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Read this: Media Masters - Michael Grade

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Media Masters - Michael Grade…

Media Masters with Paul Blanchard welcome to media master that he was a one-to-one interviews with top of the video game after 3 years in Hollywood as president of embassy television he took quote the biggest pike caught in history returning to the UK 1984 s controller BBC One this golden period saw the launch of East End the purchase of shows including neighbours and Dynasty as well as the end of beauty pageants and controversial Doctor Who in 1985.

He worked closely with sir Bob Geldof on the broadcast of Live Aid providing a flower-like global feed and 102 phone line to accept donations.

He spent 9 years as chief executive of Channel 4 followed by a portfolio career before being tempted back to broadcasting by the BBC in 2004.

Shannon way set about rescuing their reputation in the aftermath of the Hutton report after 3 years in postage shocked the media establishment by moving to ITV as it's executive chairman.

He was awarded a CBE for services to broadcasting in 1988 and was made a life peer by then Prime Minister David Cameron in 2011 Michael thank you for joining my pleasure in writing an introduction.

We had a really difficult time and we have to cut out hundreds of things that you've done too kind of get the introduction into Under-20 minutes.

I think I learnt my early days were spent in the variety Theatre an excuse to say best to keep moving so I can't hit you with a throw the cabbages so I kept moving all my career but nothing I've ever done has been planned things that just happened basically.

What was the first rung on the ladder then? How did he start I left school at 17.

I didn't want to go to university.

I could have gone but I had done enough exams and studying I couldn't I just wanted to get into the world and

Influence I got a job because I was passionate and still am passionate about sport.

I didn't want to go into the family business which was a very successful business my dad.

Got me an opportunity at the Daily Mirror as a trainee sports journalist and I did 6 years as a sports journalists, which I loved being paid to watch football then my dad.

Got very ill and my uncle lord of fun as it Bernard elf on he changed his name to Dublin from grade because he and my uncle Lulu grade were dancing acts in vaudeville, when they started and they didn't want to use the Booker's with two dancing at school great many changes and Adele from dancing so no problem for dancing to me your dad's been very well.

He's not going to really recover very reactive we need we need you in the I need you back in the family business and he said of course I must do that and I gave up the Daily Mirror

I went to work in the put with a mentor and nobody listened to this whatever I've heard of but he's a very important man in showbiz call Billy Marsh who worked on the family farm and Billy Marsh was the man who was the agent for and discovered Bruce Forsyth Morecambe and Wise Harry Worth Frankie Vaughan Norman Wisdom of a great setter etc actually looked after you well with biliary.

Billy was the prime man but I was very involved with Billy and when they moved from commercial for my TV from my uncle's company a TV to the BBC Billy was away and I engineer that and the moved to the deal that move Morecambe and Wise to the BBC which was the who was the greatest song you've worked with I mean, I know you say you said once that reason was actually is a comedy match for Morecambe and Wise very difficult questions.

I love comedians and

Comedy and improve Village to work with Frankie howerd Tommy Cooper all the great's Eric and Ernie of course Arthur Askey and amazing many many people with Magdalene and miserable behind the scenes Frankie howerd was a bit it was wonderful he got on the way home.

So yeah.

He had a style all the original yeah, but he was he was a very nervous performer and of course it is style of of comedy that it was all kind of nerves and I can't remember what's coming next and he would fill with these silly noises in a course.

It was very very funny.

He found out that was very very funny.

So who was probably Eric and Ernie I mean you were talking Legends and I still keep in touch with the with the family with Eric's family with I went to see Joe Morecambe very recently.

To the family all the time and was it just like a little leave last from start to finish although it would be immune to it becomes more than business so pretty much you know we go out whether when I love was Eric and Ernie or just with Eric when we're on tour on the road, or is it just a million laugh even signing an autograph? He would do you know kid will also need to sign it is a tenner at the chemist.

So it made out how long were you in the family business for working with only grades good question probably about 7 radiators working in the agency business well and then working with the grapes and then what was the next chapter.

I realise the variety Theatre with was on the way out by popular demand the only person still there and I started handling.

Lot of very talented producers and directors in television looking after their business for them and started to have ideas for television shows and with the guy called John Schofield who sadly no longer with us.

We came up with an idea we sold it to London weekend television and it was a show which you were you too young to remember who you do which was massive impressionists with the lead of Freddie Starr in his heyday, and it was just non-stop madcap show you know Hitler with me all the bakery.

You know it was just absolutely crazy was a huge success and as a result of that.

I got an offer to go to London weekend television as the head of light entertainment so I gave my share of the agency business and thought I take a deep breath and went to work for London weekend television and your colleagues were John Burton Greg Dyke I've heard of them to then Greg Greg

Craig Windsor Jr baby researcher when I arrived at the weekend, John Burt was head of news and current affairs at the weekend and we were great team with a fantastic team next few decades to become the media establishment.

Yes a lot of leading lights in the in the over the last 20-years.

