John Ammonds

Forename/s: 
John
Family name: 
Ammonds
Work area/craft/role: 
Industry: 
Interview Number: 
336
Interview Date(s): 
15 Aug 1994
31 Aug 1994
Interviewer/s: 
Production Media: 
Duration (mins): 
315

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336    JOHN AMMONDS    Interviewer: John P Hamilton        Synopsis

RECORDED INTERVIEW WILL BE FOUND BELOW THIS SYNOPSIS>

15/08/1994

TAPE 1, SIDE 1

First job LCC. Moved to Bristol in Wartime

Start to 1945: Royal Signals Germany, about to apply to British Forces Network Hamburg.

TAPE 1, SIDE 2

British Forces Network – Back To Aeolian [Hall], SM amalgamation. Manchester, Morecambe & Wise radio shows. 

Dave Morris radio shows. About to go to TV North 1954.

TAPE 2, SIDE 1

Dave Morris TV. BBC course London, then return to Manchester.

Harry Worth series. Stories: Vince Powell, Harry Driver (police [??])

1960 (Vince and Harry writing Coronation Street)

Tape finishing with Manchester. Backtrack on Manchester situation vis a vis 3 shows in one day with same audience. Ends 1961/62.

TAPE 2, SIDE 2

Harry Worth. Manchester 3 shows, 1 bandcall!

336    JOHN AMMONDS    Interviewer: John P Hamilton    Synopsis

Admin set-up. Barney Coleman. Problems of moving between radio and TV and as producer and remuneration.

Barn Dance – Val Doonican and Val’s first shows. Brian Redhead. Bill Cotton (Jnr) 1965 Manchester – show moved to London. John Ammond commutes. Dave Allen. Domestic problems with disabled wife. Move to London permanently. ABS strike (interruption).

Big success of Doonican. Offer for Morecambe & Wise from ATV. Start of colour first series on BBC2. Views on colour in ITV. 

Beginning of Morecambe & Wise. Green and Hills. Eric’s first heart attack. Green and Hills go, Eddie Braben enters. First show guest Peter Cushing.

TAPE 3, SIDE 1

Details of the classic Morecambe & Wise shows. The Andre Previn classic. Tales of guests Vanessa Redgrave, Glenda Jackson, etc. 1971 Christmas show. 1973/1974. Problems with writing. Into 1973/74 and coming to an end as far as BBC is concerned. Moves on to Mike Yarwood Show (stop for lunch).

 

 

 

336    JOHN AMMONDS    Interviewer: John P Hamilton    Synopsis

TAPE 3, SIDE 2

The Mike Yarwood series. Alan Boyd. Yarwood difficulties. In-between series. The Knokke TV series – Norman Wisdom (1976). 

The MBE, the telegrams etc, the palace and Her Majesty.

Lead up to move to ITV (Thames). More Morecambe & Wise shows and Yarwoods. Director problems. Met son-in-law to-be Alex Shearer through Michael Mills. Bernie Winters shows. Eric Morecambe second  heart attack. 

TAPE 4, SIDE 1

Pick up after Eric Morecambe’s second heart attack. Now at Thames (Teddington). Problems with writers for this ITV revised series. Over-indulged by the head of Light Entertainment but this worked against the ethos of the Morecambe & Wise shows. 

John Ammonds leaves show to care for sick wife but returns to produce Thames TV Mike Yarwood Show but finds that the same over-indulgence had spoiled the artiste. Shows not good as a result so decided to retire. 

Then offered a comedy script consultancy by Alan Boyd at LWT. Worked on Copycats – shows based on multi-cast of impressionists. Wasn’t happy with this so finally gave up and into retirement.

 

 

Transcript

SPEAKER: M2

The copyright of this recording is vested in the BECTU history project. Our subject today is John Ammonds a double M O N D s television producer director x. BBC TV. Thames TV London Weekend Television. Now retired the interviewer recordist is John P Hamilton member of the BECTU history project committee. The date Monday the 15th of August 1994.

SPEAKER: F5

This is tape one side one.

SPEAKER: M2

So this is JP H on the left channel. Johnny when he speaks will be on the right channel referring to him as Johnny. There are so many John's in this industry it gets very confusing as he and I found when we all worked together with about another 18 John's years ago that John started life in broadcasting with BBC and Radio in programme engineering. Eventually became a studio manager and eventually a producer of Radio moved to the north to Manchester. Did some television there returned eventually to London to Lime Grove Riverside and eventually a TV Centre worked on very distinguished career in BBC Television particularly with such stars as Harry Worth Mike Yarwood shows and notably of course the Morecambe & Wise shows. Then after leaving BBC went to Thames Television many with Morecambe & Wise again and eventually as a consultant at London Weekend Television responsible for many classics of TV comedy. But first John tell us where you were born and when. Yes well I started life on the 21st of May 1924.

SPEAKER: M1

In Kennington. It's sort of Charlie Chaplin country really I think you seem to operate round there quite a bit. Not a very salubrious district. My parents were quite poor. I mean my mother was one of 16 children and my father in fact they had to get married quite frankly because my father was a watchmaker I think he was pitch  forced into that by his mother because he wasn't I didn't have his heart in watchmaking. He was really a frustrated actor which of course is where I get my various proclivities from I think he somehow got to know my mother and unfortunately got her pregnant and in those days it was her brothers came round and with a shotgun at then they had to get married and they were quite unsuited really. I mean my life in my early days I only remember arguments really but I survived all that. My mother was a very charming person and my father was as I say a frustrated actor. Early on he got very fond of decadence Charles Dickens and he used to adapt the books as plays and he formed a group of players called the Dickensian Tabart players. They used in the southwark area Kennington round I saw that it was really I think and they had rooms there where he used to rehearse these amateur performers doing Dickens plays and this is how I got attracted to it because I was at grammar school I got a scholarship to a grammar school at Sutton in Surrey where I lived for many years and whilst I was at school I was I say dragged into these shows and I played the young Oliver Twist and the young David Copperfield and we used the most remarkable thing was we used to go round to I didn't get any money for this. They went round to various. They were called workhouses in those days you were in public institutions elderly people used to be looked after more or less looked after dreadful places really. And we used to perform the scenes from these books Oliver Twist David Copperfield and Edwin Drood and lots of other things. And I used to go along and not only do we perform at these public institutions we used to perform in prisons. So at a very early age I went inside Wandsworth. Performing to the prisoners and on one occasion I remember we were doing David Copperfield at Holloway women's prison and it was a terrific kerfuffle went on with the governor and this woman governor because of course I was under 16 and officially under home office rules and I wasn't allowed in the place but I somehow we we managed to get the permission and and we there were very good audience by the way that were extremely interested and I know I think it was in Holloway Holloway. No it wasn't a whole it among the other prisons. It may well have been.

SPEAKER: M3

HOLLOWAY Well we went with Oliver Twist and when Bill Sykes murdered Nancy they were shouting and screaming you brute and all this from these herd tough women prisoners you said. So I had a very eventful life in the early days be in my small way in show business.

SPEAKER: M1

There was one occasion when there was a press photograph was in one of the morning papers when I was at grammar school and when I went into school on this morning it was taken with my father who played Fagin and he'd got the beard and everything you know and I was next to him as this gentle Oliver next door in my velvet suit and this close up pictures was the following morning in a national paper we were doing some Dickens birthday celebrations in a galleried inn we used to do it every year. I think it's still there in the borough. I think the last garage carried in in London I think is called the George. The name of inn the Southern High Street inmates told me that. And the outdoor celebrations. And we did scenes on a brewers dray really which was parked and these galleries and people stood around watching these scenes being enacted that the Georgie in borough high street.

SPEAKER: M4

That's right. Yes. Well there's no doubt there's still it's still there and they still perform play.

SPEAKER: M1

Well this picture was printed you see. And I was at school the following morning and my form master called me to the staff room in the break and morning and said Ammonds I've got a bet on with my colleagues this is you. Here has this picture. And I said Yes sir. And Bonds certainly won his bet. But it was very interesting experience that my efforts at acting. You were right.

SPEAKER: M4

Well you're purely a performer or did you indulge in in sound. I'm obviously we're moving towards your hobbies as a child. Did they have any bearing on your finishing up in the BBC and in broadcasting.

SPEAKER: M5

What happened was of course I took at school the usual matric whatever it was called school. So levels O levels now. That's right. And got the matric because I've got five credits in whatever and I was doing the what is now A level was a two year course I'd got through the first year and I was doing English Latin history and French four objects and I got very bored with this and thought well I don't think these particular subjects is what I'm keen on staying for for another year and my hobby really I was sort of halfway between the art side and the and the science side at school although I was on what was called the classical side and classical two three four five six through the school actually I was sort of inclined as well towards the science side. I used to make little radio sets in the garden shed at home you know with accumulators the old fashioned accumulators and crystal sets and God knows cats with owls and cats whiskers involved. I was quite fascinated with it. And. Anyway I'm at the end of this first year of higher school certificate as it was called that and I thought No I don't like this and I saw I saw an advert for it was actually in those days to be in the civil service was considered the be all and end all because it was a job for life and a pension at the end of it. And there was an advert not for the civil service because they of course during the war didn't have any permanent jobs.

SPEAKER: F2

Yes so it doesn't say John just to interject there chronologically where were 1938 as we also have coming up to it because I was 14 and 38 just before the war started 1939. And I suppose I must have taken the trip when I was 15 I suppose. So we're up to about nineteen forty now I suppose.

SPEAKER: M2

We have an amazingly parallel childhood yeah did we reall I'm  a few days older than you. Exactly the same thing to me.

SPEAKER: F3

We were actually in sync. Yeah. What happened was. Difficult in 1938. 38 39. That's right.

SPEAKER: M5

Well I saw this advert for what was then the LCC. Now the GLC you know the the was I was a Delta quiet yes you can tell I'm a bit anxious. I'm not up to date and it was called then the LCC a first  jobs permanent jobs at County Hall all you're. And I saw that was a permanent job. That's that's interesting I say because the be all and end all to get a job with a pension at the end of it in those days. So I wrote off to take this examination and at the same time I think it was it was just after I took the exam we took the exam at school in the holidays with a supervisor there for this LCC and whilst I was waiting for the result. Two things happened first of all I saw an advert for temporary jobs at the LCC temporary jobs as clerks. So I thought well I'll take one of those and see what it's like. So I went to county hall I was some assistant in a department which all I had to do was to check files and ring up hospital and check who was sick for replacements and things. And this brought me to tears. I used to get lost every day in county hall every time I pass it.

SPEAKER: F2

Now I know you know now it's going to be a hotel and quite it's quite near as I when I worked at LWT again I used to think God I used to get lost in that place every day and I hated it actually. And when I'd been there for two weeks just before that I'd applied for a job at the BBC I thought because of this little hobby of mine with radio sets and things I thought my idea. That I would just write and I wrote and I asked. I didn't know anybody at the BBC. I never said my parents or anything. And I said Have you got any job for junior engineers that's how I put it. I thought Well that sounds the sort of thing I'd be interested in.

SPEAKER: M3

And they sent me back up the luck and I'm quite convinced that in life luck is just as important as talent. In many ways probably more so. And the luck was that in the three line at about three then London Evening papers they advertise for sound effects operators in engineering divisions. They were called sound effects operaters in those days engineering divisions and some kind of person who might will be eternally grateful to pass my letter to that department dealing with that because I got a whole sheaf of forms to fill up in a full envelope you know on the page with qualifications of course. Well I didn't need a page I'd just a half an inch so it would be enough because it was just my training and nothing Matric certificate grammar school and. And. I filled all these and sent them off I was doing this temporary job and then I got a letter back to the BBC asking me to come up for an interview at Broadcasting House and dear old Peter Parish I think he was there as a head program engineer opposite Dr. Alexander one of them will charge yes and Peter may have been his assistant and. I had to ask permission of course from my boss at the office where I was working at the LCC to get time off to go for the interview but of course in those days if you said BBC to anybody everybody would bow to you almost because they said oh why you going to be an announcer and all this business you know and he gave me permission just like that even though I'd only been working this week and the day they gave me the job I've got the letter of acceptance here in the file at the princely wage of one pound seven and sixpence a week plus plus remember one and six cost of living allowance and we all know that's what 135 P plus twelve and a half P or something not even 150 a week I mean now an hour that would be starvation with each case but of course I then almost at the same time I had the results of the LCC examination and I'd come about fortieth in 2000 I'd done very well at this examination and they offered me a permanent job with the BBC job was UN established and moreover it was thirty shillings a week it was more than the BBC you were offered me by not not very much but it was about a bob or something so my friends said well you're gonna take that LCC job aren't you because it's they'll make the money out when you go in the army and everything you know you and you'll get a job when you've come out guaranteed a BBC unestablished staff not so much money. Well of course I. I thought long and hard and I chose the BBC I'm pretty certain I did the right thing looking back. Yes but the thought of I think the sort of working in County Hall I think the fact that I got that put me right off the old and that was murder as far as I could see that was a bit of luck it was it was luck that in fact I happen to apply when those adverts were in the BBC so I reported for duty at the 10th of February 1941 oh nine thirty at Broadcasting House and I remember we we there were. Several of us I think Harry Rogers he was one of the Harold Rogers  he's retired he became station manager at Medway that's local radio yes still in touch with Harry Yeah nice man alive and well and Anthony Craxton Yes Tony Craxton and he became an establishment officer eventually had a bit of it but he was a director do the Coronations and things not to frequent a job but something like that I live in royal events and but he was a wee were called junior program while he was I didn't. We were still affects operators he might have been a higher rank he might have been a junior program engineer now anyway we should interject they were colloquially known as seat were they not jeeps they were but later because we weren't jeeps then of course really we were sound effects operators but of course yes the people in charge were program engineers and that was a rather more exalted rank which I was promoted to after about a year as a sound effects operator on an engineering division but so I was after this I think we had a month in London being trained one of the people who trained me was the film director Ken Hughes to a mechanic Oh indeed yes yes who get Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Oh and one of the films he did well he of course was higher he was only about 17 or 18 at the time but he taught me gram's operation. Yes he moved across into recorded programmes did he read 200 Oxford Street when I was there. I didn't know what happened to him until he got into film. Indeed yes though he moved into recorded programmes where I was at the time.

SPEAKER: F1

We were together at 200 Oxford Street later he moved in that's an industry.

SPEAKER: F2

Whatever. I then they asked me if I'd like to go down to Bristol where variety department they call it variety. In those days light entertainment. Now they'd be moved down there. They'd been evacuate to evacuate the blitz. So I went on and that was my first contact of course with variety in which I was to stay here for the next 50 years or more. And I was quite fascinated. I mean the whole thing never stars in my eyes that the first day I was taken up to a studio in Broadcasting House where they did a live program with Christopher Stone doing his records program called anniversaries and I think it was it was a record show with a hook for people whose birthday were that day and wish to have that as a hook for the program. This would have been Whiteladies Road presumably. No sorry I've skipped a bit because this was on the first day at broadcasting house I think about when I was taken for the first time in a studio with a live show and the announcer was I think Elizabeth Carl who came over from television of course Ally Palace. Yes. And of course I was absolutely over the moon by all this is this. But this was it. I mean I only done the right thing and I was then sent to Bristol and I stayed in Bristol still training really although I was put on shows in Bristol. I can't remember too much about the show is quite frank. I know I went over to Weston super mare. They got a studio at Weston. I think it was Kenwin young. You remember came they weren't very tasty very sweet. That was excellent. The catch phrase that Douglas Young. Yes I think it was one of their shows. But of course while it was in Bristol I experienced I'd been through the London air raids that Bristol air raids in Bristol copped it were horrendous because you were such a small town area monitoring. And I remember coming back. When I on one Sunday when I'd been out walking round cheddar and on the bus coming in the the antiaircraft fire got higher and higher in the sky as raid was in full flight. And I remember walking up from the town centre up towards Whiteladies Road where Broadcasting House was and still is much enlarged now to my digs where at the back of white ladies road. And I remember there were bombs falling everywhere and ducking into doorways and I got home to my digs and flopped into bed. I think up on the first floor and I just didn't worry and I was so tired with the walking and everything that I think almost slept through this lot. But that night the sound effects library was sustained a direct hit and I think all the discs were destroyed and soon after this they decided that they would move up to Bangor in North Wales because Bristol was obviously far too hot. I wasn't on the celebrated special train that went up from Bristol to Bangor which had bird cages and everybody slug kids and everything all light entertainment people. I'd gone back to London back home and of course I was invited to stay with the department to go up to Bangor.

SPEAKER: M5

And by this time I got a taste for variety light entertainment and of course kept that taste right through the next 50 years. We went up there. I must have had a month at home or something I know maybe a week or two at home and then went up to Bangor. When I arrived in Bangor they pushed me up to a place called Penn Mymar along the coast towards Llandudno  on the main line.

SPEAKER: F2

And I remember I was charge the charge for bed breakfast and evening meal at these digs with Mrs Hughes I remember and thought you won't be with us. She's in that great boarding house in the sky. But Mrs Hughes charged 35 now with it's 30 shillings and it's 35 shillings for bed breakfast and an evening meal. This is more than I was earning. I'll tell you. Twenty nine shillings so they had to give an allowance of thirty five bob which they did for me to live at all more than my salary the allowance living allowance. Well as you said and. That was quite fascinating because we had special buses which stopped off which started at Penn my mar the Peter Duncan who was a producer in Denton . But in those days he was a programme engineer ending up in in in Bangor and he lived not far from me at Penn my mar. And it started Pen and all about me had a timetable so you knew and it was time with certain shows and front we got there for the call for ITMA and the band of course the review orchestra were in Lamberseter. And Horace Percival from ITMA the diver who played the diver he he was in Lamba and so we used to pick up all these people on the way in and arrive at Bangor for the ten o'clock call and this apply to all the shows so you know you you timed with the buses. And I remember dashing out of the dig but the bus usually eating an egg on toast because it's late getting up in the morning. With me was Pat Dougherty. You remember Pat. Yes I do. He was in the same digs. He almost looked after me because of course I was only just 17 and he was about 22. He was an old man to me a people a 22 year old when you were 17. Well yes. And I was waiting to get in. But Colonel I do if I get have this wonderful period. But oh it was quite wonderful. I. The experience I had in that two and a half years in Bangor was better than any university at studying light entertainment in radio because we had so many stars in that place. We had of course a repertory company the variety repertory company. And we had visiting Jack Buchanan's and Evelyn Laye. I remember one program dear old Michael North producer you're no longer with us like most of the producers I work with. But he was using Evelyn Laye. Of course who was lovely lady then about 48 or less. And I had part of 1 78 I was playing and that was my job as the. Junior program engineer to play part of one record. And he introduced me to Evelyn Laye who came up to the control cubicle and he said this is John Ammonds. He's playing our records in the floor or he was building it up a bit you know. And I remember shaking hands with her and wilting and I saw all these great facades. They would faint and 17 remember that and all the other people I work with. I used to be apart from Tommy Handley of course where I was working with a colleague for a long time. It was a fellow call you may have heard of him. He worked I think in Harlech in ITV called Maurice Jones. Oh yes indeed. He died a month died fairly young. Yes but he was my colleague on effects on ITMA for a long time. There were one or two others as well. Eventually Brian Bayes?. Now that was in London. That was in that Brian came later. Yes. I didn't know this was the we had me a lovely guy called Peter Francis who was the son of Dick Francis who who was in the repertory company really a biggish chap. Oh yeah. He used to play in comedies and things. But Peter was a lovely chat. He got killed. Terrible. He joined the Marines and became an officer. He trained down at Lympstone where they trained the Royal Marines training depot down there. And he he got engaged to a girl called Muriel Muriel. Her name is in the roll of honour in the Broadcasting House foyer. Oh Muriel. Yeah. I can't remember Miller Dyson d y s o n she. She was a secretary out there and he got to know me and they got engaged and she went down to see him at Bournemouth. The two of them and the hotel. But while these hit and run German Raiders got a direct hit that killed her instantly and he died in hospital a year or two. A day or two later Peter he was only 19 or 20 and he was a wizard at sound effects and a very highly developed sense of humour which I think he got from his father. Yes I've still got a book somewhere with drawings you two caricatures of artists and me I'm there and somehow the face humour and various artists she worked up there.

SPEAKER: M1

But yes that was a tragedy. There was me. Maurice? JONES Peter Francis may a fella caught Wynn Jones another Welsh guy and but it was evenly split I think between the English and the Welsh on that side effects.

SPEAKER: F2

Of course I was on Tommy Handley the night the night we had the only bomb dropped on Bangor. It was some bloke a German pilot on the way back from Belfast. I think he got lost and just ditched his bombs isn't it. I don't think it was just for ourdepartment. He was up to it to finish off but it was one night we were actually live. I mean I've heard this disc it's in the library when you hear the bomb fall and it was in the middle of a number that I had my little affect store with you know with all the gubbins and phones and horses hooves and everything else about ten feet from the main Mike with Tommy and the girls were using the mike and it was Charlie Chaple conducting the band. My father in law that's right. To the right your variety orchestraExactly and they were doing a number called funnily enough. Take what you do. It's the way that should do it. I think with this pilot had you know it was very funny that this this should be the number one should what you do it's in the middle of this there was this crunch and there were two actually.

SPEAKER: M3

And you had all this dust. It was an all it was a place where we were using an old church hall but it wasn't a church no it was a sort of social hall called Penwyn? Hall. No Penrith the hall it was right in the middle of Bangor and it was pretty old and it when the crunch came you all the dust and old seagulls and Welsh hymn books came out from the ceiling and everyone and nobody knew what to do.

SPEAKER: F2

I think we stopped eventually but at that point of course they'd faded it out in London and it was live stuff giving our position away and everything you've seen these bombs and it was it was a terrible tragedy because the guy who'd been through all the Bristol raids these one or two bombs it was a BBC driver who'd been all through the rest wrecked his car sustained a direct hit and he was killed by one of these two bombs are terribly bad luck of course that the following night up to that point the gram room at the Penwyn? was at the back but it frequently was distant in those days from the control room where the programme engineer controlled levels. Yeah yeah. And we never worried about blackout. I mean there was like showing nobody what but the night after that those two bombs we had people knocking at the dawn outside saying put that light out on that thing and there and and I'm certain that it's it isn't really true. But it one story was that the next day one of the locals said to one of the BBC people he said Karl you've never had anything like this in London man. If these two bombs you know and it terrified everybody but we didn't have any more. And that was it. We had all sorts of peculiar places a studios in Bangor. We moved from Penwyn Hall? to the county theatre. Now it was still there about four or five years ago looking very decrepit. I went up. Strangely enough I went up to give an interview for Harlech or something thinking they were doing a programme on Wales at war or something. And I went up to walk round these places and do a chat about them and I went inside the county. It's a pity we didn't have the lights to be able to do something on the stage when I used to be on the OP side with a table with Meurig Jones my colleague doing these effects for ITMA  the spot effects exactly so cool. And now though when I went there three or four years ago all the seats were sort of decrepit and there was dust everywhere wasn't being used. I should think now it's been knocked down and we're the orchestra we're behind on the stage you know it was all dust everywhere and it was very eery standing in the same position where I used to stand as a kid of 17 or 18 nearly 50 years later amazing the hall had survived I know what you did and maybe it's been a repertory company and I don't know cinema everything else since then. I'll tell you one interesting story which relates to what came later. I'll jump because of this story when Eddie Braben and the writer for Morecambe and Wise him of course I worked with for years later he was a kid at that time because he didn't know he'd be four or five years younger than me. So when he was a kid of about eleven or twelve he remembers queuing outside the county theatre to see these shows on which how I was doing sound effects are wonderful. And we met up all those years later on Morecambe and Wise it's really the Liverpudlian who was probably evacuated. He was he was only at an awful definitely and Liverpudlian. And. One story I was talking about standing in the wings. We weren't really in the wings who were in full view of the audience. When I came out again jumping out of the Army and I did the last ITMA  on sound effects in nineteen forty seven or forty eight yeah. But they're the Paris cinema are in Lower Regent Street. We were screened off from the audience and I thought well this is a bit different from the ways we were in full view and of course you can imagine at 17 or 18 being in full view of an audience. I mean it yes I'd done a bit of acting but I wasn't used to this especially doing silly things like walking on gravel or something you know feeling a bit of a berk in front of the audience. But one particular night I will always remember we were on the air with Tommy Handley and Tommy was playing the mayor of this place called Foaming at the mouth this seaside resort. And somehow they'd got some caves very near the seaside resort and he as mayor was showing this party of tourists round these caves rather like the cheddar caves. And each time they went in they'd hit their head on the roof and he'd say watch out for the roof and you've got a sound effect which which was one of these Temple blocks these large a great red saying it was a big one but the two pieces joined on one side and produce this hollow with a mallet with this hollow noise. And each time he said Watch out. Bang. And they'd not the head this happened down about two pages on transmission and he was standing at the centre stage Mike facing the audience and I was well ten or twelve feet away in view of the audience again with my effects mike down and I was banging the these you look out bang on this thing look out bang on the third one I must have used a bit too much energy and this thing split off and it rolled right in front of me across the stage and he said Oh look his ears come off great red.

