Wallen Matthie talks about the views of the black communities in Manchester and Liverpool towards Granada TV

A lot of people have talked about Granada being really important to the North West, Manchester. What was the view of the black community towards Granada, did it view it with any affection?

It’s quite interesting. I felt that the black community in Manchester felt that Granada was one of those companies that they were there; they were a broadcaster, we don’t have a say in what they do, it’s not a company that we have engaged with in any shape or form, leave them to it essentially. The black community in Liverpool took a different perspective. I remember that when I first joined Granada and one of the things – it was just after the riots as I’ve said – that I decided to do was to go to Liverpool because if you remember Granada was split between Manchester and Liverpool studios. So I decided to go to Liverpool and I remember speaking to Rod Caird and him saying “Yes we really need to get involved with Liverpool 8.” Because if you remember the 1981 riots began out of Liverpool. They started off down in London but in Liverpool, in Toxteth, in terms of the North West it was the epicentre of it all. I decided to go down there and meet people from Liverpool, certainly from Toxteth and I remember I went to the Charles Wooton Centre, which was like a cultural centre for the black community, to meet with people. And it was the first time in my life that I felt a stranger among black people and the reason being that I was, “Hang on a second, you’re not from around here, you’re not a Liverpudlian, and yet you come here asking us questions, it doesn’t work that way.” I got a real lecturing from people there and there was about 20 people who met me. It was the Liverpool 8 Defence Committee then and they were saying “Look you need to understand, you’re from Manchester, you need to understand that here we are in Toxteth, Granada is literally within spitting distance away and I don’t think we’ve even had a cleaner working at Granada and now all of a sudden you want stories from us. It doesn’t work that way.” I don’t think I achieved anything ‘cos the black community in Liverpool and, rightly so, were very defensive about people from outside being parachuted into Liverpool and doing things there. And Granada, its reputation in Liverpool, was rock bottom essentially. Taking me on improved things a little bit but it made no difference. Up until today I don’t think anyone from Liverpool 8 has worked at Granada as far as I know. That was really problematic and in terms of on-screen representation. Wouldn’t it have been great if in that period we had had someone onscreen with a real Scouse accent who was representing the black community as well as Liverpool?

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