The Guv’nor writes…
(Continued from yesterday…)
I was ushered in to a very long room with a very long table to match, flanked by portraits of long gone ambassadors.
At the head of the table there were four men. I joined them. One of them, a little man, was obviously in charge.
He had a large file in front of him. He kept tapping it.
There were no introductions, no courtesies. He simply began to speak with with a smooth but aggressive authority.
The F.O, he said, had a lot of protectorates and places they wanted to get rid of, The were no longer of any use and they were expensive to keep. Gibraltar was one such place and should go back to Spain.
My script, it seemed, had caused the F.O some consternation. My host had read the outline for the series and viewed it as something of a wasp at his delicate – and controversial – diplomatic picnic.
They didn’t want my series made as it would connect Gibraltar with the UK both in the popular imagination nationally and internationally. “If you go ahead with this,” my man from the F.O added, “you can expect no help from the Foreign Office.”
Was there an implied threat in that?
Gerry Glaister thought it would be very difficult. The BBC did not want another fight with a government department.
I went to see Sir Joshua.
“That little man,” he said, levelly, “talks to me like I’m a boy. I’m The First Minister of Gibraltar.”
Anybody who treated Sir Joshua as a boy, was not clever. In the end, he won and the F.O lost . The Rock is still British. It will never go to Spain.
My series? Well, to Sir Joshua I apologise. It was never made. My only excuse sir, in that diplomatic wrangle I was a little lost. I should have stuck to my guns. I should have been as strong as The Rock of Gibraltar.