Interviewed by Stephen Kelly and Judith Jones, 9 March 2017.
Let’s talk first about how you came to join Granada.
Okay. Basically, I knew Gus MacDonald socially. And I was working for the TV Times and persuaded the features editor – I was doing the billings for the London region, you know, ‘7:00: Crossroads’ kind of thing, and I persuaded the features editor that it’s important to have a feature on World in Action because they were about to launch their torture season, which doesn’t sound very sexy but it was a very important series of programmes. Torture around the world in all kinds of different cultures. And I said, “I know Gus, I’m sure I can persuade him to do an interview, so he said, “Okay, he’s a new boss of an important programme, go and do it. So I did the interview and it went well, it was a two-page spread in the TV Times at the beginning of 1974. And Gus had known me through left wing and folk music circles anyway, and I performed at a number of gigs that he’d been at. And even though he knew that my politics was different from his on the left-wing spectrum, he knew I was no sectarian. And thought, “Okay, he’s a journalist, he’s a show off, let’s test drive him as a reporter.” Because he’d just taken over local programmes, having made a success of World in Action, and having made his mark there he persuaded Plowright, and presumably Forman as well, that he should take on the local programmes. So I went up there, did a screen test, and John Slater, who was then running local programmes for Gus, said, “You look like you’re going to buy the street rather than save the street,” it was about (saving? 2:32). So my test report was from Salford, on demolition, down… I can’t remember the name of the road now. And I was there with a pinstripe suit and relatively long hair… Slater said, “You look like you’re trying to buy the street, rather than save it.” Anyway, I got the job, Chris Pine rubberstamped it, and that’s how I got in there. Prior to that, I’d worked for the Morning Star, and prior to that I was… when I was 21 I was editor of the Young Communists paper, a monthly broadsheet kind of thing, and I’d taken – and I’m very proud of this – I’d taken the circulation from 9,000 a month to 25,000 at peak. So that’s where I cut my journalistic teeth. And then I went to the Morning Star and worked on the sports desk, did that two or three years, and then I went off touring Europe playing music, and then had got a proper job – kids, that kind of thing. You can’t be a young man forever. And that’s how I got to work at the TV Times, that’s how I got into the feature on World in Action, that’s how I got to meet Gus, who then said, “And (phone? 3:45) these fucking carpet baggers from the south,” trying to build a career on the back of working at Granada. So he put around all these myths. Well, not myths, but he overblew my credentials. I was born in Wigan, but he said, “His grandfather was the Labour mayor of Wigan.” Well, it was my great grandfather who I think was the first Labour mayor of Wigan. So to him, that was all-important that the people who are rooted in the area, or at least who weren’t southern carpetbaggers. And so Tony was already there then, Bob was there, Bob Greaves, Gordon Burns was there, and that’s about it I think for the on-screen people, then I joined, and shortly after, in terms of on-screen stuff, Anna Ford joined, and that was kind of us at the time. And that was my route through. So I joined Granada when I was 30 years old as a reporter, I was quickly made into a presenter. I think they just wanted a variety of faces. And they switched from being a single presenter to being two handers. And so that got me in there. So I would present it most often with Tony.
This was Granada Reports?
Sorry, Granada Reports, yes. Sorry. With Tony, and with Bob quite a lot as well, only very occasionally with Gordon, and I presented later with the woman who became my girlfriend, who was Anna Ford. She and I presented it. And the mail we got was… just teasing, yes, kind of, “Good night, darling,” people writing phony scripts for us. “Hello, darling, what’s on the show tonight?” Just silly bloody stuff. But it was very lively and… this is relevant. In 2003 I was approached by Chris Evans, the DJ, who used to watch Granada Reports from Warrington, which is where he grew up. And when I first met him I was executive producer of a programme called Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook, and Ready, Steady Cook, and he wanted to come on Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook with his radio mates. And he said, “Fuck me, it’s Trevor Hyett!” And he turned round to his mates – this is when Granada Reports was rock and roll television – and I thought, “Oh, okay…” we’d clearly made our mark. That’s how we liked to think of ourselves, but you never know to what extent you’re deluding yourself. A little while after that he recruited me to edit a show with Terry Wogan, and that was my last farewell. But anyway, that’s the impact of Granada Reports on people. Even now, people stop me in the street and make a reference to Granada Reports. In London. That’s the waves it created. So I joined then, and had a whole load of experiences. My first ever studio interview was a prerecord with a pop star from the 50s called Johnnie Ray, and he was widely believed to be deaf, and that’s why he sang so loud. But I suspect that’s a bit of rubbish, you know, maybe a seed of truth, but otherwise just a bot of PR. But that’s when I really learnt about interviewing, because he wouldn’t speak to me in advance, even when we sat down and got levels in the studio, in Studio 6 – was it Studio 6 or Studio 2?
