Wilson began as a trainee news reporter for ITN in 1971 after graduating from Jesus College Cambridge with a degree in English. He later went onto to work for Granada Television in Manchester where he presented Granada's culture, music and events programme, So It Goes In 1976 after witnessing The Sex Pistols seminal show at the Manchester Free Trade Hall. He was the first to give TV exposure to the then-revolutionary British strand of punk rock. He also presented for the current affairs magazine World in Action. Through the 1970s /1980s he worked with Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan as one of the main hosts on Granada Reports. The influential Other Side of Midnight which covered the music, literature and the arts was hosted by Wilson in 1989. Its Sunday night slot made it one of the UK's first experiments in late night weekend TV.
He chaired the first UK open-ended debate show After Dark, where loose discussions between intellectuals and celebrities of various descriptions occurred. Wilson co-anchored the BBC's coverage of the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concertat Wembley Stadium in 1992. In the 1990's he hosted the short-lived TV quiz shows Topranko! and MTV Europe's Remote Control. Tony Wilson also presented the themed quiz, Masterfan for MUTV. A great privilege for himself being a long time Manchester United fan. More recently, he also presented radio shows on XFM Manchester and BBC Manchester Radio.In 2006 he became the regional political presenter for the BBC's The Politics Show. His final music TV show was filmed in December 2006 for Manchester's Channel M
He was the Founder and manager of The Haçienda nightclub in 1982, perhaps the most famous club in the world in the late 1980s and early 1990s and one of the five co-founders of Factory Records in the late 1970s, the label behind Joy Division, New Order and The Happy Mondays. He was a music mogul behind some of Manchester's most successful bands such as A Certain Ratio and The Durutti Column. It became the heart of the "Madchester" scene, playing host to bands such as New Order, The Smiths, and Oasis. Even Madonna played her first UK gig at the Whitworth Street club in February 1983. However despite the enormous popularity and cultural significance of both Factory Records and the Haçienda he never made a fortune. Both Factory Records and the Haçienda came closed in the late 1990s.
Wilson was also known as Mr. Manchester, dubbed as such for his work in promoting the greater cultural status of Manchester throughout his career. The semi-fictional story of the club, the music and Wilson's life was documented in Michael Winterbottom's 2002 film, 24 Hour Party People.
His character was played by comedian Steve Coogan to critical acclaim. After the film was produced, Wilson wrote a novelisation based on the screenplay. He played a minor role as himself in the 2005 film, A Cock and Bull Story, in which his character Wilson also co-produced the 2007 Ian Curtis biopic, Control. He died a few months before its release.
Wilson was a partner in the annual "In The City" music festival and industry conference, and also F4 Records. F4 released music by Manchester based bands RaW-T and The Young Offenders Institute.
Wilson later went on to set up the annual Manchester music conference, In The City. It was not just in the music world that he made his mark - he was also a key player in local politics and supported a campaign for a regional assembly for the North West.
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