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 ever 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.