SPEAKER: F3

The audience erupted now of course I got nothing. And I know I've rushed out of the drama. I got mine. I don't know what happened in time for the next page you see down there. But I shall never forget that ad lib with the beauty from top it it's a great red thing. There's great half death row right here. Oh look it has come off and of course the audience loved it. But we all remember with live shows what can happen.

SPEAKER: M4

I mean that was a classic and it's interesting that the tradition. When I was working on the Goon Show later appearing in visione doing the effects came back of course.

SPEAKER: M5

Did you do it. I mean I never did the Goon Show. Did you actually. Were you involved for you. Well I suppose that was a natural for that you'd have to go and do it. Yes. To get the laughs from that of them effects the date. Yeah. But I was amazed when I had these screens round that ITMA  and the last series I did until Tommy died because I like it so much really. I mean although by that time of course when I came out in 47 I was going onto the panel as a program engineer.

SPEAKER: F2

But anyway going back to where I was in nineteen Well I stayed there 1940 1 1942. We used to do go over to Llandudno  we had the grand theater Llandudno where the theater organ was installed. Do you remember the Sandy McPherson Yes the theater organ that was installed on the stage of the Grand Theater and we occasionally use the grand for shows. We would do all the time it would go to the theater organ was there in the week and everything. But on Sundays we did Happy Drome. Happy Drome Yes. And occasionally they'd need some stupid sound effect in the happy.

SPEAKER: M4

Where I only got the BBC. But you know and me that's it. What are you Vincent Terry. Yeah.

SPEAKER: F3

These signature tunes are indelible really. The one ITMA it's that man again. I remember one night where I'd lost my watch or something I don't know because I I was a bit dubious about how much time I'd got before transmission when the red light went on you say at Penwyn? Hall and I needed to go to the loo rather urgently if there's something pretty extensive and I I thought I think I've got time. So I went into the loo and of course when I heard the music I thought Jesus and rushed like mad. But of course they were doing a balance check really and didn't realise that until I got my trouseres on . Remember that distinctly. But that's why I again like whether she was all is indelible all the truth of the passage.

SPEAKER: F2

And the the other one was the old town hall I mean whether you wish to for some reason we had a night called Penny's on the Drum. No I didn't. It was a quiz. Quiz. And Richard Goulden and the actor did a thing as a nightwatchman. He was by his old fire bucket. I mean you get a little wisps of memory my memory is not that good anyway but it but I say these things come back to me. There was a show a ITMA  at the Windsor Castle and what he.

SPEAKER: M4

There were two royal occasions I know that the second one was the with the fleet and that's right that's Scapa Flow Yeah. This was the cards again for the royal family.

SPEAKER: F2

And because they only need at least they said they only needed one sound effect we drew lots and of course the Welsh chap won I think it was back and one and he went either way either or when I think it was I don't know what his surname was. I think he finished up in ITV somewhere and where he went and. And well now it came 1943 and we were as far as the services were concerned we would deferred until nineteen normally were called up at eighteen and in war and we because of the job we're allowed to stay until we were nineteen and we were also allowed to volunteer quaintly put it and I volunteer for signals which I thought was connected with what I was doing vaguely.

SPEAKER: M5

Now this is an example of what I mean I should have known I mean I after four years in the army this would not have surprised me but it did at the time. What happened was the day I was supposed to report and joined the Army at Prestatyn had a holiday camp there which they used as a centre for the army. They were Butlins camp. I think it was yes it happened to be the night of the one hundredth ITMA. Ah so I got my superiors the BBC people to write to the army and say Could I report late because to do this show as it was the hundredth the last of this particular series. So it was OK we got reply back. Okay fine. So I did the hundredth show Llandudno. No it was a grand theatre we used it for that night as being the last of the series and we had a party afterwards and the orchestra got on it because they were going to London you know after they got there two weeks leave a holiday and they got on the train I got on with them and I left the train much waving and everything else for the Army at Prestatyn and walked down to the holiday camp I got to the guard room and of course I said What a name was and that I'd got this permission to report late of course they knew nothing about so really I think I've been posted a deserter the first thing and I slept on a terrible army bed and then following day I was saying sir.

SPEAKER: F3

To these tuppeny halfpenny second lieutenants and I never called anybody sir as you know in the BBC producers. I think John Watt I may have said that they have Head of variety I might have said Sir to him but no producer. My immediate superiors it was always Francis of France's Work? . Even as a kid a 78. So I have to say Sir to. Everybody. No I didn't like the army. I didn't. Although not until I joined in. I said Prestatyn the next day I think we went down to Warwick the awful primary training for six weeks and assault course and dreadful thing but I've never been very physical I didn't like very much.

SPEAKER: M5

And then I ended up at Catterick as an operator wireless operator where we start we will learn Morse code and everything else youknow at Catterick. And then I was sent after finishing that course I was sent to Norfolk to 76 division. I think it was called a training division. And then one day when I'd been there for a week or two I saw a notice on the board and it said people could apply for line mechanics. They were called line Macs to the glorified post office engineers dealing with lines tele printers you know no idea. Yes.

SPEAKER: F2

And I thought I saw an interesting call it was in A trade mine waswas a B trade. I thought well that's going up a bit. And I remember being interviewed by this officer Captain I think he wants for this job at. The base in Norfolk. And he said Well what do you do I said well I remember. And it was the truth at the time but I said well I was working on the. Sound effects and because when I was in Bangor I'd gone onto the nobbish assumption for some show so we can be simple little shows to do. Sandy McPherson ever landed there was something you know something was very easy on a premgramme engineer balance and control and I said I said exactly that. I said in the balance and control of radio programmes. He said Come off it.

SPEAKER: F3

He thought I meant in some managerial position you have got control of the actual output. I said well I did sir you know either and then I had to explain what I meant because he's out come off it Ammonds I said no I did. And that's what I did and I had to explain what I did anyway.

SPEAKER: F4

I got the posting to. How does it feel where I learned this post office engineer's job. Now this was good training eventually as it turned out because from Huddersfield I was sent to what was called a war office signals unit down in Portsmouth.

SPEAKER: F3

Now this is the luckily the invasion had already started then. So I was a bit behind the rest of the Army and I wasn't in the frontline or anything but we were in charge of the cross-channel sector  1944.

SPEAKER: M5

Yes a bit further on 1944 and we were at these tunnels underneath the hill there at Portsmouth Southwick as it's called Southwick with the house where they planned the invasion on the top. Oh right.

SPEAKER: F3

And we were all we were we had to maintain tele printers and everything one I was shaken up while I was there we went to Goodge street in London where they'd got some centre underneath. I'm not do that and we put a new exchange in you know because a lot of the people with me of course were post office engineers. So they were an archive round thing. Are they still there. Yeah. Well that's where I worked as a  I was going to put these soldiering and stuff with you amendment wise and things with telephone exchanges and then I went to cross to Bayeux. Of course I said the army was being fed up and also the fortunate thing was they laid a cable across from Dover to Calais that way because our cable was invasion our circuits were used out of action for about three weeks our telephone lines and the reason was Oh dear we had Americans not our fault for the Americans are manning the repeater station that Rouen and if you tried to chase a tone down the line you'd get an American who didn't know one end of a repeater from the other when you were speaking to him it's now. Can you check m25 and see what it's coming to you at. You see what level and what it's going out there. So you'd say it's beating us a plus five see it from our repeaters here and it'd be a long pause and he'd say Yeah it's coming into us plus eight. I simply can't do this I can't come in more. He's got 25 30 what do you think a long time he's at. How do we got British repeaters. I think it's nothing to do with that you know you are on the incoming side you know and I quote eventually had to send a bloke up to do it. But often our lines were out of action but it didn't worry because he was keeping it the short way out with the cables further up usually at Dover and Calais. So anyway I spent my 21st birthday in Bayeux I remember getting absolutely paralytic on Calvados you know that awful I was sort of what it Apple or pear brandy I can hear them Yeah and they they almost dumped me into the back of a pony and trap and set right up to the camp.

SPEAKER: F2

They're only about 10 of us in this section manning this repeater station and they may forty five obviously. That's right. Forty five what was it. Yes I was 21. Yes. And then they sent me because I had a high D mob group with 54. They fished me out of the section and I thought hit Japan. Here we come because of course it was pretty nearly VE day then wasn't it.

SPEAKER: M6

I don't know quite where we were then. No it wasn't there. No course it wasn't. No. Because a little bit later but it was but it wasn't far off VE day because what do you do about a month away from. Yeah. They took me up too. They sent me to a unit at Dieppe.

SPEAKER: F2

I'm not sure what unit that was it may have been our other war office signal unit and then they fished me out of there because I'd got this high age group to Bruges in Belgium to  reinforcement holding unit our HQ where I thought well this is Asia. But after being there for a few days I was sent down to a civilian repeater station in the Rhur in Munster which was battered absolutely battered by aircraft. And these I joined a unit there which was called a telecommunications specialist section which was just all post office engineers and the captain was in Post Office Inspector who'd been drafted into the army to restore civilian repeater stations in Germany and it was when they heard I'd worked at the BBC. They were fascinated and when I came out of the army eventually they were ringing me up saying how can I get into the BBC. And I felt so guilty because I had in fact whilst I was in Bayeux I had taken a couple of city and guilds examinations because you could in the army you know. They were very you see the education officer doing it I had somebody like that and it was it was transmission and lines was one of them. I got a B or something and the other I didn't know what the other one was theory or something of repeaters.

SPEAKER: F3

Anyway this was all in good stead for what came later because of course I won't jump too far except to say that when I was in the BBC enable me to take the Grade D examination programme engineering exam in 47 without going to Evesham. Oh you missed the dreaded miracle of miracles. I passed it and I I've got those papers and I don't understand the questions. Anyway getting back to the outside got to to Munster to these telecommunications specialist sections. Now I remember the thing I remember about that. They were lovely lads. They were really you know good.

SPEAKER: F2

Telephone engineers all this lot. They knew knew exactly miles ahead of me I didn't know half of what they knew a tenth of what they knew but we used to do night shifts you know and on maintenance duty and we used to have circuits coming through from us from fact Frankfurt was the American zone because it now the war must have been over from Frankfurt to London and we used to plug it on the speaker and listen to these American servicemen ringing their girlfriends in London and it was always quite fast they play cruel really yes it back it whiled away the night and I gave you something to listen to the girls and then. But the important other thing was in the daytime we had a music circuit going through us to a BFN in British Forces Network transmitter in the Ruhr from Hamburg where they were operating from us and I used to hear listen to this lot I used to hear Sergeant Bob Boyle and he's still there doing Friday night is Music nigth Bob used to be in Hamburg and he would say this is the British forces network.

SPEAKER: F4

And I said what what am I doing here I should be back there. So I applied to the officer in charge to go for an interview to Hamburg but when I got to Hamburg I first thought of a BBC place that I knew before.

SPEAKER: M3

And of course a lot of them knew like Trevor Hill yes they'd been in the Army almost in England since the formation of British forces network and on that note we reached in one side one in the.

END OF SIDE 1

John Ammonds Side 2

SPEAKER: M2

TO THE STORY continues right John you're in Hamburg in Hamburg.

SPEAKER: M8

Not well now.

SPEAKER: M3

When I got there they think I was a corporal. They promoted me to sergeant because they put me in charge of about four other guys as a senior program engineer because we had the our studios were in the headquarters of the Hamburg philharmonic society.

SPEAKER: M4

Yeah may I stopped them because I think we've missed a bit.

SPEAKER: M5

You had just heard BFN on the oh yes on the line Bob Boyle and that's right. Did you Did you formally apply to join them.

SPEAKER: M3

Well yes actually I did formally apply and obviously because of my experience it was suiting up even early they didn't stop me from leaving the repeater station and obviously the the people in Hamburg were keen I forget who was the bloke in charge. I think it was a fellow whom you all know John Mcmillan.

SPEAKER: M4

John Mcmillan was Lieutenant Colonel John. That's right. I see BFN there right.

SPEAKER: M3

He was there then. That's right. Yeah. And I can't remember though any of the other people but what. Not even Barney Coleghan wasn't there. I never seemed to come in touch. He probably did more when I left. I didn't know where Barney was working. I don't remember seeing him there. Barney Coleghan whom I work with later in Manchester Leeds was Keith.

SPEAKER: M5

Keith Fordyce then. No no no later. I think you know Johnny Brandon. Yes yes. I know what's happened to him. The disc jockey still surely isn't. Not over here. I don't know. I don't I think he went to America didn't he. No he's a Canadian isn't he.

SPEAKER: M3

Nathan No. No he's not. I think he put on an American accent but I don't think he. Oh Eric and Ernie knew him. Yeah. Cause they'd work with him I think in an either in Variety doing something. I don't know. Anyway he was doing announcing the other guy lives. Cliff Mitchelmore no no because he. Oh just a minute now you to come in for the family favorite thing I think. I think he may. That may have started when I left. I'm not sure of that but I'm trying to think of the other guy. Anyway I presume you had an interview with John Mack. Yes. John McMillan. Yes I must have done everything seemed to go well and I was transferred and I was amazed in really by the amount of work that was being done there because we used to have this studio in the Hamburg Philharmonic Hall Center. They had a big concert hall there which they still used for civilian concerts for the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra I think it was called. We had a permanent rig there. We had a mike up in there in front of the orchestra knew it. I used to go in because you know I was very keen on classical music and that's where I first heard Bruckner Symphonies. We had a guy called Eugen Joachim. I think he's dead or alive. J OCA QM who was conducting the Hamburg. He was their principal conductor the Hamburg symphony orchestra. We also had Furtwangler coming to audition for the Berlin Philharmonic and I remember listening to those audition. That was quite fascinating to see the great man that I felt man. But you know and we had visits from the Berlin Philharmonic with a guy called Celibate? Archie a Romanian conductor. They were using. And I remember they all arrived in Army lorries. It was it was all a bit rough. You know for this superb musicians who arrived for a special concert here in Hamburg we used to do everything from the dance band staff as program engineers to the Berlin Philharmonic. I remember going on OB's down in Brunswick brownish bike in Brunswick for a Berlin Philharmonic.

SPEAKER: M6

We recorded it down there at the line to Hamburg because we had tape machine because we had Magneto phone tape you know tight. We didn't have in the BBC those people to use had. They took them back to London I think to examine them one of our units that we were using because they didn't know about these things. We were using the moment magnetophone all the time. Yes there were all these recordings and I remember doing that concert for the Berlin. And of course people in the bands we used to get like Don Russia. I've often spoke to you know doing sessions all the time with Morecambe and Wise on Lafayette about the days that we said yes. That's how I really started in army bands with the trombone. And I remember him in bands we used to do from this studio B we had a smaller. It wasn't as big as the concert hall it was a smaller studio and we had our own orchestra light orchestra as well. Civilian orchestra used to use.

SPEAKER: M9

And a sort of tango orchestra with a fellow called Juan Losses? one bosses with all sorts of peculiar accordions and things he used to use in this band.

SPEAKER: M4

Now the older alto orchestra the pre-war what are they REO tango.

SPEAKER: M5

Something like what it was like that. It was like that and it was quite again a fascinating time. The variety of world was with you knob twiddling. Well I can't remember. They were Army blokes who'd been REME and doing it anyway and they I can't remember any of them. They weren't BBC Pete nerdy balanced blokes. Nine. I'm trying to think of any other BBC people. Jimmy Kingsbury drama Jimmy yes yes. He was over there. Yes of course Bob Boyle was there. Yeah. Jimmy announcing then yes. Is he right. I don't know what he was doing to him but doing great work with energy. Now.

SPEAKER: M10

I can't remember there must be others who were there whom I have met since but it was quite a fascinating time. It was it was dreadful Hamburg then of course was knocked to smithereens. And after a little of it gigantic fire raged on things were dreadful really for the civilians there certainly that we had of course civilian people working  in the building factories and that type of thing. And we used to go off on OB's and did John Macmillan interfere with things very much then I don't remember that he could have done me good I don't remember much about him really.

SPEAKER: M3

Of course the other guy was there. He came in. Who was the ex Spitfire pilot who still does the RAF reunion some things. Oh Tony.

SPEAKER: F4

OB's. He works a lot for he did work a lot for outside television outside broadcasts not on the staff as a commentator. Oh Peter. Yes. He became a spitfire pilot. Yes but he became he was the civilian boss I think in an  and after John Macmillan again RaymondBaxter and Baxter I mean right.

SPEAKER: M5

Yes I was yes. Yes that's right then came back to it because I met him at you remember Dugy Hess?. Yes. At his funeral Doug a poor old dog his funeral he dropped dead on a golf course. Yes. Good way to go because he was a keen golfer but a terrible shock for his wife. Yes. As we went in I was this is digressing like mad just still recording I because my wife and I it was a second week of our honeymoon and the first week of here is on a boat on the Norfolk Broads doing what Peter would tell Peter Bellamy and Peter Phil and there about there was a sort of flotilla of about three of these boats and ours just the four of us was naturally with the honeymoon situation called The Passion wagon up a boat but and Dougy and Margaret that's his widow now. It was a terrible terrible tragedy that yes but I met this. What's his name. The chap we've just met. Raymond Baxter ran back to there and we would chat. I said you won't remember me. He said I do sergeant Ammons beer and ham across.

SPEAKER: M9

I remember you sounded amazing and conceded that they left Hamburg but said John McMillan subsequently of course came back the BBC was controller light programme and then eventually came to Redifusion as controller and subsequently general manager up to the time when you lost the franchise in 1968. Thereafter. John has sort of disappeared from our ken. I believe he lives in the south of France.

SPEAKER: M6

Oh yes. So so when do we go from 1945 your or even 46 now you know. Well of course we then go through to when I was demobbed. We wish to have a demob party nearly every night. I how I did it become an absolute confirmed alcoholic. I shall never know because I was drunk like everybody else most of the time. Yes. In 1947 I went through the same process.

SPEAKER: M4

Oh yes I almost carried upstairs after some of these parties you know did backtracking a little when I went off into the RAF. About the same time as you went into the army. I had no reassurance either from the BBC that they would take me back but there was a gentlemen's agreement was there not. Yes I remember. Yes there was. I know I probably like me. You wrote to them as your demob number was coming up. Yes I did. How about it. May I return or what.

SPEAKER: M3

And I think I must have done because I've said I've got the letter in there actually I did have the letter back offering me this technical assistant class three at seven pounds and six pence a week.

SPEAKER: M9

I think that's that's what I got in when I came back in August I think it was August or September forty seven. Can you remember how much you were earning. Latterly as a sergeant signal I can't. Would it have been an increase.

SPEAKER: M3

Or does it is it must be because I don't think I saved very much in my four years in the army. I don't remember that I did when I came out. I know my report I did keep it for a time that book. They give you and your C.O. gives a report on your. That's right. You know what type of character your table. And it said that I was good at organizing the section and program engineering and everything else that I was a sober member of the staff or something.

SPEAKER: F3

He couldn't have seen me at these it's but no I'm. I got this letter from the BBC when I came out to offer me this technical assistant job and I was sent back of course to Bond street you know to where I only know because everybody moved back from Bangor just after I went in in 42 43 44 I think.

SPEAKER: F1

I don't think much went on after I left the army to go to the army in Bangor. And everybody was back.

SPEAKER: M4

And that's of course where you were You were there weren't you. Well no because you've got your City and Guilds you didn't have to go to Evesham.

SPEAKER: F2

Oh no no I didn't. And that of course that's what happened. They said the. I heard about this great decontamination that was coming up in about two months time before the end of the year. When I came back I came back in perhaps beginning October I think it was. And it was in about November. I think it was only about a month's time but I I looked at the syllabus and I thought well I don't know too much about it but I knew some of it because I knew about transmission lines and equalization things like that which I was doing you know and and low frequency amplifiers and I knew a lot about that because of this army experience you've see going in for this exam in Bayeux which I had to swot up but really I didn't have the connected information with the actual job of a programming in Sheffield. I mean nobody really taught you all about acoustics and everything else. Well I had to do a bit of swatting up on that with books but I thought badly I'll have a go you say. So I did and I was staggered when I passed because I told you when I read these question I got here. I don't understand the questions at all. I know I had a hell of a job in picking out the questions that I could actually answer. Yeah you answered you know three or five and you get to two and a half and that was it. But I passed and I still think it was it was a miracle and I ever afterwards I wanted to go to Evesham and I know I remember getting up at one meeting with I think it was Dr. Alexander And I said well head of engineering because at the time I was still doing sound effects and things I said well radio early on you know just after I passed this  exam I said Well I don't think it's made me any better with the sound effects you know with a Grade D programme engineer.

SPEAKER: F3

And of course it was soon after that that we got out and got into the central programme operation well the amalgamation didn't happen until early 49 did it.

SPEAKER: M2

What it is later then yes when I first met you was that early and all I'd come back as an RPA was based at BH but when the amalgamation happened we RPA's who were supposed to be non-technical know shunted off to Evesham. Oh I stay the course quite sensibly delighted to be there.

SPEAKER: M6

I was there with Harry Rogers and I was on the same course amongst other people but I guess to go back for a moment when I was in Bangor and we were not a little annoyed of course to hear what you people RPA. First of all your salary. Oh indeed yeah. And secondly the fact that we thought we were doing half of your job because we there not being any RPA in Bangor. And there were a lot of assistants to be joined up you know it's programme we were doing it. Yes going back. There was one programme I shall never forget. A producer called Eric Fawcett. Yes. You used to be in a allyPally. The stammer Yes and that's right. Lovely character. Yes. But he did a programme on Will Fife the old Scots comic and read a great big box arrived a cardboard box about three feet by three feet by three feet. And it had.

SPEAKER: F3

Everything cube pretty well. Yes yes. And it had all these discs he'd recorded you know 78 direct recordings all over Scotland and he'd. But he said I've done this summit in the studio up there but I need effects under this and I need something else under this . And I had when I finished up for this half hour programme there were about two racks full of discs and if sound effects discs and I did it on my own running up six turntables. Well we obviously did that all the time. I know but yeah. But I was only getting twenty seven cents for it. Yeah. So we were doing it ourselves. That's exactly it.

SPEAKER: F2

But when we had a lot more of course upset and because I did this I I wrote to Peter Florence the engineering establishment officer and I said I wish when I'm coming to London on my leave I want to come and see you about some very important personal matters. My answer when I said so I remember coming. I remember coming into his office which was one of these outbuildings near broadcasting venting how venting and he had this semicircle of desks very imposing when I went in but he said sit down and he said Now what are these important personal matters that you want to discuss with me. And I let him have it. I said Well look I told him what we were doing. I told him the money I was getting and about responsibility. And at the time they just announced that some 18 year old RAF bloke tail gunner had got the Victoria Cross.