I got LWT long weekend on their CVs so I had a great time did age of 9/8 years at London weekend and director of programmes Cyril Bennett who brought me in a sadly died and they were so hiatus period and to my astonishment.

They appointed me as a director of programs and that was a joyous experience and I was forever grateful picking me up.

Why was it been brought up in the Broadway Theatre really down in the management of

My job was to do the scheduling and to pick what programs are we going to spend money on to create so the entertainment side I understood but I learnt about news and current affairs Ireland documentary style and drama and I got a breadth of experience and we have some big hit shows in drama, which I was very lucky to be stressful sometimes because he taking a risk by commissioning a program and it could have lost money you gotta be bold and take chances, but that also means that you can have some real clunkers of course but you got those days.

We're in the fortunate position of having a monopoly of television advertising they were there only 3 channels.

So it was a Golden Age really and if you had a flop it was embarrassing and painful, but it didn't really hurt the bottom line too much too much.

Did the first Agatha Christie on television we did have because they were very reluctant to.

Television Agatha Christie they stayed preferred movies they thought television damaged so cheap in it, but I'm events to me long time I persuaded and we did the first the thing called why didn't they ask Evans which got a record ratings on it on a Sunday night and we did quite a few of those with Lillie Langtry with with the story of Lily Langtry in to Wales the gentle touch which was the first woman policeman on television detective I did all kinds of wonderful things and I'm telling predates the side of the rolodex and even the filofax, but you need to contact book of people vying for your favour because you know you were the person that could do make or break a career sort of yes, but I have good people you know the guy called the Robber Barons somebody running drama something running entertainment features the song they were all great people so they got they bore the Brunt of.

But occasionally I would see something for example.

I went out and saw I was asked to go and see this comedian, but I never heard of and he was doing a Sunday night concert in Stratford-on-Avon place was packed and I've never heard of this guy and I watched him for an hour and a bit and immediately and that was Jasper Carrott I still love Jasper Carrott funky Moped on 7-inch the funny thing was I was reminded many many years later.

I'm the talking to an artist who will be revealed at the end of the sentence who said to me you saw me Michael when you came up to see Jasper Carrott I did the first half and I said to this person I said I have to be honest I said I pride myself that I could spot album I said that I genuinely don't remember.

This person said I don't blame you I was absolutely terrible and I was so embarrassed it was awful.

It was over I was terrible.

I was that was Victoria Wood wow.

Bless her She looks wonderful wonderful simple format just talking to an audience to do a little sketchy but sustained half an hour with an ad break in the middle.

Just doing routines talking to the audience my dad used to by Jasper Carrott LPS on the 33 RPM and do a concert somewhere and then we get it as a record and listen to his family and you that I have with you have to turn the record it was an hour and a half of that but brilliant brilliant.

I was able also to sign.

Discoveries as an agent I got to learn the weekend.

I did a few series for me, then.

I was Larry Grayson who I spotted in her in a nightclub and enjoying about 8 minutes.

Even then he was wonderful I found him that night as his agent and he had several near misses with his career and he was just the job in and it was in a drag show in late night nightclub in London but he was so funny and I put him into the Palladium in a variety bill one got him on TV and the rest is history, but he was such a love so funny he was such a breath of fresh air so just sweet sweet man what's an old expected to name names, but what is it on the pie chart of people were challenging and grumpy behind the scenes.

Is it half-and-half we have some clients on the west coast and reproduce and there's a rule of thumb is that was playing a battery that you give me the quite nice and if they're playing a goody two shoes usually means.

That way I haven't worked and be close to perform as all my life really even at home as a kid you know we're in that business, but other than that this at all and Billy took Billy Marsh take me to to understand what performers go through and to understand the psychology you know when most people go to work there not judged every single day.

Set the alarm for a performer.

You are very exposed to have you been judged by an audience you do a day's filming and then they look at the rushes in the screening room the neck and you've been judged again.

It's really a very tough tough life and it makes you very insecure and that insecurity comes out in different ways, but so I work with some of the most difficult I work with Judy Garland at the talk of the town in London you know you can't get more difficult than that but you understand you have an empathy you have to have an empathy and under the have to be fair.

Nice but firm but you have to understand and be sympathetic to what they're going through a unit so much Tony Hancock Billy Marsh was Tony hancocks agent and Tony was lovely when he wasn't deep depression universe.

He was he was subject to terrible depression and book it turn it off in a sense the minute.

He had to go on screen and Canesten always and her daughter had a self-destructive streak that he parted from his writers Simpson and then went on to do Steptoe and many other one wonderful shows that was a big mistake.

They understood the Hancock character tell you was a genius homogeneous is no question about that when you see the music world.

I mean just come to my days when Robbie Williams the singer from Take That his garage is right and when they fell out bitterly it was never the same again.

Eric and Ernie who have been in the Broughty Ferry since they were in their teens had seen every double-acting showbiz end up hating each other well, that was dual the Warsaw Michael whoever.

It was they all double acts ended up not speaking to each other and they were determined determined that was never going to happen to them.

