A Summary of the HARRY MANLEY Interview. File 383.
Born near Birkenhead in 1934. His father was a Funeral Director and the family lived above the premises.
Started school at the age of 5 attending the local church primary school at Port Sunlight model village - now a graded site.
Aged 7, he began at Birkenhead Prep. In 1942 his father was killed during the North African landings whilst serving in the
He left school at 16 with two *0' levels. His family insisted on him having a safe job and made him take the Civil
Service examinations which resulted in him becoming a Clerical Officer. This led to an offer of a job with the Air Ministry in London in 1951. In 1952 he joined the RAF to do his National Service as a Clerk. He enjoyed the life, and at the age of 21, returned to the Air Ministry to work as a clerk in a secret
department that dealt with Atomic weapons. Wages were about £7 per week.
He had no particular interest in films but enjoyed visits to the cinema as a boy, although not encouraged by his parents.
He talks about the Ritz, Birkenhead, its double feature programmes and stage shows during the great days of the super cinemas.
Whilst at the Air Ministry he began thinking seriously about
doing more with his life and so he went to the library and looked
up any professional occupation he could do without a degree, without taking articles, or without going to college. The only
possibility was for him to become a Chartered Secretary. So he enrolled for a 3 year correspondence course, while, at the same
time, changing his job. He joined a bombed-out City firm with
^ offices in Great Portland Street, as a clerk. This was a 'business and confirming house', but he had no idea what that
entailed. Within a month of joining, they moved into a new
building in the City and he began thinking of a City career. He talks about the job which he enjoyed. He also managed to
complete the correspondence course in two years; Rising at five in the mornings and studying until ten o'clock most evenings. It was
hard work but he enjoyed it throughout the years 1956/59.
He was now qualified and demanded a better job, but had to leave the firm at the end of the month with nothing in view. Several interviews later, he opted for Colour Film Services in Portman Close, off Baker Street and was interviewed by Roland Chase, the owner. Roland was dubious about employing a city gent who could have difficulties in getting on with people in the film industry. However, he was taken on with some trepidation, as Company Secretary at £750 a year, increasing to £1000 after 12 months.
He describes the firm's work and equipment. Originally, he decided to stay only 3 months, but retired from CFS as Group MD after 30 years!
He talks at length about the development of the company, and his role in it. Masked printing is discussed. The company
continued to expand. Roland Chase had an engineering bent and was able to specify the design of equipment. The interview continues
with a history of CPS. Side 2.
Continues with the development of CPS. The development of the first colour tape to film transfer system resulted in the
transfer of hundreds of episodes of CORONATION STREET, RAINBOW, and
many other videotaped programmes - all very successful. Then came standards conversion, poor to begin with.
CPS was one of the first video houses to become involved in VHS
In 1965, Harry became Pinance Director and eventually, MD.
The interview continues detailing the work of the development
engineers, with Roland Chase pushing innovation to the limits and
Harry looking after the finances. The staff numbers employed in the various departments are mentioned. Early dealings with ACT are covered, also the complex discussions on the possible takeover of Humphries Labs.
Harry took retirement in 1989 to take advantage of the terms then available and Roland Chase was also retiring at this time and
was very anxious for his son, David, to take over.
The history of professional 16mm. is discussed from its early
beginnings as an amateur gauge.
Harry recounts the story of how he became Treasurer of BKS - after being refused membership!
Britain became the centre of the world for technical excellence in 1977 because of the political climate in Eastern Europe. He was
now asked to be President of BKS but always arranged to have technical boffins at his side to answer high-tech questions!
There was talk of BKS and RTS merging at one time, and BAPTA, which had just acquired its magnificent HQ in Piccadilly, sat at the
table with both Societies with a view to having a merged Society, the RPTS, based there. BISPA is also mentioned.
Harry was invited to join the Board of BAPTA, having originally been turned down for membership! Another interesting story.
Harry became Treasurer of BISPA and talks about the financial difficulties of the Society and its aims. The IVCA, of which he
was Chairman, is also mentioned. He is also the Chief Executive of BAPTA. Harry is also a member of the Board of Pilm
Classification which looks after the administration, but he is not involved with the actual classification of films or video.
Another Directorship is that of the Children's Pilm Unit which he
goes on to describe in great detail. Channel 4 commissions a feature from them every year and it is crewed entirely by children,
with just one adult present. They also produce commissioned documentaries, all from their Putney workshop on Saturday mornings. Harry enthusiastically states that the discipline on the set is
phenomenal and the Unit turns out twice as much footage per day as an average professional adult crew!
Harry joined the Board of BAFTA around 1980 when they took over the building. He also became Finance Director for a while.
He recounts the early financial difficulties in relation to the
occupation of the building and how close the Society came to the Bank putting in the Receivers.
At the end of the interview he is persuaded to tell the very bizarre story of the David Martin affair. END.
HARRY MANLEY was interviewed by JOHN LEGARD.
DAVID MATHER ROBSON recorded it and wrote the Summary.