SPEAKER: F3

I said if he can get why get us into responsibility. I mean can I. I'm taking the responsibility now you say which I thought was right. Clears throat So I didn't. I eventually got promoted to program engineer.

SPEAKER: F1

What's did about four quid. I was getting when I left. I think when I left it was four pounds 10 or something. I don't.

SPEAKER: M2

Remember now. In the interests of clarity for those who listen to this recording in future times we ought to point out that the program department and the engineering department were really poles apart weren't they. Early in the war and indeed until after the wars like the end of the war. Until common sense prevailed eventually and the two departments were amalgamated. Well I say the two departments. What I mean is that not the program department and engineering amalgamated totally but elements of the program department i.e. people like myself then recorded programs assistants who were doing a similar job and not exactly parallel with the program engineering department were amalgamated eventually in 1949 and we all became central operations and studio managers by title track and we didn't have to learn one another's jobs didn't we. I mean you'd had some experience with direct cut desks. Oh yes of recorded programs job originally and we'd have little experience or some of us have some experience playing an  commercial gramophone records and doing sound effects and balance.

SPEAKER: M7

Well that's right I say that program from Scotland was a mixture of the two the two. Yes and it was live and it was home and the forces programme because I know when I looked at times I was feeding time and they ordered the transmitters from this little back room in Bangor and get me get it. I did not but that would mean that there's responsibility for your quite simple it as well. So what did you think of it.

SPEAKER: F3

It really is. It makes me shake now to think about it about the responsibility we had. Oh it's ITMA. You couldn't stop me doing it again. And you got used to that timing of it.

SPEAKER: M6

I mean I think it taught you a lot about comedy timing especially as you were often performing so close to the artists like Tommy Handley and all of them. And you got very used to this rhythm of the show which again obviously taught you when you're a producer later obviously you had all the knocks on into editing and everything. Oh yes. The whole thing and you were working of course with producers with musicians with writers and with actors on the floor with them all the time so unless you were a dolt you had to learn it you know you could no to.

SPEAKER: F3

And it's wonderful wonderful training and I'm very grateful. I'm grateful to the BBC for giving it to me. The trouble is later the BBC had the attitude that you should be very grateful that you shouldn't ask for money as well. If the BBC add to it that never changed never. But in the beginning I think it has now of course with know well we know everything. Anyway we came out back to you earlier. And then in 1947 you went back to Early?. I did. Yes.

SPEAKER: F1

And of course I went back on to ITMA because although then I was going onto a panel to work as well as a program engineer. I was and it was especially had been promoted to with a bit more money too. After I'd done the great deal examination as a Grade D programme engineer and that that was a wonderful time of course with all the big shows we were doing then from Veolian? and from the Paris cinema.

SPEAKER: F4

I'm trying to remember all the shows that I did work on. And apart from ITMA.

SPEAKER: M6

Well were there any of the shows worth logs for all of those. Yes and Charlie Chester it only just so Much Binding in the Marsh yes and Take it from Here of course later as well. Yes. All those shows first as sound effects and then doing the panel as well then In Town tonight with Peter Duncan. Yes first playing the Knightsbridge march and all the links the records and then going onto the panel when we used to have all the American stars over the Danny Kaye. I remember that Danny Kaye when I was on the panel on the knobs we were live of course. He terrified the main control room people by walking in and putting his arm round all the links you know in Jacks. Exactly. I think we're gonna pull the lot up and they nearly had a fit with this madman. But he'd been on the booze anyway and he came into me when somebody else was on and he leaned over to the knob so I thought Christ is he going to face something good.

SPEAKER: F5

He didn't do it. It was all right but while it lasted it was a bit unnerving. Yes. Oh yes. We get used to get a more Ginger Rogers and everybody coming and on In Town Tonight doing well. Peter was lucky at all the Palladium people Peter Dunne kind of got to do it and dropped onto the show. Yes down the road. That was that came out of B H didn't it. But in town tonight. Yes. That's one you know one. Yeah. The basement the subbasement. Yes that's right. Yeah yeah. And yellow ground. I was on that for quite a long time.

SPEAKER: F6

I have to think like mad nights a long time ago cause when I've been doing shows for a bit I was chosen to do a three month producer's attachment.

SPEAKER: F5

Ah yes yes. And that happened just as we were just before transferred to Central program operations before we came and because we lost overtime which we got as engineer. Yes they paid us some paltry amount like 20 pounds a year as compensation. This fixed flat rate you see. I got a memo which I've got it here which is when I went onto this job of more responsibility and I did quite a few scripted shows like with Dick Bentley Gently Bentley some of Roy Fear? shows they gave me and Johnny Simmons shows with Mr. Music with big bands like Ron Goodwin and which I enjoyed immensely. And a series called something like Three's a crowd that is great with Jimmy Young. Who elses was it. Jimmy I'm at right angles and Stan Stennet and I think it was right that it was a seriousness. Someone was doing quite well in the middle of doing this. I got a memo from Callum Roberts who was administrator. This is Grace Callum Roberts. To say that I would because I transfer to programs I wouldn't hide from central program operate I would lose this 20 pounds a year. And I wrote back. I've got them and I said Well when I was transferred I knew because I've been told that I wouldn't get any more money but I didn't think I could get less from it.

SPEAKER: F3

So that's I think I think they made it up to me in some way.

SPEAKER: M4

JUDITH Yes you mentioned the overtime thing that was what we didn't get as recorded programs assistants of course. No. Which you were angered about our lives. Well yes but salary. But equally we moaned because they cut you when we moved across and became studio managers. Nobody got anything extra. No no no. I can say that we lost the overtime. We never had I think on aggregate through the years you would still come up top.

SPEAKER: M6

With respect. But no then then this but that of course was wonderful experience again the production. I wasn't obviously very interested in and I got some Music While You Work and dance band shows. I wasn't as interested on the dance. It was scripted shows and comedy that they're always interesting.

SPEAKER: F2

And but it was this experience I didn't want to apply for dance band producers when they were advertised as such but and a scripted variety producer job didn't come up for the next ages but one in Manchester came up north region. Yes.

SPEAKER: M4

The variety department Manchester are advertised for a variety producer before you got to Manchester John let's just reminisce about the studios because then now they're now fading rapidly. In fact the Paris cinema is probably the only external studio which is about and that's about to go.

SPEAKER: M2

And as we talk in 1994 it is about to go although there are some rumours of BBC Television they take it over there's a radio studio it seemed doomed. There is surely a book to be written one of these days if we could all get our heads together about the studios because there were many of them. Apart from the internal ones they aliens 1 and 2 , 2 0 1 Piccadilly 2 0 1 which building has got a lot to do anyway studios 1 and 2 and down 201. The Paris cinema which we just talked about earlier than that there was the People's Palace and the mile end road yes Home and Variety Bandbox. Yes the Jubilee chapel was the BBC theatre organ with Reggie Ford's Theatre Organ finished up eventually and I did a few transmissions from The Camden. So we had a place Cripplegate or something. Yes. Well that was that was that was the Jubilee Shuffle. That was the generation yes.

SPEAKER: M9

Yeah. Yes quickly. Yeah. And we used to course use The playhouse. And was it Charing Cross  Camberwell palace. Yes that was for Derek Wright wasn't it. Variety band variety band box. We were meeting the Beverly sisters for the first time. Yes. What a treat.

SPEAKER: F5

They were still talking at the same time and very loud. They still do. They're great friends of mine. I was a bunch when I worked on a Dudek and share. They were very they're very profound lovely and they could never get over the fact that at rehearsal I was you know show business on my knees and giving the directions and things and they said oh you're a performer you know and they've always whenever I have worked with not very often they'd been terribly enthusiastic and in fact when they knew about Win you're having this multiple sclerosis she's got unfortunate and had for years. Yes they'd been to see Isent them a Christmas card and they send me one every Christmas and they'd been to see the B to ask a dear old Arthur Askey memoral service they'd been to see. And they because they were seeing somebody in my district at Gerrard's Cross and they knew where I live. They rang me and said Can we come you and have a cup of tea and said here and I can just imagine all these lace curtains at Wall Street as these three identically dressed girls all in their finery having been to Arthur's memorial service. Came to see me and they brought their scrapbook with pictures taken on the BBC and everything. So it is a bit like when they talk at the same time but they are and always have been professional. Yes indeed. And you know what they are doing anyway. Absolutely. What we were saying studios.

SPEAKER: M4

Yes. So you know we're talking about the lack of opportunity as producer in London. We all. There was somebody Johnnies in those days as well weren't there though about nine of us. We had only Stewart John Hooper yourself Johnny Fenton to everybody who's called John.

SPEAKER: F5

Johnny simply I mean Johnny King Johnny from Linea many of whom did succeed and become producers and yet they were they were pretty rare the opportunities and coming now to this question of applying for this job in Manchester. Now the interesting thing is at the time I told my colleagues that I was going for a job in Manchester they thought I'd gone round the twist. But of course I had the last laugh because again looking ahead a little bit I hadn't been in Manchester more than a year or two before I was working with Barney Coleghan on television. Yes of course a lot of my colleagues in and producers and Aeolian never got to tell it. One of you did. But most didn't know but of course going via Manchester was actually turned out to be the best thing I could have ever done. Shorts. I wanted to get quiet if only because was had the same programs in those days in charge of sound and television in Manchester. You didn't know anything about television but Dave Brown gave a wonderful BBC name to Bryan Cave round cave is dead now. KERRY O'BRIEN Okay. BBC type but I say I went up for an interview. Did you ever know Ronnie Taylor. Yes indeed. Now Ronnie Of course he he he knew anything. He went for Tambo and everything ahead of likely the chance. Ronnie is one of the very nicest people I've ever met in the business. I didn't mean clever as a writer but as a boss I respected him more I think than I've ever respected anybody because he he was so nice but he knew what he was talking about as well. And that is not all that the produce that went with the heads of departments. True but I'd met him I think once in London prior to going for this interview in Manchester for this producer's job and I found it quite pleasant. What I went for this interview in Manchester border in the board room at the Old Broadcasting half the old one in Piccadilly Piccadilly and you had Ronnie was there and the chairman and one of two other people I can't remember but when it got to Ronnie's three admin offices no doubt. Oh no dark person none officers admin. Yes but Ronnie at least he was the programme boss and the chairman turned to Ronnie said Well Mr Taylor have you you've got some questions you'd like to ask Mr Ammond and Ronnie said Well no I don't think so I mean I know Johnny's work terribly well I know him as a person very well and he'd met me once but immediately put me at my ease completely and said So really I don't think I know Johnny's work very impressive and I haven't got any questions. And I always I said to him later that did me a lot of good because that would be done enormously well. And but the thing that annoyed me and I think I'm right in saying this on that advertisement for that job in Manchester. It never said anything about a six month trial period but when I got it. That's what was on the memo. I would be on a six month and I thought that was a bit mean not to mention it and I think I'm right. I wouldn't go to the stake saying that I'm absolutely right. But I think so because I remember at the time feeling well I don't remember that. But anyway I got the memo and I got the job with a six month trial period actually in practice because of Ronnie Taylor again. I was able to go to Ronnie when about three months gone and say look what with my wife and everything having to move up. What are the chances. And he said Well I think it's a racing certainty here. Which it proved to be the first day I arrived in Manchester and this is Ronnie Tedder again rarely seen marvellous character. I hadn't unpacked my suitcases I went to their office where we had about four produce it was Ronnie. Muriel Schofield she was exactly in charge of the orchestra the northern dance orchestra conducted by the late now Alan Ainsworth. Eric Miller you remember.

SPEAKER: F3

Yes sir. Yes he was a little windy up there. That's right.

SPEAKER: M6

Yes he he was the first one to go from Andover. He was just what he was now who else on Geoff Wheeler who sent us down. It's not the commercial Jimmy Carter in Leeds isn't it Geoff. We'll let you know who gets it. He did well because he was the son of the manager of the Grand Hotel I think it was over the way and the controller used to hold it. I know him the. Well. JEFF LAWRENCE went there of course and me Geoff. He was. He was on the knobs first. He had a radio yes a man can read if he was a radio producer. But later he was still a program engineer. But the first day I say I got there. I hadn't unpacked my bags and Ronnie had said oh by the way I'd like you to do a series. I've just set up a bit with Ken Platt. He was a comic. Yes. He was just in his phrase but I'm not take my coat off I'm not stopping I'm not stopping off . I'm Ronnie red plenty well for him by the way. He said he's got one or two. He's not bad it'll cast up managed to get me so I've got I've got Billie Whitelaw playing his daughter and Thora Hird playing  his mother not a bad little got through that. And that's what it was. We did a series of six. That was my first job to produce that in Manchester.

SPEAKER: F1

I think Ronnie must have been writing it actually which I think probably was very relieved about. He was so good. And then of course again another that the next job was to produce. Morcambe and Wise these two really weren't known south of Macclesfield at the time. They were much more northern in those days. Eric was early sounds much the same. Not only that but Eric definitely was more gormless northern as well in those days. Daft but yeah. But we used to bring up acts from London you know like Hattie Jacques and Derek Guyver? and people up and supporting cast for Eric and Ernie and guests like Harry Secombe and I've still got a quarter inch tape at home with her. And although I say it myself it's very fast. You know I was reading scripts but. And it's not bad although I set this off. And yet the way we used to do it is quite amazing. They used to arrive having done a week in variety or somewhere on the Sunday morning. We were doing it Sunday night but it wasn't live or no record had recorded recorded and they'd arrive at say ten thirty on Sunday morning. They'd have their gag books there you know the printed gag books that they used and they also had Frank. We had Frank Roscoe who was a Blackpool writer who who had a sort a sort of script and it was thrown backwards and forwards round and we get a sort of script out it will be typed and then straight after lunch we go there were no office staff we'd Roneo because that was most one of most important qualification is to work a Roneo machine Sunday is a duplicate that nobody else in.

SPEAKER: M6

So we all did that and did the copy and we went down for a read through it all about 3:00 in the afternoon I suppose and it would've recorded it between eight and nine or something. Which studio was that till we started by using the old Hume Hippodrome. Right. And right next door to it. I mean back to back there was the playhouse. Yes. Yeah. Which was used as a repertory of drama theatre. And that the BBC eventually took over and we transferred there because that was fitted up with all the gear and a cubicle. Whereas Hume I think was in a drive in basis I think. Yes.

SPEAKER: M4

Originally Hume was a film studio wasn't this scene.

SPEAKER: F3

No there was not. I'm talking here about the Hume Hippodrome the varieties theatre. All right. Yes. Eventually the Dickinson Road was the studio. Yes. Was he used by many union films. That's right.

SPEAKER: M4

Frank Randall and all the films at the right made a mint of money and there was a documentary on BBC One last year 1953.

SPEAKER: M6

And of course it doesn't exist anymore but that's when I'm jumping there. But I'll keep in sequence. But no this was the Hume Hippodrome the varieties theatre it was a sort of number two number two a variety there yes right. But it wasn't the first rank but that backed onto the Playhouse where we eventually did shows. But what year we in now. We're in now nineteen fifty four fifty four. That's when I went to Manchester. You're married. Yes.

SPEAKER: F5

Yes I've been married married in fifty two. Yes.

SPEAKER: F4

So my wife eventually came up and we had a bungalow built we stayed in awful digs and things in Manchester we had to have a bungalow because my wife's never been able to cope with stairs and so we were lucky enough to get one built out in Cheshire through Stockport and up in the hills at Hazel Grove on the way to Disley on that to a separate. But it was be very pleasant you know a very pleasant place to be if you were working in Manchester you know. Right. Get better than going north of Manchester really I thought so anyway.

SPEAKER: M6

And so I'm sorry I interrupted you anyway and it was it was fifty four wasn't it radio then. I think we did hear riveter with Eric and Ernie. Yeah. Called you're Only Young Once yo yo for short it was good yeah.

SPEAKER: F5

You're only young once and it was a series of six I think Eric Miller did the first three and I did the last three something like that. And of course he I mean you realize you've got a couple of mvery good shows. We've just done this series and then they were approached by London to do a television series by Ronnie Waldmann. Yeah it is. And of course it was pretty disastrous. Yeah. And we were very annoyed because we'd spent the time grooming them in Manchester and then I don't know who produced it but it still happens doesn't it show where does shows just leave me.

SPEAKER: M7

Well what I think is realising marvellous radio show and you dealt them out about you know and they're obviously they didn't know anything about television.

SPEAKER: F5

No. And it just I mean Erik always remembers the line used by a critic and it hurt like hell and he always remembered it was. The television set is the box they buried Morecambe and Wise in. And he remembers that line always stings. They always said like to the day Peter Black Line. Yeah well I mean the trouble was I mean they were completely new to it. They yes you know they do radio but and they I don't know who was writing it. It was or it wasn't very well handled. And of course that after doing the television series that was the end of that. This was the BBC with this which is why they popped up on ITV.

SPEAKER: M6

Of course. Yes. Who were they them that very are very rarely at a ATV area that elsewhere. But what other shows was I doing then in radio in radio. We keep on radio for a bit. Harry Worth did that leave us. No. The only time I used to do a show we had an act show with Jimmy Clitheroe S corps. You know the little fellow called Call Boy which he played played the part of a call boy. Yeah. And we used to. Have bits where he went to the dressing room and had chats with the afterwards and I thought they did their accent so he could have actually linked the show.

SPEAKER: F1

There's a funny story about that because we used to have Part A tape editing session you know we used to record the bits. I think Jimmy Clitheroe we had to record me he was in pantomime so we had to do these bits. At various places these dressing room scenes. And then you had the sound of the act starting underneath you know so you had to mix tapes and things together. And I know it meant copying a lot of stuff and I was doing this editing session which was I think we were a bit tight because we did it on the Sunday night. It was going out Monday night so I had to finish it and we were running a bit pushed for time and the late afternoon near a transmission on online programme as it was then.

SPEAKER: F2

I think it was Ted Hockridge sang a number and he sang it through you say. And when I did the timing and I had all these bits underneath I couldn't understand why I was running longer than I should be.

SPEAKER: F3

I thought I might as I cut somewhere else to bring it down to time and when I went in it we didn't have time to review it even use and it went up and submission and I was dead.

SPEAKER: M8

You sang this number and you heard Jimmy saying cor  some others do album and he sang the whole number again which some people thought it was long gone nobody backed up. No no wonder I was running over you know this whole number repeated it's terrible it terrified me but nobody complained so it's perfectly alright but now will you do this show called Call Boy and then we had a show called Variety Fanfare which I'm all right just said he was in the singing group called the keynote chant No not the keynote.

SPEAKER: F3

That was later wasn't. That was audible to Take it from Here anyway he had the vocal group and Brian Johnson's keynotes. Who was it the keynote. It was a group I'd take it from here with those fabulous Adams was that none no no would let us know. Johnny Johnny Johnny Johnny Johnson of course don't answer the keynote yet.

SPEAKER: F2

I can't remember the name of the group that Ronnie sang with on variety of fanfare but that was another show.

SPEAKER: M6

And in this act I used Harry Worth I think I used him once or twice and I you know I thought Well if ever I get a chance to use this fellow in situation comedy or I think he would be a good bloke because he's got this marvellous character. So I remember that for sure and there was another bloke apart from Harry Worth I worked with on radio which was to be very useful data. There was a bloke called Dave Morris who was a marvellous Northern comic this based on Blackpool he lived in Blackpool and he used to do a show originally on the North home service called Club night. It was a real working man's club. Know almost sawdust on the floor the working man's club as they used to be. That's not where the posh things and he lived in Blackpool and Ronnie there was a producer called Alec Hayes you know him.

SPEAKER: F3

Yes of course. He moved to Manchester. Yes and he he produced these ones on the north then Dave. He'd always been campaigning and wondered why he wasn't on a national network and eventually they put him on the Light Programme and I think I did the first serious online programme with him. He was amazing character because he couldn't see anything. He had these big pebble glasses and he would have to learn the script had to learn it. To parrot fashion and he was terribly funny he had a bloke with him who was a stooge in fact they were stooges in his theatre show cause each summer he would put a show on in Blackpool and clean up with the money cause he'd had his thing on the north radio which was very big in those days you know before the big days of television and more when it went out on Light Programme. He had Joe Gladwell who may know years later you know that. Yes. But Joe was a lorry driver when he found them cos I mean Dave used all these people because they were cheap. Yes. And it's because he was made that way you say and he had a whole team of people who were in Club Night who were ex miners and things playing. The bar steward and the people who would argue with him. But it was a very funny thing it was a very he had this great. He was an English Bilko. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah we fiddle every conning people to get himself elected as the treasurer of the club always and he'd divert everything including the drinks to his own house before it was take off a crate before it was delivered to the club premises you say and we would have these scenes in in the in the in the room in the committee room you'll see where the club and Ronnie Taylor and I when we rehearsed it in the board room used to be crying laughter because he'd he'd swear at rehearsal if he'd made it even funnier. Dave because he was getting on a bit then he was about 60 now and they don't get around this table and a fellow who always complain at these meetings we used. They called him in the script Snuffy Hargreaves and he was an OAP. He was a pensioner anyway. The actor playing I mean well you know they didn't do any other acting he they'd gotten cause they work cheap in the theatre and everything theatre as well. And he leaned across this table at one point and Snuffy Hargreaves would say another fiddle. You'll say day and Dave would jump to his feet lean across at him these great pebble glasses. Another bloody phrase from you Snuffy  Hargraves and I'll take that collar and push it through the back of your bleeding neck. And the way he said you've got these union collars they used to wear on the you know no and money table and I would be in tears because he used to act it so fervently. He had these weird things he used at the club in front of the club. We even had Roger Moffat remember Roger over as the southerner coming into the crowd. That is the BBC announcer Coming into the club we used to say how are things at the old fun factory lodge that the BBC always said David there'd been something terrible happened yesterday and he said Tell me tell me Roger what happened what happened. He said Well I was reading the I was reading the news and I turned over two pages. Tell him tell me more. And he said well I'd got to the bottom of the page and I said. I'd said something about. I was reading the football results and I it was Wolverhampton Wanderers won I turned over to Marilyn Monroe three Oh how disgusting. I suppose the whole thing was hushed up and this was the phrase she would heard the whole thing was hhushed up Roger. Well yes what. I mean it was so funny all this  and he had these terrific tall stories you see said I I used to be. What was it. The only regiment you know about the army the only regiment privilege to work through the streets of  Acrrington carrying their horses slow to celebrate the night the sergeant major set piece was to celebrate the night the regimental goat had twins. It was funny we'dcalling him Billy for years I was on the keep saying you know and all these marvellous phrases and he always thought he was playing to the cloth cap sawdust on the property wasn't it. Brian Redhead God rest his soul he was one of his greatest fans as Brian was working up in the act in a manner of interest. And but he was so funny. He had another routine about how he became a barrister that he'd studied for 25 years as a solicitor first actually I became that was my first case said because he'd always be talking to Cedric and because he had to learn the lines. He was always forgetting them because in radio it was hot and live as well. Cedric you know little Joe Gladwyn then you remember Joe. He used to say and what happened then Dave. I'll tell you Cedric and this is thinking time is I'll tell you what happened and in Dave will come and say well what happened then Dave you said Cedric I was gonna tell you I was going to tell you and he's thinking like mad for the next nine years. He said I became about my first case I was defending a man on a murder charge but they hanged him for having his chimney on fire. I mean it was quite an inconsequential thing. I appealed I appealed and just for spite therehanged him  again the following Friday. But I mean this man was terribly funny. It was sort of Grouch Marxist if they all thing you know. But he didn't know he thought he was playing to the clients you know the working men's club you see. But the thing came I must just go from him not to the television bit a jump because we got him onto television we got him to do one series Ronnie actually produced the first three of these at the Playhouse with equipment which must have come from Alexandra Palace because it was breaking down you know one camera would go and he would live to ??? and and Ronnie did the first three .

SPEAKER: M2

Well get on with it. Woman. I'm sorry about that interruption. Whoever's monitoring this tape that is the end of side 2 we will pick up after lunch. We take one side one tech to side one.

