurd question, off-camera, that was about 40 seconds long, this question, to which the answer was, “No.” It was like, “Fuck! What do I do now?” But the great thing about Granada was, you were really thrown in at the deep end.
Judy Finnigan was there; I was then given Judy Finnigan as my ‘mother’. The first thing we went off to do was a thing about the police in schools, or something. We went along with it for… I was there for about six months. In the end, you look back on it as a thing where, you got into a meeting at eight o’clock in the morning, and you had to come up with a story, or various people came up with stories. Obviously as a researcher, you’re going to either help a presenter or a reporter, or just do something lowly. But you had to come up with a story, write some links, get permission to film, get out and film.
In those days, you had to have it back in time to get to the bloody labs over the road. So you had to get it to the labs, and then you had to get it into the editing room, and then you had to deal with this weird thing called stripe film, where the sound was approximate, was a few frames ahead of the picture, because it was running alongside, it was on the film itself. I mean, I know you know all of this. The sound would be six, seven frames, eight frames ahead of the picture. So when you went to make a cut, the first line you made a cut, it went out of sync, and then you learned how to overlap the sound with the pictures, and… anyway, say it was fantastic training.
Then I finally got fired by Stuart Prebble, because I was kind of in my… I was quite an expressive young man, and I’d cropped my hair and dyed it pink. I also had a dagger through my ear, and I was hauled in to Prebble, who said, “What on earth are you doing?” And I went, “You can’t tell me how to dress, mate. What are you talking about?” And he went, “I can’t have you on the news anymore.” And secretly I said, “That’s fucking great. Thank you, because I’m just a fish out of water here.” And he said, “You know, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer comes up on a train to Manchester, how am I supposed to send you on behalf of Granada Reports, a serious news programme, to interview him about the economy, looking like that?” So that was my first, you know, that was me starting at Granada.