Tim Sullivan on rejecting the opportunity to produce Coronation Street

I was very sorry to leave it. In fact, when I left – again, this is a classic example of Granada, the paternalism of Granada – after my last week on the Street, I was called up to Morrison’s office, who by now was the director of programmes. And sat down, and he said, “Look, I’ve got something really exciting to tell you. Something really interesting. It’s come down from Plowright. I completely agree with it. We’d like you to take over from Bill Podmore, producing The Street.” And I went, “What?” And he said, “Yes.” The Street, eight years earlier, I’d been too young to write it, but now… and I said, “What are you talking about?” And he said to me, “It’s like, this is like giving you the crown jewels. We want…” And I went “But Steve, I’m a director. You’ve invested all this money in me. That’s what I want to do.” “No, but you know, you could go back to it.” I said, “You know very well, that if I produce Coronation Street, I will never be allowed to go back to directing.” And he went, “You don’t understand, David Plowright is saying… this is huge, you’re very young. This is a big thing. This is a big deal.” I went, “I completely appreciate it’s a really big thing. And I’ll phone David, and I’ll say how terribly grateful I am, but I’m not doing it.” And Steve was gobsmacked. He said, “What do you mean you’re not doing it? I’m telling you, you’re doing it.” I went, “I’m not fucking doing it! End of. I’m not doing it. I don’t want to. Thank you, but no.” To which Steve then said, “Well, what do you want to do?” And I said, “I’ve done The Street, now, obviously, I want to direct film drama,” to which he replied, “What if I tell you I’ll never let you direct film drama if you don’t produce The Street?” And I went, “Oh, Steve, you don’t do threats very well. Come on.” Then he laughed and went, “All right, fuck off.” And that was it, I didn’t get it.

But it was funny because, between you and me, it got around that I’d been offered it because I was told I couldn’t refuse it in the moment. I had to take few days. And Mervyn Watson desperately wanted to come back to The Street. He was phoning Spencer going, “Is Tim going to do it?” And Spencer’s going, “No. He’s a director, he doesn’t want to do it.” But it was that thing of I had a really good time on The Street. They had really liked me. And it made sense to the way Granada worked. That’s the way Granada worked. “Oh, that went well. He’s brilliant. Let’s get him to produce it.” And of course, it was incredibly flattering. I was very respectful. Those are the decisions that can affect the rest of your career.

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