Two, yes. He barely made eye contact, certainly didn’t say a word. So we came up from black, the lights came up, and he perked up, he sat upright in the chair, big grin, and said, “Hi Trevor, great to be here!” And then he just spoke until he saw the floor manager winding me down, you know, was just aware of me there, and then he stopped. I didn’t get to ask a question on the very first opening. “With me today is Johnnie Ray. Hey Me Ray, how is it?” That was it, he just went. But he allowed me to wind up on cue with the… so I learned an awful lot about how to deport oneself in an interview. And it gave me a lot to think about. Because I was bloody rubbish. I could do a report, I could do something vaguely journalistic, but that kind of feature thing, I didn’t have a grasp of how one should think about it or how one should approach it. But during my time… I mean, I have to say, my four years – 1974-1978 – with Granada Reports are still the best years of my working life. There are many highlights. One was a half-hour interview with Mohammed Ali in 1975. He was promoting a book, an autobiography, and I had to go down to ITN in Well Street so do it, at three o’clock, because we had to get out by five so they could prepare for the six o’clock news. And we did it down the line, So somewhere, I’d like to think, there’s a two-inch tape of me with Muhammad Ali, and he was great. He was so nice, so humble, no Big-time Charlie about him. Huge man, physically imposing, a generous interviewee. He respected the fact that I had to ask questions, he didn’t at any time suggest that the questions were too familiar or too obvious or whatever. And before we went on air he asked about the north of England. He said, “Yes, I’ve heard about the north o England.” He mentioned Liverpool, The Beatles of course, and he was just a good bloke to be with. I mean, it was a real highlight of my life to sit there for half an hour. But at the end of it – as I say, it was recorded in Well Street, it was recorded down the line in Manchester – and I got him to sign my book. And the cameras were still rolling. And it was in – was it in tele cine? Whatever it was – and at the end of the interview, I asked him to sign his book to me and my son Michael, because I knew Michael just loved him. And I got back to Manchester that evening, and (Alan? 10:20) said, “Why didn’t you get him to sign it to me?” I said, “I didn’t think you liked boxing,” He said, “It’s not boxing, it’s Mohammed Ali! Which of course was absolutely true to how… I never really liked boxing, but Muhammad Ali, you couldn’t help but admire the man. Anyway, so by contrast, other highlights were… I managed to persuade Lonnie Donegan to come on the show, and furthermore I managed to persuade him to finish off the show doing a duet with me. So we were both there, playing guitar and singing, “Puttin’ on the Style, both of us fighting to get the highest harmony, because I had quite a high voice as well. But that was quite great. I’ve sung on air with Lonnie Donegan! Beat that you bastards! And another great historic moment was in 1977, when Tony had just finished and finished interviewing George Harrison and I was about to interview Ted Heath. Ted Heath then long… I mean, this is now three years since he lost those two elections in 1974, and this was his first book I think, the one about music. And they’re in the same room, so I say, “Oh, Mr Heath – maybe you’d like to meet George Harrison.” Blank. He didn’t… I might as well have mentioned Charlie Cairoli! I said, “George Harrison used to be in The Beatles.” He said, “Oh, yes, I remember.” So I said, “George, come on over and meet Mr Heath.” “Hello, Mr Heath, pleased to meet you.” I said, “George wrote a song actually that mentions you; it’s the chorus of the opening song on the LP Revolver. Tax man Mr Wilson, tax man Mr Heath.” And George gave me a mock kind of scowl, he thought is was quite funny as well, as his attitude to life has changed radically since the making of Revolver. He was the bread head of the group. But of course at that time he was far more spiritual and less materialistic. But that was quite a good moment, was introducing the ex-Beatle to the ex-prime minister. And that’s the glory of it. And I still remember as a kid in Blackpool, used to walk around the foot on the promenade, looking all these names who were appearing at the North Pier, the South Pier, the Central Pier, the Winter Gardens, the palace, the Tower – these are people I’d heard of on the radio, and they’re in Blackpool! I wonder if I’ll see any of them.” So I was always starstruck as a kid, and then to meet all these people was overwhelming. How was this kid from a council estate in Blackpool get to mix with Muhammad Ali and sing with Lonnie Donegan and introduce a Beatle to a prime minister. That’s not how it’s supposed to be. But I loved… apart from the camaraderie of the team at Granada, those highlights are there still. You can probably tell from the way I’m speaking about it, but they really thrilled me, that I should be enjoying all of that. I (??13:14) four minutes out… oh, I must tell you the other story. Do you remember the that the columns of pennies in pubs for the Royal National Institute for the Blind? Well, Granada always had – well, Granada Reports certainly – always took part in the knocking down the pennies, on whatever appointed day it was. So again, I think this might have been late 1974, possibly 1975, but around that mid-70s period, I went there with Anna Ford, Bob Greaves, I think Jane Cousins as well, the four of us went round there, and we end up in this pub in Salford. And after we’d done all the stuff, pushed over the pile of pennies and had a beer and all that, the landlady came up to me and said, “Oh, Trevor, I’m so pleased to meet you. Our Graham would be thrilled that you’ve come to my pub.” I said, “I’m terribly sorry, I don’t know…” and then I twigged I’d been introduced to her as Mrs Nash, who is Graham Nash’s mum, who was then living out in Laurel Canyon out in Hollywood. She was like, “Oh, I’ll tell Graham you’ve been here, he’ll be over the moon.” I said, “I don’t think Graham and I know each other.” And she said, “Oh, he’ll be thrilled.” And then she told me about her trip to go and see him, which was a month earlier, saying, “Oh, yes, Bobby was there, Dylan…” reeling off all these bloody names! Joni was there of course, I think they were still together at that point, Graham Nash and Joni Mitchell… and mentioned all these kind of group of acoustic-ish superstars of that time, and there we were in the middle of Salford, in this boozer, pushing down a pile of pennies, and Mrs Nash is talking to me as if I was a celebrity, and she’s been mixing with these superstars of, well just music generally, in the Northern Hemisphere anyway. So things like that would happen. And the opportunity to have experienced these kind of things is something that still thrills me to this day, 40 years on.
Because one of the other presenters we’ve not mentioned is Patti Caldwell.
Well, Patti… yes, I did… I as very much one of Patti’s defenders, because there was a lot of snobbery surrounding Patti, and there was a view that she was promoted to on to be a reporter, the onscreen person, because she’d had sex with all the right people. Now, she was an enthusiastic person sexually, this is absolutely true, and I think I’m the only person I know that didn’t have sex with her. And there was a lot of snobbery about her, and also because of the way they perceived her Blackburn accent as indicating something not too bright. So I became a great defender, even though I neither liked nor disliked her at that point, but there were those who resented her being part of the team and being part of the onscreen team. I won’t mention names, just because I’m not sure it’s appropriate, unless you wink at me. I’ll tell you after. But I presented the show with her a couple of times and she’s certainly very enthusiastic and very, very keen to do well. She’s very ambitious. And she did make a good mark… she left Granada to go and work at Nationwide, and Roger Bolton really rated how good she was as an on-screen person, and in the mix. But she would get hate mail, more when she was doing You and Yours on Radio 4. A lot of Radio 4 listeners thought that someone who spoke like her shouldn’t be on Radio 4, and she got actual hate mail, in the same way as Moira Stewart used to get hate mail. There was once a party here and we ended up talking about various sorts of snobbery or discrimination, and Patti and she were comparing notes, how Moira got all kinds of racially nasty comments and letters, and Patti for having that Blackburn accent on Radio 4. So I see Patti a lot, post-Nationwide and post-You and Yours. In fact, I got her on a programme I used to do for Carlton television as a reporter, because she was hard pressed for work. So I maintained a friendship with her, and she was a good person, and she was far cleverer than people imagined or thought, or their prejudices prevented them from seeing it. And that shocked me a bit, that anybody who would be employed by Granada would think like that. It’s not typical, it wasn’t commonplace, that the fact that it happened at all really bothered me, so I became her ally. But she was good. She worked hard. And that was the thing – everybody had a work ethic. There weren’t any lazy so-and-so’s there at all, there were no idle bastards. No, I think she was good. But traduced in, I think, a wicked way. Saying no more about that. Other highlights for me, again this is me namedropping, but it’s part of what made it even more special for me was one of my favourite moments in the universe, in my entire life, is when I just nipped out from rehearsing for Granada Reports to get the car from the car park to put it by the front entrance, because Anna and I were going to push off to the lakes for the weekend I always parked the car there, you know, 10 to 6 or something, and ran back, and as I was running back into the studio, this voice came from behind going, “You can’t park there, Trevor!” I look around, it was Denis Law! Denis Law called me Trevor. Denis Law called me Trevor. I couldn’t believe it. I could not believe it. And you could tell. And the fact that I became matey with George Best, and when I was working at Thames Television in the 80s George came down, and he was a guest on the programme I was doing, an afternoon show called Good Afternoon Plus. And just greeting me like a long-lost friend. Because I would see him at Slack Alice’s quite a lot as well. So if we had special guests, I would take them down there and hope that George be there because everyone wants to meet and see George Best in his club. And anyway, so that’s my name-dropping, but in terms of the people I worked with… I mean, Bob Greaves was wonderful. I used to sit and marvel as how he could do that job with such a naturalness and a relaxedness, and that he knew enough about so much to conduct any kind of interview with any kind of person for local news. Tony, of course, was just at such a… Tony Wilson was just a gigantic polymath. A he had endless curiosity, I mean he was one of those curious people I ever encountered. He was thoughtful, he was clever, he was intellectual, but the same time he liked to get down and dirty; he liked his rock and roll and he liked playing football, even though he was rubbish. He was in Jesus College B team at Cambridge, and I have friends who knew him there. “Oh, Fat Willy? How’s he doing?” Which is very unkind, because Tony… he loved Manchester United, as you know, and he loved Salford. Well, there’s lots to say about Tony. Gordon was the consummate professional, very straight; the rest of us were almost mavericks. But Gus hired us to be that, and Slater encouraged us. Jim Walker was ambivalent about that approach but nonetheless went along with it. Chris Pine liked that approach, and Gus certainly did – he wanted us to have a real personality, not so be straight down the line, here is the news. He wanted us to reflect the area but also to kind of make an impact on the area from and of ourselves. And that was an important part of the ethos that I embraced and really enjoyed.
