In 1978 ITV debuted The South Bank Show, a program that focused on theatre, TV, music and other forms of entertainment, celebrating the rich history of the arts in Britain. The interview show was hosted by longtime presenter Melvyn Bragg, but after it was cancelled in 2009 he’s now revealed he “should have had” the broadcaster for “unfair dismissal”.
Bragg stated it was a “very, very bad decision” made by ITV’s director of television Peter Fincham, who ended the three-decade run.
According to the presenter, Fincham told him it had come down to “a blip in advertising”.
“At first, I thought he was saying they wanted to cut the budget down to 80 per cent and I said, ‘Well, that’s going to be hard to do,'” Bragg recalled.
“Then I realised he meant reduce by 80 per cent!”
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And keeping his show alive has also helped him deal with his own mental health, after revealing he suffered bouts of depression throughout his teens.
“I’ve had bad depression once when I was 13 or 14, then another at the end of my 20s,” he told Radio Times.
“I was in such a mess, in about six or seven different ways.”
While his beloved North Country helped somewhat curb that with long walks, looking forward to talking to inspirational people also prolonged his purpose.
“Where I come from people at 65 were knackered. They retired, then, after two years, clunk! That’s changed,” he said.
“I don’t get up in the morning and think, ‘Oh hell,’ or, ‘I’m tired out.’
“I think, ‘Oh, good, I’m going to talk to Bernardine Evaristo or Benjamin Zephaniah [the subject of this Sunday’s programme].’”
Bragg’s full interview is available to read now in Radio Times.