They had that a good business wise great Brand and they work very hard at their relationship to make sure that could never happen to them and if you if you ever wanted to make Eric or Ernie angry.

You would criticize the other one you'd say Eric you didn't he was very good tonight and he really grab you by the throat genuine very genuine but they worked at it.

They would do that wasn't going to happen to them, but your riding the Rock world everyone falls out with everybody and do they have a success first thing they do is argue.

I had a the pleasure of interviewing at the

War with a big Orchestra Burt Bacharach the the composer and he told me that the biggest mistake of his life was falling out with Hal David and his lyricist he said it was so ridiculous.

He said he said it was over money is and how stupid was a terrible terrible mistake.

He said it's well John and Bernie taupin.

Have worked on a relationship.

You know my friends and family are very very good friend.

They don't live together.

You know the city you know so they don't see each other very very often and the way they work is the rights of lyric and sends it to Elton and he sits down the piano with the lyric and turns over the song Tim Rice told me that when they were working on something for Disney one of the big hit song from that show they were from that movie.

It wasn't written at the beginning and the people said we'd.

Songs for the see you know and Tim Roses lyric overnight came in the next day.

You gave it to l&l and went in the other up until about sitting outside and I could see help I'm sitting at the piano with the lyric on the piano Andy C within in within 2-hours.

We are can you feel the love tonight or whatever the song was I can't remember it's extraordinary vs.


Openworks enjoy working with artists of management and the business side take over know I love I love performers fires with them can help them.

I could tell them the truth sometimes which is Which they always respect if not at the time.

They think about it actually is right.

I shouldn't be doing that.

I should do this.

I have huge empathy I love there's nothing I love better than watching a Performer the height of their game weather tonight.

Comedian or sing up.

It's subjective there isn't it? I mean you know a friend like Russell Brand comedian.

I can't stand him.

I'm sure many people finding funny as he wouldn't let you know stadiums, but I can't I wish you my personal but I want to pay even five member of the audience has their own taste as some performers are Marmite I would say either Russell Brand is Marmite you you like him.

There's some performers.

I don't particularly care for that.

I wouldn't pay to go and see but I know what they do not my taste in material.

I mean I walk through the Sahara Desert to go to see Peter Kay hilarious.

I thought it was funny as well with you know.

I know a lot of a lot of famous people complaining.

And people won't famous said you know they don't understand the trouble with it, but are you glad that you can kind of walk down the street and not be recognised cos you know I've got a few famous friends and you know the people who commit oneself is it when you haven't actually quite route between because I've done a lot of TV and and people don't really know they know they know me but they don't know who I am also the next on from people come out to all I know you I know you who are you.

Who are you from Sunderland somebody came out to me in an airport whilst I was with my wife and family and there's a family and they were going off on the horses.

I know who you are the guys as I know exactly who you are.

That's nice.

How are you? Yeah? Yeah, yeah, you're a solicitor from Bishop's Stortford I've got one of these are indeed.

Years ago.

There's a bloke walking coming up to me and get my glasses on and he was a familiar faces, then don't know when someone you know I was thinking who is my mother brought to be polite Manners maketh the man so I went hello how are you doing? And he just literally looks to me as if I was an alien as if I just put vinegar on walking and in that's that's Alan Titchmarsh from the telly to loads of people used to wear glasses and have such a long hair and it was different colour of what it is now and I was always be mistaken for Jerry Springer both here both here and I'll be walking down the street by Gerry how are you?

Play a lucky he is a bit of legend as well.

So that BBC One in 1984 the the channels in a bit of a mess know what happened was I I've been at the weekend for 8 years and I'd enjoyed every minute of it and I got an offer to go to America and run a production company in Hollywood which was the sitcom has the best sitcom house in America for a man called Norman Lear who had taken out of garnet and and Steptoe and Son and made into American shows in America what we call reverse former huge hits and he was a genius comedy writing genius and he was semi retiring he wanted to do blood eagle work and he asked me if I come and run the company in Hollywood so I got this is this is an opportunity not to be missed so I went to Hollywood for 3 years.

And running sitcom factory wow in Hollywood that was a baptism of Fire yes, it's from me up a lot you know from the comfortable world of the ITV Monopoly do the cutthroat red in tooth and Claw market of American television in Hollywood get a dog.

I learnt a lot.

I'm not a good contacts and clear my overdraft.

I love you my wife late wife she was in little bit in the business and she was looking for job in Hollywood because we got married when I moved and then she came over what I noticed was that at all the interviews that she did they didn't ask her what she done which is what they was asked you in the UK tell us what you've done.


I did isn't it in America what are you?

What do you think you can do 4 if that's the first question and a very forward-looking and it's wide open you know this stuff you have to succeed very good.

You know if at first you don't succeed your and she got a job very quickly was very successful was part of my education.

I enjoyed it and then my problem was I was just another sitcom script.

I'll go crazy you know because we had five or six shows on the air, so you won't get sick of laughing.

