Two more tales of racism and xenophobia at ITV – both of them perfectly understandable in the circumstances

Following on from my recent blog about sex and Jewish stereotypes at Granada Television in Manchester during the 1980s, are two stories about executive perks and free cars.

I worked at ITV when money was swilling about.

After recordings of entertainment shows Game For a Laugh and Surprise! Surprise! at London Weekend Television, Mercedes-Benz cars would queue up late night, waiting to take participants off home or to their hotels – the mini-cab company used by LWT drove only Merecedes-Benz.

That was fair enough.

Always treat your programme participants well – especially on ‘real people’ shows.

But I heard interesting stories at two of the other ITV companies I worked for – about the cars which top executives were given as part of their pay packages.

At Anglia TV, two of the top men at the company had been imprisoned by the Japanese during World War II. So top executives were allowed to choose any car they liked within a certain price range provided it was not a Japanese car. For understandable reasons.

Granada TV was founded and run by the Jewish entrepreneur Sidney Bernstein. I was told that, in the early days of the company, top executives – as at Anglia – were given cars as part of their salary package, but they could only have non-German cars. Granada would not buy, rent or lease any German car. Again for obvious reasons. Though, by the time I worked there, this rule had been changed and executives could have German cars because, it was said, Sidney had been shown that using German cars made economic sense.

Perhaps that was an urban myth, though I suspect it was true.

Granada nourished myths.

But it is ironic that it was BBC TV not ITV which popularised the saying: “Don’t mention the War!”

1 Comment

Filed under History, Racism, Television

One response to “Two more tales of racism and xenophobia at ITV – both of them perfectly understandable in the circumstances

  1. Granada TV Rental was forbidden to buy Ford cars for its fleet as they had got a model called – yes you guessed it! – ‘Granada’ – and Granada even went to court to stop Ford using the name but Ford’s lawyers pointed out you could not ban anyone from calling their product after a place name..

    Beforehand, to prove a pint, they had the Ford Escort ‘Mexico’ model and oddly, Mexico didn’t kick up over it…

    So Granada TV Rental had Vauxhall’s for all their staff and engineers and fror the boring record, I was the Manager of a tyre depot in Bedford at the time – Granada’s TV Rental main offices were in Ampthill, Bedford – and we used to look after the tyres for some of the said Vauxhall’s..
    I rest my case.

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