Glen Michael

Forename/s: 
Cecil
Family name: 
Buckland
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Glen Michael

 

[Start of Recording]

 

[00:00]

R: What's the intro? How are you going to do it?

I: I'll do a quick ID. Right, interview with Glen Michael. Interviewer, John Frame. Date of interview - 20 May 2017. Right then! Glad you could get along. How did you first get into Scottish Television?

R: I think you would have said by pure chance! And just by luck, in a way, because I came to Scotland in 1952 and STV started in 1957 and I can remember arriving in Paisley to do a show with Jack Milroy and I originally came to work with Jack Milroy for five weeks only as an experiment to see whether we got on well or not and I was acting as a feed to him and became a comedy feed, in other words a character, too, and so I did a lot of comedy with him and basically, 1952, I remember a little while later on when we toured round and we got on very well together and I enjoyed Jack because he was a wonderful comic and he was a wonderful guy! And I remember being in Dundee at Dundee Palace and looking up the road one day out of the theatre and I saw this removal van and on top of the removal van was three legs and a camera on top and it was held by ropes on top of the van and it said on the side of the van, "Scottish Television". And I thought, 'Who is it? It must be a company that's coming in and selling things around!' And that was the first indication that I knew about Scottish Television! But over the years as we toured with Jack, we were together for thirteen years and during that tour I was approached by the powers that be in STV and invited to do commercials. And I started to do commercials and I did a commercial for carpets, for refrigerators and Jack Radcliffe was actually doing them at the same time and one or two other people but it was a kind of one-off thing and from that I got in to STV.

I worked with Jack for thirteen years and we were finished up at the Alhambra Theatre in Glasgow, which was a beautiful theatre, with Five Past Eight, we'd done all the Five Past Eight shows and so forth and I always remember, I think it was 1965, and Jack, we did a wonderful show one night on Saturday night and he said something that he'd never, I'd never heard him say before, he said, "Would you come in the Dressing Room and have a talk with me, Glen?" I thought, 'That's a strange thing to say!' So I did after the show. I cleaned off and went in. And I said, "What's the trouble? Is there something I've done that you don't like?!" And he said, "No, I'm thinking of going to London to try my luck down south." He said, "I've had one or two offers." He'd been touring with a show down there for years before. And he said, "So, I'm going south but I'm sorry, it doesn't include you." I said, "No, that's alright. That's fine. Fair enough." He said, "I'll try and find somebody that maybe they can help." I said, "Oh, don't worry about me! I'll find a job alright!"

[04:04]

So that was me out of a job basically speaking. And a writer called Jimmy McNairn, who you probably remember, John, in the News Department. He used to write certain material for Jack, along with his partner, and he came to me and said, "Look, STV are looking for somebody to present a cartoon show. They don't know what to do with it but it's a bundle of cartoons and they don't know what to do! They need somebody, would you be interested?" I said, "Oh yes!" They said, "There's not much money in it, I don't think!" I said, "No, no, that's alright!" So I came along to STV after a while and I went to the Continuity Studio which was like a telephone box, basically speaking! And you spoke in to the camera and you sat on your own and I started to tell the story of Sam, the pig, which I'd got at home and I thought this was ideal for children because this was who the programme was going to be aimed at, I thought, and I got three quarters of the way through the story and then I forgot what I was talking about! So, I thought, 'What am I going to do?' And I kept going and I just laughed and made up a bit of story towards the end of it and finished it off and said, "Well, there you are!" And that closed it down. And I walked out and the engineer was, there was only one engineer that was there in the ante room checking on it and he looked at me and gave me a funny look and I said, "That wasn't very good, was it?" He said, "No!" So I went next door to the top spot, which was the pub, next to the Theatre Royal which is where STV originally was and I had a gin and tonic and I'm sitting there and about ten minutes later Jimmy came in and said, "I've been looking for you! Where've you been?!" So I said, "That was disastrous!" So he said, "Well, the Programme Controller wants to see you, Francis Essex!" I said, "Oh!" So, I went in and I came up the stairs and there was Francis Essex sitting behind a big desk and I sat down and I said, "I'm sorry! I blew it! I didn't understand what I was talking about and went right off the deep end and I just adlibbed and laughed and that and," I said, "that was it! I apologise! And he said, "Well, that's the bit I liked!" And I said, "What?!" He said, "No, you didn't panic. You told a story and I didn't know whether you'd finished or whether you'd started or anything! That's great!" So, he said, "Would you like to do the programme?" So, I thought, 'Well!' He said, "How much money would you like?" And I thought, 'Oooh!' so I mentioned a figure and he said, "Is that all you want!" And I thought, 'I don't believe it! I don't believe it!' Anyhow, he came out and David Johnson was the Head of News at that particular time and he also was Deputy Controller and he said to David, "I've got Glen here, he's going to do the programme so we'll put him on a long-term contract." Well a long-term contract was for one year and that one year turned in to twenty-seven! That was the start of Cavalcade! Of Cartoon Cavalcade! So that was the beginning. That's how we got in to STV.

