The first person that I met from Granada was a chap called Gerry Hagan, who was head of Scripts. He was one of Plowright’s performance appointments. He was head of Scripts in London. I directed a play at university, which we took to Edinburgh in my second year, and I was asked to go for a breakfast or a lunch meeting with this chap, Gerry. It was interesting just to see how Granada was already then, I mean, everyone knows that they go… everyone goes to Edinburgh to see talent, like the Footlights or whatever, and try and sign them up. But this was someone actually looking at behind the camera talent, which I thought was quite interesting, because I’d directed the play, I hadn’t written it. That was my first encounter. But then I got a job…
What year was this?
That was 1978. Yes. Then I left university and I got a job as… I mean, my way into Granada, it was quite circumvoluted, because I got a job as a chauffeur for an actor called Anthony Andrews. At the time, he was working on this big TV project called Brideshead Revisited. So through him, I met Derek Granger. I was also, at the time, writing a movie script for the director Derek Jarman, which immediately… Derek Granger is one of those incredibly curious people about people, and talent, and encouraging, and so he immediately wanted to know why Anthony’s chauffeur was writing a bloody film script, what was going on. So I met him, and he became a friend and he put me up for ridiculous jobs. I was 22, I think, no experience. He put me up for an associate producer drama job. It was just absurd. Then I’d applied to all the companies, all the broadcasters, and got a flat rebuff.
Granger, in his way, he called Steve Morrison, who was head of programmes, Local programmes at the time, and said, “Will you see this boy?” And so I got a train to Manchester, and I came up and was greeted by a chap called Steve Hawes, who took me off for coffee whilst I was waiting to see Steve. Then when I went to see Steve, we chatted about what I wanted to do, and this and that. And I kind of, I was a bit of a luvvie, really. I thought, “I want to direct drama, mate. I want to do that Brideshead thing that I just saw that teenager, Charles Sturridge, doing. That’s what I want to do. Why am I looking at something like local news?” Anyway, I was sent away by Steve with a task to go down and watch Nationwide in London, and to read the paper every morning. In the morning, write four items that I would do on an evening show, then tell him what was on the evening show in London, write critiques of all of the things, and how I… so I did that for a week, and then I sent off my A4 Olivetti typed out pages to Manchester, and of course never heard another bloody thing. And that was okay, you know, I was working with Jarman, it was fine.
Then in January, I got a call from someone at Granada, I can’t remember who it was. I think it was Jules Burns, who in those days was head of Researchers, saying, “We just wanted to let you know that there’s going to be a board.” Every Monday, there was a media page in The Guardian. Every Monday, you looked, desperate to find a job, and then you applied for them and didn’t get them, in the media page of The Guardian. Anyway, the following Monday, there was going to be an advert for local researchers, six month contract, and I should apply. I then came up to Granada and I had two interviews, two boards, and I got the job. And I’ve always said, absolutely the hand of Derek Granger, how come out of all of these places I couldn’t even get an interview, and then here I was a few months later, at Granada. And I started in March 22nd or 23rd of 1981.