END OF SIDE 2

John Ammonds Side 3

SPEAKER: M1

Two side one of the John Ammonds story continued right John.

SPEAKER: M2

So we're talking about the Dave Morris shows in Manchester.

SPEAKER: M1

BBC talks about the move from radio television.

SPEAKER: M8

Yes that's right. Well being the north the great advantage in those days was that the advantage to me as it happened was that they head a programs in the north was head a programs of both radio and television so there wasn't this awful division as there was and is in London so the iron curtain between the two and in fact I started on television with Barney Coleghan. It was based over in Leeds during the Good old Days that long running time variety show. And he used to come across to Manchester studios do shows in the Manchester studio. And one of these was a thing called Let's Make a date. It was a Sunday afternoon magazine program hosted by fellow called Brian Reese who was an actor.

SPEAKER: M9

He'd been in a radio PC 49 mission prompting back up and radio and he used to come up and do the show and an item in this program we had the northern dance orchestra with Alyn Ainsworth playing in this programme in vision and one item was that they played the theme music from a current film and I used to pick the film and the music and come to London to find the clip and we had to play it in from London because we had no telecine in Manchester had to be played in from London on a Q 1955 were talking to anyone on the law 55 1950 19. This would be about would it be more like actually coming out of 56 with seven now you see and of course some of these clipss were Cinemascope and that mean finding the right machine to play them on and all the common technical complications of playing in the CinemaScope format and but also I was helping Barney in with the sort of form of the programme and learning television at the same time. And in fact the Dave Morris show. Eventually London agreed to have it for television for a series of six I think I was on quite early in the evening I was on a six thirty to seven. Ronnie did the first three programmes which I was working pretty closely with him on having done the radio shows as well. And then last three. So will you take over the last three you can produce and direct the last. And I had been on a television course but that was not worried about in those days you were chucked in at the deep end and we did these from the Hume Hippodrome which was very antiquated equipment which was on a drive or not drive and it was unloaded the equipment into the maybe in the Playhouse Theatre there not the Hume Hippodrome the place next door which we took over. So the stuff was unloaded into the sound cubicle you know the side booths there and offloaded and we we did it and I think we boarded up over the stores to get more studio space because we only had the club the.

SPEAKER: F2

Working Man's Club set with the bar and then another little set for the committee room where all the badinage took place with Dave and the fiddling with when he was the treasurer of the club and that type of thing and we had access to do the singing spots in the working man's club bar area as well see sort of early wheel tappers and shunted what it was that that type of thing certainly yes.

SPEAKER: M4

And Ronnie I say he directed the first three so I was standing in with him and watching what was going on and I directed the last three. I was always although I'd been obviously knocked a bit low programme engineer I never really got used to vision mixing. I was all right on the pressing the button but when it came to the superimposition of the roller caption at the end I was always in trouble. And I remember distinctly on that first Dave Morris I did I was watching the picture coming back from Holme Moss you know the the picture coming back for the transmitter on transmission and at the end I superimposed the rovll and said Okay roll roll the caption. And I thought Christ that's not quite clear enough I've got the wrong one I'll take the other bit down and I could see it on that stuff coming back from the transmitter he wasn't quite right. This was on transmission. This was learning the hard way you know make no with no vision mixers later low the that I think we were still on an OB basis you could see the studio being you know we we were following in the OB tradition the producer doing it. Absolutely. And do you and we didn't have one on the string. So it's a case of having to do it. Wait was Sandy way of learning but I never really got used to it. And I did it nevertheless and with you know doing camera scripts and everything which was invaluable experience when I eventually went on the training course. It's the wrong way round but it's not a bad way in fact because then I realised why certain things were done when I learned on the training course you know that the was the right way of doing it and perhaps I was doing the wrong way anyway. And I after doing these shows I did one or two other bits and pieces as well which Ronnie gave me on television. There are many little 15 minute programs we actually in Buxton doing something singing on something lovely Singing Oh beautiful yeah. She died recently didn't she. Oh I believe I'm right. I believe I'm right. Oh I'm sorry to hear that. I think I must double check this sometime. I heard it on a news item or something.

SPEAKER: M21

But I must I must check that but yes she was a lovely singer and then I was selected to go on the on the television training course from Manchester which was I think in about 19 and a 57 into 58 in those days it was six weeks later it was three months I believe. But I had a six weeks attachment after the course to light entertainment when Tom Sloan and Ronnie Waldman was actually in charge Ronnie Waldman in charge now this is back in Lime Grove. Well actually their offices were in the what is now the design block of the television center. That was the only block that was completed and they were still building the main studio circles. Yeah and but we used lime groves studios and and also Riverside. We had two studios there studios one and two.

SPEAKER: M16

Were you still living in the north. I was.

SPEAKER: M8

Well the course was on yes because I stayed with some relatives and got back at weekends and things when I was working in London.

SPEAKER: M21

And the beauty of this attachment was again that I I actually got I oh but by the way we all we had to do an exercise at the end of the course. I found most of the people knew what they were going to do in the first week. I think I knew I had to eventually because we had to tell them what we wanted for requirements. So I was forced to think up something and I went I don't know why I went and saw one of those to a cinema I saw one of these Robert Benchley things which was called How to do something how to eat in bed you know with him giving the lecture and I thought well I'll do well on how to watch television I've got the scripts in here actually my exercise and my director's course and I use Bill Greenslade as the lecturer.

SPEAKER: M4

And what is Greenslade. Only the announcer is the guide I was going to use Dick Emery actually I got onto Dick and I said look I want one of the parts in these sketches I'm doing his illustrations of how to watch television the best way of doing things you see and he couldn't do it so I use Kenneth Connor I got eventually he did it Ken Connor and I wrote it myself and it was all about you know things like what is meant by natural break because you like commercial or traditional commercial break. So I got the most exciting finish to a horse race I could find where they were neck and neck and the bloke was screaming and I cut it dead just before they got to the post and a girl said Do you suffer from night starvation she had some language but it was Ovaltine or something. If I try to get a commercial but I couldn't I ring up can I help you. I may have I reckon somebody had just gone to ITV and said well it might have been me and couldn't but it was difficult with the agencies controlling actually. So I did anyway. I got the girl a girl who wrote to me ever afterwards asking for a job and I'd ever just had no money in this exercise. That's not the trouble you like Dick Emery I couldn't say you're gonna get some money and contract him are you the case of the old boy thing. Yeah and he got a job and had to vamoose. Yeah. And so I did this thing and you use the rest of the course in characters in these items you know the other one I used.

SPEAKER: M23

Oh I know I had a set it's best not to watch television while you're eating and I had this bloke have his breakfast that was Graham Stark but I had news Graham Stark who did this it wasn't Ken Connor it was Graham Graham did it and he was watching he think is breakfast and he had a boiled egg and a teapot there and I chose that most exciting bit from Quatermass one of the very exciting bit where this reporter was ringing up from this pub saying that that invading and they've got me and they've got me that that they're coming to the Earth looking like like an egg and he wants this egg and suddenly got hold of it and he panicked you know can he can go on and they want it and Graham stopped there and he grabbed it and banged in the teapot and slammed the lid on at the end of it you're saying Mars was been thoroughly bombed the old planet sweep is going like mad as this chap was on the phone and cutting into cutting with meat they were getting frightened of the bloody boiled egg and I noticed that myself it worked very well I wish they'd recorded it and what they did later but they didn't have videotape then so no I didn't put it on film either but yeah I had several little sort of examples and we coming back to Bill Greenslade for the commentary the lecture like I saw with the part on the films you know how to eat in bed and then all eventually knobs.

SPEAKER: M5

Nice idea.

SPEAKER: M6

Yeah I always think of that line duffers of Dorothy Parker.

SPEAKER: M4

You know the Americans. I read the New Yorker she had an office with Robert Benchley. Yes but it was terribly tiny. There was no room at all in this place. And she stuck a notice on the door to say you know we're both in there. She said one square inch less and it'll be adultery.  I'm sorry. I'm digressing. No no no. This passed the test. I've lost it. But better still of course. After the course the six weeks after which of the attachment when Tom Sloane bless his heart gave me shows to do and they were usually late night there were network 15 minute jobs you know with Shirley Abercair Shirley Abercair for a girl with a Zither. That's right Shirley Abercair zither. Ken Cavendish at the piano and Ken who was one of the bachelor girls doing that team. Watch out the way that you do it when the bomb fell in Bangor when in the Paula Green

SPEAKER: M5

Paula Green was the other thing on that ITMA program and the other one would be given announcer Joy Worth Joy Worth. Yeah that's right. And that's when the announcer on the BBC had a hand. So I tell you they think of the. I had lots of people working as floor managers or designers who have since became famous that it is famous. Everyone hates me. I'm very famous your famous comedian who is a deregulator today. They've got an award named after him now a drama director. Oh Desmond Davis. No no he's one I know. I wonder. I'm trying to. A younger one who I think he died quite young. Anyway he was format I had the one of these 15 minute programs and all sorts of designers popped up who later became you know really top of the tree type designers. Yes. And only Richard Green of some people because they were yes. Yeah yeah. I can't remember there's a girl that girl designer did this Kay Cavendish Eileen Diss Oh Eileen Diss does she did that still alive and well right. Yes she is. She was at the Alexander Palace reunion this year. Oh yes yes yes. But and I remember that director and a moment who did the floor managing on one of these silly little programs. And of course last but not not least these one of these programs I did these 15 minutes was relax with Michael Holiday. Oh and I was given a series which I think I must have stayed in one of them a bit longer Mike had just recorded Story of My Life whihc was anumber one h which was a number one. Yes.

SPEAKER: M8

And Tom Sloane done one or two bits and pieces for quite contrary with Richard Afton and one or two other shows. And Tom Sloan liked him as a performer and booked him for six shows. And I did these six shows. And the first one we did at Riverside one studio quite a big studio.

SPEAKER: M9

And I remember that the director a drama director came to me. I've forgotten his name now. He was doing a great big epic called The Trojan Women Greek tragedy which needed a lot of time setting in the studio.

SPEAKER: M10

And he said he came to me and said it helped me a lot. If you can put your little set and ours was a very little set. It was just a little lounge set for my holiday to wander round and then go out onto a balcony a little balcony and nothing else. So we were able to easily fit into a corner of Studio One while he had the walls of Troy and the steps to Troy and. And we had palm trees and sand and cameras but going through sand and God knows what. And I remember that it was live and there was there was a publicity picture of this of Troy actually for this drama and they hadn't painted over the footsteps of Edwin Brain the musical director we were standing on the steps conducting the band.

SPEAKER: M11

And those those footprints were still there for the drama publicity photo so that we can. It was only a little quartet or something I think.

SPEAKER: M5

Johnny Pearson on piano and  became music director for Mike on the ITV series he did with Jacky Jackwell?. Ah yes. And of course he he was when Johnny Brown did those radio shows I think too. I think so. Yeah. Yes. Yes.

SPEAKER: M11

And Mike of course was well shall we say he wasn't the most professional performer in the world. He I think he meant well but it's his life. Mike always had a line when he when I went for him which was fairly frequently he always called me boss.

SPEAKER: M10

He went over this little Liverpool accent with Boss all the time and he'd say I'd say something to him. Picking him up for something he said. He said Boss you've got the wrong fellow I shall be back in the Merchant Navy really. And of course he was right. Yes. He usually to go star on me. I think the trouble was that Mike hadn't got this great big ego that you really got to have. Really it's tough to be a big star. You've just got to have it. Yeah. And I don't think he. He was ambitious enough really to to have the pushing power and the attitude to the job of working terribly hard to get that which is a great pity because he had all the all the channel of the voice. I know when I ever hear that when I hear the voice now on record and think that it isn't voice at all right. It's like Bing Crosby it is still pretty good. PHONE RECORDING ARTIST now of course on that program we did that late night 15 minute program.

SPEAKER: F1

He he asked me if he could put the words on a card because he wasn't too sure of these words. Unfortunately he wrote the wrong words down so he sang the wrong words as well which is a pity.

SPEAKER: M12

And I remember at the finish of the last number. Good night. No he skipped. Well I think it was four bars. He skipped on the orchestra. Well throw in a bit by this of course but they managed to disguise any any mistake and finished at the same time. But I went back home that night thinking well and nobody came near me on this show because having done these shows in Manchester without going on a course they thought oh well he's all right. Nobody needs to get it on and see how he's getting on it. Riverside one with us Michael Holiday so I'm nobody. I was terrified actually but this was the first show I've done in London and you know it was very different. And when it went this I thought disaster happened with Mike you know going all wrong in the last number. You he had this knack of disguising it so well that nobody noticed on that and the next morning I was walking in the television centre and Dougy Moody one of my colleagues actually shouted and said Jolly good show that John and I thought he was meaning to speak to somebody else. Well I thought well he surely can't mean this Mike Holiday thing last night but he did he said I. And also the other thing he did and it's very nice of him at the Thomas Sloanse program meeting we had a few days later when Tom Renton round the table and everybody discussed the week's programs at Tom was about to go on to the next item on the meeting and Dougy and I Tom you haven't mentioned Johnny Ammond's programme. Then Michael Holladay always said yes I'm sorry. Yes excellent. Very good programs. I still think there was something else actually relevant. And of course after doing that one it caught on this simple little program especially this knack he had which now would seem very ordinary but in those days singing to a another track on a tape machine. Yeah. He did this so well and allowed for the interjections and everything. He did it terribly. Yeah that's right. Well no I mean nothing. But in those days was it was a novelty. And he did it very well. Yes he did. And the other thing was that we did these shows.

SPEAKER: F2

We I continued to do these shows up in Manchester when I got back after the course and he travelled up from London and he used a rocking chair which we a black rocking chair a rather nice Scandinavian rocking chair which Ken Lawson the designer  had in store somewhere and he used that to sing the number with a tape machine make casual and just jumping ahead of it. When I when I eventually got onto Val Doonican. Yes.

SPEAKER: M13

And we did the first series of Val Doonican in Dickinson road and I suggested to Val that maybe he'd like to use this chair and he wasn't superstitious about Mike who died by that time. And he did he used it and we brought that same chair and London used it for it was the same one exactly the same one. A very small one. The one that Val used later. After he came back from his rather abortive trip to ATV. Yes. Where he thought Lew Grade was going to make him an international star member that they'd already got Perry Como and Andy Williams and a few others you know. And he used another one a white one. I didn't think had the character at all of this black. Very very thin. Like looking rocking chair. So that was a reason to use and that's how it started by way of the rocking chair. And we really want to go back to Mike Holiday really and Val acknowledge this by the way and told the story of that was really used by by Michael Holiday.

SPEAKER: M6

But after Mike Holiday we did actually a half hour series with him in Manchester which went quite well interspersed then when I did or OB's from theatres in Blackpool and from all the theatres in Scarborough and then one day my head of programmes on the television side a chap by the name of Thurston Holland.

SPEAKER: M4

Oh yes. Who is unfortunately died a few years back.

SPEAKER: M3

He said I've got half an hour from pretty late on it's about ten thirty at night and it's only on the north transmitter it's not network. But he said we've got half an hour and I'd like some light entertainment spot in those days. We were able to do this without referring to London. You know you had a bit of money as a television. This was television. Yeah yeah. This was television. And it was about nineteen because I was appointed full time once I'd done my course in 1958 to be a full time television producer.

SPEAKER: F3

Yes. And this must have been fifty nine. And he said I won't go when I was saying Come and see if you can think of anything else. So I then remembered Harry Worth whom I used on radio up in Manchester on actors with this individual style. And I went back and saw first and I said well there's a guy down at the opera house in Manchester in a show which is cut just come up from the Palladium after running nine months at the Palladium called Large as life. It's a review. And Harry Secombe's in it Eric Sykes I think Hattie Jakes nutty Harry. Harry's Worth isn't there and singing the opening by the way was Val's wife who became his wife Annette Ray and Annette Ray. Yeah singing in it and taking part in the odd sketch. I said well this chap Harry Worth and I think we could do a situation comedy of sorts. You say Well first and I didn't think I'd heard of Harry Worth at the time we mixed up him up with another hit Harry Locke during my Harry Oh Harry Locke little Harry Locke.

SPEAKER: M5

Yes I mean all the movies yes. We both knew Harry quite well. Dario and I is so.

SPEAKER: F2

Anyway as an amateur actor he said Go ahead you say. So I went down to see Harry at the opera house and saw him in the dressing room and I said look how would you like to do your own half hour show. So when he picked himself off the floor he said well and I described I said I said Well I think we ought to tackle a situation comedy. So he said Well who's going to write it. Well I said Well I hope you won't get asked that because at the moment I've got no idea you see. But in fact I know this sounds that was astonishing. I think the show day the recording date was about six weeks ahead of the time I saw Harry in the opera house. I mean he obviously agreed he was very keen to do it. We really had only Frank Roscoe this writer from Blackpool in the way of writing who was sort of around in the district. But Frank he wasn't really he hadn't really tackled situation comedy of any. I mean he was really a gag Ryan joke obviously.

SPEAKER: M15

So I they heard that there was a senior cameraman.

SPEAKER: M13

This is absolutely true this story. I'm not really making this up.

SPEAKER: F2

The number one cameraman of the crew in Dickenson road and the number two now that no one was a fellow called Stan. Parkinson eventually became a producer in Manchester. And number two was Bob Duncan who became a boxing director and down here in London. That's right. That's right Bob. Well he was number two. They kind of came up with a script for this Harry Worth.  Both of them. They both wrote the script and it was about I don't know whether they got the title then but we eventually became the title of the dithering detective. It was all about Harry as a private detective who set up a private detective agency and a bloke comes to see him and cons in fact and says that he knows his officers are Batman.

SPEAKER: M21

He worked for him in the Army as a Batman.

SPEAKER: F4

But he's very careless leaving stuff around his house. And this Batman said to Harry I want to teach him a lesson. You got by pinching something. And of course taking it back again.

SPEAKER: M10

Oh Harry said of course we will teach him a lesson. Yes. So it falls for this lot. You see and takes part in what becomes a burglary. And of course naturally Harry is the one who gets caught finished. 

SPEAKER: F2

I can see the closing shot where Harry is talking straight to camera and saying well something went wrong with all this.

SPEAKER: M3

I'm not too sure what happened. I don't think it was my fault quite frankly no he's talking about in the bars of the is in the photograph. If you go back to the caption's roll and the music and all right we had quite a good cast as I was William Mervynof William Mervyn and I will ever in big fella. He played the cur I think. Oh.

SPEAKER: M8

We had a very good cast.

SPEAKER: M5

We had a very good cast to play a few plays in William Mervyn was the voice of those in black cadets army who plays the the old one who's been in the Boer War. Clive.

SPEAKER: F4

Clive Dunn . Clive played the burglar. I think we'll down was the burglar con Harry. So we had a quite a strong cast with him. Yes. And the was thing the police detective who was good. I can't remember all their names. Now Sidney Tafler said Tatler I think he really did. Yeah. Married to Jewish. So that's right. I managed I shall who it. So it went very well. We of course Dickinson road. Well I mean if you work in  Dickinson road you could work anywhere on Earth because it had nothing at all. Really. And we and the maximum audience allowed under the fire regulations was 70. No. And when you had 70 people to front the cameras at the front were nearly on the toes of the front row of the audience you know. I mean it and it because it it was an old church where the Mancunian  film used to make the right his film there was the trendsetter. If you had a set in the tramp round the corner you had no manoeuvring. I once had Harry in a set. There is that little front room set and I said Okay can you widen a bit. I can't. My back's against the wall. I can't get back any further I will take Harry away. It was really a question of that and boom in the bookcase away from the camera so we could get the shot. Editing was terribly cramped. It was a miracle. And what we used to do was I haven't got as far as I've gone on to actually recording it now because I've said it Harry and the script we had Yossi but we got this written and I think there must have been six or seven people writing it eventually from this draft script of these two cameramen. All sorts of people including some blokes too who wasn't doing scripts or produce for any early on after I left him or his name. He did writing as well I think he wrote a bit. Anyway we got it ready. But Harry said to me while this script thing was going on he says John it was real Harry Worth line you said with all the time we are taking with this one script I mean we dare not be successful because what happens if they give us six.

SPEAKER: M3

If I had it finished and I had a certain amount of sympathy with it anyway we got this thing ready and we did it. We sent the film it was telly recording of film down to London. God you'd seen. I think we had one critic who didn't like it much. I think he was half the audience because it was on at ten thirty. And from Holme Moss you know it was a terrible time and it wasn't network. But we sent it down to Tom Sloane and Eric Mastrick? which was in charge and they said oh this is very good. We do we'd like six of these you say we're in trouble. What were I do as a writer you say. So anyway we who thought who did the warm up for that pilot was the guy who just died recently a friend of Paddy's John he came to one of lunches. John. Actor John Oh Johnny Blythe. Johnny Blyte he did the warm up. I never booked him again. That was the warm up for that by that very were there. So we they gave us the six who thought of the marvellous opening in the doorway. That was Vince Passs? through flight that was Vince that was an I'll come to that. That in itself is it. That's an interesting story. In fact the way Vince came onto the show is interesting story because this first series come. Now Ronnie Taylor wrote it. Now Ronnie of course is a lovely writer. I mean we had some classic scenes. There was one in this series where Harry goes to see the income tax man because they tell him to come in and it opens on with the income tax man who is we all used some very good actors coming up to Manchester for this you know a real low income tax inspector job there. And his assistant and is saying Well have you got that Harry Worth file and he's got another one you've got to set set of files but eight big thick files and Harry's is nothing it's just it's nothing. And he says is there anything inside that file from me. He said What are we had from Mr West?. I mean you know we've been sending him forms to fill out now for the last year and we've never heard anything. And he said well what have you got in the file. The assistant says well actually it's it's a postcard. And what did he say. Well it's a picture of what's at the Bognor Regis and only other is is having a lovely time which it work. And the inspector said he said it's addressed about. Yes but we have called him in for you should be here any moment you're saying. So Harry knocked at the door and said Good morning everybody and sits down and said Did you get my card. He said straightaway. Oh yes we got your card but have you heard anything from us over the last year. Oh yes. Have you had some things marked OHMS. Oh yes I've got those but where where are they. I put them behind the clock. The inspector says well the number we sent you your clock must be a long way from the wall. But it was all stuff like this. It was Ronnie at his absolute best on these sort of writing nonsense but it had some quaint scenes. But the mistake we made and we realised at the halfway through the series was having Aunty appear it should have been like George and Margaret the play when you never see them ever see. And of course we did it after that. It was always either with quote Aunty aunty wouldn't like that nor this business but aunty.

SPEAKER: F1

And it was an actress called Noel Hood. Oh yeah. We used. I think she must be dead now because she was getting on then and we used an actress called. What was her name. Patty. Patty Edwards Patty. Anyway as the maid you see it was the house where Harry was in the house and his auntie and the maid. And he didn't do anything. I mean never did do anything anyway.

SPEAKER: M10

Harry and way of work but we realize that's the first show and the second show that we couldn't get Harry telling anyone what he was going to do especially his aunt. And she'd say well that's stupid don't do it. The plot would finish and that's the end of the show. He's got to motivate himself so he doesn't need any. In fact it's an encumbrance to have somebody like Auntie there own maid who knows him. It was people who don't know him. The funniest scenes were when he went in and they didn't know he was an idiot so to speak. It's marvellous reactions so maybe reactions after that. On the other character as Harry saying these ridiculous things you say oh the form filling routine name and address and getting confusion all the time. But you couldn't do that with aunty because she knew him and she would say oh don't do that. So eventually that poor Noel and the other I said I'm sorry there's not much in it this week you know gradually phase out almost they've got about two lines by show six.

SPEAKER: F1

Well the first show it was all right but he didn't break any records on viewing or our eyes or anything but being the BBC of course you got another chance. And of course the next thing we knew we couldn't have Aunty but Ronnie came to me about oh two months before we were due to do these shows.