That was an ethos of Granada.
The thing I liked about Granada generally was its non-metropolitan attitude and that’s what I think gave us distinctiveness was the fact that Sidney started off in the very beginning, “We will not be London-based, we will never be London-based.” I had a little office in Golden Square but essentially Granada was Manchester, much to a lot of people in Liverpool’s disgruntlement. But again, that was addressed eventually. But its that non-metropolitan attitude, and also it had a broader view of the world. It wasn’t a confined straightjacket view, which is a clear contrast… going from a newsroom at Granada to a newsroom at Thames was huge. I’ll talk about that in a minute. But it couldn’t have been more different. We were encouraged to kind of go look for… I remember Andrew Cockburn and Richard Belfield dug up this scandal at Birkenhead Market where the inspector on behalf of the council would take backhanders to get more favourable slots for the stallholders. So it was like their mini… it was almost like an audition for World in Action! So we would do those kinds of things, but equally we’d do items like ‘the meanest butty in the north west’ with the smallest amount of filling in the sandwich, which is something of course that Bob shined at, because he could do it. He was such a good man of the people out there. We did very briefly a Granada Reports weather, which was our own, and there was a bloke called Bernard Clark – remember Bernard, he went off to set up an independent company for Channel 4 eventually – but he was a good presenter as well, a good reporter, but h was tasked with doing the weather, with Slater’s collusion. The first time he came on, “Here’s Granadaland!” I thought, “Hmm, okay, Granadaland,” and it was the outline you would imagine, and Bernard said, “Well, actually there’s no other word for it – tomorrow’s weather is going to be boring.” And slapped on a stick-on doodah saying BORING. And that was the weather report! It was absurd. But the fact that that kind of thing was thought about, you know, it could be iconoclastic, and send ourselves up, if you like, or send up the genre to some extent, whilst at the same time we could be serious as all hell when it was necessary – and it frequently was. So I liked the iconoclasm.
David. David was brilliant. He was a financial journalist who again, Gus hired him. I think he was a financial journalist on the Observer I think before he came to Granada. And big, he looked like a policeman. And he was at Manchester University at the same time as Anna Ford, when Anna was the first ever female president of the union. And David was a bad lad. Just riotous behaviour – drinking too much, you know. If you remember him, he was a big six foot six very big bloke with a very sonorous deep Liverpool accent, and Anna had to admonish him, and said, “I’m not frightened of anybody now that I’ve sorted him out.” And David took it in good grace. They would tease each other about it subsequently in the newsroom at Granada Reports. But David was very good; he wasn’t good about pieces to camera, he would stutter and stumble, but it was a great going out with a film crew, and he did all kinds of series like pubs in the North West, which was ideal casting, in a way, and they were always great and funny and witty and insightful films, really good, but David wasn’t one of nature’s naturals in the studio unless he was being interviewed, but he did great film reports, and his voice overs were good, but it didn’t work in the studio for whatever reason. I think because he stumbled a lot. But he was again, a brilliant man, and again died too young. Everybody dies too young, but… he died what, in 1998? I mean, no age. I went to his funeral along with Polly Bide, actually. Polly and I went along from London to near where he was living just outside Bolton, and met Suki, his widow, and four kids. Chris Pine actually did… soon after David joined Granada Reports, which I think might have been early 75 but it might have been late 74, Chris Pine brought him in and gave him a serious telling off. He said, “Why don’t you mix socially with the others? You never go down to the Film Exchange with everybody else.” And he explained – I think he only had three kids then, but the fourth was expected – he said, “I’ve got to go home, I’ve got kids.” But that was a funny old side to the whole process, because it was a very tight knight group of people, and we would go to the Film Exchange a lot and various other pubs around that we would go to, The Grapes, of course and one as well as in Salford. But David was very clever and a very warm-hearted man. I liked him. Like everybody else at Granada, me included, there was a lot of bed-hopping. It was a very sexy place, to my mind, there was a lot going on. And again I shouldn’t reveal nothing about anything because it’s not of interest other than in a prurient way. But I’ll tell you after. But it was very sexy. I mean, it seemed like he couldn’t move for testosterone and oestrogen! It was phenomenal. I’m sure you experienced it yourself, witnessed it, and… I’m not trying to put words in your mouth either, but that was great. And I remember when I first arrived, you know, went to make up, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. The women in makeup I thought were absolutely fabulous. All in one room! How much better can it get, you know? I’m in touch with a lot of them as well, from those days, just because it was sexy. It really was sexy. And I’m sure there was a lot of– this goes back to the Patti thing as well – I think there’s a lot of fairly easy sexism, misogyny, around the place as well. It was very… “Oh, a woman… a reporter.. right…” It was still those days, and Granada was I guess in some respects perhaps quite macho, or maybe that’s just the first floor because of all the World in Action people over the corridor. That was very macho, very macho. You talk to Sue Woodford about that, (Lady Hollick? 