And, as we were in STV, of course, Cartoon Cavalcade was the main thing I did but there were other things as well. We did plays and we did situations and we did comedies, I mean we did Over to Una with Una McLean. We did Francie and Josie, which was the big, big hit of the day. We did thirty-two episodes which, in those days they used to wipe the tapes because they had no, they hadn't got enough tapes so they used to wipe the tapes and put new material on and, of course, they wiped thirty-two episodes of Francie and Josie, which I lost, which is a tragedy because they were brilliant! Every one was absolutely brilliant! Very, very funny! Lovely stories and a lot of people worked in them. Clem Ashby always worked in them.

I: He was one of the Analysisers, wasn't he?

R: Clem, of course, was one of STV's Analysisers and had worked with Rikki beforehand in the theatre and he was a straight actor but he had a lovely voice, a lovely voice. As did Kate Matheson who was at STV as a continuity announcer who later married Rikki and became his second wife. Ethel, his first wife, was in every one of the Francie and Josie series, along with me and Jack Milroy, of course and that was really the Repertory Company so we, people used to say "You weren't in Francie and Josie!" But I was in every episode but I was always a character. I was either an Arab or an old man or a drunkard or somebody with beards on and you never recognised me at all. I mean I also did a play with Rikki Fulton called The Grand Tour where I played a Serbian General where I had the full make-up and you'd never recognise me at all with beards and God knows what and I used to just make up a language [interviewee gives lengthy example!] and nobody had any idea what I was talking about! Even I didn't know what I was talking about but it worked, you know, so we did those!

[10:13]

And then we also did, of course, the Jimmy Logan Annan theatre, the Jimmy Logan from the Empress Theatre, which he owned. Sad to say, he didn't do very well out of it and then I did a thing for STV called The Silver Soldier when I played a Lieutenant Colonel. I remember a write-up I got was, "I think Glen Michael should stick to Cartoon Cavalcade!"

I: Oh my God!

R: And that was absolutely right because it wasn't very good! But that was one of the things I didn't like. But I actually did The Tower, which was another one, with Liam Hood as one of the Executives at STV and he was Producer of that and that was very good, it was all about a television station a way out in the country but that was very good. But there were lots of different things that we did in those days that branched out from Cartoon Cavalcade! But Cavalcade was the big show that we had an audience of, well, one of the proudest things was that the Controller came to me one day and said, "Do you realise that you, that your viewing figures for the European Cup Final, you were up against the European Cup Final and you beat the European Cup Final!" So we had a, it was really a family show and not children. It was designed for children but in those days, of course, everybody had a television set in the corner of the room and everybody, the whole family came, Granny and Granddad and Mother, Father, the kids, all sat in front of this one television. I think that was the secret. It was a family show and everybody was in the one room to look at it. Nowadays, of course, you've got it on your wristwatch, away on your feet, or in your ear or any way you like so I mean that's the reason, I think, a lot of things have disappeared.

I: When you were doing the scripts for Cartoon Cavalcade, Glen, were you only conscious of the children or were you, as you were just saying, were you expanding your mind to cope with families when you were doing your scripts and buying your programme?

