Recipe for a dust-up (Drama Forum)

Sight and Sound

Tony Garnett is one of British television’s most experienced and successful producers. After a short career as an actor, he made his name as a programme-maker with a series of seminal television plays for the BBC, with such directors as Ken Loach, Jack Gold, Roland Joffe and Les Blair, among them Loach’s ‘Cathy Come Home’. With Loach he then made ‘Kes’ and with Blair the ‘Law and Order’ series,

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A conference at Birkbeck, University of London.
May 14 2013

In the old Variety Theatres only the lowly performers opened the bill. The audience would be still noisily taking their seats, or arriving late, and needed warming up. Perhaps it is different in academia. You look well behaved. If this were the Glasgow Empire I would be fearing for my life. Anyway, this slot gives me the opportunity to ask the questions,

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With Banners Held High – the BBC and miners strikes

For those who missed it, here’s the speech I gave at Banners Held High today.

I want to rehearse some history, history familiar to everyone here, history showing a remarkable similarity between the miners’ battle with the Tory government in 1926 and in 1984. I want to do this as a way to analyse the true role of the BBC. And why that is politically important.

In 1925 there were 1.2 million miners;

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The following is from a lecture given at the Screenwriting Network Research Conference 2016 in Leeds.

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A Message For Graduates – Creatively Disrupt

Provost and Vice Principal, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Members of the University, Graduates, Graduands and guests.
I was born and brought up in this city, in Erdington. As a boy in the early fifties I talked to my granddad. He was a Victorian, born in Aston. A highly skilled man, in the 1890s he became redundant. Disruptive technology is nothing new. For the rest of his life he was a common labourer, in the parlance of the day.

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Crisis – Ending Homelessness

I was brought up in Birmingham and now live in London, so I went to Edinburgh with some humility, remembering that from the great Enlightenment thinkers on, Scotland has so often led the way in thinking about social policy. But even there the problem of housing and the homeless persists. I feel privileged to support Crisis’s new policy. A novel ambition. It wants to abolish itself through solving the homeless crisis. I spoke in support at a conference this week,

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Sydney Newman Memorial Service – 5th February 1998

I could bore for England about Sydney, such was his influence upon me; but time is short and there are many speakers. I will confine myself to a couple of snapshots.

I first met him in his office (which was bigger than most of the flats I’d lived in), having been marched in by Jim MacTaggart and Roger Smith. I expected a big formal interview.

Instead he looked at Jim and said “Hell,

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Tony Garnett talks about THE COPS – November 1998


Dept. F&D, Uni of Reading, 24 November, 1998.

Introduction: Tony Garnett

I’ll begin with the usual disclaimer. The Cops is like any other show, collaborative and social, so if I use the first-person this afternoon, you should regard it as just ‘shorthand’.

Increasingly now, I get young people around me who are long on talent and long on enthusiasm but very short on experience.

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Notes from the Raymond Williams Memorial Lecture, 1996

Birmingham 1996

My first encounter with Raymond was about 30 years ago. It was provoked by a film I’d produced for the BBC, The Big Flame. We discussed the class nature of justice. He continued to show a critical interest in what I got up to – as I did in him. He was the first academic I was aware of having any interest in popular television. Now, of course, they’re all at it.

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Reading University Speech 1998



I am, of course, unqualified to get this show on the road. Having had my head down, ploughing my own furrow over the decades –  what do I know? I’ve been too busy, too pre-occupied, too obsessed, to have an overview. When I first met Michael Jackson, I wasn’t shocked by his youth (in our business the transition from enfant terrible to eminence grise can take only five years).

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For the love of it: in praise of the amateur

Remarks prepared for Media Studies Teachers, 2010.

Last year I wrote a piece about the nature of creativity, how to nourish it, and how derelict our institutions have become in this regard. I sent it, by E-mail, to three old friends. Within ten days, it had circulated throughout my industry and beyond. I was receiving E-mails from people I didn’t even know. Even some of you may have seen it.

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