SPEAKER: M10

But I'd said you know will you write the next series and he said John I can't possibly do it. He'd got this job as head of Light Entertainment at Teddington and he was travelling all the time in town. Is I just can't I haven't got the time John. I said we'll run a show. Can't you get them to postpone it. I said Ronnie you know as well as I do if we say that to London they'll say forget it you know. I mean we've got to take our chance you know that we're the more relations all the time up here.

SPEAKER: M15

So I then he said I can't.

SPEAKER: M3

So he suggested Eddie Waring. Did you do it anyway. Yeah. He was to write the Aolian?. And Ted Ray. Ray's a Laugh Yes that's right. Because I ask you about George Frogmore?. Well we might only know what had happened to him either. You know it's one of these mysteries they just vanish. Anyway Eddie wrote already I went down to see Eddie at his house in near Dorking in Surrey so mewhere

SPEAKER: F1

Nice man. He wrote a script eventually sent one he wasn't right. It wasn't right and Harry said Oh it isn't right. You know what are we gonna do. I said well there's a guy called Vince   who'd been sending me Morecambe & Wise scripts for a long time in the office you know and I'd got Frank Roscoe and Eric and Ernie were writing the shows we were doing so I I couldn't fit him in anywhere although I thought some of this stuff had something and he that he got a partner called Harry Driver you see who at that time hadn't got polio. By the way he worked as a manager at Marks and Spencers or something Harry Driver but I went to audition in the months and just before then just before then the way I first met Vince and Vince will tell you this story embroidered it a bit but it's a very good story. I went to get measured for a suit at Hector Powers in St Amme's Square Manchester and this guy was measuring me. Now he says Vince that I was measuring your inside leg at the time but that his comedy writing embroidering the story. Probably wasn't. But it's funny you say that. He looked up and said You don't know who I am. I said no hesaid Ia am the guy Sending me Morecambe & Wise scripts and he was because he got a job and he was working there as a tailor. You may take a shot at the shot in the barn. And then I would auditioned him and Harry. They did a double act and we had auditions in Broadcasting House and I auditioned him but I took Vince aside and said The trouble is you know poor old Harry. He's not very good as a feed. And I said You sound exactly like Eric Morecambe which he did at the time. He's probably still does  Yeah. And so that didn't come to anything a double act. But then came this point with Eddie McGuire sending me this script.

SPEAKER: F4

So I said Harry I'll get in touch with Vince Power. And I went to Vinceand I showed him the script. I said Now look this is nearly right but it needs a lot doing to it. He said well I'll get with Harry Driver. So they took it. They worked right through the night and they came to me the next morning and I got Harry and we read it and I read and I thought this is. And it was right. They got Harry. It was right. And of course I managed to get rid of Eddie McGuire somehow. I can't think how but I said to Vince. Can you do the series.

SPEAKER: F1

He said hold on I've got my job down there. Harry's all right because I think Dan yes Harry had contracted polio. He lived in this little place at Urmston not a very salubrious suburb of Manchester. And Vince lived that not far from it. And Wilmaslow he was I was up on the hills High Leen? neither had cars in those days. And I hadn't got his Rolls Royce as he had a change of . It because he got rid of that eventually. And I had my I knew I had a brand new Trump herald the first car I ever got was a new red Triumph Herald who had just come out and they managed to do that write these shows. But Vince told me they used to. He went into a chemist after about show two  and he said to the chemist can you give me anything to keep me awake because I've got to write the script all night. I'm working all day. Did you say what eventually. Cause Vince came to me and said look what can I do I said well I can't promise you that there'll be another series. I can't give up your job I couldn't possibly say that he'll say see. So luckily he went to the manager at the shop at Hector Powers  and said Can you release me and they said fine and if it doesn't work yet come back again. So he was going. So that's the way we did. And I used to sit up. I have friends I've  ever worked so hard on the script in my life till 4:00 in the morning with these guys bashing out plots sitting by Harry Drivers bed for the show that was coming up the week after next Yuna and working like hell. And dear old Ronnie he was still brought into it used to annoy Vince a bit because Harry used to say knowing how good Ronnie was on this like an income tax thing. Or we could give this to Ronnie. He could he could just spark this off a bit. So I used to meet Ronnie I and Harry Worth used to meet Ronnie often midnight the the plane from London and midnight the last place where Ronnie was coming out from having been to chatting to already looking very tired and I'd say Rocky can you have a go.

SPEAKER: M3

It's Margaret Bottomley who worked for Ronnie and you didn't know market Bonny only. She she directed for. She did. You know those things at Granada where they had people when they were growing up ten years later. Oh she did some of though. Yes because a director who would want to listen and pay tribute Jack said she died and she'd done some of the early. Well Margaret used to work for Ronnie.

SPEAKER: M10

She went freelance and worked for him you' ll see he had an office in Manchester and she was getting an eye to Margaret because we were pestering Ronnie all the time you know when you obviously had other work here telling and everything going on. But he did rewrite a lot of this stuff and made it even better. Very prolific. Oh yes very. Oh he's a great steady. He died here. I I've already told you I had great admiration for him as a boss and as a professional in every way Harry and Vince involved with Coronation Street.

SPEAKER: M16

Yeah. Now the funny thing is when I thought 1960 which is. Yes that's right. Every time they did I went I think when Vince talked me out to see Vince.

SPEAKER: M3

She Harry at Urmston I took Vince in the car and Harry was at the typewriter he used. He couldn't use his fingers so he had a knitting needle with an electric typewriter and tap the keys with his knitting needle. That's how he typed. And he had some paper in the typewriter. He was obviously writing a script. I said What is that you're doing. And Harry said Well it's some in the Granada doing it's a pilot program and we are providing the plot. I said what's it called. He said Coronation Street. That's exactly right. And they used to do bits for current fat for Granada. They knew I'd tell you of a chap who nearly wrote for Harry Worth because he reminded me when I met him was Tony Tennant No Jack wasn't a Moni Littman's husband. Oh yes yes. Jack Rosenthal That's it. Yeah. But everybody once he's are you turned me down I sent in something for it. What was it. I think they'll say you got to try and write Coronation Street. That's right. Got Vince knew him up there. You say that's how Vince knew Jack and. But yeah that's right. That he had Coronation Street. They were providing a few plotlines but they'd never written comedy before.

SPEAKER: F1

I gave them their first comedy break on that series and they came up to it. And then we got Frank in as well. Roscoe from that  all three were working on it eventually and we did some pretty fabulous business from that little chapel. I mean there's no other BBC comedy audience show that that's done that good business. I didn't before or since as far as I know but it ran. You did six originally. Yes. But about sixty five episodes. Yeah. Manchester. And there were repeated Oh it always repeated. Yeah. Very funny. I mean I brought the audience figures there actually and you know we went to object time things you know when they used to be at variance often the two sets of figures. And it did extremely well. And Harry we used to have terrific dos at this script you know rewriting and rewriting.

SPEAKER: M14

There was one celebrated occasion when we had a scene and it originally was going to be a jeweler shop with a very old jeweler behind the desk and a scene with Harry. So I booked a pretty old actor but by the time we got around to it that their rehearsal we changed the whole scene it was gonna be a young family solicitor. So this poor old actor right from under.

SPEAKER: M13

The cello jump and tell him that it is all changed you know and he couldn't play the young families solicitor to this but he was back on the next train to London. It was changing all the time this and this the funny thing was Harry once went to London when he was doing the big time that we were really doing. Doing the business and he met the drama script editor in and in the television center I've kept his name on the bottle.

SPEAKER: M3

I think it was and he came up to Harry and he said Mr. Worth I must congratulate you on all the shows you're doing that they're wonderful. You said what I like that is the drama scripted is the way the beautiful crafted way those scripts are put together. And we were right rewriting it every couple of minutes. The last thing we were thinking of with style or form or anything that Harry said I had to laugh afterwards. They were so funny and some of the scenes with Harry that I got involved in could have come straight from the show. There was one marvelous thing he went in to book a seat to get back to London. And I knew he was going to be the.

SPEAKER: F5

I think this was the Monday and he was going back. He wanted to go back on the Wednesday. I think he was staying. But he went in and I heard him say I want a seat on a plane going back tomorrow. Tuesday yes. And I thought yes. And the chaps on the phone and he said to me how to.

SPEAKER: M14

Carry on as you say you're not going back to Wednesday. There were no words. He just the book in the ship. Yes I bought that. Said I'm sorry. I'll get it Wednesday. It's not true. This chap looked lame. I mean we've been in these modern situations I say that could have come straight from the chef. No the window routine we filmed that outside Hector powers. He was working. So he managed to  fix it with a manager on a Sunday morning and we'd got this one show.

SPEAKER: F4

It was in about the second series I think where Harry he walked down the road past Hector powers that turned out in the window. There was a jacket. It was a sale. Sale everywhere. And he got his eye on this jacket.

SPEAKER: M14

He did that business first with the reflection and then being   Harry because he wanted that jacket which is at nine o'clock in the morning. He came back with these deck chair. He's going to stay the night and his little teddy bear hot water bottle. And we had a scene with Derek Guyler. There's a policeman coming up you know and try to move him on or something and Harry manage to persuade him that he was doing no harm. They're sitting there but it was a funny show. But that opening sequence it was in the script and I I sent it to Harry and rang him and he said what's this business at the beginning. You want me to come up for filming on Sunday. What's that all about. I said what didn't you do that as a kid. Didn't you get a I did it. I did. Phillips wrote it down and I knew about it that I'd done it with my friend looking at the end. But Harry I've never done it. So he said what. I said Look you wait till you get there and I'll you stand at the end of the window and I'll do the bit and you'll see what we're talking about. Cause he didn't as soon as he saw it and it came out far better with the reflection and I think that I would expect that it was the right window. You know it was the right length of the reflection and of course as soon as you do that now even with young people they say it's fade away. Harry Worth may not remember anything else about the show. But it's I think it's the best. And it happened by accident as a lot of these things do. You know it would be one thing. And we thought afterwards when we were thinking about an opening sequence for the next series The problem is always finding something which isn't too much of a joke otherwise you can't stand seeing it every time. But of course this is so funny and Harry's reaction to it and the other thing I had to do on the original when we filmed it it took quite a long time for him to he had his umbrella on that hand. Now on that hand. So he had to swap his umbrella on to there to do this right. Well I cut the shot where he changed the umbrella over and always you say don't shoot. Nobody would ever notice and shorten up you get about probably half a dozen letters over the next two years said. How does that umbrella get from his one arm to the other. We don't see it happening because now they could stop the video and see you get more of more people would see it. But that's an interesting way I know when you get nip snippet out just to tie it up a bit you know. But I knew when I booked Harry for a charity concert locally connected with the Rotary Club I mean you've only got to do that as he does and the place erupts you know right away. A wonderful wonderful trademark Yeah. He was a wonderful characters because I mean there had to be clean as a whistle these shows. I mean we never had a doubtful. No you couldn't from Harry. It was a genuine family audience. And some of the original scenes I mean eventually like everything else you you've done all the form fitting the confusing form fillings and everything else you know. And but the early ones we had some real.

END OF SIDE 3

John Ammonds Side 4

SPEAKER: M1

Cracked it.

SPEAKER: M7

So here we are. I'm thinking clearly a mid-level job.

SPEAKER: M9

Yeah. Okay. One two three four five. Wonderful One two three four five.

SPEAKER: M7

Okay we resume. This is the John Ammonds story. This is Tape 2 Side 2 and we're resuming on Wednesday the thirty first of August call it Part Two I suppose.

SPEAKER: M1

John we've got to you're still in Manchester. You were doing the Harry Worth show and other things obviously in Manchester.

SPEAKER: M7

You haven't yet come to London permanently. Well it's about 1961 62.

SPEAKER: M3

Yeah well we did Harry. We must have recorded.

SPEAKER: M2

Four series or five series. It was I mean I didn't know it was about 60 shows and most of them were repeated. And of course they did fabulous business from that little church in Manchester with very few facilities but by God it was fun when when everybody seemed to do everything.

SPEAKER: M3

Was it an OBE De-rig. It was for a time until yes until we got the Dickenson Road studio which was to the old church where the Mancunian films used to operate with these low budget big business there. They made a lot of money with Frank Randall Frank Randall. Yes to name a few. And it was it was a funny old place. It's all flattened and I believe now. But we did all the Harry Worth sendups and of course they did start in Top of the Pops up there.

SPEAKER: M7

Johnny Stewart of course now talking of music we missed earlier on in the story that the quite an interesting aspect of the musician's union were you were rehearsing three shows a day which you did mention all three of you.

SPEAKER: M4

Well that's right. We had on yourself mi Miller or Eric Miller and Ronnie Taylor and we used to. I don't I just don't know how we did it but I still less do I know how the orchestra did it really because we had the three band calls and the three shows one after the other in the evening. And just the starting at about 2:00 in the afternoon the audience got excellent value just sitting there for two hours and they saw bits of three shows where they saw bits of Al Read Morecambe and Wise is the show we were doing then the series and an Iact show like variety fanfare which Ronnie Taylor produced and IAl Read used to come on because Ronnie used to do it but every week he sort of there were over radio of course there were radio. Yeah it's awesome to hear more from Radio Al Read's radio show which again were terribly successful. And but I just don't know how we manage the band calls with Alyn Ainsworth who did all all three shows. And of course these days I can't think that I don't think you'd get away with it with the musicians union because surely I don't think even a staff orchestra as the NGO was would be permitted to to do three shows in one day it was sort of slave labour. Yes it's absolutely interesting. Well I think I I say was part of the group in Manchester the joy was it applied right the way through when I got onto television that everybody seemed to do everything and the sort of. Administration side at least as far as the programs were concerned was very free. I mean on videotape editing you Les Matthews who was in those days the tape editor just round the back. He was in his truck in the back of the Dickenson road and you say can we fit me in tomorrow afternoon. I want to do a bit more on Harry Worth or something. No. And this was wonderful. It was it was a very free atmosphere it had to be I think because of the the way we worked. The only thing troubled in Manchester about the administration was that unbelievably I think now the that in London you s ee the television in Manchester came under the head of sound broadcasting because he was in charge of everything because he was in charge of regions indeed which was sound and television in those days. So that apply to any promotion that went on. So our promotions are when I was a television producer tended to be controlled by well the sound people in London they approved everything and the head of programmes in Manchester. Of course was in charge of sound and television. That of course was to my advantage in many ways because although I was a sound producer I got to television not by jumping over an iron curtain as you had to in London when they were completely separate from television but because we had the same head of programmes it was much easier just to go straight across. And this is exactly what I did. I mean I hadn't been a sound producer for more than a couple of years in about nineteen fifty six I suppose. And Barney Coleghan who is really based over in Leeds doing the Good old Days but al so coming over to Manchester to shares and he had a magazine show called Let's Make a date which went out on the network on Sunday afternoon. I think it was with a fella called Brian Reese who used to play PC 49 I'm rated remember.

SPEAKER: M9

I think you mentioned this in the property early. I'm sorry I'm late. They'll first moved to Manchester. Well that's right but I'm just saying again and I'm just illustrating these indeed the sound of television shifting some of my colleagues in London who stayed on at the Aryan Hall with the exception of Johnny Stewart and Dennis Main Wilson they perhaps went on courses but they didn't actually go over to the television center. No not for a very long time. Exactly it took them longer and Johnny Stewart I think in. I think he had to resign to become a television producer. I think it was quite scandalous which meant he presumably suffered financially or pension or something. But anyway in Manchester it was quite easy to flip over and it was only a couple of years after I'd been working part time shall we say. Although I went on that television course while I was still a sound radio producer and when I was appointed to a television producer I had already produced little 15 minute show s and also the I'd done a few Mike Holliday shows as an ambidextrous sound and television. And when I eventually had to advise boss of the work I had to apply for the job I applied for this obviously when it came up on the board and got the full time television producer job and then I got the memo from the Bob Hutson who was the North Regional Executive I think he was called to say they would be pleased to tell me I'd got the job but there wasn't a dicky bird about anything in the way of LSD.  for the previous two years when as I said when I saw Bob Hutson pretty sharpish after getting that memo and getting the job I said yes well that's fine I am grateful of course but I'd like to remind you that I am actually been producing television for on and off for the last two years in addition to my sound production duties.

SPEAKER: M8

So I said I believe I've heard from my London colleagues that there's something called an extra responsibility award or reward or something like that. Does it operate in the provinces in the wild north. And his face fell three feet because I think like a lot of BBC people in those days they thought that you should be very grateful. Oh yes. To you. Oh yeah. In other words to be able to say well buddy BBC which of course I was grateful for I did my job at the same time one did work pretty hard for you know for the money. Well if that's the right word for a money. Pit pittance is the right word.

SPEAKER: M7

And anyway he looked very remember how much your pittance was then all these whole deal sixties Oh I early sixties I cannot I really cannot remember John.

SPEAKER: M9

All I know is that I got something I've got a memo in somewhere saying that the extra responsibility was about thirty quid when the tax had been taken away you know for doing this television work for two in addition to my sound duties of course the thirty pounds and I didn't get something no thirty pounds as a single payment I was a one off in lieu of a one off you say. And I did manage to get something I fight for if I hadn't said anything I wouldn't have got anything. No. But you see this the trouble was that as we were controlled by sound broadcasting is quite different from what Tom Sloan did as head of light entertainment in television whom I was really working to as a light entertainment producer as I was after nineteen. Sixty eight. No sorry 58 is a long way 58 terrible isin't. And I remember seeing Tom later and I said that first of all I was given half a grade in our personal grade for Harry Worth which of course my almost my creative war was half a great. He said Well I n ever give half breaks down here which didn't surprise me because I thought well that because we're on the same radio and they thought they'd be a bit generous and also by the way the other thing that used to happen in Manchester they didn't want to push you above drama producers or something you know. There was that feeling that why should John Ammons class. Yeah thanks. Even though you had produced a show coming out of Manchester. But you've got the prestige of a network show. Which no other region had ever produced before or since as far as I know an audience situation comedy show you say of that nature and doing such business. But I say you therefore you took you far longer to get the any half grades or full grades eventually. I think I got a half grade and then another year or two they gave me another half grade. You know two but I would have got a full grade straight away in London. And of course this brings me to my transfer to London I when Harry Worth said in about nineteen sixty five it may have been 64 64 that really he was getting a bit tired of traveling up and down because he because he lived in London and he was travelling up for the show every week and he really liked to do the next series in. In London I said Well the trouble is Harry I've got my wife who's got multiple sclerosis and although she can walk around Thank God at the moment she gets very tired and I've got to have a bungalow or single storey accommodation if I move to London and that's going to cost me a lot of money more than what I'm paying at the moment for a beautiful bungalow in in in in Manchester and in the south of Manchester you're sitting in Cheshire.

SPEAKER: M3

And in fact Harry did go to London and on John Street and Duncan Wood I think produced his programmes. He did another oh I don't know another 30 shows in London. Very successfully and I carried on in Manchester and then the next thing that happened was I I was doing a series called Barn Dance. It was using it was really a folk dancing with people and doing the using acts as well singing folk. It was at the time when the folk was very popular in school and skip from all that beginnings of country. I never sang I think I gave the Spinners from Liverpool or some of their early shows because they appeared as acts on this show. And I used to use acts the from Newcastle and all over the shop on this this little programme and then I got to hear a Val Doonican I know he was doing. A little show in the mornings. Well a long running show on radio in the mornings from London had Val left the group. Then he was oh yes. What the ideal for was it. What were they call the Ramblers. Was it the Ramblers the four Ramblers. Yes right. Pat Campbell was one of them. Yes. And the guy who became his sort of roadie driving him around whose name I've forgotten. No he'd left it. He'd gone out on his own I think persuaded to a great degree by his wife Lynne. No Delia who used to be. You know she was a singer Lynnette Ray. Lynnette Ray. And she was in Harry Worth show that that I saw Harry out in Manchester. That was connection. But she married Val and I think I'm pretty certain it was her that who. Who said to him not you want to go solo with your talent. And of course she was right. And I booked him on a couple of IN THE SERIOUS with this particular Barn Dance series. I think we did a couple of these  Dickinson road again with of course all the straw on the floor and kids up in the rafters as in a barn. And incidentally the comperes with this show who in check shirts I used at one time Brian Redhead late Brian Redhead died a year ago. And Roger Moffitt who was the announcer he did a state and Frank Bough. So a lot of the people who did rather well later do that about all debate on this Barn Dance program in their check shirt you say. And in fact I heard recently obituary when Brian redhead died  somebody said he he did one unlikely job check shirt on barn dance program. And anyway Val did a couple of these and of course obviously did very well. And at the same time in London Bill Cotton who was then head of variety I think he'd he got his eye on him and he suggested that we did a half hour series in Manchester which we did in Dickinson road to get into this multipurpose studio and we did a series with.

SPEAKER: M6

Val well honestly the space was always a problem in Dickinson road for such a tiny studio and we had in that studio the NGO was Alyn Ainsworth and I was going to say it and an audience yes. All in the same sudio no separation studio. Now I don't know how the sound coped either because I mean the audience was probably. 40 40 people I think just to give it a bit of atmosphere at the end of numbers.

SPEAKER: M3

And anyway we did this series and then this was about 1965 I think we're up to now. And Val said Well look Bill Cotton wants me to do a series in London but really. And we were talking about. He said Well frankly I can't really do it again in Dickinson road because we need the television theatre at Shepherd's Bush for this it's that type of show Bill wants to put in on Saturday night. Well I agreed of course I will be. We couldn't possibly attempt it in Manchester. We can do most things in Dickinson road but that size limitation it was just out of the question so now came the point. Well first of all we did once the first series of Val Doonican. And before then I think one special I did a special in studio four in the center came down from Manchester from Manchester for it and I remember we used ?????? event on that. With. LOord Charles and then we had a sensational entrance because we managed to get a Rolls Royce and open Rolls Royce and Lord Charles came in sittings with Ray Allen. You think into the studio I was at the Centre or Lime Grove that was that was a Centre that was studio. Just it was just a little bit. Yes it hadn't been open long. And it went extremely well this special. I was terrified because really I mean I hadn't worked in London since my director's course. When I did get a few little shows but this was a big one you know this special that prime time. And I remember we had a number which Val had just recorded called I'm going to get there Somewhere. I think it was called and we had a maze and an overhead camera while the Cliff Adams singers were weaving in and out. Seats. It was quite tricky and issue with those heavy cameras in those days more difficult to adjust than it is with a modern miniature ones. And I remember we started at 2 o'clock and to my horror as we're going to start this. No Tom Sloane came in the head of the department there and stood behind me and I thought Oh God that's about the last thing I need you see So we did a run through. Eventually he got it and I saw. And at the end of it I turned to Tom and he was beaming you say. That's very good. It seems to be working extremely well and I thought well I'm away here. I think I'm all right. And it went it went very well. Anyway the next thing that happened was Val was doing ten offered ten half hour shows in the autumn. I think it was the autumn of of 65. It must have been in the year to the month with Dave Alan and I'm where Dave Alan was Bill Cotton who got Dave Alan. And he said I've seen this guy Dave Alan And he does this thing you just stand mike and or a stool or something and just chat. And he's marvellous. And I went to see Dave I went up where he was appearing in some club somewhere in the north and I mean I realized that yes I said fine. He's excellent. And so he did five minutes on each of these ten programs. I mean at first I I said well how the hell is he going to get 50 minutes of material. But of course when I saw him I realized that one story could often take three minutes to go the way he told the story. And getting laughed right the way through often bigger laughs and on the tag line. So it was no great problem. And he was he again was he really made his name on that series because he was so good doing just that sitting on the stool for five minutes.

SPEAKER: M7

Now John can interrupt you is this a permanent posting now.

SPEAKER: M8

No. Did not have coming up to that because that was done. Had to leave the muting. Yes. And I shall never forget this because unfortunately my wife had a relapse during this time and she could hardly speak it when I rang her on the phone.