No never get that you just gets I was more used to the news current affairs drama and South Korea and the last thing I did in Hollywood was to produce Jeffrey Archer Kane and Abel as a big mini mini series had a lovely shower and then I got a call from my old Charm bill.

Cotton who was at the BBC been brought back into be managing director of the television service which was falling apart and said safe.

Would you would you come back and after a long night of agony I gave up whatever I was only half a million dollars a year plus plus plus to go and work as a control BBC One for £28,000 a year.

I described it as the biggest paper and history, but I was happier you know I was dealing with news current affairs drug documentary is specials.

You know just as well as the entertainment side of things the BBC has someone of a program so they just didn't know how to market them and how to schedule and little by little we turn BBC Radio BBC One round and we had ITV begging for mercy.

How do you do it good people giving people their head back in creative people there was a famous drama series which is I think probably regarded as one of the greatest drama series ever produced in the UK called the Singing Detective by Genesis

And I commission that in the loo as I was going on Jonathan and he said I just had a meeting with Dennis Potter as it is he writing he said yes, it was your writing is he wants to think all the Singing Detective so we'll do it if he's writing with bow Wow and that's at the quickest and that was that was a decision.

Can't do that today and it's not because there's just so many kind of administrative hoops to jump through and nobody trusts anybody nobody wants to take a risk.

It's costly.

It is ghastly isn't it still get some great programs extraordinary event and belong at the BBC running BBC1 my pie said there's a Mr Bob Geldof on the telephone.

I've been in America 3 as it is he said he's the Boom

So, she's a popstar God so do I have to talk to a bit alright so I was feeling a bit skittish after I have a bit of fun with this guy and he was telling me they made this record feed the world of the door and he was trying to get on top of the pops tonight.

So do you know the room is too cold off we can't record on Top of the Pops that isn't in the charts.

That's the rule of the show we can't do it.

He said yeah, but there's a and there was something in his voice something in his argument that got my attention.

I said he got David Bowie to introduce a look send it over to me.

Let me look at it and I don't I'm not promising anything but I will at least look at it and take it seriously so little bit later this video tape arrives and I watch David Bowie and the end of the video of the recording of feed the world and I rang.

SMS to go off I can't put this on Top of the Pops and there's that few weeks.

Please who's in response? I said I'll tell you what I will do.

I'll delay Top of the Pops by 5 minutes is due to start at 7 on Thursday I've started at 7:05 and I'll run this at 7 as a program on its own so we don't break the rules and you get the exposure you need he was over the moon which we did think to cough and within a week or so Bob said to me I got to know a bit by then.

He said would you be a trustee of a Band-Aid from that we went to Live Aid which is the biggest event at Wembley and answer the trustee and we're still helping people in Africa spending money.

It was it was an extraordinary event absolutely extraordinary.

What was there? You're a bad memory of that period we have any meetings as we were trying to spend money quick.

You know to help relief and every politician in the world ever leading States and wanted a piece of Bob they wanted to be wanted to be photographed seen with Bob the Builder helping his own and we being a trustee deciding whether within a baby's trucks in the Sudan or release them what we were going to do that his secretary will come into the pub is it doesn't matter on the phone for fuck off the beans and some you know that you know that somebody people from all over the leading statement ring up trying to get a piece of Bob Geldof you and he would love it brilliant fantastic and still the money still coming in we still get legacies and royalties and things that come in.

It was an extraordinary groundbreaking one of the things.

I'm most proud of in my hole.

I might do you do you refuse to watch the new Doctor Who just out of principle of the fact that I have watched it and of course.

It's when I control the one every year you go through what you going to do the next year when you meet all them and that the producer Dr Who Came In to see me so how many do you want next year so I don't want any controversial you're kidding me.

I said no I said I have you been to the cinema lately.

So what do you mean? I said have you seen Star Wars have you seen close encounters? Have you seen ET you said yes, I said I Got News For You audience ascending Doctor Who doesn't cut it anymore.

I become a good way you rather desperate.

It was very very true.

I kept trying to be shocking and vile and I and I cancelled it and of course it came back years later with the Russell T Davies writing.

And a huge filmic budget with special effects digital effects are different I still hate it but I'm alright now.

I could I would have kept it going if it's been that good you made what I personally regarded as the single greatest decision that any human being has ever made which is to look at the first season of Blackadder which was crap and they will give us another chance because we we would have had seasons in well, which is the greatest ever written I can remember the head of comedy coming in to see me about next year's plans and he said yes, I will do another 6 blackout.

I said no we won't do it again you cancelling it.

I said let me finish.

I said I will do another series only if you bring it into the Studio with an audience.

I said because you're all out.

They're filming camera on a BBC sitcom budget trying to make up comedy that is hasn't got the budget you just you don't know if it's funny or not.

Arduino bring it in you promised me you bring it in the studio.

I'll do as many as you want and get it get the show on its feet in front of an audience will find out what's funny and what isn't and he went away came out.

See you are happy to do that.