28:52), I mean, she has worked really hard. Speak to Claudia Milne, she’ll tell you about that. I mean, she… terrible. You know, for all these supposedly people who wanted to liberate the entire world, they couldn’t even liberate their bloody colleagues. I mean, they were terrible. They couldn’t even liberate their own bloody minds. But that was the nature of the times as well. I would like to think that we were a bit better than that, but you can’t have everything I suppose. Round about that time, around spring 75, I think Plowright had made it clear that his days as programme controller were numbered, he was (??29:41) as it were. There were all kinds of rumours, especially between Gus, Donald, Jeremy Wallington, Mike Scott was kind of a back runner… but there was a lot of gossip, a lot of fun and a lot of nonsense going around that, so I decided to make some t-shirts emblazoned with the logo ‘I want to be programme controller’, and I got 10 made and distributed them through the internal post in disguised handwriting to selected recipients, including Gus, Jeremy Wallington, Mike Scott, Denis Forman, David Plowright. I can’t remember who the others were. But what was interesting is I never ever confessed. This is the first time I’ve actually confessed to doing it! But there were two people who did say, “Oh, yes, it was me,” you know, claiming credit for this wheeze, which tickled me, and I’m very proud of myself for not saying, “By the way, you’re a fucking liar, I know exactly who did it – I can tell you where I got them made.” And again, that was something that I couldn’t imagine happening at Thames, but I think was characteristic of the place. And the other thing I knew about Sidney – and I can’t offer proof of this, I tell it as a story – was when I was editing Challenge, the young communist paper, the treasurer of the Communist Party from whom I got my wages every week, including £1 in shilling coins to feed the gas meter, mentioned apropos nothing that I can remember, said, “Did you know Sidney Bernstein still gives money to the Communist Party because of their record in the anti-fascist struggle in the 30s?” And you know, the party’s role in that, the Battle of Cable Street and all that kind of stuff. Now, she had no reason to tell me that, you know, I was 21 or 22 at the time, I was editing a young Communist paper, how obscure can you get? And she gives me this piece of information. I think there was still pride in the Communist Party that they had played a role, whether for good or ill is up to others, but there was a great pride in the fact that certain kinds of people had attached themselves to the party, and… I’ll leave that with you. I mean, I don’t know if you can even publish that or if it’s a good idea to publish it, but I mention it because it’s an interesting bit of trivia, albeit anecdotal. But I have no reason to believe that she… why would she make it up? I had one fall-out when I was at Granada Reports, and that as with Steve Morrison. Even though we got on very well socially – I liked his partner, Gail, very much – and in fact Steve and I joined on the same day, but our paths took different trajectories. But I was very heavily involved in 1977 with Rock Against Racism, and I was putting on concerts in the Free Trade Hall with the likes of (Ewan McCall and Peggy Sieger? 32:53), but equally Mike Harding, John Cooper Clarke, who I had been performing with for some while before he became the punk poet, and all kinds of people like that. And Steve said, “You shouldn’t be associated with all this.” I said, “Well, I know what you’re saying…” He said, “Well, it might prejudice your ability to interview someone,” and he mentioned the bloke with a double-barrelled name from Blackburn who was the National Front bloke, John Kingsley Read. And I said, “Well, to be honest it seems odd to have somebody from Granada with Sidney Bernstein as its head, who was involved as he was in liberating concentration camps and Christ knows what, should be worried about me protesting against discrimination on the basis of race.” So that’s… I think, you know, you can’t be neutral about that, you can’t be neutral about rape. You can’t be neutral about baby battering. And that’s how we left it. But I was disappointed that Steve said to me, “Well, it might prejudice your impact if you interview the likes of Kingsley Read.” I said, “Well, that’s secondary to me, I’m afraid – I’m far happier putting on that concert.” And also I think it’s good for Granada to be associated with it.” Albeit I’m doing it unofficially, clearly I wouldn’t invite Granada, nor would I do anything that would embarrass Granada, other than just be part of the event. But that was the only real altercation I had with anybody. I got told off by Gus once for being too sympathetic to Chilean refugees arriving in Liverpool in the summer of 1974, so it was quite soon after the coup, less than a year after the coup. He wrote me a note saying, “(??34:36), more like fuck-a-rama.” And that was Gus telling me, okay, just rein it in. Okay, comrade. And he told me on the day I joined – obviously we’d agreed before, but the actual day I turned up at Granada – he showed me round, took me round, and his last words to me before going into his office was, “By the way, Comrade. Leave the Communist Party.” Well the fact I’d left some years earlier because I’d taken issue with the whole invasion of Czechoslovakia – in fact I led a delegation of young communists to Moscow to ask them to take their tanks out of Prague… history tells you the result of that visit – but I only mention that because I wasn’t some old Stalinist who just kind of just followed the party line. But I’d left. I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of saying, “I’ve already done that, I left ages ago.” I mean the impact of my having been involved with that kind of politics was felt more a wee bit later, when Anna Ford, with whom I lived for a while – sorry to keep mentioning her but this story is important – I was recruited by Desmond Wilcox at the BBC to be one of the team of presenters on the revived Man Alive programme which was a kind of current affairs-ish but human interest as well, and it turned out that Anna had been blacklisted because she lived with me, a known communist. But Desmond Wilcox, to his credit, said, “Screw that, I’m going to have her, she’s great.” Do you know Paul Lashmar? He’s a good journalist. He did a big story on it in the 80s and it was splashed in the Observer about how there was… this had happened and Anna had been blacklisted because of her association with me, and Desmond Wilcox had done the honourable thing and recruited her anyway, and just threw two fingers at the department that vets people. And of course, you know, Anna’s always been Anna, but was perfectly good at a job, you know, she was a good… she had a good work ethic and she knew how to conduct herself, and she knew how to… her view was, I think like a lot of us, was that yes, my politics are known. Everyone’s got politics. Everyone’s got preferences. Everybody’s got prejudices. The trick is how even-handed can you be? And that’s the real test. Can you be even-handed? Will you be conspicuously even-handed? And Anna was good at that. That’s what she did. That’s what we all tried to do. None of us thought this was a vehicle to promote one particular view over any other. Typical bloody liberal I suppose, just being that…
Do you think Granada employed a lot of people who were very obviously on the left?