SPEAKER: M3

I mean there's multiple sclerosis was hitting one of these attacks. And I know when I left home when I went home at weekends I was doing sort of five days in London and two days at home on this. It was a live show and this show was live at the Television Theatre and I only got home at weekends and after doing these I thought well I was I talked to my wife about it said look I can't possibly carry on like this commuting I really got to go I think to London because I saw Tom Sloane and he said well you know yes the job as a job down here I'd love to have you down here because he said I remember he said if you stay in Manchester you'll stagnate. That was the word he used. And of course he was right because things were beginning to fall off then really because Harry Worth was working in London and Doonican wanted to work in London we hadn't the facilities up there ready for our audience shows like the television theatre. So I then but then came the problem of course of of money. And Tom I wro te to Tom and said look if I'm going to transfer permanent London I've got to have something in the way of a rise or something because I'm going to lose out on this I've got to pay so much more for equivalent accommodation and I said in the memo that you know my wife had M.S. and unfortunately it was usually really usually got worse and I and she hadn't much energy and we'd know we were in a bungalow in fact we had two bungalows up in Cheshire cos Jane came along and when I got her my daughter. Yes we went for a three bedroom bungalow. And I actually went down to see Tom and I there was somebody from personnel there as well. And he then offered something very minuscule and I wrote back and said Well I'm sorry that you know that way. Can I can I come to London for that. And eventually I got something. It wasn't very much it was being the BBC it was. They shifted me up in the grade or something but it wasn't. It was. It was nothing really. And I did lose out because I had to buy. We c ouldn't find a bungalow we could afford. Did you give you. I can remember it no I I. I had a marvellous three bedroom bungalow which had everything inside it which we had built within the limits of what we could afford. And I say it was 27 nearly 30 years ago. So that should be borne in mind when I quote the figures. But I sold it for six thousand six hundred and fifty. That was a sixty five foot frontage three bedroom detached bungalow and I had to pay ten thousand two hundred and fifty for a two bedroom flat two bedroom flat in Gerarrd's Cross Gerarrd's Cross the trouble you know an expensive area. But when my wife saw this brand new flat in Gerarrd's Cross she said oh we must have this. And I said Well how are we going to afford it. And I've got to take out another four thousand quids worth of mortgage I am really recovered from that by the way even now because it sets you right back. But anyway I'm obviously glad I made the move because if I hadn't made the move I wouldn't have go t onto Morecambe & Wise and all the other stuff and Yarwood's that I did later but. I so I moved down permanently in August 66 to London to living at Gerarrd's Cross and I continue doing Val Doonican and of course and we did fabulous business. We were averaging I don't know 17 million every Saturday night and it moved to Saturday nights and only Saturday night. Oh yeah. LAUGHTER doing that. Yeah. A Thursday night series. The first one we then went Saturday night and I think we. I did two serious I think including a Christmas show. Did you bring your PA with you from Manchester. Yes. For a time Sybil joined ASEAN but not when I move full time. I mean several. She had a mother who she had father died and. Her mother wasn't too well and she always lived at home up there and I think she saw that she I think she regretted it later that she didn't move down but she stayed on in Manchester and went to Birmingham eventually working for an OB producer who who's dead now but who would who did footb all matches a lot. I can't remember his name not from Birmingham and no she didn't come down so I used other PA's who worked for me in London I found that working in London after working at Dickinson Road was a dream because they had seemed to have everything I mean everything we didn't have I don't know whether I've told a story on a previous tape of the very first that special I did with Val Doonican and when I was commuting from Manchester we were doing we were rehearsing doing a camera rehearsal and in the in one side set or something and as we were doing this chat with somebody I saw a boom shadow. So I said OK right hold it studio hold it everybody and the lighting director lovely Dickie Hyams who died a couple of years ago he slid the glass thing. Open and said What have you stopped for. And I said well we've got the boom shadow.

SPEAKER: M8

He said Well don't worry about that we will carry on. Now why. The reason I stopped was at a Manchester. And it was quite fair. They didn't have the lighting equipment which could adapt so easily. A fellow called Tommy Mottram was our lighting director usually on Harryb Worth and everything. And if I'd done that with him if I'd gone straight on he would've said oh John for God's sake you know give us a chance. So Dickie Hyam was quite amazed that I'd stop this and things like that I found was so much easier. You had to run out in Manchester and find another lamp to fill it was almost too late to the case of over lots of ropes and things up there. So I'm not blaming it on me not for me had they had a more difficult job than to get harmed. But I found that yes I obviously I did enjoy it in London immensely after the Doonicans after we'd done the second series of Doonican. Oh incidentally on one series journey we had a strike. Yes I remember. I remember we were live Oh we had a strike cos it was a business of camera four not being paid very much. So he was only going to take captions and he wasn't gonna move the camera. So we had this marvellous terrifying situation and as always although I was in radio nobody told the directors they never do. I mean they're always at the bottom of the list not say whether you are in ITV BBC. I mean you and you never think of directors you just presume to follow everybody else whether you are on strike or what it would lead too elitist. Yeah exactly. Exactly. But the trouble is of course we bore the brunt a complete of it because there was I trying to get a live show on the air and we got to the last number which was always Val in the rocking chair again by the way because I'd flogging that idea we used it with Mike Holiday and I brought the rocking chair down with me. The one that this lovely black Scandinavian chair. Very lightweight looking and we use that for those next two series a bit of he changed. In my opinion not quite so nice a white one late. I still prefer the black one. Anyway we got to this last number was always Val singing a ballad in the rocking chair with crafty lighting. I say that was monochrome in here with Dickie Hyam doing he's not on perspectives and patents on the floor and everything. Oh great shot if it's low cut low camera usually looking up at the chair and Val and but there I was on camera four you see on that I think he'd got that. Well he was on a pad or something I don't know what it was but he'd got a shot and I I was on this shot and of course Val was rocking backwards and forwards and he wouldn't move the camera because that was the instruction he was sending out about relative you bastard because it was live you know and I thought Oh no no not the thing I could stand that but the one thing I have never forgiven them for and I don't see why it was necessary was that he was miming to this as he did so well by the way he did earlier and most ambitious of mime met and this last n umber we were overrunning. So of course they had to work to rule and they were fading us out on time we were about a half minute over so they faded us out and of course he went on singing but the tape bloody operator took the tape off and surely for the audience they could they'd made their point with the transmission and I never forgave them for that and I wrote wrote a memo which I've got here somewhere to whoever was general secretary and said You can have my resignation and I'm disgusted with the whole thing you know you didn't tell us anything. I said I had an ulcer making day getting the Val Doonican show on the air and I'm really exhausted of Freud and you know why don't you tell us something what's going on.

SPEAKER: M7

I would say so John I interrupted you in midsentence erm and we pause to try and find that particular memo but we failed in lots of very interesting memos you brought with you.

SPEAKER: M3

So Val Doonican Yeah I was I'll just add I although I resigned industrial action in the BBC which is highly unusual of course it was but this this was I say a real word because it is affecting obviously the the pictures and also although I resigned on that occasion by the way I did rejoin the ABS about five years later but more of that anon. Yeah Val Doonican. Now we got to the end of these tapes although I say myself fantastically successful series. I mean the audience figures were gigantic and it was a lovely show being live.

SPEAKER: M8

Of course they're always being sucked in with. I can remember there was one marvellous occasion when we were in them and we were doing we had Ted Ray doing a standup act as a guest and on transmission in the in the television theatre. Halfway through there was a shark from the remote laughing gallery was away from the controlled cubicle in this theatre and on the loudspeaker I heard from Dickie Hyam and he said John I've got bad news. I don't understand technically what happened here but I think it was something to the effect that apart from this one spotlight every light in the place had jammed on up position on the dimmers except the spotlight it. And I said well what's going to happen. We've got another five minutes from Ted we're on the air live you know. And what do we do. He said Well look I'm gonna dash down now and try and restore these dimmers by hand you see and I'll give you a shout when. So we warned everybody you know get the potters wheel ready and presentation because we looked like coming off the air. And so we went on Ted was going extremely well but everybody was oblivious and hopefully that's what was going on panic stations upstairs. And then just within half a minute ago he came on he said I've got him back. I've got him back on the next the next shot was the GoJo's the dance girls doing a routine on their own with a full stage lighting that we need every light in the place is that I've got it. We're coming up and then every light came on at the end you know and we were back on I breathe and everybody breathed a sigh of relief but that was it. And then on another occasion what had happened. I don't know technically. I just don't know. I never bothered to find out. Nobody did something silly somewhere. I don't know what happened. But on another occasion what we used. It's amazing what we used to do on these live shows in the limited space even of the television theatre on the stage of a movie because while somebody was on the side said prob ably I hope it was a singer who it was. It wouldn't have been a comic because we couldn't possibly have had the distraction. It wouldn't have stood up if we'd had something going on on the main stage. We were setting but we always had to set something on the main area while we were on the side set. And on this occasion we got Val on the front of the Crane of the Mole and with the weights back to be increased on the back corner and they had very little time to do this. You know you had to and then we sailed through balloons and things you know I it was a little light of my eye on it and it only might have been that number I don't know.

SPEAKER: M6

I can't remember the beautiful blue moon and we had balloons and you sailed through it you know on the crane and he and they were working there were it was a warm night and these poor so and so's when they putting these weights on you. They were both right near perspiration coming off them cause they had to work while this act was not only here but we made it again you know and it's amazing to think back now what we used to do there were very exciting times they were and every but I'm certain in spite of the others rather than hard labor or the camera crew they enjoyed it because there was that electric electrical effect wasn't there the electricity everywhere and the adrenaline and the adrenaline that's what I was looking for you know really. Right. Anyway we we finished the ttwo Doonican series and we had a lot of marvelous guests on it. You know I mean I haven't time needed to elaborate really on those but they were excellent programs and Val of course became immensely popular and cleaned up on summer seasons then year after year after year playing top of the bill everywhere.

SPEAKER: M3

And then one day after the second Doonican series I think I was about to go on holiday I wasn't going anywhere which was just as well as it happened. But Bill cut Cotton collared me in the bar and he said how would you like to produce Morecambe and Wise. And I said well can a  duck swim. Because I did as I said before I'd worked with him in radio which incidentally I think is what they suggested me to Bill  Cotton. And of course I'd just been doing the Doonican which was doing pretty good right isn't it. And I said Well yeah but you you won't get them. Ben Lew Grade ATV you say oh he said no and I managed to get em and I said why. And he said we haven't got much time because we've got 'em in two months time or something. You've said well I said well although I've got leave booked obviously I can change that for such a. I am not going anywhere. So that's how I got onto Morecambe and Wise because this was a return as far as I was concerned although I hadn't actually produ ced them on television. They'd of course done some BBC television and not one not successfully issue remember the disastrous running what it called Running Wild it was it was their first series Yes there he was in London and they didn't know a thing about television and nobody else seemed to do it and where they did the show either they certainly didn't know anything about Morecambe and Wise in London. And we've been grooming them. So we were displeased shall we say by what we saw. Because they were being ruined by people who just didn't understand they didn't understand television. I mean they've done their radio very well. And of course the BBC wouldn't look at them really after that. And so eventually they got there and went to the job with  ATV though quite funny shows on the shelf they're pointing at a shelf while we talk.

SPEAKER: M7

We have the set that's been released and since we started our first recording Daphne and I looked at them and they're quite funny they've been well select the ITV one yeah.

SPEAKER: M6

Oh yes and what they did on the BBC didn't a. They did some on BBC not so long ago and there you. They get some funny money who said they'd been selected funny ideas but there are some funny ideas said indicated give them some very funny ideas. But what happened on this of the first serious what had happened was that one of his Bill Cotton got them from ATV and Lew Grade was of course they wanted to do colour because it wasn't being sold in the States like Tom Jones although they were doing a better colour at Elstree because Morecambe & Wise wasn't being sold to America. Lou Grade wasn't quite so interested shall we say. Do it in colour and then and then they also argued about money and I think they were the only two artists to have a flaming row with Lew Grade in his office walk out and say well I'm sorry. And get better and better.

SPEAKER: M8

After that I don't think anybody's ever done that because of Lew being reasonably powerful in the business and I don't think Lew mentioned that in his programme. No he didn't. I've heard him a bit walked out on and you're saying he didn't have an often happen with Lew. Grade. No no. But they did and they. But Bill of course was able to give them more money because he he did it on BBC Two first because one wasn't in colour then we did it on BBC Two which had just gone into colour and then of course a guaranteed repeat on BBC One which is seems a ridiculous way round for a mass audience show but that's because of the colour and delay. Yeah but of course they got a double fee they always regarded it henceforth as a performance fee.

SPEAKER: M7

Yes I think we should explain on the tape that BBC Two were the first people to go colour. Oh yeah. Researchers of the future who will be listening to your words of wisdom on BBC Two were the first people to go colour. It didn't happen in ITV except for people like Lew Grade doing five two five line colour stuff for America. Yes. Yeah Joe. Yes. And so Julie. Julie Andrews people at that but BBC 2 went colour in 68 60 68 69 what it was it was it was about only two and a half years before ITV.

SPEAKER: M8

Yeah I lived it. You're right your 68 because it was the year Redifusion  lost the franchise.

SPEAKER: M7

Yes. So they weren't geared to color. No LWT who took over from ATV at weekends anyway. He had to plan for color shot and did so sensibly from the off. Even in the build up period we record our programs in color ready for the day when it came but it didn't happen until 70 71 in ITV. Generally speaking. Yeah.

SPEAKER: F2

So anyway we did is there a chance of doing it in color but really it was one thing we inherited from ATV.

SPEAKER: M6

Eric and Ernie never ever got used to the idea working on the floor with an television audience the way other all other shows work they always insisted they had an edge a stage which of course caught enormous problems for design and setting and the quick setting. You had to fly some things in so often you know because it was easier. And again some of the miracles we did even though yes it was recorded. But even so you had limited time and what we did on that one stage area and then we usually had a guest area alongside which was on the floor. That's the way we. Where did you where did you do the first there is John art studio.

SPEAKER: M3

I think we always used TC8 studio eight because I think it was a show bigger than the others it was definitely the light entertainment studio.

SPEAKER: M7

And that first series when I was what happened to the first meetings did Sid and Dick unfortunately yes they were did they come with them.

SPEAKER: M6

Yes unfortunately because Sid & Dick certainly were clever but they they both felt they were a combination of every Shakespeare and every other best comedy writers in the world and they they thought they were too you know and the ego was a bit overpowering for me it was anyway. And the trouble is that.

SPEAKER: F2

But Eric I said to Eric I think on the first session we had with them when they seemed to me to be very overpowering. I said to Eric I said Why do you allow these guys to talk like this. And he said Oh John if you hang on to what actually happens. And the interesting thing was they might not say anything at the time Eric but the next meeting Eric would say something like Well I don't I don't think that I double maybe it would go better as a third spot but not as an opening double. And of course we never heard of it again actually because Eric said that he was really thinking we'll just elbow that completely. And Eric had a knack of just getting his own way anyway and the wasn't quite so direct as maybe I believe it was me but it was probably more successful.

SPEAKER: M8

But he stayed friends that way. And but I then learned what actually happened. It's very unusual the way Eric and Ernie were because Eric of course puts in so much himself into the script because the script used to be a bit skeleton like it used to be a good idea which shouldn't take but it was embroidered so much with Eric and write me as well because the first week it was usually early Eric myself and with the script luckily Sid and Dick stayed away quite a bit and Eddie Braben and stayed away even more because he hated coming from London and he wouldn't move from Liverpool. So we saw him even less you see which was good from the point of view that you didn't have the writer. It wasn't so embarrassing when you said well this page is rubbish you couldn't what it would say. But the writer sitting there you could say it when he went back to Liverpool or whatever but with Sid & Dick we did these shows a bit.

SPEAKER: F2

It was a bit hair raising because Eric's Eric's way as a director cause I've directed cameras as well as producing it. It was a bit of a job because he wouldn't be in exactly the same place twice running Eric. And if you suggested that he should be in a place same place exactly you hear a shout from the floor.

SPEAKER: M8

This guy will be having this on chalk marks next year say as a laugh all this chaps after an award. These remarks would come up usually so gradually a good humored remark may I say but I gradually got used to this way and worked got a camera script of some sort out of it you know which was flexible shall we say you know because you had to keep something wide in case he started leaping around or something you know which which was good for the comedy you watch how much do at the very early stages obviously how much outside rehearsal did you do.

SPEAKER: M3

Well you see for those half hour I don't know quite I can't quite remember what happened on the half hour shows but when after the the 6 1/2 hours we did Eric had his first big heart attack the one up in when they were playing Leeds Yes and he's told a story of many a time of driving in the car Jenson home and then luckily the guy could drive it to the nearest hospital when he had the first heart attack. And of course then he he had to convalesce for quite three or six months and during that time the BBC I thought very very generously offered him a three year contract because they didn't know. What was going to happen a real amount of it. And. But then what happened of course because he had a heart attack. Sid & Dick took fright. I think naturally they thought well you know Eric may not be fit to do any more shows but we've got to find some work. Yeah. And they signed a contract with ATV.

SPEAKER: M6

I thought somebody was perhaps trying to get their own back. Then I got an exclusive contract and I think the the hook for them was they were sort of producing something as well which was a mistake. Of course I don't know what it was but I didn't think it would let they down. Two handed show you know that I don't it wasn't that they were doing they did it to and it shows that Southern. I think it was a Southern TV that didn't work. No no they were quite an America I think. Well I think you see the trouble is with writers. I think it happens with the writers with it. Yes they usually think they can do it better than the stars. So they've written it and they like to think that they've got the way of playing to use deathless prose. Unfortunately they don't reckon with the fact that the stars and they've got to start being stars by what they do and how they perform without that their material I'm afraid isn't quite as good shall we say you know to put it mildly. And it's mutual that's the whole point and neither the writer or the star ever seems to realize that of course it's a producer in the middle who who realizes that usually.

SPEAKER: F2

But we we did so therefore of course I continued with the when they got the three year contract. But the problem was then that Sid & Dick used to.

SPEAKER: M6

Unfortunately I think write themselves in the sketches or not. Yes they did. Usually at 18. Incidentally the way that happened at ATV there was an actor strike on a hat to 1961 or thereabouts. That's right when it started. I think it was the very first series yes. And they had to start acting and they tried they could use Sid & Dick. Because they weren't in Equity. And of course they realized that it could work rather well in the way they did it. And it was very successful looking at them recently as we mentioned earlier. Dick was quite a Dick was quite funny. Yes because he got this chubby idiot face. Yeah that's right. Yes it was. It was Sid he was boring and actually I face. And that's why he was like that in real life of course. And.

SPEAKER: F2

But we have this problem that because they've written themselves into the sketches they were no longer available Eddie Braben. Now what happened there was Bill Cotton heard through the grapevine that Eddie had had a row with Ken Dodd who he was writing for. Right. And this was good for us because he was available. And Bill said to the boys well how do you feel about Eddie Braben. And they said well he sounds to me right. He's a Northerner. He left school at 14 with tweeted you know he was much the same type of fan though of course of my dear staffer Ken Dodd. So we got into obviously Eddie came down now. Eddie straight away said look I'm not a sketch writer I'm a gag writer and a pretty good gag writer. And I think he learned he'd learned a lot through working on the series. But I think this was could have been could be a problem later because when he did have a sketch with Andre Previn in the flat or something which needed a plot line and character dialogue rather than just gags it had to be fitted to Braben's character or music or something. This is where I think it was a little more difficult for him. He couldn't do anything but we did. In fact it was Eddie's idea to use Ernie as the playwright. The play is what I wrote plays what I. You know if that did catch on. Yes but the trouble was that we only had Eric and Ernie which say only I have but I mean when it came to exploiting sketches and things but then we had the idea of booking in straight actors and the first guest we had was Peter Cushing. Unfortunately he died very recently. Lovely. Just a lovely man. And I can still see Peter. We had a decrepit even more decrepit than most rehearsal rooms in the Edgware Road somewhere. We went to I don't know I'm I've never heard of it's into his demise. Miserable place it was. And we Peter came in and he put on his white gloves because he he he didn't like his fingers to get stained with cigarette stains. And he had these white gloves looking very as always debonair and he's very gentlemanly. And I remember I said right well we'll just try to we'll start the plotting now when we when we'd done the read through here. So we had all the bits and pieces around the place to signify the doors and everything else. And then the first note I gave to Peter I saw that he was writing in the script and Peter and Eric in astonishment said to Peter it's no good writing that he's going to change about five times by two days time which was true it did because we export everything as we went along. But he comes right and drama when the director told him that that was gospel you say that that went in. So that was the first experience. But he was such a lovely man. That was the classic and I haven't I've seen little clips from it. But that was the king up.

END OF SIDE 4

John Ammonds Side 5

SPEAKER: M1

Cracked it.

SPEAKER: M7

So here we are. I'm thinking clearly a mid-level job.

SPEAKER: M9

Yeah. Okay. One two three four five. Wonderful One two three four five.

SPEAKER: M7

Okay we resume. This is the John Ammonds story. This is Tape 2 Side 2 and we're resuming on Wednesday the thirty first of August call it Part Two I suppose.

SPEAKER: M1

John we've got to you're still in Manchester. You were doing the Harry Worth show and other things obviously in Manchester.

SPEAKER: M7

You haven't yet come to London permanently. Well it's about 1961 62.

SPEAKER: M3

Yeah well we did Harry. We must have recorded.

SPEAKER: M2

Four series or five series. It was I mean I didn't know it was about 60 shows and most of them were repeated. And of course they did fabulous business from that little church in Manchester with very few facilities but by God it was fun when when everybody seemed to do everything.

SPEAKER: M3

Was it an OBE De-rig. It was for a time until yes until we got the Dickenson Road studio which was to the old church where the Mancunian films used to operate with these low budget big business there. They made a lot of money with Frank Randall Frank Randall. Yes to name a few. And it was it was a funny old place. It's all flattened and I believe now. But we did all the Harry Worth sendups and of course they did start in Top of the Pops up there.

SPEAKER: M7

Johnny Stewart of course now talking of music we missed earlier on in the story that the quite an interesting aspect of the musician's union were you were rehearsing three shows a day which you did mention all three of you.

SPEAKER: M4

Well that's right. We had on yourself mi Miller or Eric Miller and Ronnie Taylor and we used to. I don't I just don't know how we did it but I still less do I know how the orchestra did it really because we had the three band calls and the three shows one after the other in the evening. And just the starting at about 2:00 in the afternoon the audience got excellent value just sitting there for two hours and they saw bits of three shows where they saw bits of Al Read Morecambe and Wise is the show we were doing then the series and an Iact show like variety fanfare which Ronnie Taylor produced and IAl Read used to come on because Ronnie used to do it but every week he sort of there were over radio of course there were radio. Yeah it's awesome to hear more from Radio Al Read's radio show which again were terribly successful. And but I just don't know how we manage the band calls with Alyn Ainsworth who did all all three shows. And of course these days I can't think that I don't think you'd get away with it with the musicians union because surely I don't think even a staff orchestra as the NGO was would be permitted to to do three shows in one day it was sort of slave labour. Yes it's absolutely interesting. Well I think I I say was part of the group in Manchester the joy was it applied right the way through when I got onto television that everybody seemed to do everything and the sort of. Administration side at least as far as the programs were concerned was very free. I mean on videotape editing you Les Matthews who was in those days the tape editor just round the back. He was in his truck in the back of the Dickenson road and you say can we fit me in tomorrow afternoon. I want to do a bit more on Harry Worth or something. No. And this was wonderful. It was it was a very free atmosphere it had to be I think because of the the way we worked. The only thing troubled in Manchester about the administration was that unbelievably I think now the that in London you s ee the television in Manchester came under the head of sound broadcasting because he was in charge of everything because he was in charge of regions indeed which was sound and television in those days. So that apply to any promotion that went on. So our promotions are when I was a television producer tended to be controlled by well the sound people in London they approved everything and the head of programmes in Manchester. Of course was in charge of sound and television. That of course was to my advantage in many ways because although I was a sound producer I got to television not by jumping over an iron curtain as you had to in London when they were completely separate from television but because we had the same head of programmes it was much easier just to go straight across. And this is exactly what I did. I mean I hadn't been a sound producer for more than a couple of years in about nineteen fifty six I suppose. And Barney Coleghan who is really based over in Leeds doing the Good old Days but al so coming over to Manchester to shares and he had a magazine show called Let's Make a date which went out on the network on Sunday afternoon. I think it was with a fella called Brian Reese who used to play PC 49 I'm rated remember.

