Media: `I'd have driven myself potty'

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The Independent Culture
SALLY HEAD is not the sort of executive producer who just shows up to collect the awards. "I'm terribly hands on. If I'd been a producer working with me, I'd have driven myself potty by now."

But producers will put up with a lot from an executive with a CV like hers. As Controller of Drama at Granada and then at LWT, Head was responsible for Prime Suspect, Cracker and Band of Gold as well as The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, Jeeves and Wooster and London's Burning among many others, for which she has won countless awards.

So what is the secret of Head's success? "I used to be a script editor at the BBC, and if my work has a trademark, it's that the script is usually really good. The writing should take viewers on a journey. I'm quite emotional as a person, and I don't believe people should be ashamed of laughter or tears. Those things move us all. For all their darkness, series like Prime Suspect and Cracker had heart."

Head's most memorable work is characterised by a certain grittiness, but in the end, the sheer intensity of these shows led her to reassess her career: "If you work with that amount of darkness, it does your head in after a while."

After leaving LWT, she set up as an independent producer. Her first two series - Plastic Man, an accomplished drama about a long-married surgeon (John Thaw) who embarks on an affair with a psychologist (Frances Barber), and Four Fathers, a complex family saga set in Sheffield and starring Tony Doyle and Tom Bell - will be seen on ITV this summer.

Her unlikely route into TV began when she temped as a typist. Working on The Frost Programme before she was due to begin studying art, she suddenly thought: "Bugger going to art college. This is what life is all about."

Now in her late 40s, Head doesn't want her job title to be a hindrance. "Every production is a real team effort. I'd hate to have to go round being strict and having no creative role. I behave as badly as anyone in the company."

James Rampton

`Plastic Man' is on tomorrow at 9pm on ITV

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