I think there was a time when that did happen. I think the view was, what I understood from Gus, was what he wanted was keen, curious, challenging people – not conformist, not conventional kind of people. But we did have…. I mean, World in Action had a couple of prominent Conservatives amongst their staff, one of whom was married to a Conservative MP on the Wirral. And we had a Conservative-leaning presenter, Ruth Elliott, amongst our team. But yes ,I think Granada Reports at the time I joined was very left-leaning. But I like to think, and I hope to hell, that we were fair, we were fair-minded, we weren’t prejudiced and weren’t using it as some kind of propaganda platform. That would have been… I could never have accepted that in myself, and I think if I saw anybody else I’d be offended, actually. I think any kind of prejudice or misuse of position is not to be tolerated. But I think Gus wanted people who challenged pretty much everything, all assumptions, and that’s how he founded his journalism, I think. I left Granada.. largely because I thought it was time. And I think I’d done all that I thought I could do. I’m flattered to remember that many people high up encouraged me to stay, but I thought the time had come to go. And I went on the road with Mike Harding – I was his roadie, I was his tour manager. So I did that for three months, exhausting but fun. And then of course I had to come down to earth and get a job again, and I decided that I really should come back to London because my kids were here in London. So I thought I’d see what I could get at Thames. And I went to Thames, and I got a two week job, depping for somebody who was on holiday skiing in January 79. I was paid 50 per cent more as a researcher on the news desk at Thames that I got as a presenter at Granada, go Granada were quite parsimonious, but I was happy to pay that kind of money – that was more than I’d ever… as Bill Thompson said, I don’t know if you remember Bill Thompson, but he was another of Gus’s mates from Glasgow, he said, “Working in television is great! You don’t have to worry about the price of a pint!” That was his criteria for measuring the joy of working in television! But Thames threw money everywhere. And it just so happened they were relaunching their local news programme, and they brought in Peter Pagnamenta, who was big cheese at the BBC, he had very successfully run Panorama, and they recruited him from ITN, and it was very much set on an ITN model, they had Andrew Wotsisname, the big tall bloke, he used to be an ITN newscaster.
I know who you mean.
It’ll come to us later, when you’re on the train. And that was great, and I did well. And I always attribute this to breathing in the same air as World in Action. Because on the first day I was there as this researcher – depping for somebody, who I later married – I say… it was the very end of January, January 29th or 30th, and I wrote to Peter, just… yes. Basically I got all the front pages of the tabloids, not the broadsheets, on the first day of publication in January, which probably would have been the second. And the Sun in particular had lots of lurid headlines, and the Mail – a thousand-odd people would die every day, during what the unions called the Dirty Jobs Strike but the tabloids called the Winter of Discontent. So I assembled all these headlines, and then I checked off every single one. No old people died, no blah-blah-blah-blah. I just said, “That’s the assertion. That’s the prophecy. There’s the fact. None of it came true, yet the impact is still there.” And Andrew, the presenter, said, “We need more stuff like this. Fantastic.” Later that week – again, I attribute this to breathing in the air of the World in Action people – there was a scurrilous tale in one of the tabloids – actually several of the tabloids – talking about an electrician who worked for Camden Council, who got £600 in overtime, which in 1979 was a lot of money. I mean, it’s a lot of money now, but in 1979 it was a humungous amount of money. And in the story, there are all kinds of bits of information, and I thought, “I think I know his shop steward,” who was an old Communist Party mate of mine. I phoned him up, and said, “Is there any chance so-and-so might come and be interviewed on Thames at Six?” So he said, “Yes, sure – who’s going to do it?” and I said, “It’ll be Andrew whatever his name is.” He said, “sure, we could organise that.” Now, they thought this was the most brilliant piece of journalism in the history of the universe. And of course, when you broke it down he was on call all weekend, either having to be at a location or be available to go there instantly, and so he was paid for basically 72 hours, and that accrued to the £600. And once you got the story down it kind of made sense, unless you didn’t like trade unions and people being paid overtime for being available. So that got me a job as a reporter, that and one or two other bits and pieces, and then I became a reporter on Thames at Six. I then became a presenter on the ITV’s network afternoon show, which I enjoyed for a while, but… you know, it was… the culture of Thames Television was so, so different. First of all it was a very boozy culture, not that Granada was a paragon of sobriety, but it was just good-natured. I found it good fun to be in the Grapes or the Old School, those places, the Film Exchange, it was just… it was good-natured banter, it was energetic, it was lively, it was fun, it was conversation. It was… flirting. But at Thames, it was serious drinking. I know a lot of serious drinking happened at Granada, but this was booze for its own sake rather than a by-product of the culture, you know, the atmosphere and the personalities of the people. It was horrible. Absolutely horrible. And people sneaking out to get drinks before the pubs closed at two, or every was I was And they were mean, they were mean spirited. There was no, you know.. I suddenly realized that for all Granada’s faults, the generosity of spirit that pervaded the place was far, far greater than I encountered anywhere else actually, and certainly at Thames it was so, so different, and far more macho. All we were saying about the sexism that was prevalent in Quay Street, it was liberal heaven compared to certainly the newsroom at Thames Television. It was hideous, I hated it. Really loathed and detested it. What I haven’t told you about are some of the other programmes I worked on at Granada. In the 80s I went back… while I was on the road with Mike Harding, I was contacted by Muriel Young, who was the head of children’s and related stuff. She was responsible for the Bay City Rollers, if you remember. And she… I sang on a few of the programmes called Songbook, and in fact somebody dug out a few years ago, the footage of me singing on this programme to these kids, with very sweet little voice, none of my kind of bluesy, boozy singing style, but me being nice to the kids! And I really enjoyed that. With a woman called Kathy jones, do you remember Cathy? Very little woman who was on Coronation Street, sang in quite an operatic way, you would recognise her face I’m sure. So I did that, I did On The Market, which I thought was a really good show, for a daytime show it did important stuff – items on food, food additives, good and bad foods, (bowdlerized? 46:36) foods, healthy foods, the effects the food industry, the effects of supermarket layouts – for a good, popular programme, it dealt with things really, really well I think, and the production team was first-class, and my co-presenter was Susan Brookes, who was real fun to work with. I liked Susan, she was great. I enjoyed working with her. I hope she enjoyed working with me. I really enjoyed that and only stopped working on it because one of my favourite programmes asked me to go join them as a reporter, which was Union World, and I was a big supporter of Gus, and very proud of the fact that I knew the man who introduced two very important programme to the Channel 4 schedule for the off – one was Union World, a programme about trade unions, the other was Right to Reply, both of which were great programmes. And he would get me to deputize for him on Right to Reply as a presenter when he was away. So you know, again, Gus was very loyal… to his old mates from Glasgow that had nothing to do with television, he was immensely loyal to them. He was loyal to me throughout. He would always give me a piece of his mind, but he was for me a straight down the line bloke. He was very, very good and very honest, and very truthful and very direct. There was no ambiguity about what he had to say.
Tell us about Union World.