I said right of course the rest is history, but you wouldn't have said that in Hollywood would you because you have said well, it hasn't got the numbers season failed cancelled is a 3-hour time difference between New York and Los Angeles and there were occasions where you get a call from the head of the network after a pilot that whatever and he'd say.

I've just got the numbers in New York is a worm the shows in trouble and the Show had a hair loss and I just got the I got a flash he said we better meet next week.

Ok brutal absolutely brutal.

And you were accused of chasing ratings cover by Jeremy Isaacs I think Jeremy suffered from very badly from separation from Channel 4 when he left channel for which she done an amazing job creating and setting up the Brand and I replaced him and he saw me as a sort of twice nightly variety of Bulgarian which is how he saw me and he was very disappointed that I was chosen to succeed him actually John Major possibly yes, but yes possibly I don't know yes, you could say that I could very well think that I couldn't possibly comment yeah, but in the end.

I think I proved him wrong and we did a lot of amazing things might the channel was a very amateur operation when I took over because it's only been going six or seven years when I took over and I said to the team my commissioning editor.

When I arrive as a do any programs get on air on Channel 4 that you haven't seen before transmission and is still up and it's all the time as I think we've identified the problem.

I said the mission statement is we're gonna lose our status when you double A pornographer in chief by the Daily Mail when you're on Channel 4.

Yes, I was Paul Johnson who was laser exposure as a spanker or a spanky and great upholder of the Nation's morals anyone who bothers opposing any morals is usually a wrong and in my view you may say that we did all kinds of crazy stuff the word was a particular Benoit it was a huge target for the Daily Mail audience.

You know they it was also great TV is completely mad, but it was so hairy student Anarchy stuff and obviously not we weren't looking to get the Daily Mail readership watching the worst you know and

Having Oliver Reed held in his dressing room for a few hours and deliberately putting a lot of booze in there.

You wouldn't get away with that now.

No, I don't think so but Paul Johnson and the start of course you know it was a good phrase, but I always said and this was my last time.

I would never transmit anything that I didn't feel comfortable defend public clean and you feel slightly sorry now 4-channel controllers in these days because you know as you said you could commission things on a hunch based on their knowledge and their trust in the ratings on but here now 7 of the considered algorithms and global sales in foreign markets everything and I had it I had a lot easier than the guys and girls today had a lot easier and Jeremy and I were on her the conference of the seminar and they had four chief executive of Channel 4 Jeremy me to other guys a German out of

Pitch early on and we were listening to the new guys unit and Jeremy knows me as you know my place.

We had it a lot easier.

I said I couldn't agree with you more.

It was a lorry is it my biggest issue at Channel 4 was making the transition from just being dependent relative ITV which we were when I arrived and then we have a new regime which undergo Shady with the Mrs Thatcher's government at the time where we would sell her and we wouldn't be privatized, but we would sell or loan our time we be independent a competition for ITV and I I regarded as a big step forward for the channel because we had to be we had to pay our own way.

We do the only public service broadcaster in the world paid its own way commercially and we made a big success of that what came after Channel 4 the end of Channel 4 I left the media and went in.

Listen, I became executive chairman of Retail leisure business school Perth Leisure we had nightclubs bars bingo halls in most of Blackpool that I did that for a few years and in the end had to break it up as he wasn't going anywhere and give the money back to the shareholders and then I went to do a number of different things that sort of plural existence portfolio career in 2009 after the Hutton report where you came in as chairman.

Yes, I can remember vividly following that crisis with a heavy heart you know and it was my wife's birthday and we went out to dinner at The Hub to my shame.

I spend the whole evening telling her where it's gone wrong.

What should have happened how it should have been handled what they needed to do now and she said to me don't be an idiot.

She said if you think if

Sit here all night on my birthday with all that stuff about the reason you got to apply for the vacant Germans job that she's right so with no real expectation.

I put my name forward into my astonishment.

They asked me to take over as chairman of BBC which was a huge privilege and and the places in meltdown the chairman resigned director general the record on Gregor been fired.

I think Greg shouldn't have been fired and I know but he wasn't is it was his own worst enemy many ways but feel sorry for him.

I mean it's basically become a contest between him and Alastair Campbell in my view and no one would back down.

I think I think no.

I think I will say this to Greg I was really great.

I'm sure the story was right the crime.

Was you didn't get it on the air and away there was defensible they had lived the intro the interview on the Today Show

With the journalist who broke the story was ad-libbed it wasn't scripted.

They didn't they didn't go to Downing Street in time to get a full response from there.

I mean that they rule in the book and it it was it was a shambles of how I got it on the air and they had a great story and they just didn't they let themselves very vulnerable very vulnerable and Messi when Greg admitted to the Hutton enquiry of the whole thing that he hadn't read the transcript of the programme the interview etc from the six months.

I mean that was the end really reminded me of when George Entwistle was happy Today programme interview and don't appreciate him.

You do something about the Guardian it was about where did he can get to Presthaven is it? I just didn't read it and I remember listening to it at the time thinking guys finished.

You should have said that I mean what a glorious institution that would put up their own director-general to be utterly crucified.

The BBC like nothing better than putting the boot into the management of the BBC they love it.

They absolutely loved it.

It was it was at the BBC but there's some stylish you and your notice but we're not going to spell the word this way anymore and I will put it up there cos I know my genital deliberately spell it do the way just to annoy me of course of course when people criticize the BBC because they think of it is just one behemoth.

Where is you not knowing editing program planners like I do there's lots of features within the BBC and competing against one another yes, it's an extraordinary institution and I would you know I would defend it with the last breath in my body.

I would say it so it's easy to criticize them and occasionally the BBC make it very easy for you to criticise, but we miss it if it wasn't there to be honest one of the greatest things in the world.

It's one of the great you know if you doing.

An analysis of the brand UK you know the BBC would come out of it when I travel around the place as chairman of the BBC working for the BBC I mean you've got a huge so many doors.

You know everybody's heard of the BBC streaming the way it is now replacing the BBC licence free with a subscription is being discussed again.

Is that something that's just never text always be some kind of licence for 10 years you can fund the BBC anyway you want but however the BBC is funded will affect the kinds of programs and the remit of the BBC if you're in competition for subscription you were going to make the programs that are going to drive subscription which is a commercial imperative that now doesn't have to show a return on investment on all its programs which if you're in the subscription business you got to do programs that.

I gonna drive subscriptions and that will drive a lot of the range of BBC programmes.

There is a direct relationship between your source of finance and the kinds of programs you make the BBC has secure an adequate funding you won't get the range of programs that you get today.

It's a simple as that at the BBC relies in the end for its survival on the survival of the licence fee on the willingness of the British people to support it then I think by and large people do and obviously having run Channel formed in the dark overlord of all things BBC then completed in 2006 the Hat Trick I need everything at this point in my career to become a media paramedic really heavy was struggling.

It was the attraction of the ITV jabez to go in as executive chairman was at the BBC as the chairman of the

I absolutely had no influence on programming control your sleeves up and get stuck in no and ITV as an executive chairman.

My job was to sort the program sort the schedule out go back to what I love doing which is creating programs and the Scandal over the phone in competition remember that really well, you know now before you say you know this program is recorded and if you call this number you may be charged but you've not answering all these multiple that landed on my desk.

I don't have a few weeks and the story broke on a Saturday in several newspapers and this is serious.

I knew immediately this was it called everybody arguably fraud he was and I called my team in early on Monday morning and I should write the first thing we do is there a no premium phone line stop all premium phone lines check anything is going out with repeats.

We need to be very careful, that's the first thing we're going to announce that we're not doing any Premium phone lines whatsoever until we got to the bottom of this we going to call in forensic accountants.

We're gonna call it we're going to head all the other that's over to the police, but we're going to get to the bottom of this as fast as we can and somebody said to me if you do that, Michael people think we got something to hide.

I said you tell me have you guarantee we have got nothing to hide well.

No I said you Mark my words will be the first we going to take a lot of stick for this everyone else will be in the same boat you watch the Dominos for so we made the announcement and of course all hell breaks loose because they have the journalists are all trying to search a fraud on tractor.

You know lol was Richard X Factor was absolutely clean BBC said we're not affected by this.

We're not we're not effective.

One by one they all found they all found problems and we cleaned it up and I I took the view at the mediately the story bro that the only way to deal with it was a mistake in a 3 months of pain from from the media and the politicians etc masochism strategy you deliberately an overtly seek the pain is going to come there was an incident with tylenol is a headache over-the-counter headache tablet all the time.

Are you going to tell me that it's killing me know but there was an incident.

Where some there were three incidents where some lunatic had been tampering with the tylenol capsule packaging because back in the day when I was a kid drugs didn't have tamper-proof seal.

And what they did at tylenol they medially they didn't say all consumers even worry.

This is an isolated case so they they took every every packet Italian off the shelves in America you couldn't buy tylenol for 6-months where they redesigned the package tamper proof that and that's the way they save the Brand and it's done the same if we if we had said all this is only isolated incident you know we're confident that if they've been any more incidents problems.

We have been toast you know we had to take me to wipe the slate clean DE1 take the pain and the adventures we share the pain with everybody else, but we came out of it clean it send me a couple of years ago when Starbucks removed a couple of black guys from established in America and it was racist you know they were vastly because they were black and they rightly closed Starbucks down.

Every single one to do that.

You know and cultural awareness and absolutely absolutely so I thought of making a living as a can of crisis communications person.

I'm sure I could do it.

I'm sure I could do it you you bring your own.

I do talk about it occasionally when I do conferences or or whatever time at crisis management, but you can see I mean that you can see so many cases where the BBC's got itself into a model over remember the Jimmy Savile film on Newsnight you know you just can't believe how they get themselves into such a model you know sometimes.

I'm watching my flat bastard w108 says it's painful because it's largely through.

I'm afraid of a lot of my friends at the BBC say sometimes.

It's actually that was.

