Any other people in particular you remember?
Yes, the people who stood out for me, people I worked with very closely – Mike Short who was a producer for Granada Reports. Before Mike Short, there was Rachel Hebditch – a phenomenal woman working in a man’s world. And Chris Radzinski stood out; again these are people from regional news. And then there were the Rod Cairds of this world that I worked with, very supportive. Stuart Prebble who gave me my first break as a producer and he had me producing a programme called Young Upfront. And again I wasn’t asked if I wanted to do it, I was told I was going to be doing this. He took me in his office, he was head of regional programmes at the time, and he said, we feel that you need to grow a bit so we’d like you to produce this programme.
It was on the same principles as the Upfront programme we had an audience and we had various guests coming in and Tony Wilson was the presenter and it was a debate programme with the audience involved as well. It went out on a Sunday afternoon at one o clock, aimed at young people and we had Craig Charles taking part in the programme as well. Craig Charles was known for his poetry and stuff like that, so we got him to come along to do some stuff ‘cos he was young and understood them; he was writing some poetry for the programme and his thoughts for the day and so on. Anyhow he did a piece for us and in the piece that we recorded he swore and I think he said something like ‘Bloody’ whatever and as the producer I heard it but thought, that’s okay. We canned the programme, recorded the programme and it went out on the Sunday. I thought nothing of it; I didn’t watch the programme go out as I thought it was okay. On Monday I went into the office and Stuart called me in – his PA said “He’d like to have a word, can you come along right now if you can’. So I went to his office thinking, ‘really great programme’ and Stuart stood there looking out of the window onto the car park at Quay Street and he said, “Oh Wallen, come and have a seat.” And he said, “Yesterday’s programme. Did you see it going out?” I said, “Actually no, I didn’t.” But of course as producer you…”Yeah,’ I said, ‘I thought it was a really good programme.” “Did you?” he said. “Well picture this”, he said, “I’m a parent and there’s my young twelve year old”, and he’s looking out of the window though he was looking at me when he was telling me this…”and he’s watching this programme Young Upfront, thinks it’s a brilliant programme and in the middle up pops Craig Charles and he comes out with this torrent of swearing or whatever. What do I say to him?” “So,” I said, “Well I wouldn’t use the word ‘torrent’.” “Okay but what did you do about it? Obviously nothing.” He tore into me. But then he was great. He said, “Look, I just wanted to make a point that if there is a doubt – and there must have been a doubt in your mind you must make sure we see it before it goes out. There’s a policy around things like this. Luckily we’ve had no complaints but if we had had any we wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.” And he was just great. Ever since then he was very supportive. Stuart’s one of those people, still in the business, and fantastic.
David Liddiment is another one that stands out for me. He was a great guy, knew what he was doing in terms of his producing skills he was one of the great directors at Granada and he did Coronation Street for many years. And the other person who stood out for me was Brian Morris who I did Job Watch with for many years. The reason I mention Brian Morris is that there are ways of running a team, there are ways of producing tv programmes, the typical tv programme team at the time was a producer/director kicking arse, cracking the whip and so on. Brian’s approach was totally different as a producer. He was laid back; he would allow you to exercise your own mind and judgment around things. You had to do your own problem solving with Brian rather than him telling you, you do this, do that. He’d say this is what we want to do, now come back to me. It was fantastic working with him. You were allowed to go out and do proper research and come back with some ideas and stuff like this. He allowed you to run with things and give you slack as it were; fantastic guy.