SPEAKER: M9

I think you mentioned this in the property early. I'm sorry I'm late. They'll first moved to Manchester. Well that's right but I'm just saying again and I'm just illustrating these indeed the sound of television shifting some of my colleagues in London who stayed on at the Aryan Hall with the exception of Johnny Stewart and Dennis Main Wilson they perhaps went on courses but they didn't actually go over to the television center. No not for a very long time. Exactly it took them longer and Johnny Stewart I think in. I think he had to resign to become a television producer. I think it was quite scandalous which meant he presumably suffered financially or pension or something. But anyway in Manchester it was quite easy to flip over and it was only a couple of years after I'd been working part time shall we say. Although I went on that television course while I was still a sound radio producer and when I was appointed to a television producer I had already produced little 15 minute show s and also the I'd done a few Mike Holliday shows as an ambidextrous sound and television. And when I eventually had to advise boss of the work I had to apply for the job I applied for this obviously when it came up on the board and got the full time television producer job and then I got the memo from the Bob Hutson who was the North Regional Executive I think he was called to say they would be pleased to tell me I'd got the job but there wasn't a dicky bird about anything in the way of LSD.  for the previous two years when as I said when I saw Bob Hutson pretty sharpish after getting that memo and getting the job I said yes well that's fine I am grateful of course but I'd like to remind you that I am actually been producing television for on and off for the last two years in addition to my sound production duties.

SPEAKER: M8

So I said I believe I've heard from my London colleagues that there's something called an extra responsibility award or reward or something like that. Does it operate in the provinces in the wild north. And his face fell three feet because I think like a lot of BBC people in those days they thought that you should be very grateful. Oh yes. To you. Oh yeah. In other words to be able to say well buddy BBC which of course I was grateful for I did my job at the same time one did work pretty hard for you know for the money. Well if that's the right word for a money. Pit pittance is the right word.

SPEAKER: M7

And anyway he looked very remember how much your pittance was then all these whole deal sixties Oh I early sixties I cannot I really cannot remember John.

SPEAKER: M9

All I know is that I got something I've got a memo in somewhere saying that the extra responsibility was about thirty quid when the tax had been taken away you know for doing this television work for two in addition to my sound duties of course the thirty pounds and I didn't get something no thirty pounds as a single payment I was a one off in lieu of a one off you say. And I did manage to get something I fight for if I hadn't said anything I wouldn't have got anything. No. But you see this the trouble was that as we were controlled by sound broadcasting is quite different from what Tom Sloan did as head of light entertainment in television whom I was really working to as a light entertainment producer as I was after nineteen. Sixty eight. No sorry 58 is a long way 58 terrible isin't. And I remember seeing Tom later and I said that first of all I was given half a grade in our personal grade for Harry Worth which of course my almost my creative war was half a great. He said Well I n ever give half breaks down here which didn't surprise me because I thought well that because we're on the same radio and they thought they'd be a bit generous and also by the way the other thing that used to happen in Manchester they didn't want to push you above drama producers or something you know. There was that feeling that why should John Ammons class. Yeah thanks. Even though you had produced a show coming out of Manchester. But you've got the prestige of a network show. Which no other region had ever produced before or since as far as I know an audience situation comedy show you say of that nature and doing such business. But I say you therefore you took you far longer to get the any half grades or full grades eventually. I think I got a half grade and then another year or two they gave me another half grade. You know two but I would have got a full grade straight away in London. And of course this brings me to my transfer to London I when Harry Worth said in about nineteen sixty five it may have been 64 64 that really he was getting a bit tired of traveling up and down because he because he lived in London and he was travelling up for the show every week and he really liked to do the next series in. In London I said Well the trouble is Harry I've got my wife who's got multiple sclerosis and although she can walk around Thank God at the moment she gets very tired and I've got to have a bungalow or single storey accommodation if I move to London and that's going to cost me a lot of money more than what I'm paying at the moment for a beautiful bungalow in in in in Manchester and in the south of Manchester you're sitting in Cheshire.

SPEAKER: M3

And in fact Harry did go to London and on John Street and Duncan Wood I think produced his programmes. He did another oh I don't know another 30 shows in London. Very successfully and I carried on in Manchester and then the next thing that happened was I I was doing a series called Barn Dance. It was using it was really a folk dancing with people and doing the using acts as well singing folk. It was at the time when the folk was very popular in school and skip from all that beginnings of country. I never sang I think I gave the Spinners from Liverpool or some of their early shows because they appeared as acts on this show. And I used to use acts the from Newcastle and all over the shop on this this little programme and then I got to hear a Val Doonican I know he was doing. A little show in the mornings. Well a long running show on radio in the mornings from London had Val left the group. Then he was oh yes. What the ideal for was it. What were they call the Ramblers. Was it the Ramblers the four Ramblers. Yes right. Pat Campbell was one of them. Yes. And the guy who became his sort of roadie driving him around whose name I've forgotten. No he'd left it. He'd gone out on his own I think persuaded to a great degree by his wife Lynne. No Delia who used to be. You know she was a singer Lynnette Ray. Lynnette Ray. And she was in Harry Worth show that that I saw Harry out in Manchester. That was connection. But she married Val and I think I'm pretty certain it was her that who. Who said to him not you want to go solo with your talent. And of course she was right. And I booked him on a couple of IN THE SERIOUS with this particular Barn Dance series. I think we did a couple of these  Dickinson road again with of course all the straw on the floor and kids up in the rafters as in a barn. And incidentally the comperes with this show who in check shirts I used at one time Brian Redhead late Brian Redhead died a year ago. And Roger Moffitt who was the announcer he did a state and Frank Bough. So a lot of the people who did rather well later do that about all debate on this Barn Dance program in their check shirt you say. And in fact I heard recently obituary when Brian redhead died  somebody said he he did one unlikely job check shirt on barn dance program. And anyway Val did a couple of these and of course obviously did very well. And at the same time in London Bill Cotton who was then head of variety I think he'd he got his eye on him and he suggested that we did a half hour series in Manchester which we did in Dickinson road to get into this multipurpose studio and we did a series with.

SPEAKER: M6

Val well honestly the space was always a problem in Dickinson road for such a tiny studio and we had in that studio the NGO was Alyn Ainsworth and I was going to say it and an audience yes. All in the same sudio no separation studio. Now I don't know how the sound coped either because I mean the audience was probably. 40 40 people I think just to give it a bit of atmosphere at the end of numbers.

SPEAKER: M3

And anyway we did this series and then this was about 1965 I think we're up to now. And Val said Well look Bill Cotton wants me to do a series in London but really. And we were talking about. He said Well frankly I can't really do it again in Dickinson road because we need the television theatre at Shepherd's Bush for this it's that type of show Bill wants to put in on Saturday night. Well I agreed of course I will be. We couldn't possibly attempt it in Manchester. We can do most things in Dickinson road but that size limitation it was just out of the question so now came the point. Well first of all we did once the first series of Val Doonican. And before then I think one special I did a special in studio four in the center came down from Manchester from Manchester for it and I remember we used ?????? event on that. With. LOord Charles and then we had a sensational entrance because we managed to get a Rolls Royce and open Rolls Royce and Lord Charles came in sittings with Ray Allen. You think into the studio I was at the Centre or Lime Grove that was that was a Centre that was studio. Just it was just a little bit. Yes it hadn't been open long. And it went extremely well this special. I was terrified because really I mean I hadn't worked in London since my director's course. When I did get a few little shows but this was a big one you know this special that prime time. And I remember we had a number which Val had just recorded called I'm going to get there Somewhere. I think it was called and we had a maze and an overhead camera while the Cliff Adams singers were weaving in and out. Seats. It was quite tricky and issue with those heavy cameras in those days more difficult to adjust than it is with a modern miniature ones. And I remember we started at 2 o'clock and to my horror as we're going to start this. No Tom Sloane came in the head of the department there and stood behind me and I thought Oh God that's about the last thing I need you see So we did a run through. Eventually he got it and I saw. And at the end of it I turned to Tom and he was beaming you say. That's very good. It seems to be working extremely well and I thought well I'm away here. I think I'm all right. And it went it went very well. Anyway the next thing that happened was Val was doing ten offered ten half hour shows in the autumn. I think it was the autumn of of 65. It must have been in the year to the month with Dave Alan and I'm where Dave Alan was Bill Cotton who got Dave Alan. And he said I've seen this guy Dave Alan And he does this thing you just stand mike and or a stool or something and just chat. And he's marvellous. And I went to see Dave I went up where he was appearing in some club somewhere in the north and I mean I realized that yes I said fine. He's excellent. And so he did five minutes on each of these ten programs. I mean at first I I said well how the hell is he going to get 50 minutes of material. But of course when I saw him I realized that one story could often take three minutes to go the way he told the story. And getting laughed right the way through often bigger laughs and on the tag line. So it was no great problem. And he was he again was he really made his name on that series because he was so good doing just that sitting on the stool for five minutes.

SPEAKER: M7

Now John can interrupt you is this a permanent posting now.

SPEAKER: M8

No. Did not have coming up to that because that was done. Had to leave the muting. Yes. And I shall never forget this because unfortunately my wife had a relapse during this time and she could hardly speak it when I rang her on the phone.

SPEAKER: M3

I mean there's multiple sclerosis was hitting one of these attacks. And I know when I left home when I went home at weekends I was doing sort of five days in London and two days at home on this. It was a live show and this show was live at the Television Theatre and I only got home at weekends and after doing these I thought well I was I talked to my wife about it said look I can't possibly carry on like this commuting I really got to go I think to London because I saw Tom Sloane and he said well you know yes the job as a job down here I'd love to have you down here because he said I remember he said if you stay in Manchester you'll stagnate. That was the word he used. And of course he was right because things were beginning to fall off then really because Harry Worth was working in London and Doonican wanted to work in London we hadn't the facilities up there ready for our audience shows like the television theatre. So I then but then came the problem of course of of money. And Tom I wro te to Tom and said look if I'm going to transfer permanent London I've got to have something in the way of a rise or something because I'm going to lose out on this I've got to pay so much more for equivalent accommodation and I said in the memo that you know my wife had M.S. and unfortunately it was usually really usually got worse and I and she hadn't much energy and we'd know we were in a bungalow in fact we had two bungalows up in Cheshire cos Jane came along and when I got her my daughter. Yes we went for a three bedroom bungalow. And I actually went down to see Tom and I there was somebody from personnel there as well. And he then offered something very minuscule and I wrote back and said Well I'm sorry that you know that way. Can I can I come to London for that. And eventually I got something. It wasn't very much it was being the BBC it was. They shifted me up in the grade or something but it wasn't. It was. It was nothing really. And I did lose out because I had to buy. We c ouldn't find a bungalow we could afford. Did you give you. I can remember it no I I. I had a marvellous three bedroom bungalow which had everything inside it which we had built within the limits of what we could afford. And I say it was 27 nearly 30 years ago. So that should be borne in mind when I quote the figures. But I sold it for six thousand six hundred and fifty. That was a sixty five foot frontage three bedroom detached bungalow and I had to pay ten thousand two hundred and fifty for a two bedroom flat two bedroom flat in Gerarrd's Cross Gerarrd's Cross the trouble you know an expensive area. But when my wife saw this brand new flat in Gerarrd's Cross she said oh we must have this. And I said Well how are we going to afford it. And I've got to take out another four thousand quids worth of mortgage I am really recovered from that by the way even now because it sets you right back. But anyway I'm obviously glad I made the move because if I hadn't made the move I wouldn't have go t onto Morecambe & Wise and all the other stuff and Yarwood's that I did later but. I so I moved down permanently in August 66 to London to living at Gerarrd's Cross and I continue doing Val Doonican and of course and we did fabulous business. We were averaging I don't know 17 million every Saturday night and it moved to Saturday nights and only Saturday night. Oh yeah. LAUGHTER doing that. Yeah. A Thursday night series. The first one we then went Saturday night and I think we. I did two serious I think including a Christmas show. Did you bring your PA with you from Manchester. Yes. For a time Sybil joined ASEAN but not when I move full time. I mean several. She had a mother who she had father died and. Her mother wasn't too well and she always lived at home up there and I think she saw that she I think she regretted it later that she didn't move down but she stayed on in Manchester and went to Birmingham eventually working for an OB producer who who's dead now but who would who did footb all matches a lot. I can't remember his name not from Birmingham and no she didn't come down so I used other PA's who worked for me in London I found that working in London after working at Dickinson Road was a dream because they had seemed to have everything I mean everything we didn't have I don't know whether I've told a story on a previous tape of the very first that special I did with Val Doonican and when I was commuting from Manchester we were doing we were rehearsing doing a camera rehearsal and in the in one side set or something and as we were doing this chat with somebody I saw a boom shadow. So I said OK right hold it studio hold it everybody and the lighting director lovely Dickie Hyams who died a couple of years ago he slid the glass thing. Open and said What have you stopped for. And I said well we've got the boom shadow.

SPEAKER: M8

He said Well don't worry about that we will carry on. Now why. The reason I stopped was at a Manchester. And it was quite fair. They didn't have the lighting equipment which could adapt so easily. A fellow called Tommy Mottram was our lighting director usually on Harryb Worth and everything. And if I'd done that with him if I'd gone straight on he would've said oh John for God's sake you know give us a chance. So Dickie Hyam was quite amazed that I'd stop this and things like that I found was so much easier. You had to run out in Manchester and find another lamp to fill it was almost too late to the case of over lots of ropes and things up there. So I'm not blaming it on me not for me had they had a more difficult job than to get harmed. But I found that yes I obviously I did enjoy it in London immensely after the Doonicans after we'd done the second series of Doonican. Oh incidentally on one series journey we had a strike. Yes I remember. I remember we were live Oh we had a strike cos it was a business of camera four not being paid very much. So he was only going to take captions and he wasn't gonna move the camera. So we had this marvellous terrifying situation and as always although I was in radio nobody told the directors they never do. I mean they're always at the bottom of the list not say whether you are in ITV BBC. I mean you and you never think of directors you just presume to follow everybody else whether you are on strike or what it would lead too elitist. Yeah exactly. Exactly. But the trouble is of course we bore the brunt a complete of it because there was I trying to get a live show on the air and we got to the last number which was always Val in the rocking chair again by the way because I'd flogging that idea we used it with Mike Holiday and I brought the rocking chair down with me. The one that this lovely black Scandinavian chair. Very lightweight looking and we use that for those next two series a bit of he changed. In my opinion not quite so nice a white one late. I still prefer the black one. Anyway we got to this last number was always Val singing a ballad in the rocking chair with crafty lighting. I say that was monochrome in here with Dickie Hyam doing he's not on perspectives and patents on the floor and everything. Oh great shot if it's low cut low camera usually looking up at the chair and Val and but there I was on camera four you see on that I think he'd got that. Well he was on a pad or something I don't know what it was but he'd got a shot and I I was on this shot and of course Val was rocking backwards and forwards and he wouldn't move the camera because that was the instruction he was sending out about relative you bastard because it was live you know and I thought Oh no no not the thing I could stand that but the one thing I have never forgiven them for and I don't see why it was necessary was that he was miming to this as he did so well by the way he did earlier and most ambitious of mime met and this last n umber we were overrunning. So of course they had to work to rule and they were fading us out on time we were about a half minute over so they faded us out and of course he went on singing but the tape bloody operator took the tape off and surely for the audience they could they'd made their point with the transmission and I never forgave them for that and I wrote wrote a memo which I've got here somewhere to whoever was general secretary and said You can have my resignation and I'm disgusted with the whole thing you know you didn't tell us anything. I said I had an ulcer making day getting the Val Doonican show on the air and I'm really exhausted of Freud and you know why don't you tell us something what's going on.

SPEAKER: M7

I would say so John I interrupted you in midsentence erm and we pause to try and find that particular memo but we failed in lots of very interesting memos you brought with you.

SPEAKER: M3

So Val Doonican Yeah I was I'll just add I although I resigned industrial action in the BBC which is highly unusual of course it was but this this was I say a real word because it is affecting obviously the the pictures and also although I resigned on that occasion by the way I did rejoin the ABS about five years later but more of that anon. Yeah Val Doonican. Now we got to the end of these tapes although I say myself fantastically successful series. I mean the audience figures were gigantic and it was a lovely show being live.

SPEAKER: M8

Of course they're always being sucked in with. I can remember there was one marvellous occasion when we were in them and we were doing we had Ted Ray doing a standup act as a guest and on transmission in the in the television theatre. Halfway through there was a shark from the remote laughing gallery was away from the controlled cubicle in this theatre and on the loudspeaker I heard from Dickie Hyam and he said John I've got bad news. I don't understand technically what happened here but I think it was something to the effect that apart from this one spotlight every light in the place had jammed on up position on the dimmers except the spotlight it. And I said well what's going to happen. We've got another five minutes from Ted we're on the air live you know. And what do we do. He said Well look I'm gonna dash down now and try and restore these dimmers by hand you see and I'll give you a shout when. So we warned everybody you know get the potters wheel ready and presentation because we looked like coming off the air. And so we went on Ted was going extremely well but everybody was oblivious and hopefully that's what was going on panic stations upstairs. And then just within half a minute ago he came on he said I've got him back. I've got him back on the next the next shot was the GoJo's the dance girls doing a routine on their own with a full stage lighting that we need every light in the place is that I've got it. We're coming up and then every light came on at the end you know and we were back on I breathe and everybody breathed a sigh of relief but that was it. And then on another occasion what had happened. I don't know technically. I just don't know. I never bothered to find out. Nobody did something silly somewhere. I don't know what happened. But on another occasion what we used. It's amazing what we used to do on these live shows in the limited space even of the television theatre on the stage of a movie because while somebody was on the side said prob ably I hope it was a singer who it was. It wouldn't have been a comic because we couldn't possibly have had the distraction. It wouldn't have stood up if we'd had something going on on the main stage. We were setting but we always had to set something on the main area while we were on the side set. And on this occasion we got Val on the front of the Crane of the Mole and with the weights back to be increased on the back corner and they had very little time to do this. You know you had to and then we sailed through balloons and things you know I it was a little light of my eye on it and it only might have been that number I don't know.

SPEAKER: M6

I can't remember the beautiful blue moon and we had balloons and you sailed through it you know on the crane and he and they were working there were it was a warm night and these poor so and so's when they putting these weights on you. They were both right near perspiration coming off them cause they had to work while this act was not only here but we made it again you know and it's amazing to think back now what we used to do there were very exciting times they were and every but I'm certain in spite of the others rather than hard labor or the camera crew they enjoyed it because there was that electric electrical effect wasn't there the electricity everywhere and the adrenaline and the adrenaline that's what I was looking for you know really. Right. Anyway we we finished the ttwo Doonican series and we had a lot of marvelous guests on it. You know I mean I haven't time needed to elaborate really on those but they were excellent programs and Val of course became immensely popular and cleaned up on summer seasons then year after year after year playing top of the bill everywhere.

SPEAKER: M3

And then one day after the second Doonican series I think I was about to go on holiday I wasn't going anywhere which was just as well as it happened. But Bill cut Cotton collared me in the bar and he said how would you like to produce Morecambe and Wise. And I said well can a  duck swim. Because I did as I said before I'd worked with him in radio which incidentally I think is what they suggested me to Bill  Cotton. And of course I'd just been doing the Doonican which was doing pretty good right isn't it. And I said Well yeah but you you won't get them. Ben Lew Grade ATV you say oh he said no and I managed to get em and I said why. And he said we haven't got much time because we've got 'em in two months time or something. You've said well I said well although I've got leave booked obviously I can change that for such a. I am not going anywhere. So that's how I got onto Morecambe and Wise because this was a return as far as I was concerned although I hadn't actually produ ced them on television. They'd of course done some BBC television and not one not successfully issue remember the disastrous running what it called Running Wild it was it was their first series Yes there he was in London and they didn't know a thing about television and nobody else seemed to do it and where they did the show either they certainly didn't know anything about Morecambe and Wise in London. And we've been grooming them. So we were displeased shall we say by what we saw. Because they were being ruined by people who just didn't understand they didn't understand television. I mean they've done their radio very well. And of course the BBC wouldn't look at them really after that. And so eventually they got there and went to the job with  ATV though quite funny shows on the shelf they're pointing at a shelf while we talk.

SPEAKER: M7

We have the set that's been released and since we started our first recording Daphne and I looked at them and they're quite funny they've been well select the ITV one yeah.

SPEAKER: M6

Oh yes and what they did on the BBC didn't a. They did some on BBC not so long ago and there you. They get some funny money who said they'd been selected funny ideas but there are some funny ideas said indicated give them some very funny ideas. But what happened on this of the first serious what had happened was that one of his Bill Cotton got them from ATV and Lew Grade was of course they wanted to do colour because it wasn't being sold in the States like Tom Jones although they were doing a better colour at Elstree because Morecambe & Wise wasn't being sold to America. Lou Grade wasn't quite so interested shall we say. Do it in colour and then and then they also argued about money and I think they were the only two artists to have a flaming row with Lew Grade in his office walk out and say well I'm sorry. And get better and better.

SPEAKER: M8

After that I don't think anybody's ever done that because of Lew being reasonably powerful in the business and I don't think Lew mentioned that in his programme. No he didn't. I've heard him a bit walked out on and you're saying he didn't have an often happen with Lew. Grade. No no. But they did and they. But Bill of course was able to give them more money because he he did it on BBC Two first because one wasn't in colour then we did it on BBC Two which had just gone into colour and then of course a guaranteed repeat on BBC One which is seems a ridiculous way round for a mass audience show but that's because of the colour and delay. Yeah but of course they got a double fee they always regarded it henceforth as a performance fee.

SPEAKER: M7

Yes I think we should explain on the tape that BBC Two were the first people to go colour. Oh yeah. Researchers of the future who will be listening to your words of wisdom on BBC Two were the first people to go colour. It didn't happen in ITV except for people like Lew Grade doing five two five line colour stuff for America. Yes. Yeah Joe. Yes. And so Julie. Julie Andrews people at that but BBC 2 went colour in 68 60 68 69 what it was it was it was about only two and a half years before ITV.

SPEAKER: M8

Yeah I lived it. You're right your 68 because it was the year Redifusion  lost the franchise.

SPEAKER: M7

Yes. So they weren't geared to color. No LWT who took over from ATV at weekends anyway. He had to plan for color shot and did so sensibly from the off. Even in the build up period we record our programs in color ready for the day when it came but it didn't happen until 70 71 in ITV. Generally speaking. Yeah.

SPEAKER: F2

So anyway we did is there a chance of doing it in color but really it was one thing we inherited from ATV.

SPEAKER: M6

Eric and Ernie never ever got used to the idea working on the floor with an television audience the way other all other shows work they always insisted they had an edge a stage which of course caught enormous problems for design and setting and the quick setting. You had to fly some things in so often you know because it was easier. And again some of the miracles we did even though yes it was recorded. But even so you had limited time and what we did on that one stage area and then we usually had a guest area alongside which was on the floor. That's the way we. Where did you where did you do the first there is John art studio.

SPEAKER: M3

I think we always used TC8 studio eight because I think it was a show bigger than the others it was definitely the light entertainment studio.

SPEAKER: M7

And that first series when I was what happened to the first meetings did Sid and Dick unfortunately yes they were did they come with them.