Down version because if it was the reality that genuinely wouldn't be believed all the jargon.

Yes exactly right that yes, we always used to like I was so well written is used to end the final scenes used to be fast like Frasier where did end up getting locked in a cupboard or something and that was Jeanne it was a proper comedy when I arrive as chairman.

I did a sort of tour various things and I went to the HR department in a you know you do a sort of it's a bit sort of the royal visit in and I stopped chatting to this woman who was sitting in front of a screen I say, what are you doing? Oh, she said I was I've been brought to do an audit of overseas staff as a wee mean in order cheese.

Well, we don't know how many people we got working overseas as if you're kidding, she's so how are you doing this?

I'm doing it for years.

She said and I probably got another year to go before I have accounted for everybody who works for us all over the world Australia wherever worm.

I thought I think we've identify the the best baby Sonic garden hurdles Jeremy Vine we wanted Newsnight they were going to do some business if you want boxing the sport of boxing was it an issue, so you just ring you didn't know the Rings the Rings 2 switchboard boxing really and this bloke said hello BBC news about boxing Sugar Ray Leonard what do you mean? This is a boxing department is it is no we put stuff in boxes to continue with Netflix Productions but there was some award-winning permission to get the site expanded what happened what I mean, Pinewood was.

Distant outpost of the rank organisation and in the heyday of rank it was a huge school of Talent Dirk Bogarde you know it was huge huge, but the rank organisation and morphed into retail leisure business with casinos and disco tex and the Pinewood was kind of sitting there unloved my driving then leave you now have the idea to see if we can buy it and we managed to buy and when we took it to talk it over there wasn't one film booked up there at all.

There was a weed rolling down the round the streets of Pinewood and it was it was down on its feet and through hard work and giving it loves attention and Investment we turned it round and it's now a huge was we bought Shepperton Studios and we expanded at we then sold it for a very good company.

Gone on with investment building more and more stages.

We had a plan we bought a bit of land across the street which was actually green green belt, but it was a landfill site surrounded by the M25 and at the M4 and not anywhere you when you went on to speak so the idea is green belt and we had this plan to create field.

I think so we had this idea to build housing there in landscapes, so that you have a Georgian area.

You'd have a can of New York brownstones, you have Venice with the canal and the face and you could use those for swords for filming although they would be real people living there be their homes, but they would allow filming and

The plan got knocked back by the planet who said there was no evidence where this worked anywhere in the world and that it was also an innovative scheme will have it in a bit early.

We lost that miserable local this work to use would be to put more film studios on it which we did and it's been hugely and the world of West End theatres attracted you back hasn't in.


I love of the morning.

I love television.

Will they love the movies the live experience to me? Is is half the core of entertainment and very good friends with Mark Cornell actually Data Group and I occasionally get good tickets to Isle of musicals particularly with my partner Michael in it we decided to put on some shows we worked for quite a while with the National Theatre to do commercial transfers out of the National Theatre into the commercial Theatre and we did.

War Horse in America and in the West End incredible One Man Two guvnors, we did on Broadway with James Corden various various things in history history boys so I fell in love with the theatre all over again and so we decide your own shows and I did a deal with the piano at the Coliseum Theatre and we put on what seasons of musicals.

We did Sweeney Todd with Emma Thompson and printer for we did Sunset Boulevard with Glenn Close which we landed on Broadway which was stunning and we did Carousel was Alfie Boe and Katherine Jenkins chess.

We revive chess with Michael Ball the musical which was fantastic and then this year we did the man of La Mancha with the with Kelsey Grammer he's one of my favourite actors.

I love very professional is a sweetheart.

We love you.

We love working with them and I mean if you're not doing nothing is a conservative party House of Lords you you busy doing a cultural inclusion and widening participation to the app yes, I I I take the Lord's very soon as a great privilege to have been asked to serve their I take it very seriously in a lot of regulate NI vote regularly been on various committees sub-committee on the gambling at the most Select Committee on gambling.

I love it.

It's an amazing place the the level of expertise in there is much misunderstood by the public you know people so we should all be elected fine.

If that's what you want to do, but actually you would like the sort of people that we have in their from the public sector from academe teachers, but you won't be decorated for election.

No, I wouldn't.

No subject where we don't have you know really brilliant high achievers in their particular field and I don't mean just entrepreneur that I'm talking about serious academics people that unions are all human life is there represented that and the bases and so you only speak on the tablets you might know something nobody wants to hear from me on the fence all the Health Service but they might want to hear from me about broadcasting the media charities business.

That was not me.

I intend to take the owner at some point and I'm going to talk and everything there always be very polite and this word with they won't take any notice of the gentleman Usher of the Black Rod you know the phrase Media Masters been so relevant to an applicable to the the interviewee as it were but literally done almost everything what is left to do what you know? What is next?

Survival I just want to enjoy every day.

I've been very very lucky.

I've worked hard and I'm a great believer that success comes from Brothers and I watched people planning their careers 6 moves ahead you know and you never works out because they'd forgotten to do the day job.

