One of the legendary characters of ITV

ITV used to be made up of separate commercial companies.

In Cardiff last night, I had a chat with some people I used to work with at HTV.

The name Malcolm Leach came up and the general consensus was that he was dead. I have heard this too, though no-one seems to know the exact details.

I asked, “Didn’t he die before?” which is not as silly a question as it sounds, given his past.

He used to freelance around the then ITV network, mostly in Promotion Departments, making trailers for forthcoming programmes. The last time I heard of him – in 2003 – he had been staying with a long-term friend of his from Yorkshire Television, but he had been asked to leave after two days because he was scaring his friend’s children – he had developed a tendency to get up without warning or provocation and start talking to the wall.

Whereas other people might drink a few cups of tea during the course of a day, he replaced each cup of tea with a bottle of wine.

I only worked with him once, at Granada TV, and was amazed that he was so apparently charming.

I should not have been surprised – that is how he got away with so much.

If he really is dead, the word “plausible” should be inscribed on his tombstone.

His exploits were many, including an attempt to buy an ITV franchise to broadcast. Many people lost money. The most definitive Malcolm Leach story I every heard, though, was one which, depending on the telling, either happened at Granada or at BBC TV.

As a freelance, he had either managed to get Granada to provide him with a company car or got the BBC to provide him with a hire car.

After he left the company, they realised the car was missing.

He had sold it.

Men and women die. Legends live on and this story sounds entirely in character.

In fact, it sounds quite low-key for him.

5 Comments

Filed under Television, Uncategorized

5 responses to “One of the legendary characters of ITV

  1. Jamie

    I knew Malcolm Leach in the early 1990s and I have many fond memories of him. I just happened to think of him this afternoon – I don’t know why – and so my Googling has led me here. It would be a shame if he were no more, yet no surprise. The last time I saw Malcolm he was running a pub in Clifton. This would have been around 1993. I went over to visit, with my brother. Malcolm knew that I liked a drink back then, and he poured me a pint of cider which, in retrospect, was probably about 12%. An elderly gentleman seated at the bar said to me “If you drink that, you won’t walk out of here”. Malcolm simply said “Pay no attention to him, Jamie. He has angina and so may die at any moment.”. He cackled with laughter and lit one of his untipped fags. I drank the cider, and another one too. And that is the last memory I have of that day, and, sadly, of Malcolm.

  2. keith martin

    I met Malcolm. It could have been at HTV …. but was it at Anglia, TVS or Southern?. Could have been at Rediffusion, or, Thames, or LWT. Perhaps it was at Border, Channel, or, even ATV? How about Yorkshire.not forgetting BFBS tv? I wish i could remember. Help!

  3. Simon Kennedy

    From my time at The Movie Channel from The Entertainment Network:
    TEN went on air on the night of the 29th of March 1984. The launch party was held at The Kensington Roof Gardens with a feed from the satellite to the screens set up around the room. Industry figures from film and television were on the guest list, as well as our V.I.P., Superman actor Christopher Reeve. Champaign flowed as we headed towards the eight o’clock lift-off. Malcolm had prepared a “Count-down to TEN”, featuring clips taken from cinema trailers of movies with numbers in their titles. Ten was “10”, and so on, until seven, which used a clip from Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. Standing between me and the monitor were a group of execs from Disney; the moment the 1937 Princess hit the screen they went into a huddle, and left even before the end of the promo. No-one else seemed to notice this departure, and a cheer went up from the guests as we headed into the first film. The festivities kept going into the night.
    The next morning we were understandably late into the office, but Malcolm was nowhere to be found. It seems that the previous night, even before the party wrapped up, we received a communication from the Walt Disney company. Malcolm had not cleared the use of any of the clips, assuming that just because he could rent the trailers from National Screen Service he could include them. And with that he drove another shiny nail into his own coffin. Disney now demanded that not only did we have to write a grovelling public letter of apology, we also had to put out an announcement on air that day stating we didn’t have the rights to show the clip, that we would not be showing Snow White, nor would we ever be showing Snow White. The hung-over Malcolm had been dispatched to TVi to make up the announcement, and get it on air as soon as possible.
    Malcolm lasted a further month at TEN. Still I ate well, and often, at L’Escargot on his expenses.

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