83, jour­nal­ist and au­thor

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - GAMES -

some­one from my back­ground – York­shire ac­cent, left school at 16 – to be on tele­vi­sion. But I was lucky to be around when times were chang­ing. Granada’s film se­ries Cin­ema made my name in 1969. One of the great joys was that all my he­roes I saw on screen ended up com­ing on my show. Hol­ly­wood moguls had de­cided that tele­vi­sion was here to stay and fi­nally al­lowed their strictly con­trolled stars to go on the small screen, and there I was, wait­ing like a great big spi­der, des­per­ately want­ing to talk to them.

In those days, there was an au­di­ble gasp from the au­di­ence when you said, “Ladies and gen­tle­man, James Cag­ney!” They’d never seen such stars in real life. The fact they were real peo­ple, able to speak and tell jokes, was a rev­e­la­tion.

Cin­ema ap­peared be­tween two episodes of Coro­na­tion Street. I would get 15mil­lion peo­ple watch­ing me. I got very fa­mous very quickly – so quickly that I didn’t know it had hap­pened. I re­mem­ber be­ing mobbed in a fish and chip shop with Pat Phoenix, who played Elsie Tan­ner. It was really her the mob were wait­ing for. We had to be res­cued by the fire brigade.

They were dif­fer­ent times. It was a whirl­wind – I didn’t have time to con­tem­plate what was hap­pen­ing, I was just de­lighted I was do­ing a job that I en­joyed.

We did more than 2,000 in­ter­views on Parkin­son. To say I’ve ful­filled my am­bi­tion is to mis­un­der­stand the whole thing. Who could imag­ine or plan for the ca­reer I’ve had?

There’s noth­ing for me to do now in terms of tele­vi­sion, be­cause there aren’t many op­por­tu­ni­ties for 83-year-old men, never mind 83-yearold women. So you sit back and watch the oth­ers do their thing.

An­other sur­prise is that when I worked for the York­shire Evening Post I met this gor­geous Ir­ish girl on the

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