R: Yes, I was very conscious of the family. I was very conscious of Mother and Father saying, "Oh, that shouldn't be in the programme because Jimmy or Sally is watching it!", you know, so John Fletcher, who was the Editor for all those years with me - many, many years - we used to, if there was something in any of the cartoons that we didn't like, we used to have a character called Pepé le Pew and Pepé le Pew was a French skunk who was a bit risqué in some of the things he used to do! He was always chasing the ladies and so I actually finished up by just scrubbing it because we used to just take bits out because it was all references that I thought, 'a family shouldn't be watching this!' For children, you know, so we did watch very, very carefully what we, the content of the show but we didn't play it down! We did a lot of things that we shouldn't do. We had a lot of letters. Sometimes, I think the average was two thousand letters a week and a lot of contact and, of course, we did the Road Show. We went out and did Road Shows all round Scotland - different venues, theatres or maybe schools or whatever and that was very, very popular!

I: Oh yeah! Well, it's good that they, I'm just thinking particularly about the actual influence of the programme and yourself on the young folk. Did you ever use your influence to start campaigns for them to stop something or start something?

R: Yeah, we did the one, a no-smoking thing which, we did a campaign where we had Paladin the Lamp, of course, and Totty the Robot and Rusti the Dog so we did a campaign of "Don't smoke!" I used to wear a sweater with 'I don't smoke!' written on it and of course, Paladin never lit himself up so he didn't smoke so we did campaigns like that and we did a lot of things with Yorkhill Hospital and so forth so we did a lot of spin-offs to try and do a little bit of good, you know.

I: Yes, so I suppose you were taking Scottish Television out to the people in that way as well?

R: That's right. That's right. In fact, Larry Marshall, who did The One o' Clock Gang for many, many years and very successfully, he took over the fact of booking Cavalcade, along with anything else, around and he would say, "I've got a date for you to go so-and-so, would you go and do it?" So it was a kind of Public Relations thing as well, which helped a great deal, you know.

[15:33]

I: As television, STV was growing, did you find that your programme was growing in terms of size of what you could do, what you couldn't do? I mean, it didn't end up being studio-based only, did it?

R: No, we went out and did stories. Little mini stories along with it and that was quite successful. We did all sorts of things like going to the Festival, the Glasgow Festival. It was, what did they used to call it? I forget. The big festival happening in Glasgow and we went there and did shows and we went down to try and meet the people and we found an awful lot, I mean I was so lucky with the different Directors on the programme, of which you were one! You were one of them! Very successful. And Geoff Rimmer was another very successful, he was a good man from a technical point of view. He knew with Chroma Key and stuff like that. I mean, I think he was the first, when I did it with him I could walk in to a cartoon which amazed me in those days! It was like magic to me! And people used to say, "How did you get into that cartoon?!" It was those sorts of things that the kids liked, you know!

I: You don't think for one second that the kids at home watching were enjoying the magic because you find it magic? It translates.

R: Yes.

I: It also transmits to the people that you're enjoying yourself. You believe in what you're doing. That makes all the difference!

R: I genuinely, every time I did the show I genuinely enjoyed doing the show. I didn't, I've never believed in trying to put an act on in front of the camera because I think you're wasting your time to do that, for good, bad or indifferent. If people like you, they like you. I mean one of the personalities that they used to have in STV I thought, in my day, were people like John Toye who was an absolutely wonderful Presenter! He had a wonderful charisma about him. Everybody didn't like him personally but that was one of those things that people didn't, but as a performer in front of the camera, beautiful! Absolutely beautiful. Clem Ashby again was a very good voice over for all the different things that he did and he was very, very popular so there were identifiable people in STV in my early days which, Bill Tennent was another who did a tremendous amount of work on Here and Now, another programme. John Grierson with his Wonderful World programmes. There was such a variety of things in the early days of STV which were magical, I thought!

I: Yeah. You didn't suffer, your programme didn't suffer from being Glasgow? It was Scotland because you seem to be absorbed and accepted by the whole country.

R: That's right.

I: That wasn't an effort? You just did that? That was exactly how you feeled?

R: I think it wasn't parochial. It wasn't, originally we, people laughed at me because I wanted to introduce this lamp. Paladin the Lamp. People said, "Well, what are you going to do with a lamp?!" And I thought, 'Well, why not have an old oil lamp?' And I'd thought about actually Aladdin's Lamp, that was the idea and it feels, and still do today, they meet me and they say, "The talking lamp!" But it wasn't the talking lamp, it was the genie inside it that I wanted to get, and I never got round to saying that that's what it was! And I let people think that it was a talking lamp but my idea was that inside that lamp was a person and he started off as a Highlander and I used to talk like that into the thing and you know what I mean?! I thought, 'This is not right!' So, I gradually worked it out that no, it shouldn't be that, it should be a Glasgow, somebody identifiable so it became a wee fellow who talked like [unintelligible Glaswegian!] and so I had visions of this wee fellow inside the lamp doing all the talking and being cheeky to me and that seemed to catch on!

I: Oh yeah, it certainly did! (How are we doing for time? Have we still got plenty of this? Right, OK)

[20:25]

Thinking about STV in general, did you feel happy and at ease in everything you were doing within STV in terms of you didn't have to run up hill pushing spaghetti to get things done? You managed to get things done alright in the programme?

R: I found that everybody was very professional, I thought, in those days! Everybody seemed to know their job. If you wanted anything, you got it alright. There were no problems at all. I found the Directors and, I think, the staff, I mean there was one chap, a Lighting Director called Hugh, Hugh McLeod?

I: McLauchlan, yes.

R: Hugh McLauchlan, on the show and he nodded to me a few times and I didn't say very much over years and it wasn't until, oh, I think it must have been four or five years and I suddenly thought, 'I think I know this guy!' And it turned out that he was a Variety Actor originally who I'd worked with in the theatre under an Act called Babette and Raoul where he and his wife, he used to play an instrument and half naked, he would be on stage as an Indian and she was a snake and she used to wind herself, do an acrobatic act with him, wonderful act! And I'd actually been in the theatre with him and I never, he never told me and I didn't know anything about it! But he became a Lighting Director and a very good one, too! But there were a lot of people like that. Liz Moriarty was one who died recently unfortunately and she was very helpful. I remember one day saying, " I haven't got a typewriter to type the show!" I happened to see her in the corridor and she said, "Have you not got your typewriter?" I said, "No!" She said, "Hang on!" and she went away and came back with the biggest typewriter you ever saw in your life! An office one. And she banged it down and I said, "Where did you get that?!" She said, "Don't ask questions!" and away she went so everybody was always very helpful!

I: Oh yes!

R: And very professional, I must say. Very, very professional! It was a very professional station.

I: Oh yeah. It ran for twenty-seven years. It's a silly question - were you sad when it had to come to an end?

R: It didn't seem like twenty-seven years! It seemed as if I'd been on for a little while but twenty-seven years went like a flash! I can never believe it! And if people, it was a family show that went out but it was also a family show that we made because everybody on the show was so nice. I remember a Director saying to me (I can't remember who it was now), "We've got new neck mikes, would you like to survey the boom?" And I said, "No, no thank you." And he said, "Why not?!" And I said, "I don't want that. I don't want the boom!" For some unknown reason the boom seemed to have a feeling that I can move anywhere, do anything, this thing round my neck curtailed me and, funny, I wouldn't go forward! I think it's a bad thing, you know, but I had this idea that the boom mike, and we'd got Harry, the boom, who was always on it and he followed you absolutely and the sound was absolutely wonderful in those days. I don't think the sound today, is a bit of a problem. When I watch programmes, some of the things, I don't know whether, I don't think it's my hearing but I can't hear programmes, meticulous things, you know! I mean in those days - spot on! Very, very good!

I: In these days there's more audio compression and stuff that kind of gets away from that. [24:26] Talking about Harry, the boom, and him following you around, you do radio work as well, don't you?

R: Yes, I was six and a half years on Radio Clyde and two and a half years with Saga and BBC, I used to do BBC in the sixties, going in to the seventies, I used to do radio shows for the BBC and so on and I did West Sound down at Ayr. I opened up the station there so we did a lot of variety of things like that.

I: Yes. I was wondering, the reason why I asked the question was, you are talking to your audience on radio and the only gateway is the mike.

R: That's right.

I: Were you feeling the same way with the mike?

R: Yes, that's true! That's true! I remember I did the opening night of, I used to do Thursday nights on Radio Clyde, six and a half years, as I said, and I remember the first night I did it. That was at ten o' clock till twelve and the write-ups the following day said, I wonder who this fellow with the mid-Atlantic voice was? I couldn't understand where they got mid-Atlantic voice! The guy who introduced me, he was so nervous, the Newsreader, he said, "And now over to Glen Campbell." And I said, for something to say, "I wish I had his money!" But they were very, very happy days! Very good!

I: Oh yes.

R: But we used to integrate with radio and we mentioned STV and so forth and so on but STV were very, The One o' Clock Gang, some of the shows were very, I mean I did the Oldtime Chairman, I was called in to do a bit of that. I used to pop in to do something with Larry Marshall. Larry Marshall's wonderful, every day a change of programme and, think about it, wonderful stuff in those days, really, and very, very popular! I often wish we could do a programme today of, and actually, just do a programme as we did it then and put it on today and I think people would enjoy it, you know.

I: I think because technology's so much more advanced today, it would probably be slightly less difficult than it was in the old days naturally.

R: Yes, that's right.

I2: Let's take a break.

I: OK. I was always doing the wrong...who the hell gives you rewards for quizzes?!

R: You did very well!

I: I was sorry to resign. Or retire, rather. Simply because they wanted to give me a role as a...

R: I've got a big photograph on the wall in my room at home - a huge one like that - on which you're sitting at a table with about twenty others when we won in 1975 and we won the best ITV programme for that year and they're all sitting there and it's great to see you sitting there now!

I: Oh boy! To be quite honest with you, we could talk for about another ten hours about that.

R: Oh, easy!

I: What I'm, I'm trying to think is there something that we haven't really covered that you would like to talk about?

R: I don't think so. No.

I: You've covered very well your involvement...

R: I've tried to involve people as we've gone along.

I: That's right. And the people you worked with and STV.

R: Something more about STV, shouldn't it?

I: I think, remember STV when they did the shift to the new building and so on, when all that was going on. It didn't actually affect your show, did it?

I2: Can I ask you to lean back?

R: Sorry, what am I doing? Sorry! Are you recording now?

I2: We're recording now.

R: Oh, I see. [28:51] Well, when we did Francie and Josie recordings, of course we were at the Theatre Royal, the old Theatre Royal, so we used to do the, with a live audience all the time. That's the thing today that drives me up the wall is when you hear this clapping going on and laughter for no reason and you wonder what they're laughing at where in those days you had an audience and if you didn't make them laugh, well, that was it! Tough luck, you know, but the audience were there and I remember doing Francie and Josie, episodes of that, in the Theatre Royal and of course we used to use the stage. We used to have a, an iron curtain used to come down and still, they kept the iron curtain in and I remember we had a recording, we were doing a recording and we had a break, we did a bit of the show and then we stopped the show for some reason, I think a technicality, and they dropped the iron curtain in just to separate the audience from the performers, what was going on on stage while they were sorting it out and then they couldn't get the iron curtain back up again! It was stuck and we never finished that episode! Sent the audience away! We couldn't do anything about it, you know! That was the last of the Theatre Royal but they were very, very happy days in the Theatre Royal and recording. You had a wonderful, if you were recording a show you had a feeling that you were in the theatre doing the show, which was wonderful, you know. But then, of course, the new studios arrived and lovely new studios, yes, they were excellent. Very grand. And the transition was very good. And, of course, I went through five Controllers at the time I was in the, the best one to me, of course, was Francis Essex. He knew everything about television and he could control people and he was very conscious of the way he treated people. He could be strong with people that needed it and lenient with people that didn't need it. He was very, very good. Then David Johnston and then we had, well, I forget the other ones, there was the one who went to London, I can't remember his name.

I: David Bell?

R: No, David Bell was, of course, a cameraman. Originally I did the Stanley Baxter shows with him and David Bell and Bruce McClure, these were all characters who worked for STV. I'm trying to think who the Controller was that went to the Think-Tank in London and I can't remember his name. Do you remember the name of the guy who went to London, the Think-Tank?

I: That wasn't Tony Firth, was it?

R: Tony Firth! Tony Firth, that's right. I remember him, yes, but they were all, David Johnston was a good Controller. David Johnston called me up. I was having a, doing my editing session with John Fletcher, who was a wonderful Editor over the years and I suddenly got a call, "Would I go up and see David Johnston?" I went up and I said, "What is it?" And he said, "How would you feel about going behind the scenes?" And I said, "What?" And he said, "Well, do you not feel you've had enough Cavalcade?" And I said, "I'm going to get the sack here!" So I said, "No, no, no! That's fine! No, it's fine! It's fine!" "Oh," he said, "we're quite happy for you to get, I thought perhaps you'd like to come behind the scenes and produce and so forth." I said, "Oh, no, no!" and I went downstairs. It's the biggest mistake I've ever made in my life, I think because looking back on it now, I would love to have gone and produced programmes and, stupidly, I was in love with Cavalcade unfortunately.

I: I certainly would concur with Mr Johnston's choice. What are you working on on your roadshows and stuff? You certainly have control of everything without appearing to do so. It's the best talent of a Producer.

R: Yeah, that's right. I don't think you should do anything but you do something!

I: Exactly! That's right.

R: But you shouldn't be noticed that you're doing it!

I: Absolutely!

R: Yeah, you're absolutely right, John, yeah.

I: If I can be personal for a second, my motto as a Director is [Latin phrase] - 'True Art is to Consume Art'.

R: Wonderful! And humour!

I: Oh, gosh!

R: You do everything with humour. I think these people that lose their head and so forth, I couldn't take that. I think cajoling and humour is a wonderful thing, a way of getting the best out of people.

[33:56]

I: As far as Programme Controllers go, you seem to have had a wonderful passage with each one of them, quietly but firmly approving of what you're doing and let you get on with it.

R: Yeah, I kind of just miss them in a way, I suppose, because they were always quite nice with me. I mean, I remember Macdonald coming to me and then saying, "Your ratings, you've got 89% of viewing figures" and I said, "Oh, I'm sorry about that! I'll improve that." He said, "Do you know how good that is?!" And he walked away and I don't think I saw him for months after that, you know! But a bit naive, I suppose, in those days, you know but ratings wise, I was always quite keen to look at ratings and I was always quite pleased to see that we held our own in most because we were put opposite things like the main picture on BBC on a Sunday afternoon or something like that, which took a lot of viewers away but it did very well to hold on to it. We started off, we used to go, I think somebody put us on to ten o' clock in the morning once and I got letters from a Minister, saying, "Would you please ask them to transfer your show because they won't come to Sunday School while your show's on!" And he was blaming me for stopping children getting a good education in religion, you know! So we had problems but we finished up, I think, we started off at five o' clock at night, just before the News, and that was a terrific slot, you know, but there were good slots. We was around from night time, finished up in the afternoon, Sunday afternoon, which was very nice.

I: Oh yes, and your audience always went with you, which is the important thing.

R: I think so, yeah. I still see them today and they are all grey-haired, little, old people and they say, "I used to watch you when I was five!" which makes me feel terrible because I'm still nineteen, well, turn it the other way round, ninety-one!

I: Yes. No, I think nineteen's better! I think the whole point is that you've still got your, not childish, childlike!

R: I still have! I still have!

I: It's wonderful to see.

R: I still talk to children in the street and so forth and they talk to, the mothers and fathers talk to me and introduce me to the children as if they should be continuing, you know, and I look at them and say, "I wish I was doing that today!" Terrible, isn't it?!

I: It's terrible not doing it. It's one of those things that, things that moved on!

R: That's right. Things move on.

I: As far as that's concerned, there are, I'm sure there are millions of stories!

R: People were certainly quite keen to get on the show actually. I had Gyles Brandreth wrote me a letter way, way back when he was a young man, begging to come on the show and I've never reminded him of it but one of these days I might! And I had people like that. We had Midge Ure, who was in a group. I forget the name of the group now but he had hair and everything as a young man and he came on the show. We had lots of different personalities who came on. We had Richard Park, who went to London, he did very well. He's still going today, I believe, as a Producer and so forth. And people were keen to get on the show if they could, you know. We had different guests - goalkeepers, footballers, I remember Mark Miller from the, played for Aberdeen and Alex Fergusson was the Manager of Aberdeen Football Club at the time and I mentioned to him about, we did a, I don't know whether you did it on the, wiggling our ears! Wiggling ears show! You had to wiggle your ears. And he sent down Miller, who had a head of hair, who wasn't very pleased to come all the way down to Aberdeen to go in front of a camera to waggle his ears! I've never reminded him about that and now he's got no hair at all! But these were people that, you know, yeah, Lord Forsythe was another one that complimented me on the show and came on to it, I remember. I remember the Home Secretary for Scotland (I can't remember his name now) walking through the studios and saying, "Do you mind if I get a photograph with Paladin!" It was people that had odd things, it was very, very enjoyable to do. It was wonderful to do! As you well know because you did many shows! Many shows!

I: I was really, probably, very, very slightly less sorry than you are, you know, about it coming to an end! It was one of those things called progress.

R: You've got to move on all the time, yeah.

I: I think the important thing is, I agree, I've done lots and lots of things, but that was the one thing that I always found was not a trial, was not work! I was guilty about taking the money for doing something that was really enjoyable and, I think, without exception all of the crew say the same thing. How do you feel about it? Was it work?

R: No. No, it wasn't. I remember coming up, because we lived in Ayr most of our life, our working life, and I remember coming up to do a recording and coming in to the studios and I thought, 'Ahh, I haven't brought Totty the Robot! It should be on the desk for recording!' And I thought, 'What am I going to do?!' And I phoned my wife and she said, "I'll get a taxi." And she got a taxi and put the robot in the taxi and the taxi came all the way up from Ayr and it cost me twenty-seven pounds for the taxi! And the taxi driver got out and he said, "I've taken some fares in my life but I've never taken a robot!" So these are the things you remember, you know!

I: Oh yeah! That's wonderful!

R: Very funny! Great stuff! And, of course, my children appeared on the show and my grandchildren appeared like when we did Christmas shows, anything like that. I didn't like to get strange kids so I would get the family on and it worked very well, you know, yeah, great!

I: Aye, no problem at all. [41:01] Right, is there anything else that you want to talk about?

R: No, I don't think so. Probably to thank you for all the good work and how pleasant you were.

I: It wasn't work. It certainly wasn't work!

R: And I'd like to thank everybody at STV because it was twenty-seven years of great pleasure!

I: There was certainly never any doubt in anyone's mind, if they were scheduled to do cartoons then good! Now we've got three questions which STV have asked for and these ones will be probably going out on a compilation programme on the 60th Birthday. It's three separate questions. Do you want to do your...?

I2: Yes, I'm doing this rather bizarre thing and everyone says, "Why?!" Rather than stick this in your face, I'm going to ask you to do this!

R: What do I do?!

I2: It's quite close. Just in front of your face.

I: Hold it in front of your face.

R: What?

I: Shall I hold it?

I2: Yeah, if you like!

R: What do I do?

I: Right, what I do is, in fact, it's very anti-social but, goodbye!

I2: Lovely! Now the other way. Perfect. Thank you very much!

R: What does that do?!

I: It's his little game! It's nothing to do with this!

I2: Yes, it's just one of those things! No, it's actually telling the camera what's white.

R: Oh very good!

I2: If you remember, saves me doing a white-out.

R: I'm a terrible man with technology! I've no idea of technology. I've got a laptop and all these things for Christmas given to me and oh, what a mess I get in to! I press all the wrong buttons! I don't know, I'm useless! I'm absolutely useless!

I: I've been doing it for so many years and now I'm dead scared of actually opening it up in case somebody's going to hack in to me or I'm going to get malware or something - ahh!!

R: I admire people who know all about these gadgets, you know, it's wonderful! I can't stand this business about when you go to a bank now, you can't see a teller! All the banks are shutting down and they say, "Use the machines!" I don't want to talk to a machine! I want to talk to a person who can answer me back! It's dreadful, you know, it's too much technicality. It's a great thing but we must use it right, for God's sake!

I: Oh, good God! Yes!

R: Don't let it take over, you know, because it's beginning to do that!

I: Oh no! The trouble with it is including things like the phone service and so on, I want to talk to somebody and eventually I get somebody who's, perhaps English isn't their first language.

R: I phoned the Tax people the other day. I sent them a bill which I didn't need to send and they sent me a letter back saying, "Oh, we're going to refund this because you shouldn't have paid this tax and phone this number". So I phoned this number and it took me twenty-five minutes to speak to a person while they tell me about, 'You can do this and you can go online and you can talk to your Aunt Fanny here and you can do this!' and I said, "I just want to speak to somebody!" And in two minutes I spoke to somebody and it was all cleared up. All this technology beforehand! You know! What a waste of time!

