THE average Coronation Street viewer will never have heard of him. And there’s no reason why they should.
But as ITV chief executive, Charles Allen has been a major figure in the world of television and beyond.
He was also a key player in bringing the 2002 Commonwealth Games to Manchester and part of the team that won London the 2012 Olympics.
Today is his last day in the top ITV job.
I spoke to Charles yesterday, the day after he had entertained Tony Blair on Coronation Street before leaving with a very special Weatherfield gift – as you can read here in today’s Pg 9 MEN feature.
Due to the usual space constraints, parts of our conversation had to be left out – including how he went in a short space of time from meeting The Queen to visiting the set of the film of the same name, starring Helen Mirren.
“They were filming and then Helen winked and smiled. Honestly, it was just like the Queen,” recalled Charles.
He also clarified the now very old story about John Cleese’s abusive telegram when he and former Granada boss Gerry Robinson took over new posts at the company in the early nineties.
“The truth of that is that it was never for me,” insisted Charles. “I had been appointed the chief executive of Granada Television and Gerry Robinson was the chief executive of the Granada group.
“And this message came in from John Cleese that said, ‘**** off you upstart caterer.’ And somebody did say, ‘Was it for me?’ I said, ‘No, no, that’s definitely for Gerry. He’s the caterer.’ So it never actually came to me.
“Gerry and John later had lunch together and that was how it was resolved.”
As for Charles, he says he hasn’t decided yet what he’s going to do next. He’s looking for some big new challenges.Somehow, I don’t think it’ll be too long before he finds them.