HP Voices is a collective 'online journal' consisting of all our members' blogs. (As part of full membership of the History Project, every member has the opportunity exclusive use of their own blog to write articles, essays, notes on research, or other content they may wish to share.) Please note that all opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the British Entertainment History Project.
A brief Memoir from a member of the sound department at MGM Borehamwood which sheds a little light on the earlier part of the studio's history.
RED LIGHT AND BELL, by Leslie J Wheeler Hon FRPS., FBKSTS.
[A memoir, focusing on MGM Studios at Borehamwood, re-keyed with minor corrections from a faded typescript. DS]
In the recent grip of winter and with the snow many inches deep on the ground, it has been pleasant for us oldies to reminisce – particularly with the aid of the flames and coals of a (practical) fire provided by the modern equivalent of the Gas, Light and Coke Company! And to gaze intently into those red coals and conjure up so many memories of those pictures in the fire.
The Production of a BBC Television play, 1950s style.
Producer Director and Historian
Many in our industries, particularly in film and television, will be sad to learn of the recent death of Producer/ Director Roy Fowler. He died at home in London at 92. Roy was a remarkable man.
Today is the 50th anniversary of the UK cinema release of the great British director John Schlesinger's movie "Midnight Cowboy". It starred Dustin Hoffman as "Ratso" Rizzo and Jon Voight as Joe Buck. The film won three Academy Awards - Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director.
The British Entertainment History Project has an 147 minute interview with John Schlesinger recorded on the 30 th March 1994. It covers his early career at the BBC in the 1950s. He talks eloquently about directing such classics as "A Kind of Loving" "Billy Liar" "Far From The Madding Crowd" and "Marathon Man". You can find the interview at
In this excerpt he talks to interviewer Norman Swallow about the making of "Midnight Cowboy"
The British Entertainment History Project is deeply saddened to hear of the death of the great Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli. Our collection of interviews includes one recorded in 1987 with Ossie Morris who worked with him as Director of Photography on the movie "The Taming of the Shrew" starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. In this transcript of the interview Ossie talks about working with Zeffirelli on the movie. You can listen to the complete six hours and forty three minute interview at: https://historyproject.org.uk/interview/oswald-ossie-morris . The section about working with Zeffirelli is on Side 8.
Let’s talk about Zeffirelli.
If you watch British films made between 1920 and 1959, it is almost certain that you have seen the work of Jack Cox. From Hitchcock thrillers like Blackmail (1929), via wartime factory workers in Millions Like Us (1943), Margaret Lockwood and James Mason raising temperatures in The Wicked Lady (1946), to laughs with Norman Wisdom and Honor Blackman in The Square Peg (1959), Cox photographed many major movies. My particular research interest is in the work of Maurice Elvey, and in the 1920s Cox advertised himself as ‘Maurice Elvey’s cameraman’. While many of their films are now lost, their partnership survives in the Sherlock Holmes mystery The Sign of Four (1923) and the magnificent Hindle Wakes (1926).
Interviews digitised January / February 2019
Ossie Morris # 9 9 sides of tape
Oswald ('Ossie') Morris (1915-2014 ), cinematographer, OBE, BSC, was born on 22 November in Middlesex. One of the most significant cameramen of the post-war era, Ossie began his career working as a projectionist during his school holidays. In 1932, he left school to become an apprentice in the film industry, with his first job as a clapperboy on After Dark(1932) at Associated Sound Film Industries, Wembley. During WWII, Morris served as a bomber pilot for the Royal Air Force, and returned to the film industry when the war ended. After some experience as an operator at Pinewood in 1946, he was given his first film to light in 1950.
In a recent interview with cinematographer, Philip Bonham-Carter, he reveals his passion for capturing situations when they happen. It doesn’t matter if the lighting isn’t good or even if there is no light at all –the importance of capturing these moments, that can never be repeated, governs his approach. This is how the ground-breaking BBC documentary series, ‘The Family’ was filmed in 1974. An approach that bought him quite a lot of criticism, at the time, from his fellow cameramen at the BBC who felt he was ‘letting the side down’, by not carefully lighting the interiors. This technique was very different from that used by Richard Cawston when he produced the documentary, ‘This is the BBC’ in 1959. While you are meant to be watching events as they happen over a 24 hour period at the BBC, every scene is obviously clearly crafted with probably two or three takes for each scene.
In an interview conducted by Mike Dick, Philip Gilbert, Head of BBC Events Department in 1997, explains the difficult decisions that had to be taken the week after the sad news that Diana , Princess of Wales, had died in a car crash on 31stAugust in 1997. Philip was also the BBC person who liaised with Buckingham Palace but no information, for a number of days after her death, was forthcoming about the funeral arrangements – Philip and his team had to second guess what arrangements were being made or would be made for Diana’s funeral. You can find out what happened behind the scenes that week and the whole of Philip Gilbert's career by listening to the full interview with him on the BEHP website.
Interview number. 733
Edna Owen or Miss Owen as she was always known by when at ITN. Virtually employee number one Edna Owen was there from the very first night of ITN when ITV started in September 1955. An interesting insight into those very early days. She recounts the day when the training days were over and the group of employees would be split in to two shifts. Potentially to not meet anymore. A formidable manager who made sure all were doing their best.