Union World I thought was… I was never optimistic it would survive for long because I couldn’t see people turning on the telly at six o’clock on a Saturday evening to watch it, especially as the sports report was on elsewhere. And it did a Friday slot first of all, was it eight?
No, it was Friday at… it started off as a local Granada programme at 10.30.
That’s right – it’s when Peter Allen did it, wasn’t it?
No, it was presented by Gus and Anna.
That’s right – I’d forgotten that. But I knew it as a Channel 4 programme, as I was in London when it was run on Granada, so I couldn’t see them. But a) I thought it was really important, the timing was great in terms of what was happening industrially, notwithstanding the Dirty Jobs dispute that had been a couple of years earlier. A lot was in the melting pot with Mrs Thatcher’s view of the world generally, the trade unions and labour relations, and industry actually, industry in particular, and I think… it raised an awful lot of very important points, examined an awful lot of good stuff, but actually was damned by having such small audiences, that was the problem. And it wasn’t for want of trying – I mean, Gus was a real champion, David Kemp ran the show in his own unique way, but it had a great staff, you know, he team, as you know, was bloody good, it was a fantastic team, and it was still good when I was part of it, even though the original pioneers had mostly moved on to other things. It was still a good and important programme, ad a lot of good and important things were said. (Eric Bryce? 49:53) set up a few debates with the big trade union leaders like Bill Morris, Rodney Bickerstaff, folk like that. There was also… one of the ex-Communist Party ultra-right wingers of the ECU or whatever it was called on those days.
No, it wasn’t… I interviewed him for another programme, but that’s another story I’ll tell you about in a minute. But we could have good discussions that were about… and also the programme was regarded… the test of any programme is will the people on whom it focuses take part? Do they think it’s worthy of their time, effort and attention? And they certainly did. I remember I presented a whole show – it was my idea – about the new realism. Remember the new realism was something that was being discussed on the left, but in the trade union movement as well, should we accept what’s happening because that’s the new realism, or should we resist it with all our might to the very last? A discussion which is still being had in a way, in a not unrelated form. So I think it was really important that it was (damned? 51:02) by the fact that a) the commissioner at Channel 4 wasn’t really interested, she didn’t like it. I don’t know how hard David Bolton fought for it after the novelty had worn off, but I think it was a real shame, a real loss. Because I think with the right slot, it could have had a really good impact and a lasting impact. But the slot was miscast for the programme, completely miscast, and you know, it should have had a Newsnight kind of slot really, and that was a real shame because I think it was a really important effort, and it was taken very seriously by everybody I knew who had worked on it. It’s a sad loss. I know it’s been gone for years now, decades, but it’s a real sad loss, and I was really proud to work on it. There were some shows I worked on where I didn’t necessarily let it be known I was doing particularly, unless somebody asked, but I was very proud to work on that. And of course I was working on it during the miners’ strike, because I had a close relationship with Arthur Scargill… it didn’t get me ay particular insights, but it meant I could get some good quotes. Because my first wife was his partner. So Arthur was having this relationship with my ex-wife while he was still married to Anne, and that’s one of the reasons they split. You needn’t use that of course, but just that gave me a certain ‘in’ as well… so it was interesting, I remember David Kemp saying the July of ’84 – or was it September, I can’t remember which it was now – “It looks like the miners are going to win this,” and at the time I was nothing like so confident, I have to say. I also remember doing a great interview with Mick McGahey during Mayfest up in Glasgow, which is a Scottish TUC sponsored cultural event. And I interviewed Dick Gaughan, a folk singer who you may have heard… all this bloody Communists, they were all Communists basically. It was a good time in terms of the contact I had, and sometimes at the TUC, Gus would hang on to what I was doing, because he knew I knew all the bloody trade union leaders, which was a twist, because ordinarily, Gus was the most connected person I ever knew, and made sure that he was the most connected person, but not in this one instance. So that was quite fun. But Union world, I mourn the loss of that. I mourn the loss of World in Action as well, I mean, Christ, )they wouldn’t do a show like that now? 53:54), bloody hell! And also it kept Panorama on their toes, that was the good thing. And there was a time, I don’t know if you remember, but Gus always told me this, that there was a deal done between ITV and BBC that at eight o’clock on a Monday they would both show current affairs against each other, partly as an act of self-preservation, they thought one wouldn’t put a popular show against… well, you can see how it worked. But he said there was that collusion. He said by and large it was a good thing; you couldn’t defend it in principle, but in reality it was a good thing. And you know, again, the idea of anybody even thinking like that now is, you know, fantasy.
Any other shows you worked on?
At Granada? I did one or two other bits and pieces for Marjorie Giles, I did some stuff for Brian Morris, I did some interviews for him, but essentially I mainly worked on World in Action – sorry, Granada Reports, I wish I had worked on World in Action – when I was there from 1974-1978, doing odd bits and pieces, as I say, for Marjorie Giles and Brian Morris. I did lots of voiceovers.
Did you never want to work on World in Action?
