Chalk this page up to lightning Larry

Larry, the lightning cartoonist of Granada’s People and Places, talks to Brian Finch about his weekly appearances in the programme and provides his own illustrations

TVTimes masthead
From the TVTimes for week commencing 22 April 1962

RUSH. That’s what it is. All rush. From the minute I set of for Manchester every Monday morning to the minute I get home to Birmingham 10 hours later.

Jump off the train at Manchester and into a speeding taxi. I wonder why Manchester has such comfortable taxis? But there isn’t lime to enjoy it. I’m there before I know it. And up the steps into the Granada Television Centre.

A quick chat with the producer. I tell him what Bloggs is doing this week. Bloggs is my favourite cartoon character. He’s based on my father, but don’t tell him. will you?

And then it’s off to the studio for a brief camera rehearsal.

Cartoon of a man running out of a taxi and up some steps
Up the steps into the Granada Television Centre

What a chaotic jumble! Can they really produce a programme out of this maze of wires and cameras and microphones? We haven’t lost one yet, says one of the cameramen.

Things are already under way. Gay Byrne is casually awaiting the start of the programme. Bill Grundy is having an amiable chat with a fellow he’s going to interview. You have to keep the chap happy, don’t you?

So we go through the motions of the programme to get the camera angles ironed out. I think of all the things that can go wrong.

Like me falling through a piece of scenery. Or ruining one of those expensive cameras. Or getting hit on the head by a microphone.

What do you say when that happens? Even worse — what would Bill Grundy say? Worse still — what would the producer say?


Cartoon of a woman applying makeup to a man from a bucket using a wallpaper brush
The make-up girl covers up three days growth of beard

Camera rehearsal’s soon over. Time to relax a bit, I think. But Gay gives me a word of advice. If you want some food I’d snatch a bite now, he tells me. We’ll be starting again any time.

So I dash down the corridor to the canteen. Was that Ena Sharpies I just side-stepped? I haven’t the courage to find out. Or the time!

I never can get used to eating in this canteen.

You never know what nationally famous face is going to be facing you over the table. And you know what?

They eat and drink — just like real people.

Cartoon of the cartoonist drawing a cartoon, watched by cameras
I get the feeling I’m being over-looked

My next stop is the make-up department. This is the pleasantest part of the day, being made-up by all those pretty girls. I’m surprised they don’t get on television themselves. And they’re so understanding, too. They don’t even object to my three day beard

But the rush is soon on again.

I whirl back to the studio. Everybody knows what he’s doing. Except me. I feel like a piece of luggage standing about. The Derek Hilton Trio are behind me — chatting nonchalantly about music. Nice to see artists working together in harmony.

I’m on any time now. Evelyn Rose is just finishing her recipe. That woman can talk even faster than I can draw. Will my chalk break? Will I knock over the floor manager?

The cameras move in. I’m on. Idiot thought — as I, go down for the last time … why do they make up all my face, when the viewers only see half of it?

Cartoon of a man with his head through some fallen scenery
I think of all the things that could go wrong

Maybe if I had only half a face to make up, I could snatch a crafty smoke before going on.

It’s all over before I know it, I put down my chalk thank fully. I’m suddenly very hungry. Evelyn Rose’s recipe! If I can get my hands on that bowl of stew without being seen.

But Grundy and Byrne are there ahead of me. And all I get is an apologetic smile from Evelyn. You have to move fast in this business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *