Gordon Courcha

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Interview Date(s): 
16 Jul 2022
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Now running Okay, the copyright of this recording is invested in the British entertainment history project and the record number is 808. The recording Gordon would cheer get the right pin outs as we go along on 60 for the seventh 2022 cameraman is there and Perry

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interviewee is Martin Sheffield?

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Okay, right. Would you like to start with your birth? First of all, when we were born My birth, I was born in Bo.

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My mother had a grocery shop and we lived above it.

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I was born in

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23rd of June 1936.

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Save you're doing the math. I'm now at six just

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in the wall. during the Blitz my father had worked

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in printing. I think absolutely mills.

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And during had a lot of friends that lived in the Kings Langley area. during the Blitz, we moved out for a few months and the family split up I had two brothers, two brothers. No, I didn't. That time, I didn't have two brothers. I had a brother and two sisters.

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And we were sort of spread among different houses.

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We came back to London when the police seized off

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my primary school was changing virtually monthly

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or must have been to about a half a dozen.

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Because again, when the

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not so much the V ones remember being at home when they were around. But once the V twos started,

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they we moved back to Kings going there again.

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Something that's often struck me is that the first three one that landed on London landed about half a mile away on a railway bridge across Grove Road.

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My mother took me down there what she was going to see it what was going on. It worded obviously got round, but there was something unusual about it because there was a big crowd of people.

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And I still remember hearing somebody say that they'd heard that it was a pilotless aircraft. And somebody else say no, no, a friend of mine saw the pilots body being taken out.

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Not long ago, I saw that air raid wardens were being told that to try to prevent panic because we were coming under attack that there was no defence again. If they heard that kind of talk, which was actually quite accurate, that was pilotless

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to try to say no. People know that they've seen pilots being drawn or taken out, things like that.

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That was

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up to 1945 courses. And when the war finished, we, the shop where we lived, had suffered some damage during the war. not severe enough in the war to say we couldn't live there. But after the war, it was condemned.

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So we moved out to Stoke Newington.

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When I started secondary school, which was about a year off, we moved. I went to Cooper's company's school in Milan,

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largely because my sister attended the sister school and she travelled up to London each day when we're in Kings zone.

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So I kept up my contacts with the East End through being at school.

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It's all changed very much.

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So what did you do when you started your work?

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My father had a wholesale business, selling the kinds of things that corner shops sold

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I knew that I would be having to do a national service and I filled in my time working for him.

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When it got when I became a team, when in fact, before, I decided that I would join early I signed on for three years, which gave me the advantage of choosing when I joined, and I actually joined a day or two after I was 18. Some of my friends were waiting a year, before they got called up. It meant that I could choose to go into our area rather than anything else. And I chose to do wireless.

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Something I'd always been vaguely interested in but didn't know anything about

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and actually ended up giving me my career.

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When I finished the three years

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that BBC had lost a lot of staff to ITV, of course, because there was nowhere else to recruit them from. So I joined the BBC.

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It turned out not to really be my cup of tea, it was very formal. If you met somebody new that almost the first thing they said was, what grade are you? Well, my grade was zero. So

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I ended up one radio and links. And that really wasn't television.

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And I saw an advertisement for staff at a TV.

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And I applied for the job when I had an interview and I ended up talking to the man that ran the maintenance and development department. Which there wasn't my scene at all when he said, That's fine. What are you interested in? I said, cause when I'd seen that some of the jobs that they were on vision control, I was exactly what I wanted.

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And he said, Well, actually, yes, your experience isn't what I'm looking for. But the man that runs visual control. I know that he's looking for a trainee,

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and was kind enough to put me forward and the interview was really well. Ken's tell me about you. This is what the job is, do you want it? And I said yes.

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One of the things that really struck me about the difference between the informality of ACV and the BBC was that the day that I started, I was told to report to Highbury studios at 10 o'clock. It was empty until about half past 10 When the chap in charge came in.

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We were a bit flexible about timekeeping. We knew when we needed to be there. And there was normally not a problem as long as we were introduced himself, pointed to the camera and said, Have you seen these before? And I said, yes.

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Okay, well, camera three needs a new tube in the top of that, would you change the treatment? Line it up for me? Yeah, okay. He walked away. And in the BBC, there would have been at least three people watching over me.

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Well, an extreme example, and this is here, say

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the, when I was on radio links, the chaps I worked with mostly I think he must have been joined the BBC not long after the war.

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But he said that he'd once been called up to his manager's office. And the manager said I wanted to have a word with you, Hawkins of whatever isn't surnames as well, of course.

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I saw you chatting to the lift operator the other day. And I said, Yeah, but it was my my meal break. And BB. The manager

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said, That's not the point. I wanted to remind you that you are salaried staff. And the lift operation would be hourly paid. It's really not the done thing.

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But I mean, that's extreme and I don't think certainly I didn't experience anything as extreme as that. But he was at least 10 years ahead of me.

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I stayed at Highbury studio which was

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it was actually condemned, but it was still standing. We did a programme

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while playing makers in the power game, the producer was Rex Firkin. He had a friend that was an architect. And he's brought this friend around to see the studio. And his friend said, it's the will walls should have fallen out years ago because there's nothing supporting them from doing so there's no crossbeams at all.

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But it wasn't like we did a emergency board 10 course came from there twice a week.

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We did.

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ABC had a contract, I don't know where ABC cinemas had it.

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And we did weekly pie for them.

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I remember James Mason being one of them diner, Rick when she was about 10.

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Quite a number of big chrome.

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All black and white, of course, long, long before we brought video.

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Video to

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the BBC, we're developing a video recorder, called Vera video

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relied on running quarter inch tape, but 400 inches a second.

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the beginning of panorama it was one week, they recorded the first three minutes or so and the said we then we're going to show you a surprise and replayed it. And they were saying this is a marvellous invention of the BBC is

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videotape they already had the American Ampex machines are an order that relied on because the bandwidth for television signal is much wider than

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And the governing factor really is the head to tape speed and the size of the gap in the head. And the Ampex machine used

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for rotating heads at very high speed scanning across a two inch wide take the BBC machine because it was running so far. So I think the rules are tight for half hour for something like four foot diameter. But the bearings just gave up after a very short while it was BBC knew that it wouldn't work in practice. But they just had to say that we were there first.

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You have to be BBC and I did not bet on

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I was encouraged to leave, shall I say that was fine because I was thinking of doing so anyway. It just happened to be that I ended up with a TV and I really couldn't afford it as an employer.

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Of course a lot of it depends upon the people just above you in in any job.

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But I thoroughly enjoyed it. We had

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the time el stream was I think just being sorted out.

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We had a foot green empire where we did the audience shows mainly Hackney Empire where we used to do oh boy that was fun.

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The producer called Rita Gillespie and she is so incorrect if if the run through gone reasonably well earlier in the day. The next one she would encourage people to swap jobs and that was quite fun as well.

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Hackney Empire they built a ramp that was at stage level up to the back of the auditorium so that the mobile crane could travel backwards and forth. No zoom lenses either falls in those days.

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Just coming in but they were dreadful.

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I was there for about a year which we will return to rotated through the studios on roughly about a year

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in Highbury. I then went to Wood Green. I think Ben hacked me.

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And then I went to a small studio in Foley Street. Whether they it was not much bigger than this studio. We used to do the jack Jackson show there. And while he was doing is chat, live groups. One group would be going out of the door in the corner and the other one would be coming in and everything on

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really wide angle lenses Oh, we wouldn't fit them all in

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I was just in to go into the last studio to be completed adults right.

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we also have presentation small presentation studio. And the mind studio such as it was was shut down. And I did a bout a year

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in just doing presentations that mainly just weekends and

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me and the cameraman seem to be doing it nearly every week.

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The cameraman was named Jim McCutcheon. I actually saw him on a programme not long ago.

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He was got involved with the queen when they were doing Bohemian Rhapsody.

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But there was quite a nice little setup

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we used to in those days also have an epilogue

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and ATV had religious advisors from all the main faith and the Catholic one that was our regular

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father bed

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and Jim Cameron. Occasionally we had

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lost his name, but he ended up was Bishop of Liverpool.

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And Jim once said to John Babb, the normal one, why is it that you've got a black shirt, and he's got a purple one. And

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John Webb said that it's because he's the Archbishop's

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Cardinal or something of that nature. I've already done Jim said, what he was saying. And if it was at the bar, Roman Catholic Faith is the same rat race as everywhere else.

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When I moved to L Street, if lots of things have changed, we've done on 65 Rather than four or five lines. The camera quality was much better.

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Cameras, of course, are huge, long study. Certainly it's almost unimaginable. The tube alone was four and a half inches diameter, and about 18 inches long.

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But it was a big step forward in terms of quality fixtures.

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We did.

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Actually emergency ball 10 was still continuing and that was done there. And it was done in the studio that I moved to

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it was one of the there were two large studios and too small and what Suder I was in was small.

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But I was doing vision control, which is what I wanted to do.

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After a couple of years

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I applied for it was a substantial promotion. But it was in videotape.

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I got the job and I didn't enjoy it anything like as much but it was

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a time when I was just buying my first house and it was a big increase in pay.

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I did the right thing

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can't remember.

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And we do a lot of different studio different programmes in su Yong Bae can't think of the regular ones.

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Anyway, videotape department was in Foley Street in the West End.

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In fact, just around the corner from

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the little studio that we'd have. Oh, yes. When Independent Television started, London was the first region and it was there were two contractors one for Monday to Friday evening. One Friday evening to Sunday. ATV had the weekend contract.

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The next region that opened was Birmingham, and they did the same thing.

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And I think it was ABC had the mid week rather than weekend contract. We had an important week so he had seven days a week

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weekdays in Birmingham, weekends in London,

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etc vn ABC because they were working at defy did decide to set up a company called us that shared services has

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It's never a situation where they would both need us. And when videotape came in, it was brought in under Aston

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I think. But in fact, it was based in Foley street oho Street, which is around the corner.

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When I joined videotape have been in for about

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a year, 18 months, something like that. And they always had for videotape machines.

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And the BBC quite often used to

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have backup recordings done there. And it was at the time when there was only

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the one channel one independent channel on BBC only had BBC One it was a BBC Two started after that. And it was somebody that said it was we were doing a transmission for the BBC and

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ITV transmission, and was a bit dodgy and somebody said, if our electricity supply goes down, television ceases in this country. But we got away with it.

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There were two shifts in the shift that I was on throughout. He was a little bit

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by the book,

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even if there was nothing very much to do, he'd find something that really didn't need to be done.

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Anyway, my salvation was that

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least got couple of machines that Elstree and because I was basically an old stream man. And when I said I wanted to go back to Australia, I did.

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And I spent the next

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God knows how many years in videotape, Wall Street, and of course, videotape itself changed enormously.

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Although I

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left ITV when it became central,

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I actually I was central for a while because

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the changeover but there came a point when l stream was forced to close because of the politics that involved in the new franchises.

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under pressure from Nottingham, we're saying why we're as important as Birmingham, they've got a television contractor we have and that was one of the things

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the IBA that adopted a slogan that was serving the region from within the region. And by that time, this was 1983.

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We were making a lot of programmes for the states.

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very successfully. The Tom Jones show ran for five years, The Muppet Show, god knows how long, both huge, huge contracts. In fact, when before John was torn journalist serious started. I was quite pally with a chap called John Schofield who was head of light entertainment.

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And he was doing an edit session and he'd been he'd been away for a planning meeting with Lou great about the Tom Jones Show. And when he came back, he said, I'm going to do this pilot for Tom Jones. And he said, When I asked Lew what the project was, he said there isn't one. He said, Do you mean that? They said I mean it all that matters is producing a show that encourages them to take up a five year contract, which of course they did. And they ended they ended up spending quarter million pounds, which was about

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probably 10 times what on average one hour show would cost

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I mean, yeah, so sort of went along. I got promoted to the next grade up.

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And that meant that I was a shift leader.

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And later on my position was regraded to supervisory engineer. And I automatically got

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on and when it came to July 83 I had to choose between staying with Central and going to Notting

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More, Birmingham, all getting another job.

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One of the reasons why I didn't go with a TV was because I felt a TV wasn't going to be the central role wasn't going to be the company that a TV was.

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And I think that turned out to be the case. I heard that the head of sound who went to Central in the Midlands, when he retired, said, The saddest thing about him retiring, was that he was glad to go.

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And I've heard that from a lot of people liked the fact that they were living there.

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But not many people like Central as a company.

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And it turned out that it is really the right thing. A great stroke of luck again,

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having decided I wasn't going I was looking for another job because I applied at ITN.

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And as I walked into the room, the head of technical operations was started to say, I've invited one of my shift supervisors to sit in on it. As he was saying it said it was the set out Oh, Gordon, what are you doing here?

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Can't remember Brian, somebody said, Do you know Gordon and said yes, actually, I knew him from a youth club. We both used to be long before ACP. Anyway, he said, Well, My only reservation about offering you the job is that you're 47 years old. And it can get very hectic here. And

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how would you feel about that? I said, Well, I think you're right. But I'll come along and have a look at

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this channel, something like that and see if I could handle it.

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They said, Yeah, that's fine. Anyway, I did.

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Ironically, it turned out that that was a doddle compared to the way that the news agency ended up. But that's some way ahead.

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I also applied to one of the people that I was friendly with at ICV. He wasn't in the he was in the design maintenance department. But he became chief engineer. What was his news became Reuters.

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And he was looking for staff. So he said, Come on over lunch, we went out for lunch. And he showed me around it just general chat.

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And there was another chap, Bill, Paul, I don't know if you've ever run across him, very active in the UK.

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And he didn't want to go to the Midlands, either. So I had mentioned it to Chris, probably this news. And he said, Oh, we can have lunch again and bring pill bills home with you. We did.

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And then it sort of went into a quiet phase. And the time came when a one of the reasons why I didn't take the ITN job was that I wouldn't have got the redundancy payment.

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Because it was too. And I, when I spoke to the man that offered me the job, I said, this is one of the reasons why I'm turning it down. I hope he won't hold it against me if I reapply, and he said no, that's fine. But I have to mention that because I've heard it too. He wants I couldn't necessarily offer it to you're going to accept that. And that's fine as well.

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I, I got back in touch with this news.

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wanted to speak to Chris probably.

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But he was doing an extended stint in the States. So they said what I said well applying for a job. So they put me through to staff relations. They wanted to know what job I was applying for. I said, Well, I don't really know.

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So it all got a bit silly like that. And I'd seen an advertisement for freelance staff. I think it was in broadcast. And it mentioned that his company was starting its own facilities a year later, which just happened to be July 1983.

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And we already knew that that was about when l three would close. So I found the number and chapters I spoke to

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who became my boss said, I've only just put the advertisement in how do you know about that? I said well, it said in this one a year ago. Anyway.

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It was up IGN and they were working a lot with it and they did the whole thing at IGN.

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using iTunes so, and there were at least four people that left my shift to go to iTunes so and so he knew all of them, they knew me.

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Anyway, Bob, very informal chat

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got to the time when I actually had to sign on the dotted line. And I phoned him and I said,

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Well, are you offering me a job? He said, Cool. So I was offering a job I said, Well, would you mind putting something in writing? He said, All right, then.

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And the data of course.

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they, it was based on it NS salary scale, which was hired at higher than a TV, so I got a fairly substantial increase in pay.

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I also benefited because the independent television companies formed

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a transfer system for pensions. So if you change companies within the IT and ITV rather,

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you didn't lose years of service was, there was an adjustment, it was a big book that compared every scheme with everybody else's. So depending upon whether the scheme was regarded as better or worse, you might go up a bit or down a bit. When I went down a bit, because I tend scheme was considered better. But ITV had three schemes, and one of them you could retire at 60. And I was in that scheme, it ends being 65. I then went up by about 10% to compensate for the extra five years.

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Ironically, not long after

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I joined what became worldwide television news table. We set up our own pension scheme with retirement at 60. And I did point out that

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that when it was being set up, and I said well, we're not bothering about trivia like that. So

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your pension is going to be based on what it is now. So I came on really can't believe the lock that I've had

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throughout the life generally.

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The news agency

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was actually came from what was still doing a lot on film. And they were shipping it out by to clients. But they decided they moved over almost completely to tape that they using it and facility to begin with. And then using their own.

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it wasn't particularly busy for lots of the day we had.

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We recorded all the Eurovision exchanges, and we and we probably put material into them.

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But they were a satellite transmission to Europe around lunchtime, for 15 minutes. And then in the evening, one to the states for about 10 minutes. So the day was mainly taking in the material and making up the package for them. It gradually got bigger, we started, we started doing Rovi report that we read effusion had done.

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And then we started a weekly programme about showbusiness things like it was growing all the time.

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But my boss, Bob was the vice president. He was my immediate boss.

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When I joined, they'd already got some staff.

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Among them, they were to the two shift supervisors. So when I joined, I joined as an auditor.

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It was slightly uncomfortable, but after about a year,

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Bob asked me to go and talk to him and he said

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that he wanted me to take over one of the shifts.

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One of the people, I mean, he was nice enough boat, and he was, well good technically, but he panicked. And when he panicked, he started shouting at people and

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had the wrong term from In fact, I found out later that it was him that asked to have the change made

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And I said I am kind of cool. But it was a slightly awkward situation. But

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staying was Dave church. He made it easy for me because he

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said how glad he was. So we've made that change. And

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he left not all that long it was his ambition has always been to run a country pub and to have a little brewery which he ended up doing.

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Because it was cheaper to get somewhere in wire. It did. But it turned out that it was a hell of angels favourite watering place. And

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I think I think it turned out not too well for him. But we lost contact long before that

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did not go home to him to IGN?

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No, I didn't know.

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there for years, both on film and videotape. No, the only people on your ITN really aware of the people that are gone from at UVI. And most of them actually went into the central area.

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And at the news agency, of course.

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Eurovision was routed through it. And so there was a lot of us it and had a big share of the news agency. So I had a lot of contact with the central area of ITN. But so I might have known a dozen people at it. And but that was all.

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Something that was a bit ironic as well, when Chris Puli, who was at this news came back from the States. He phoned me up and said, I thought you were joining us and I explained our setup. Oh, yes, this was how it worked out.

Unknown Speaker  37:04  
What I didn't realise that of the people that had already been recruited for the news agency, two of his best people were among them. And he was actually struggling a bit I think

Unknown Speaker  37:19  
Pichia a completely different story.

Unknown Speaker  37:23  
His father was

Unknown Speaker  37:27  
I think he was a command or something like that. He was captured by the gentleman's Hmong with

Unknown Speaker  37:34  
trying to remember how many, but they were massacred. And his father and one other survive by playing dead. And after the war, his father, I think the book was called the revenge of Ghana. Pouliot tracked down the German officer that has been in charge. And

Unknown Speaker  37:56  
it was actually executed a couple of years later, but I didn't know that when I was friendly with Chris, I wish I'd known about it.

Unknown Speaker  38:10  
Scott off the subject somehow.

Unknown Speaker  38:13  
I know VSI transferred about 15 years ago, a lot of the AGP stuff do digital digital brought the masters at some boot camps. Or maybe going back to RGB which there was some interesting stuff and a lot of it was shot on NTSC that the so it was

Unknown Speaker  38:32  
transferred to NTSC for the American market. Oh, yes, I was when we started doing the

Unknown Speaker  38:41  
American shows they were done on NTSC.

Unknown Speaker  38:46  
So I remember

Unknown Speaker  38:48  
one of them that was an American, it was either as a producer or director. And he said there's no doubt about it. Your pal system beats our NTSC and his NTSC.

Unknown Speaker  39:03  
Just that you had rather different standards than

Unknown Speaker  39:09  
what they would accept. I'm surprised actually that

Unknown Speaker  39:14  
I think there was the IBA started putting pressure on Sony TV. And we started doing

Unknown Speaker  39:22  
everything in power on

Unknown Speaker  39:26  
converting it for the status and conversions were really not that great when we were doing that. But they wanted the shows so much, I suppose came into it.

Unknown Speaker  39:39  
When the Muppet Show,

Unknown Speaker  39:41  
well known big stars were queuing up to do a guest appearance on it.

Unknown Speaker  39:49  
Surprise, surprising how many people turned up Roy Rogers, for example.

Unknown Speaker  39:55  
And he didn't look much older than me who I used to see him on the

Unknown Speaker  40:00  
Saturday morning Cinema Club.

Unknown Speaker  40:03  
But even with massive blow a queue about nine feet tall

Unknown Speaker  40:11  
there was a nice atmosphere

Unknown Speaker  40:14  
was friendly over

Unknown Speaker  40:19  
catchy use of random preview features at HEB Bill Bates upon Bill Bates, he was a projectionist at at ATB, and it was St.

Unknown Speaker  40:31  
Paul coats Bates, Bill Bates.

Unknown Speaker  40:35  
I'm trying to remember because his son became a freelance editor. And we used him a lot at the news agency. Gordon.

Unknown Speaker  40:44  
Don't think it was ruled by us.

Unknown Speaker  40:50  
For a future story, I'll find out a bit more.

Unknown Speaker  40:56  
But I think ITV had a good reputation for the engineering site. Well, they definitely do.

Unknown Speaker  41:04  
And I think that made it easier for me to be offered jobs simply because I've been with a few. We've got an Osprey TV and we've got an offer us

Unknown Speaker  41:16  
that some

Unknown Speaker  41:20  
there were a couple of things that crossed my mind that I disappeared again.

Unknown Speaker  41:29  
Oh, yes, it was a game very much off to one side, my son was made keen on Debbie Harry, and she was in The Muppet Show.

Unknown Speaker  41:42  
I wouldn't see

Unknown Speaker  41:45  
that. But that was done over two or three days. But on the first sight when

Unknown Speaker  41:50  
I went to see the producers said, Is it okay if I bring my son along tomorrow? And he said, I'll talk to the film manager. And he said, Yeah, that's fine. Richard Holloway, who I think has gone up into the stratosphere.

Unknown Speaker  42:07  
And he said, Oh, yeah, hi. And oh, because when someone's going, my daughter wanted to come along, a friend of her. So we ended up with the four of us.

Unknown Speaker  42:18  
And away we

Unknown Speaker  42:20  
went into the studio. When Richard,

Unknown Speaker  42:26  
back in May,

Unknown Speaker  42:28  
we thought went over to one side waiting for a lull in things, which were frequent. We'll also have in between takes. And Richard was sort of pointing to my son, and he was frozen.

Unknown Speaker  42:45  
She actually noticed him and came over and said to him, because he thought a, an album.

Unknown Speaker  42:54  
Would you like me to sign that for you? And he was almost paralysed just by the society? Yes, please.

Unknown Speaker  43:05  
The only time that we didn't have free access to anywhere on the site

Unknown Speaker  43:12  
was after the World Cup, the day after the World Cup. And it was kept very quiet, although obvious, obviously quite a number of people in the whole of the England team, except for one, and I can't remember where it was, was going on holiday early on Sunday. But the whole of the England team plus the management team, were invited to a lunch at Elstree. And

Unknown Speaker  43:41  
before the launch started, there was about three quarters of an hour, where they were having drinks and counterpane. And everybody that was working was invited

Unknown Speaker  43:53  
into the studio with him.

Unknown Speaker  43:58  
It was the only time that I was ever asked to show my paths that went further than that. There was a list of names on the guy. And if your name wasn't on that list you didn't get in.

Unknown Speaker  44:12  
Normally, of course, no one

Unknown Speaker  44:16  
said, people on the gate knew everybody anyway.

Unknown Speaker  44:21  
But I've often thought and of course, it wouldn't have been one thing to ask for autographs, and nobody do. But if you had bought that autographs of the whole of the team, dated the day after they'd won the World Cup. I imagined it would be worth very silly money.

Unknown Speaker  44:47  
Billy Wright became our head of sport. And I think that it was somebody shrewd enough that made him head of sport that thought hang on, the World Cup is going to be on

Unknown Speaker  45:00  
I see. And I'm sure that it was him that

Unknown Speaker  45:07  
occasionally used to go out to recall football matches and he usually when whatever football match has been covered. He lived in Barnet and I lived in Richmond quite often spoke about half a dozen times gave me a lift home. Not home, but to burn it.

Unknown Speaker  45:28  
But thoroughly nice man. And I had no idea the status he had in football.

Unknown Speaker  45:37  
I mean, he was almost recovered as far as I can go.

Unknown Speaker  45:43  
No Go jumpy. Hamilton. That worked under Billy right? What's your job? P Hamilton. He was a producer read diffusion. But he ended up looking after the RGB sports library I think. No don't know than I am. Might have just forgotten that. That's all.

Unknown Speaker  46:04  
He was buried to jot down a few years back now. But it's what I've done. The chef well used to be a big director. We've made a fusion and Tim has at one time. She used to do lots of programmes

Unknown Speaker  46:19  
don't sound familiar.

Unknown Speaker  46:28  
Yes, it was.

Unknown Speaker  46:30  
Oh, when? When I transferred to videotape, we were doing 16 millimetre teller recording at the time.

Unknown Speaker  46:42  
But that stopped.

Unknown Speaker  46:46  
Not long after I joined Twitter.

Unknown Speaker  46:51  
We still had tolerated kink callings money, but types of being sent out somewhere I don't know that really depends on what area we get used to a lot for the BBC, okay is a transfer stuff to film. A lot of areas didn't have videotape around the world. So that was the next best thing.

Unknown Speaker  47:17  
For everyone.

Unknown Speaker  47:21  
I stayed with probably 10

Unknown Speaker  47:27  
results until I retired

Unknown Speaker  47:31  
to show how good he was. So we're having a chat in the pub once some years down the line.

Unknown Speaker  47:41  

Unknown Speaker  47:43  
when annual increases was sort of around 1%, things like that. And

Unknown Speaker  47:52  
we had an incremental scheme inherited from ITN.

Unknown Speaker  47:58  
And it was coming to the end for the people the does have been with WT and longest

Unknown Speaker  48:08  
Me included online

Unknown Speaker  48:11  

Unknown Speaker  48:12  
set up have any chance of increasing the incremental theme

Unknown Speaker  48:20  
set versus only about four of us that are coming to the end of it. So it's not going to cost a lot as

Unknown Speaker  48:30  
you said, No, I'll think about that. And a few days later, he said Yeah, I think we can do do that.

Unknown Speaker  48:37  

Unknown Speaker  48:40  
It was set up.

Unknown Speaker  48:44  
And that was

Unknown Speaker  48:48  
well the person that was shop steward at the time, was one of the people.

Unknown Speaker  48:54  
And it didn't happen when he expected to say he went up to wages and said, Hi, where's my increment? And I said, Well, it's finished.

Unknown Speaker  49:06  
So he won't say he ended up talking to that general manager who was on the same level as my boss.

Unknown Speaker  49:15  

Unknown Speaker  49:16  
he fed up about this and Bob said, Oh, yes.

Unknown Speaker  49:21  
Actually said yes, it was set up like that from the days of it

Unknown Speaker  49:28  
and wanted to see something in writing. Bob forged

Unknown Speaker  49:36  
a letter.

Unknown Speaker  49:38  
What made it very difficult for him was that in the meantime, we changed from UPI. 10 To WGN and he searched high and low until he found letterhead from UPI 10 days

Unknown Speaker  49:55  
he was probably risking his job by doing that

Unknown Speaker  49:59  

Unknown Speaker  50:00  
That's the sort of person that he wants

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Speaker 1  0:15  
There was one occasion when the ban that says you have to use reclaimed site archives. But of course, we use a bit of discretion. And it was one of the American programme is the way we're having tape travel. And it was the tape. And this producer gone up to one of the big bosses to complain about it. And my boss phoned and said, What type we're using I said, Well, Dennis, you said we had to use reclaimed site I'll just gave a paper for was acid. But luckily for you, it was new tight. That was fine because we were out of it was in the state manufacturers fault. But if it has been reclaimed, right, then it would have been because we weren't replanting it. Generally, it wasn't a problem even when it had been cut. And of course, electronic editing came in fairly early on. So you basically just copied sections like like you do now is but to begin with, that was still sort of mechanical, you've set an edit point on the recorder and that's where it will change from playback to record. But at least there was no physical messing around with the type on computer editing, I'd only just come in at a TV when I when I left it we had one computer edit suite. And at the heart of it was a hard disk drive. It was 19 inches wide standard rack with on the belt this steep and it had to be charged with a gas and three weeks or something like that. And it recorded about a 10th of what I can now record on a chip the size of my fingers

Speaker 2  3:05  
do you still hear what you mentioned few employees you probably you still hear from any of your old crew at all from anybody.

Speaker 1  3:15  
We used to have a get together from the news agency about once a year I went one of the people that work with me for a long time that ATV died last September and I went to his funeral. Now there were two people that I knew a lot of them have died off. Central recourse I didn't realise until then cease to exist somewhat time ago. And just three or four weeks back for another person that was on my crew died. I actually something stopped me from going to a funeral. But I don't think I would have done anyway because as I say there must have been 40 People at the funeral I did go to and I knew two of them so I was there was another one that I would certainly consider sharing all but he died during the lockdown and I wasn't allowed to anyway. The news agency get together so died out during lockdown. The I mean, there's one guy that kept everybody's contact details and he's living in Spain. But I might I think I've got an address for I might suggest that now that we can have a get together. We should and we always always used to I have them in Camden, which is where w 10 is based on call its associated press now that has been for years. One One of the good things about that is that they've agreed to continue w 10s pension scheme until there's nobody that belongs No. People have been able to join it for years. So w 10 was a fair sized company, but it's much more secure with Associated Press. And it's actually it's in surplus a lot of pension schemes run not fully funded. It's over over funded so which is quite reassuring

Speaker 1  5:57  
lot of people like when we had to go to the Midlands or not, didn't like the idea of Associated Press and part of it is people just not liking change, but it wasn't going to be the same cosy little companies who had been

Speaker 2  6:22  
nervous as someone who's a developer anyone that you've lifted before it becomes central though didn't hear what's on it yesterday. He mean before he said

Speaker 1  6:35  
Yes, I was was he saying the traffic from I was a TV for long enough to go to the reunion they had people that were working for any of the independent companies in ITV starts in 55. And there was a get together to celebrate 60 years. But there was a few years after and i i started in 59. So I just squeezed in. That was because it was organised by people from think it was I think it was weekend LWT it tended to be concentrated on them. But I did go to it. And I did enjoy it. And I hadn't Brian Tesla was a programme director ATV when I joined. And I hadn't seen him for 15 years or something like that. And he was that reunion reunion. And I he was in the lift when I got into it. And I recognised him instantly. It just hasn't changed at all. But I was talking to him and he he always got a real buzz out of directing. And I asked him if he missed it. And he said Yes, a bit. But I enjoy my job now. Something I didn't realise that he commissioned the world at all. I knew Jeremy Isaac's producing, but it was Brian Tesla that commissioned it. And he spelled his name, I think T s le R. I often wondered because it was a Tesla, who was big in the discovery of electricity and things like that. But that was smoke TS LA. I would think there's a good chance because night well my name changed over the years. It could well be that he was the director of the Centre for

Speaker 2  9:12  
Kaleidoscope have published them. And we interviewed him about four years ago. So it was up for that. Because he had quite a few powerful jobs in the entry of ABC Television teams and number weekend over the years, you know, we'll call with standard BBC Television Centre. There's a clip in the opening night after that he's running around trying to be

Speaker 1  9:38  
Oh, that just reminded me of one of the things that crossed my mind. Seeing Bob Phillips in there. When the when w 10. opened their own facilities. They invite Margaret Thatcher opened it but they invited everybody Paul Fox and yeah Anybody that was anybody and wasn't like Bob Phyllis was automatically a director of ice yet because he was chief executive of ITV or Central and he was there and myself and one of the four people four people from ITV went to WGN Nick who would be my number two we were talking together and he wandered by contract anyway he came over to talk to us and he was saying it talking about what we've done and why we hadn't gone to Central and I said one of the things that I thought would have been a good idea was to give a trial period a big decision and if people could have had say three to six months up there but still retain their redundancy rights or anything else if they decided that it wasn't suitable I also recall so central was actually very keen for people to move there they needed to staff it and he said that he said I think I think we would have actually possibly done but he said and I know that showed because Jack O'Connor made it quite clear that he got no time at all for Bob Phillips used to call him the curly ad baby or something because he got tight curly hair

Speaker 2  12:01  
Well, I'll tell you something after we finished the interview about Jack O'Connor yeah if you ever do any work with the cheaper like television International which they hide the equipment out additional equipment and it be companies and a trillion Did you ever do any work?

Speaker 1  12:24  
The only thing I ever did and that was long long ago was a bit of moonlighting I can't remember the name of the studio I was gonna say Grafton but it wasn't you know I did there was no more than about four or five days in southern but it wasn't easy to get to somewhere in South London

Unknown Speaker  13:05  
and if it was on visual control I'd be really never knew the person that was contact man for me was a race TV was also knew much more about what was going on the studio blamed I can't remember apart from anything else strictly speaking I could have been fired for doing it

Speaker 2  13:43  
as a lot of people did move it though. Know that for a fact that tape operator and I can't remember his name now. At the BBC for many, many years he used to come out and service are the independent companies to which machines get hits be clogged and all that rubbish at all and everywhere. You can do a good job you know, you want an award. I think the bkF T 's government all because you've got over 1000 hours of one tape machine. It kept it running.

Speaker 1  14:14  
Actually one of the things I brought I thought this was my original contract with ICV. But it was at the end of the years probation. I was made a system engineer I've been training engineer up to them. But one of the clauses is something like you're exclusive

Speaker 1  14:52  
um yes, you devote your whole of skill and ability to rendering of services. Long as a solely or jointly with any other person or firm or company or indirectly carrier or engage being concerned with in short or anything basically you can cannot work for anybody else at all

Speaker 1  15:28  
that was a change that happened the company became associated television limited it was a tax thing cool so yeah

Speaker 2  15:42  
there's that being a Blu ray set up the other thing for film distribution as well AC C a cc it was associated something happening because we did a cut the films it pays for him. We did a lot of work for ATP later on when I moved into the film side, which was ITC distributors did

Speaker 1  16:05  
it see is that a distribution arm wasn't it? Yeah. When when the television levy came in, of course, it only applied to the contracting company. So a TV used to give ITC millions of pounds of stuff. The ITC then so don't blame.

Unknown Speaker  16:41  
Nice things.

Speaker 1  16:45  
I believe Bob, fellas send it up. Pretty senior in the BBC. It wasn't Director General. But I

Speaker 2  16:55  
found that very moment for BBC duct about 15 years ago, everybody and everybody.

Speaker 1  17:04  
But he seemed to be quiet when we were talking seemed to be quite genuine.

Speaker 2  17:18  
What was that watch yourself one more thing. Did you have much to do with the producers? I know you're on the technical side, did they get involved in directors on?

Speaker 1  17:26  
Oh yes. In the editing, because they they were always there for the editing. And of course, just a small group. On the other thing as well, if they want to know over on in the studio, of course they but umpteen people, and of course lots of overtime. And so that tended to be set in concrete. But if they wanted I were on an editing session was as long as they will pay the overtime. It wasn't in fact that because of the all the different rules about divorce between meal breaks, things like that. For some reason it was towards the end, we will get in more and more situations where editing was overrunning. When you get to apart from 10 hour breaks, where you'll pay the rate of overtime that you finish that carries on until you get a 10 outbreak. But that didn't happen all that often but the there was a deadline from one o'clock thing. And then another one at two o'clock, you went up to the maximum rate of pay, but you are entitled to a meal break six hours after your previous one. Now if we were overrunning, we just used to work through it and put on our on the end of the finish time, which often took us into the higher rate of pay. And I was called up to the head of technical operations once and they said that he understood that this is what we were doing and that that wasn't right. We were entitled to a meal break. Sure, we can stop and have a meal break. But we can't add it as an hour on the end. Okay, so, of course people decided to stop for milk right? Producers did not like that very much so they were up in arms and Our somewhat complicated it that there was an area that was sent Cllr central processing. Sometimes we needed to have something for the machines replugged through them. I think it was just the remote controls something silly. And they made a point of having the previous meal break an hour before us. So they became incited to allows me or break an hour before we became entitled two hours. So it could have been out to a two hour. It was only a matter of a week or two. And I was called up to Dick Bonnefoy. He was an a really nice guy. He'd been a cameraman to begin with. And he said that this is with the meal breaks. I think we can forget about that nonsense. I see. I think we can as well. I think I said I thought we could. I thought that when it started

Speaker 1  21:20  
I was something I was gonna say when we have the get together of the last one we had before. The person that took over from me. He'd retired, retired about three years earlier, because we were quite close to Robinson. He said he, he was a bit late. He said he popped in to publish. And he said nothing. Literally nothing is as he knew it was constant updating with equipment and things like that. I've often thought well, I know. If I went in to the job I used to do I wouldn't have any better idea than somebody who had been a road sweeper.

Speaker 1  22:21  
But I don't do it much now but for quite a while after I returned, or sometimes used to dream that I was back there. But totally out of my debt money. I felt that quite a lot at the time anyway, when I really it was. And it was at somebody else said the same thing that when they had a dream, it was nearly always that they were back

Unknown Speaker  22:50  
because it could get a bit hairy. I was where it got really hairy once. I did a couple of trips of freelancer. I went to Mexico.

Speaker 1  23:07  
And Nairobi, I think it was anyway, when I came back from one of the reasons I was I went into giving my invoice and the girl that used to do the scheduling of the cruise said are you interested in doing master control over the weekend? As she said, I'm a bit short because people on leave. said it's a Sunday that really I need somebody but why not do the weekend and the weekend it went with Friday, Saturday, Sunday was the pattern. And that's right. And because it was generally quite the weekend we used to that was over there should have been three of us on a shift it was one on a bit when we would have a generous hangover and I was actually saying to the person that I was relieving or he was relieving me Well, I think I will do this a bit more often. sitting there doing next to nothing. The next morning I found out why not? At seven o'clock I got a phone call and it was Pete that said Princess Diana's dead. Can you get in? I did. I think I found it difficult to draw breath for the whole of the rest of the day. It was absolutely manic what was is happening because people, of course, would need to find a crew. If they found a cruise, they needed that satellite time to get it back. All those things, and very often they didn't try inside. So to have clients that had booked satellite time, but I had nothing to put on it. So and of course, it wasn't really down to me by that stage, but the main charter newsroom said, can we use it? And I said, Yes to conditions. So if the, if the person has got it booked, material comes in, then instantly, it goes over to them. And also, where perhaps there's material that not everybody should have, you must make it clear that this is an exclusion. One things. And, of course, at the end of the day, the client that had booked it exclusive, sort of still kind, because at least they got the material that we were putting on instead that they would then have access to so nobody was really fast to build it. But WD 10 must have made a lot of money out of that using satellite tire but somebody else had paid for. I mean, as a paid client, when I first started the satellite time costs 1000 pounds a minute. So that dropped quite a lot once it went digital because they could put in place of one analogue channel where they could put something like Digital's I mean, now it's got silly cheap and things like that. And I know that now, a lot of the time that getting material by using an internet for nothing

Transcribed by https://otter.ai