That's my only plan so I said to my wife.

I said I'm very happy to return when when people stop asking me to do interesting things so I see you.

I don't I stop seeing things as an opportunity and there's a bit of I love the theatre.

I love all I'm doing I love the House of Lords I was a great privilege.

I tell you about I had no idea this was coming and I was John Lewis buying an iPad replacement iPad and I'm very haven't got my box under my arm and I'm going down the escalator in my phone when internet.

Is that Mr Michael grade and said yes, it's Lord Michael grade.

Thank you very much.

I know this is the switch board at number 10.

I have the prime minister for you.

So I knew it wasn't a wine that because I had those sorts of course in the past in the media career unit getting a rollicking from from somebody else will from the promised land and hang on I'm on an escalator when I get to the bottom of finding quite going to hang on so I get round because ok.

I'm cleaning as I've put the camera and put the prime minister on and David Cameron has a my visa done.

Would you like to go without yes certainly be a great privilege to serve himself makes the call you and that's probably the only thing to do is well.

If you're if you're a political appointment.

Yes, he's all you'll be home from the Chief Whip in the Lord's and the leader of the lord your god who the president of July to thank you very much for that was a

I'm from you know a few weeks later on it all got announced and I got on the escalator Mr Michael grade and got off the escalators Lord grade of Yarmouth I was absolutely gobsmacked.

I rang my Wi-Fi then you won't believe that goes down of course.

That's why I didn't say is Lord that was the that made you yes, I see wow that is incredibly another funny conversation.

I was a Channel 4 and I get a call at this is switchboard at number 10 again.

I have the cabinet secretary for you.

Ok fine.

I Musgrave it is Robin battle of the sexes but we need to talk he said and would you be free this evening for call? I said I'm actually going off to do a civil service training conference speakers, but I'll be free later.

We can talk he was obviously rushing to amazing what the hell what's going on here so 8 I'll ring ring the number and I get put through as we have a bit of a problem.

I said what's what's the problem that you said you're Mr Rory Bremner I said yes, what happened when he said he's he's very good at impersonating the prime minister Mr major only got through to him.

He's been ringing MPs pretending to be John Major rated we don't have a problem, but the issue we have is it is so good.

He could ring the Chancellor of the Exchequer and get the budget.

I said I get the point as it leaves me I'll call you call you tomorrow, so I got onto the team the boys.

I've had this call what's going on.

They tell me what was going on and they weren't going to use whatever that God but it was very fun.

And they said that you didn't really work as an idea.

So they were they were scrapping it so I find out my RAM Robinson don't worry I said it's they're not doing anything with it.

So it's not your instructions.

They voluntarily have decided they not doing great relief for great with any I sent him a recording for his own private used of the call to the quotes John Major and had with with an MP who was being very aggressive and was going to be a stalking horse to stand against John Major in a leadership camp with Rory Bremner and Rory saying saying to him.

I'll see you at the Party Conference in a few weeks time.

He's well.

I'm not sure I'm going primers, but I may well go there.

I look forward to seeing you maybe we can have.

That would be very nice very nice area I can see why you look so much last couple of questions then mistakes all those teaching moment so missed opportunities along the way any regrets.


Yes, I think my biggest program was used to go to Hollywood once a year and see all the new pilots for the new season to see which shows we wanted to buy and bring to the UK and as with my team Channel 4 and this pilot comes up we sit through it and the lights go up at the end of it and we all look at each other.

That's the biggest load of rubbish.

We've ever seen we are certainly whatcar that that's ok.

How are you going to scream 8 in the morning? Come at 8 at 9 so we watched hour after hour half an hour after half an hour losing the will to live not really because what you realise doing.

Is that if you if you stay awake through it? So that's the one we all passed on was The X-Files which turn out to be a massive hit we missed it, but we did pick up a bit we picked up Hill Street Blues we picked up a friend's we picked up all that shows Cosby Show is now somewhat disgraced, but the show was too rough Roseanne we had some great shows last question, what advice would you give to someone starting out that looks at your litany of achievement and amazing jobs done and have really is inspired by that was the following the footsteps.

I think you've got it.

You got to be obsessed.

You got to be determined to take rejection and thousands of thousands of youngsters wanna get happiest.

I've a good idea.

I like to be in the media and it doesn't happen, but the ones that get in.

Make a career of the ones who are completely obsessed and determined and they they make it but the great that is a great career whatever you choose to behind the cameras in front of the cameras whatever you want technical technicians editing digital whatever you did you look at whatever you spell tastic.

Does it open to anybody you know if you're smart and you've got a bit of a determination you you haven't got have a first in his ingrates from Oxford University you any kid can get in any of any background.

What's get into the industry.

You just got to be determined and have an idea and really think hard about about the industry what you think about the industry and what you think about you.

Got to have some critical and analytical skills, but you'll get it if you determine your get in my car.

It's been a hugely interesting conversation.

Thank you ever so much for your time.

I really enjoy it my favorite.

Love enjoy this music to thank you again.

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