I’d have loved to have done, but I didn’t regard myself, and in fact still looking back, I don’t regard myself as having the necessarily journalistic skills. I was okay as a popular journalist, and I could deal with serious things, but I wasn’t a digger. Essentially investigative journalism for the most part. But on the other hand it was sometimes a logistical triumph. There was a dear friend who was on World in Action and Disappearing World and lot of other things as well called John Shepherd, who used to stage events at a journalists’ club in Paddington, called The Frontline Club. In fact, a lot of World in Action people and people like me gathered there regularly on a monthly basis. And one day, let’s say 2006, 2007, John got together the bulk of the team that was responsible for covering the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in Grosvenor Square in 1967. And of course, we all know it but when you see it laid out starkly before you by the producers the directors, the camera operators, sound recordists, given that each camera had a 10-minute mag, and having to change the magazines every 10 minutes, someone had to go rushing to Humphrey’s, the laboratories, to develop the film, in Soho, some was taken by train up to Humphreys just down the road from Quay Street, and the logistics, it was fantastic. And the footage they got was phenomenal. If you look at that World in Action now remarkable. They had crew on a bus going down from… well, actually university students, going down to Grosvenor Square, they had lots of crews around London, as well as several, I think it was three, crews in the square itself, right in amongst the police, and all the confrontations that were happening, I mean, it was phenomenal stuff. And you think of the logistics alone, forget the journalism, forget the expertise of the people operating the cameras, the sound and everything else, just the logistics – phenomenal. And yet, I think only Granada say, “Bugger it, I don’t know if we can do it or not, but let’s do it.” And the legend has it – and it was reasserted again that evening – that the post-commercial break bit of the programme was being edited as the first part was going out, and it was finally delivered to tele-cine during the commercial break. Now, that could be an exaggeration but nonetheless is indicative of how… you know, the tales of – was it three edit suites going? – all through the night to get it on air, just the fact they did these things. The fact that they embraced the possibility of doing it was what was so wonderful about being associated with this place. And I still… I hope I don’t bore people, but I still bang on every now and again should the subject should turn that way over a beer or around the table or whatever, about just how impressed I’ve always been by these people who I later met and worked amongst. Again, that little boy is still there in wonder at the experience, which is unique to Granada I have to say, regardless of any pitfalls that may be in its makeup, I certainly didn’t have that anywhere else, even though I had a nice time working in other places. They were nice times, rather than thrilling times, rather than aspiring times. Yes. On my dying day I will probably have fantasy dreams about the days I worked at Granada. And the friendships that were made, that was the other thing. I mean, I don’t think I see anybody, except by accident, from Thames, whereas I’m in touch with everybody I knew at Granada I think. And if I’m not in touch with them I know how to get in touch with them –there’s a real security in that. I draw great solace from that. I know where all these wonderful people are, and it thrills me to the bloody marrow. And I find it very exciting. And one of the reasons we gather at the Frontline Club is because Mike Beckham said, “We can’t just keep meeting at funerals! Why don’t we meet for the sheer joy of knowing each other?” And so that’s what happens there, and that’s another indication really of the Granada culture is that folk bonded in a way like I’d never experienced anywhere else, and that speaks volumes because of course the older I get, the more important that becomes. When you’re a kid you take whatever happens. “Yeah, that’s happening today, fantastic! What’s happening tomorrow?” But actually, looking back, with a greater sophistication and hopefully greater sense, all that becomes really… you know, you see its true worth, and it’s… yes, it’s bigger and better than anything. I mentioned to you about money, haven’t I? And a parsimonious company. I didn’t mind that, because I could never imagine earning that money anyway, so I wasn’t fussed. I mentioned sexism. I didn’t find it worse than anywhere else, in the real world as it were, I didn’t find it exaggerated in Quay Street. I didn’t encounter any bullying, but I could name bullies – I won’t – I could name people who had a bullying aspect to their character. I just stayed clear of them or ignored them, I was… I had very few sills but that was one of them, just to sidestep, body-swerve those kind of folk who had no interest in me. And of course there were ideas thieves as well, and there were several of them – I mentioned one person who was good at that already. I’m not going to specify who. I remember one idea – actually I will tell you this one. I was doing sport for Granada Reports and notionally, Derek Brandon, who was the editor of Kick Off, was my head. I never referred to him. If he called me I’d speak to him but I’d never… I thought, “Fuck it, this is… I’m working for Granada Reports, not…” and (had? 61:51) jumped to Kick Off, and I sensed that was a political decision made anyway, so I wasn’t going to pay any attention to him. But he got wind that I was developing a wee aspect for my Friday afternoon quarter of an hour sports slot on clichés in sport – sick as a parrot, you know – and no one had done that kind of thing at that time. We all knew these clichés of course, and I was putting them all together. How should I do this, should I do it graphically, or should I…? And I was mulling this over, and he nicked the idea! And he told me after they pre-recorded the programme, “Oh, by the way I’ve used your sick as a parrot idea.” I was such a good-hearted person that I didn’t go, “You thieving bastard!” which I should have done, I thought, “Okay, that’s what happened, it’s a good idea, it got out there, that’s good.” You know Silly old sausage. But there was a lot of that around. On the other hand, there was somebody who knew I was doing quite a lot of work on the Wigan casino, remember all that? And they wanted to do a This England on it, and the researcher, who had worked on the newsdesk and knew I was getting this stuff together, came up to me with appropriate humility and made a good case saying, “Look, Norman would really like to do a This England on Wigan Casino.”
Norman Swallow, yes. Sorry. “Would you mind letting me have your research?” I said, “As long as you give me a credit, yes.” And so I happily handed that over, because I thought, well, to be any way involved with This England and Norman Swallow, why wouldn’t you be? So I was very happy about that, and again, proud. So much of what I experienced at g made me feel proud, and I’m still proud of it today. And as I say, I didn’t have that feeling engendered anywhere else I worked, apart from After Dark, I was proud on working on After Dark. Do you remember that programme? It was a late-night Channel 4 programme, it was billed as being open-ended but in fact the transmitters closed down at three in the morning, so Channel 4 slightly misled everybody there. But I was proud to have worked on that, but Granada otherwise is the place that gives me the biggest and strongest and deepest feelings of satisfaction and pride, and that will remain the case. The importance of the social life, I vaguely mentioned that. I think it was crucial actually. But I got the sense that it was… I was trying to say earlier, that it was a joyous coming together of people who liked being together – that was the sense I got. But also it was very democratic, it was like the canteen. You could equally be there with the soap superstars of the day, queuing to get your fish and chips at lunchtime or your bacon butty in the morning, and all the Coronation Street people would be there. And when Laurence Olivier was kind of curating those dramas in the late ‘70s, a lot of those big names would be in the canteen. One or two would have their lunch taken to them in the dressing rooms, but a lot of them would just come to the canteen like anybody else – and that was fantastic. At Thames that didn’t happen; there was an executives canteen, and then there was the plebs. Again, that tells you everything you needed to know, you know? The other thing I enjoyed about Granada was when… we’d shortly been recruited, Gus had recruited us, and soon after, so let’s say I joined May 20, 1974, before the summer break, we went to the car park, those big rooms in the car park where alcohol was allowed to be served, and we had this evening meal with Plowright. It might have been a bit later in 1974 because I was doing sport, and I did say… I was invited to… “Trevor, have you got anything to say? You’re a Wigan lad.” So I do find it astonishing that Granada, which in every other respect is so much a product, representative, typifies the area, the north west, yet you don’t do rugby league! How can you not do rugby league on a local programme? And Plowright basically said, “Actually you’re right.” So then I started getting rugby league on the show, and we got all the big names, and we got a lot of mail, people saying, “Thank goodness you’re doing rugby league at last.” It was almost the sporting equivalent hat Liverpool had for Manchester, dominating Granada. The rugby league people said, “Thank God you recognised that there’s more to sport than football.” So that was my blow for freedom. But Plowright was very magnanimous about it. Gus, of course, didn’t give a monkey’s. If it wasn’t Rangers he wasn’t interested! But the fact that that could happen. It would never have happened at Thames. We never once had a meeting with the programme controller at Thames. Other people obviously did but I certainly didn’t, as a rough-arse kid on the back benches, kind of thing. Didn’t happen.
What about industrial relations and trade unions at Granada?