I: Oh I know!

R: Dreadful! But there you go! That's age talking!

I: No, no, receding youth! Come on, Glen!

R: Receding youth!

I: Yes, come on! Neither of us have got older! Receding youth!

R: Now, what is it you want to say?

[44:28]

I: The first question they are looking for an answer to is what was your most memorable moment from your time at STV? You think about what was the most memorable thing that you can remember in your time at STV.

 

R: That's difficult. You get so many. Probably the thing when I was quietly told by Sandy Ross that probably the time was coming when I would have to give up doing the show because you do realise your age and I think I was well into my sixties and I couldn't understand what he was talking about! As far as I was concerned, I was still twenty-five and I think that was probably one of the disastrous effects that hit me suddenly - I've got to change my life! It was a life-changing situation, yeah.

I: Right, Glen, the second one they want an answer to is what's the most important contribution STV made to Scotland and why do you think that is?

R: I think the best thing I can say about that is that I think the contribution that STV made in their early days was enormous. The quality of programmes that they put out and the varied mixture that they had by Here and Now, the Larry Marshall shows for comedy, the Francie and Josie stars, I think the early days of television were absolutely wonderful, I thought, and in the early days, yes, I think the early days of STV when they were establishing themselves, I thought, were really great.

I: And do you have a funny moment that you can remember from STV?

R: There were so many really! Yeah, there were so many. There's not really any that I think, no, I can't really think of an, they were all sort of humorous. Life was humorous when you worked for STV. I think there was a great humour ran through the Company and I think that's why people worked so well.

 

I: That's a perfect answer! Thank you, Glen. [47:21]

R: Thank you!

I: Now do you want to take some shots?

I2: Yeah, we can do that.

I: Do you mind if we take some shots?

R: No, no. Good. Thank you.

I: Thank you indeed.

R: That was very good, John.

I: There is some paperwork to do obviously.

R: What do you mean, cheques to sign or something like that?

[47:42]

I: Oh yes! Oh gosh, I know who you're talking about.

R: What's his name?

I: It wasn't Nicholas Lyde?

R: No.

I: No, I don't think he...

R: No, a big guy.

I: Oh, I'm embarrassed now. It wasn't Ted Williamson?

R: No. I forget. Anyway, he suddenly appeared with him and he had it all re-done and it was all tolled up and at one end it looked tatty and miserable.

I: But yes, it had character then!

R: Yeah, character! But he thought it was wonderful! He must have spent a fortune on it. It looked lovely but it was too new, you know!

I: That's right! The whole point of it was - I was about to say something!

R: It was like a chicken and egg, you know!

I: Do not take this the wrong way but I always felt approaching the show every time was, everything on that screen has got to look lived-in! Not tacky - lived-in!

R: That's right! No, you're absolutely right.

I: But I remember this campaign particularly well.

R: The photographer that took that was in Edinburgh. He was a very good photographer. He did it very well. A young guy.

I: Oh yeah! I mean it certainly had a tremendous impact. I think the main impact came from the fact that it was actually, without being forced down their throats, it was coming from a venue.

R: I've still got the t-shirt! I've still got that!

I: Have you?! Oh, I'm glad I haven't got the t-shirt because I'd never fit in to it now!

R: I've still got the t-shirt!

I: Oh yeah! Shall we get some more pictures maybe? Right, you've got those. These are all the same, are they?

R: They're all the same.

I: Right, we might as well take these away.

R: Did you get that one?

I: And, there's a nice title on that one. And I think in terms of your various dogs, I think they were in just enough, if you know what I mean.

R: Yes, that's right. It always annoys me because Paul O' Grady says he's the first one to have a dog on the desk and he bloody wasn't!

I: Oh, I know! I know!

R: He's wrong because he, you know, he always boasts about oh, he's the first to have a dog on the desk! I was the first to have a dog on the desk!

I: Exactly! Many years before! That's right!

R: I mean there was Rudi, Rusti and what was the other one? Casper came on for a while. And they sent John to speak to him and he went grrr! And barked at him. We could never use him again because any time anybody approached him, he barked!

I: No, no, again they were part of it. [50:43]

 

[50:43 - 60:35 - Glen showing John Frame photographs and chatting]

[End of Recording]

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