YOU HAD to see Bill Grundy at home to understand the man whose hold upon celebrity is very sadly based on his televised invitation to the Sex Pistols to vocalise their obscene thoughts, writes Andy Allan.
His technique with Johnny Rotten was his technique with life. He liked nothing more than daring people to qo a bit further than they ever intended. That's the way he treated his children at lunch, foreign secretaries in studios, producers in offices who begged him to behave, but mostly himself.
Grundy - few television practitioners ever bothered with his Christian name - was a consummate broadcaster, probably the most talented interviewer of his own and the present generation. When firing on all cylinders Grundy had the very best journalistic instincts and skills. He was at home in the interviewer's chair like no one else, his honesty and integrity used as a blunt instrument upon those who sought to prevaricate or pretend in his presence. On one occasion Grundy was interviewing Mickey Rooney and giving the aged Hollywood star a tough time on his marital record. 'Oh come on, Bill,' Rooney said, 'you and I go back a long way . . .' 'Cobblers,' Grundy said, 'we only met in The Green Room 10 minutes ago.'
No television journalist over 40 is a complete person without a quiverful of Grundy anecdotes. Certainly he was invited to leave an ITN party conference reception at Blackpool, and there is every truth in the story that he was put to bed one hour before a live transmission but made it back to the studio to conduct a stunning interview with Lord George- Brown. He was the El Cid of ITV - never a BBC man - strapped on his horse and passing into legend. He could be rude, he was occasionally cruel, but we all went back for more because Dr Jekyll was never more than three hours' sleep away. A marvellously descriptive writer, dogged interviewer and a frequent giggler, this geologist turned broadcaster was as multi-layered as the Pennines he adored.