I was in the NUJ, I’d been in the NUJ for a long time, since I was 21 when I was editor of that paper I mentioned earlier. The ACTT of course were the union with the muscle, and I always found actually… Gus would take the mickey out of us because every now and again we’d hold a bit of a picket or come out in solidarity with an ITV strike somewhere, and Tony Wilson and I would be standing on the steps of the main entrance there, probably not even with a banner, but maybe just saying like, I can’t remember what we would have said, but… and we did once join in at… was it a national NUJ? I can’t remember, there was some action which was for a pay rise, and we got it. But I wasn’t at the sharp end of any of that stuff, I wasn’t involved with the ACTT, and I don’t really have many memories of it particularly, apart from… the only person I remember really in my sphere was Richard Belfield, I think he was involved somehow or another. All the heavyweights, you know, the kind of studio camera operators and the camera operators, I knew better than to mess with them at all. “Oh, okay, Freemasons, are they? Fantastic.” Erm… just… I would be way out of my depth, way out of my league, I’d have been eaten up and spat out before I even knew it. So I can’t really tell you a great deal. I was very happy with how things were, I didn’t feel exploited. I knew people were being paid a lot more elsewhere, as I described in terms of Thames, as a presenter there, I became a presenter at Thames within about four months of me joining them, and I was getting three times what I was getting at Granada. But to me it was all funny money, but I felt that actually Granada was such a good company, what they do is so good, none of us are starving, it didn’t bother me. Maybe I’m peculiar, but that was my thinking, I just thought I was lucky to be doing that for a living, dead lucky. I couldn’t believe that some of the times. And of course like everybody – I don’t know about everybody, but certainly many – I thought, “One day they’ll find me out and that’ll be it.” So I never got myself in debt, I didn’t think it was going to last forever, which meant in the end, because I was frugal, I wasn’t a spendthrift, it meant, yes, I had a long life in telly, but it means I got this house. I mean, I wasn’t into fast cars, I wasn’t a fashion victim, as you can see, you know… I spent all my money that I spent on books and music, that was all I did. Other things didn’t interest me particularly. Sorry, that was a side step. You were asking about unions, weren’t you? I saved Andy Harries.
I saved his job. He was my researcher, and his first job after leaving the promotions department where he worked with Liddiment, was with me as a researcher n a little slot called Help, which was nicked from a Thames television slot. A social action slot. And Andy was my researcher. And he was kind of… again, there was some snobbery, funnily enough by the same male I’m thinking of in regards to Patti, as being just a pretty boy and nothing else. And he was a, you know, a beautiful young man. And he worked with me and I was a bit doubtful, but I thought, “Okay, give the lad a fair crack of the whip.” Anyway, he was told that his contract would not be renewed, and he was absolutely in bits about it. And I always kept a few stories in the bottom drawer of my desk, and I said, “Look, I’ve got a couple of cracking stories here, why don’t you just run with them and make them your own and see what you can do?” Anyway, they were great. One was about drug misuse in St Helens, and the other one I can’t remember. They were two cracking reports, absolutely fabulous, and his contract was renewed. And the rest is history. So it’s all my fault! That was the other thing, was being able to make a difference. I mean, the viewers, the people you bump into on the street, would talk to you as if they knew you, and that’s fine, that’s part of the job, but it… until you actually experience it you can’t quite register how much it does mean to some people, and also how much it means to… and not to treat with disdain the idea that people want to say hello to you because you’re on the telly. Don’t be disdainful of that, don’t be disrespectful of it. And it was good to be as good as you can be, you know, in a kind way, and be sensitive to people, and just be nice.
JJ: You said at Granada that was a specific kind of culture. I don’t know whether that was because it was in the north, because of its geographical location, because of the way people were treated, they were allowed the freedom to go off and do what they wanted…
I think to work for Granada you had to buy into the non-metropolitan attitude, and that was a source of great pride as well actually. It wasn’t just a northern thing about ‘soft southerners’ or anything clichéd of that sort, it was, we are a distinct culture actually, and Sidney knew that, even though he himself, you know, took the Granada… basically he wanted the franchise, he’d had a similar chain called Granada before he took over the franchise in the north. I think it was very specific, yes. I know I never encountered anything like it elsewhere. Was it characteristic of the region? It had to be in part. It couldn’t not be. And the fact a lot of their dramas were… you know, the fact they had people like Athur Hopcraft working for them, you know, the playwrights they had working for them. People overlook Granada – well, we don’t – but if you talk to people generally they overlook the impact Granada Television has on television drama, which was bloody huge. And Sidney’s refusal… Coronation Street is a serial drama, it’s not a soap opera. That’s what other people do. Crossroads might be a soap opera, Coronation Street is a drama series, or a serial drama, or something of that kind – and I think that embodied… you know, that couldn’t come from anywhere else, nor could they have done… this is of the region, and this seemed to resonate throughout the country. I’d love to know if there were regional variations of viewership of Coronation Street, whether the south east liked it as much as the north east, and so on. What the identification was. Region by region. Because to me it was completely real. Like all of us, we knew the characters, we certainly knew the locations, and we knew the experiences – we’d grown up with them. I can’t speak for anybody down here because I didn’t grow up down here, but… I think the answer to your question is yes, it was something to do with the invisible spirit, but nonetheless a very definitely spirit.
JJ: It’s interesting, that regional mix, as you say, against something like World in Action which had a global international… they did look out, they weren’t looking in all the time.
Yes, definitely very outward-looking, but with a perspective that wasn’t shaped by the southern bubble, what they call now the Whitehall/Westminster bubble. Yes, it had a different take. Manchester, of course, historically, also had a different view of the world from London, and…
JJ: Somebody said to us it was like the TV version of the Manchester Guardian.
Yes, insofar as it was quite open, you know, which goes back to what we were talking about ages ago with the… there’s a real tolerance of different, and even competing, views which I think was taken as normal, and as grist for the every day mill, whereas what I encountered at Thames was there was a right way of thinking and a wrong way of thinking, which I didn’t encounter anything (boldly? 76:42) at Granada, it was kind of more, “That’s interesting,” not, “That’s a load of old shit.” I couldn’t be more precise.
JJ: When did you leave?
I left initially on September 1, 1978, I was on the road with Mike Harding from September 3, so I left on the Friday, on the Sunday I was off on the road with Mike Harding. And I came back, as it were, well, Marion called me and asked me if I would present On The Market with Susan, because I think Lindsay Charlton was (dedicated to do that? 77:27) but then whether or not he was going to do something else, so Rod I think said, “I know, try Trevor.” And so I was then still presenting Afternoon Plus, but I then jacked that in at the end of that season, which was the summer of ’84. So I think the spring of ’84 I think I was going backwards and forwards, and I did that for two or three series, then I went into World in Action.
Sorry, yes. Wishful thinking, sorry! Union World. So for about three years in the middle ‘80s.