“The late 1950s was such a great period of change – within the BBC and in other institutions. There was the old guard who had been in the war and rightly, or understandably, felt that they should still be in charge. Then you had the young iconoclasts coming up who wanted to change things. The interesting thing about Hector Madden, I think, is that he straddles the two.
In this series, Hector gets pretty dark. He’s now a superstar – news anchormen were hugely famous in those days; they were in everyone’s homes and everyone watched them because there was no other channel to watch. And the 50s really saw the start of the paparazzi and celebrity culture, so that’s one of the big themes in the new series.
Partly what interests me about Hector is that he reminds me of my late father – who was very much a product of the 1950s – and whom I miss very much. And certainly I feel nostalgic for the clothes and the music.
There’s also Hector’s political incorrectness. I think we love to see people smoking and drinking and being sexist and all the things that no one’s allowed to be now. I think it would have been bloody awful at the time – and particularly bloody awful for women – but it’s great to watch in hindsight, a little secret thrill.”