SPEAKER: M6

Yes unfortunately because Sid & Dick certainly were clever but they they both felt they were a combination of every Shakespeare and every other best comedy writers in the world and they they thought they were too you know and the ego was a bit overpowering for me it was anyway. And the trouble is that.

SPEAKER: F2

But Eric I said to Eric I think on the first session we had with them when they seemed to me to be very overpowering. I said to Eric I said Why do you allow these guys to talk like this. And he said Oh John if you hang on to what actually happens. And the interesting thing was they might not say anything at the time Eric but the next meeting Eric would say something like Well I don't I don't think that I double maybe it would go better as a third spot but not as an opening double. And of course we never heard of it again actually because Eric said that he was really thinking we'll just elbow that completely. And Eric had a knack of just getting his own way anyway and the wasn't quite so direct as maybe I believe it was me but it was probably more successful.

SPEAKER: M8

But he stayed friends that way. And but I then learned what actually happened. It's very unusual the way Eric and Ernie were because Eric of course puts in so much himself into the script because the script used to be a bit skeleton like it used to be a good idea which shouldn't take but it was embroidered so much with Eric and write me as well because the first week it was usually early Eric myself and with the script luckily Sid and Dick stayed away quite a bit and Eddie Braben and stayed away even more because he hated coming from London and he wouldn't move from Liverpool. So we saw him even less you see which was good from the point of view that you didn't have the writer. It wasn't so embarrassing when you said well this page is rubbish you couldn't what it would say. But the writer sitting there you could say it when he went back to Liverpool or whatever but with Sid & Dick we did these shows a bit.

SPEAKER: F2

It was a bit hair raising because Eric's Eric's way as a director cause I've directed cameras as well as producing it. It was a bit of a job because he wouldn't be in exactly the same place twice running Eric. And if you suggested that he should be in a place same place exactly you hear a shout from the floor.

SPEAKER: M8

This guy will be having this on chalk marks next year say as a laugh all this chaps after an award. These remarks would come up usually so gradually a good humored remark may I say but I gradually got used to this way and worked got a camera script of some sort out of it you know which was flexible shall we say you know because you had to keep something wide in case he started leaping around or something you know which which was good for the comedy you watch how much do at the very early stages obviously how much outside rehearsal did you do.

SPEAKER: M3

Well you see for those half hour I don't know quite I can't quite remember what happened on the half hour shows but when after the the 6 1/2 hours we did Eric had his first big heart attack the one up in when they were playing Leeds Yes and he's told a story of many a time of driving in the car Jenson home and then luckily the guy could drive it to the nearest hospital when he had the first heart attack. And of course then he he had to convalesce for quite three or six months and during that time the BBC I thought very very generously offered him a three year contract because they didn't know. What was going to happen a real amount of it. And. But then what happened of course because he had a heart attack. Sid & Dick took fright. I think naturally they thought well you know Eric may not be fit to do any more shows but we've got to find some work. Yeah. And they signed a contract with ATV.

SPEAKER: M6

I thought somebody was perhaps trying to get their own back. Then I got an exclusive contract and I think the the hook for them was they were sort of producing something as well which was a mistake. Of course I don't know what it was but I didn't think it would let they down. Two handed show you know that I don't it wasn't that they were doing they did it to and it shows that Southern. I think it was a Southern TV that didn't work. No no they were quite an America I think. Well I think you see the trouble is with writers. I think it happens with the writers with it. Yes they usually think they can do it better than the stars. So they've written it and they like to think that they've got the way of playing to use deathless prose. Unfortunately they don't reckon with the fact that the stars and they've got to start being stars by what they do and how they perform without that their material I'm afraid isn't quite as good shall we say you know to put it mildly. And it's mutual that's the whole point and neither the writer or the star ever seems to realize that of course it's a producer in the middle who who realizes that usually.

SPEAKER: F2

But we we did so therefore of course I continued with the when they got the three year contract. But the problem was then that Sid & Dick used to.

SPEAKER: M6

Unfortunately I think write themselves in the sketches or not. Yes they did. Usually at 18. Incidentally the way that happened at ATV there was an actor strike on a hat to 1961 or thereabouts. That's right when it started. I think it was the very first series yes. And they had to start acting and they tried they could use Sid & Dick. Because they weren't in Equity. And of course they realized that it could work rather well in the way they did it. And it was very successful looking at them recently as we mentioned earlier. Dick was quite a Dick was quite funny. Yes because he got this chubby idiot face. Yeah that's right. Yes it was. It was Sid he was boring and actually I face. And that's why he was like that in real life of course. And.

SPEAKER: F2

But we have this problem that because they've written themselves into the sketches they were no longer available Eddie Braben. Now what happened there was Bill Cotton heard through the grapevine that Eddie had had a row with Ken Dodd who he was writing for. Right. And this was good for us because he was available. And Bill said to the boys well how do you feel about Eddie Braben. And they said well he sounds to me right. He's a Northerner. He left school at 14 with tweeted you know he was much the same type of fan though of course of my dear staffer Ken Dodd. So we got into obviously Eddie came down now. Eddie straight away said look I'm not a sketch writer I'm a gag writer and a pretty good gag writer. And I think he learned he'd learned a lot through working on the series. But I think this was could have been could be a problem later because when he did have a sketch with Andre Previn in the flat or something which needed a plot line and character dialogue rather than just gags it had to be fitted to Braben's character or music or something. This is where I think it was a little more difficult for him. He couldn't do anything but we did. In fact it was Eddie's idea to use Ernie as the playwright. The play is what I wrote plays what I. You know if that did catch on. Yes but the trouble was that we only had Eric and Ernie which say only I have but I mean when it came to exploiting sketches and things but then we had the idea of booking in straight actors and the first guest we had was Peter Cushing. Unfortunately he died very recently. Lovely. Just a lovely man. And I can still see Peter. We had a decrepit even more decrepit than most rehearsal rooms in the Edgware Road somewhere. We went to I don't know I'm I've never heard of it's into his demise. Miserable place it was. And we Peter came in and he put on his white gloves because he he he didn't like his fingers to get stained with cigarette stains. And he had these white gloves looking very as always debonair and he's very gentlemanly. And I remember I said right well we'll just try to we'll start the plotting now when we when we'd done the read through here. So we had all the bits and pieces around the place to signify the doors and everything else. And then the first note I gave to Peter I saw that he was writing in the script and Peter and Eric in astonishment said to Peter it's no good writing that he's going to change about five times by two days time which was true it did because we export everything as we went along. But he comes right and drama when the director told him that that was gospel you say that that went in. So that was the first experience. But he was such a lovely man. That was the classic and I haven't I've seen little clips from it. But that was the king up.

END OF SIDE 5

John Ammonds Side 6

SPEAKER: M1

Yes. Johnny Ammond's story. On Tape 3 Side 2. It's still the thirty first of August. Nineteen ninety four and after a quite good lunch. Here we go. John dude wound up on the Morecambe & Wise show. I'm sure there are more stories to come but chronologically you finish Morecambe & Wise BBC the first series. You move to Yarwood.

SPEAKER: M5

That's right. Well I would of course have done several series by the time I came onto the show.

SPEAKER: M11

And a very successful series to and I was really executive producer with Alan Boyd who'd a very clever producer and director and with Mike Yarwood he was especially useful because as a director because he'd come up from presentation doing trailers and he knew his videotape extremely well.

SPEAKER: M5

And therefore Yarwood doing all these multi images on multi tapes. He was a round peg in a round hole and between the two of us I think we were able to handle mike because I think it's only fair to say that Mike Mike was it could be a very charming person but he was a very nervous artist lacking I think in self-confidence which probably most artists are to some degree.

SPEAKER: M11

But in his case it was almost to excess the nervousness and it led to him probably being unable in some ways to get down to actually learning things properly and working away from the studio he worked.

SPEAKER: M9

All right. When we were in rehearsal but I've got a feeling that perhaps at home he didn't work quite as hard as many other artists would he.

SPEAKER: M5

I'm not sure. Their first very first series must have been oh about 19  and just trying to think where we are now 75 76 75 76. They weren't easy producing shows he was still doing very very good business indeed and.

SPEAKER: M13

Nominated one year. Strangely enough I think was nominated within the last four his show. I can't remember quite which year but it was after I leftMorecambe & Wise and Morecambe & Wisewas also in the last four a Morecambe & Wise won it was Ernest Maxim who took over from me.

SPEAKER: M21

He won the BAFTA. That was a Bafta award and in fact Yarwood didn't. In fact winit but it was still a very good show. Ernie had done a very good show actually with Morecambe & Wise was one where the newsreaders doing nothing like a dame that was tomorrow night which was really really good routine South Pacific directed by Ernest.

SPEAKER: M10

Yeah.

SPEAKER: M3

But it was a bit.

SPEAKER: M17

It was ironic really that I'd been on Morecambe & Wise including the 1971 show by the way which I don't think even got into the last four. And yet with the battey and the Previn.

SPEAKER: M3

It should have done it might have been you. I'm not any mind I think I'm one of the other critics said so too. But so much for jurors. Not exactly.

SPEAKER: M5

But anyway Yarwood wasn't easy. He was shall we say a little bit fond of the liquor. Mm hmm.

SPEAKER: M13

And that's probably the understatement of all time saying it like that but I say he was a nervous artist and I think that followed really that he took refuge in in a drink too much drink and it was it was difficult to we'll give him the confidence really to make him keep on working because we knew that he was better than anybody.

SPEAKER: M17

As he was he was an story. The king of them all. Really. Absolutely. But I still enjoyed it because we got good shows at the end of it. That was important.

SPEAKER: M12

Yes and Allan Boyd worked a few miracles whether with title we did ridiculously complicated things his courtroom scenes and things that I write about and the lawyers and why we had Speaker a deposition and the naming and I think it was quite what I owe quite some amazing things when he was doing.

SPEAKER: M7

Sometimes he'd be doing an impression on the floor because I was on the floor with him on the pre recording which was done usually the day before before the day the following day when we had the audience and in the evening and all these complicated camera setups with two shots and three shots and locked off cameras and all the rest of it. But when we were doing these characters I noticed when I was right alongside him just out of camera shot that when he was doing say Eric Morecambe he used to do some of the things and knowing Eric as I did I was quite amazed at seeing that he had little mannerisms which you almost did instinctively once he was doing the character. It was almost it came completely naturally to him almost unconsciously to do all the other things with his arms and as the character. And. It really was quite quite a.

SPEAKER: M4

Wonderful to watch him.

SPEAKER: M21

And I used to I used to be on the floor and Alann upstairs and I used to be chip in with little production points with him with Mike and then the following day of course and my Alann Boyd would get in at about 9 o'clock with three tapee machines and for the rest of the day would edit all the stuff we'd done the day before into a seven minute sequence. And it was always ready just on occasions for the audience at eight o'clock. I think once it was about 15 minutes that the tape was ready and it would be a rough cut but it would be ready for the audience. That's the important thing and I think productivity on that show for the time we had I don't think it could be exceeded any anywhere in the world. I will say that quite a leap up because I believe it. I tried to do something at Thames later and we didn't manage was the same thing for one reason or another.

SPEAKER: M19

Who wrote the scripts John. Well obviously Mike and and yourself as well.

SPEAKER: M21

No it was really only Eric Merriman did an awful lot. Eric it was a very good writer for Mike he. He wrote some good sketch ideas and he knew Mike very well because he'd been some years working with him. It was really a yes it was a case of Eric sending in reams of material and then it will be edited down by Mike and myself really and quite a lot of hard work.

SPEAKER: M25

We did use one or two other writers like Neil Shand. He was in on it. You wrote bits of the political staff. He was good for the party political broadcasts things we obviously opened the show. I think one of the troubles with Mike really that he was a bit slow in developing new characters and younger characters who were coming on the scene like pop singers just about seeming he'd be all right as his Frank Sinatra's and the Sammy Davis. But gradually and I think as happened more. A few years later he was a bit backward getting in with the younger performers doing impressions. And of course there were many other younger impressionists coming on the scene to later as very very severe competition out of the LWT shows particularly in the exact group impressionist shows. Yeah that's it that's it. And really I think Mike was perhaps lacking in foresight that he didn't try and jump on that bandwagon of giving impressions of all the younger pop singers. But I think at his best and he he was at his best for many years at the BBC I think he was still the best impressionist of the lot heard because we did some classic.

SPEAKER: M9

But of course he was at his Wilson Harold Wilson.

SPEAKER: M7

And Ted Heath and yeah I think what happened to was and it certainly happened later at Thames that he got too keen on the makeup side on looking like the characters because often the shape of his face he couldn't look like the person with me. He got a fright high for it. I mean Neil Kinnock was a case in point which we tried to tempt because Neil can its forehead goes straight back so to speak. He would be good at Reagan because Reagan's forehead was much higher but he couldn't really do Kinnock or he couldn't match him. But I always used to save him. It doesn't matter if you don't look exactly like the person if the materials funny and your voice is accurate.

SPEAKER: M15

I mean look at Lenny Henry do impressions of white people. He didn't worry that he wasn't white you know it was still funny. And that's the important thing.

SPEAKER: M7

But Mike I don't think fully appreciated. He concentrated too much on the makeup side and when he was allowed free rein as he was at Thames he took more and more time and spent less and less time at. The voice at the actual impression of the character which I think was a mistake and it then I think it showed to his disadvantage on the screen you know how many did you do that first series with the Yarwood

SPEAKER: M20

Yarwoodmust have been on a couple of series I think. I don't think I stay very long. Yeah. Because. What were they 8 & eight something I ended come up in the 60s and get it on with what the number of shows.

SPEAKER: M7

Well I really did sort of after Morecambe & Wise and Yarwood I do bits and pieces really I you know this show I mentioned that I did with Norman Wisdom over and over television is this. Yeah that was we'd I think we'd done the BBC it ended for it four or five years. The difference between that and Montreux was that in and in Kanark? at this festival basically wouldn't it wouldn't it. Well no not really. No it wasn't. It was a competition in which you had to put on a show in front of an audience a live show in front of an audience and you couldn't stop. You had to do 30 minutes straight through and you used the Belgium camera crew out there. That was a bit of a sort of disadvantage actually in those days it was anywhere and it was for Alan Boyd it certainly. Who was directing it. I'm glad I wasn't directing it really. I was producing the show and Norman and the other show where we entered Norman Wisdom though in previous years they'd had various often they did have a musical entry but then there was a competition and somebody got the Golden.

SPEAKER: M17

Well it wasn't called the golden golden sea swallows. I think I don't quite know what a Sea Swallow is it. I don't know. The golden knocker. Up.

SPEAKER: M15

There and the BBC had won One I think every blooming Yeah.

SPEAKER: M2

Because we'd enter a reasonable type show and done it pretty well.

SPEAKER: M3

And Bill Cotton decided to enter Norman Wisdom and I don't know any when he gave it to me I was a bit apprehensive why Well I think the reason was because over there of course they'd seen all the films and they were right Norman Wisdom was I was a big star really  the comedy you know all the old films that he'd done carrying on with the character you say but I found it it wasn't very easy because for a start Norman would he wanted really its doing as do the whole of his cabaret act which went on for about 45 minutes and I said well look we can't go a minute over 30. That's the maximum time and.

SPEAKER: F2

Most of the rehearsal was spent in trying to cut him down because most artists have got an act which starts off at 25 minutes and they finish off putting bits in and putting bits in and and then they finish out doing 45 minutes when it was better at 25 minutes. And I managed to cut I think the right bits but Norman he had Tony Faine as his stooge and formerly of Thane and Evans exactly as Thain and Evans a radio act way back.

SPEAKER: M2

And the rehearsals were I say with a quiet. I mean I liked it very much he was very nice and he was very co-operative. But he I sometimes felt like the the hard stooge like you know I used to say oh no no you can't do that you've got to cut out please John please. John and all these and it was almost like a double act with me being the hard you know the Tony Chamble? trying to keep this little man in order. Anyway we went there and we did. We did an idea which I did actually sort up on a Morecambe & Wise I've done it actually three times once with Roy Castle on Morecambe and Wise once with Glenda Jackson on Morecambe & Wise and now or with Norman Wisdom and all it was it is a very simple idea a prop gag with three chairs in the middle one day they're up on a pretty high rostrum and the middle one goes right down to the floor then right up high. And the other two remain normal and we did it I say with Roy Castle and GLENDA JACKSON That's right.

SPEAKER: F2

And then I suggested doing it in Norman because with two stools got it worked with Charlie Fein as his stooge you say and of course Norman had the prop store and because we got we got the guy underneath out of view of the audience and everything I brought over one of Bill Kings you know the prop blokes assistants and they knew because we'd done it before they leave the technical side and of course the audience were knocked out when they saw this happening but the trouble is that because we weren't allowed to stop the recording we nearly went straight into disaster because just as Norman got onto this stool on the intro was playing we had Ronnie Hazlehurst over there and the intro was playing and he went to the stool and went to lift the stool and the top came off of the prop stool and he had to fit it in again in time to sing and he just made it.

SPEAKER: M2

It was because we breathe a sigh of relief when he started when he got it in and turn round because that would have been a disqualification if we'd stopped. And it wouldn't have worked if we hadn't got the thing back in again you see in and sat on it but it did work strangely well and we had Rod Hull Emu on the usual free fight on the floor at the finish between the EMU and and Norman Norman being carried out on a stretcher while they were closing captions were rolling. They went very well and it's because we didn't want to trust the it sounds bad really a bit pompous but you could get the show edited in Brussels by Belgium TV. But Alan Boyd being the supreme editor that years you know VT decided that he wanted to go back and get it done at the Television Centre and come back.

SPEAKER: M8

I think it was two days later when they judged it at 9:00 in the morning or something I cannot say. Unfortunately they got it done at the Television Centre. But Dave Hillier came with him and was doing floor management and they missed the boat at Dover. And they had to get the idea. From the other side of the harbour and they went to instead of going to Zeebrugge or something. They they went to Calais the other side and had to drive up and they just got there. I think the judging  was at 10 and they just got there with ten minutes to spare with a tape for it to be put on the machine you know and reviewed and we won it. You did. Oh well then we won it and I but Bill Cottont on sent me over and said You must go out and I went over because I think we're probably going to win it again. And I I I borrowed. I went over and I collected the car at Brussels airport. Unfortunately the hire car they've forgotten to put on top it up with water. And I got halfway down the motorway all the way to connect the damn thing started boiling. I managed to get off the motorway and I went into a cottage and. Allowed it to cool down a bit you know before I fill it up with water again. So when I arrived at Knokke I met Bill Cotton's wife his wife then can't remember her name. Anyway I got there and she said when I was coming in very flustered you won it. I thought I what I don't give a bugger about that I've had a hell of a journey over you said and then I got a phone call from London and they when they heard about it they decided to come over that night there was Peter Westham the lighting man and whoever did sound is all down there and.

SPEAKER: M3

Glen  still about plausible Glen Shorey? he is lecturing and they all decide was three or four and the makeup and wardrobe decide to come over and see me get the medal that night. And I know walking across with Bill Cotton and he said when I told him that coming said I hope they aren't going to try and claim this on expenses. I said Oh Christ you know they're there they're so keen of course that I was annoyed about that. So anyway we. And that was the one show I did over there and I'm trying to think what else I did before I eventually went back to the big stuff. No eventually before I left to go to Teddington them know what we're up to nearly up to 78 you say well we've missed.

SPEAKER: M12

That was 1976. The show you're talking about. That was. Yeah.

SPEAKER: M3

Well I'm just trying to work out what I did in between. I can't remember at the moment in between. You got an MBE. Well of course no no a lot. Tell us about that. Well I'll a alright. Yeah it's important I get the MBE I'm just kind of checking you start the machine a moment right. So carry on John the MBE.

SPEAKER: M4

Well now what to happen here. Quite a surprise really because in 1974 in about September ish I decided I'd read a report that the government were going to cut back on research into multiple sclerosis or other other diseases that were cutting that amount for research.

SPEAKER: M6

And my wife as I've explained before she's had multiple sclerosis for many years and naturally has been incensed about this. So I wrote off to the Ministry of Health as it was then saying that I was taken aback by this.

SPEAKER: M13

And I thought well afterwards when I'd written post it I thought well that's a waste of time really I shan't hear anything more. And then in the November I think it was my wife was still in bed and I heard the post through the letterbox on the front door and I picked up this envelope and it said on the front.

SPEAKER: M20

Prime Minister Downing Street. So I thought Oh my God. That's got pretty high.

SPEAKER: M2

That letter I said But you know is research and money being cut back and then I opened it of course I said nothing of the kind it was this offer of an MBE and the Prime Minister has it in mind to mention your name to the Queen for the award of the MBE and would you sort of let us know if this is acceptable to you. So I took it into my wife and read it and we were very impressed and flabbergasted.

SPEAKER: M5

Fortunately my wife in those days unfortunate. Now she can't walk but in those days she could. And my daughter came along and and my wife came along to see me get the medal at Buckingham Palace at that time I had a I don't know it was about a four year old Wolseley I think it was also the automatic car. Eighteen hundred I think it was. I polish it up like mad you know because it was going to Buckingham Palace and we went through the gates were directed to that in a quadrangle. And.

SPEAKER: M17

My wife and daughter that are ushered in into the ballroom and of course they see all the whole thing. The knighthoods being granted and the CBE while you were recovering in the ante. I'm looking at these wonderful original paintings of course everywhere but they do get a bit monotonous after about two hours without a coffee even being offered because I I mean I looked it up in the dictionary in the encyclopedia. I wasn't quite sure what MBE where that came in the hierarchy. I didn't realize it was at the bottom pretty well that you you know you've got the CBE at the top and knighthoods above that. And then CBE and then OBE and then and then MBE.

SPEAKER: M10

And but it was quite fascinating.

SPEAKER: M9

I mean when you go in your you know this chap with a sash a black uniform the Major or whatever he is in the queen's household and tells you what will happen then her Majesty may say a few words to you and you take sort of two paces back and turn right and then walk off and you're in the small queue and my name was called.

SPEAKER: M5

I walk forward and she pin the medal on me and then she said What do you do.

SPEAKER: M6

And I was sorely tempted to use the Eric Morecambe line and say not a lot ma'am but I didn't I resisted the temptation and I but I thought well I better say something so I said well actually I'm a television producer and one of the shows I do is Morecambe & Wise show and her face lit up a bit and she said oh that must be rather fun. I said it is ma'am. And I thought I've said enough really I'm not supposed to carry on a long conversation.

SPEAKER: M2

So to  two paces back turn right and off but it made it all rather grand and then then we all went to my car which was one of the last cars to leave. I think it was the last car. And as we went out through the gate with a policeman saluting us and it was a bit Walter Mitty he had some coming out there and wanting to almost wander away back in to give the royal wave as we went through the gates of this highly polished Wolseley four year old our six year old car. I think it was actually lovely but it's quite a day now. And incidentally you never know who recommended you. It comes right. I still don't know Bill Cotton said it wasn't him. Well I didn't think it would be.

SPEAKER: M12

But I do think or suspect that it was Hugh Weldon. Yes you've got a nice note though. Very nice. He was a darling. Yes. That's right. Well I do read a couple of them. Well yes indeed. You mean there is no getting the MBE.

SPEAKER: M18

Yeah. Yeah. One from Hugh actually if I can find it.

SPEAKER: F3

Which is a bit comical. Hang on a minute. The lessening of papers rustling of very good ideas really to keep atomized. Yes yes. I didn't live up in my drama days. You don't know anything yet. It's there somewhere. Where are the telegrams. Because that's well it pause the tapes. So here are the telegrams telegrams.

SPEAKER: M18

Well I had one from Hugh Weldon. Everybody here is delighted about your well-deserved honour. I gather you are still resting. Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow. Is it true you start working next month. Congratulations best wishes Huw Weldon Now there's one here. Now Ronnie Waaldman was a guy I worked with when I was about 17. Up in Bangor in North Wales. Well light in the tape was a light entertainment producer. He used to produce a show called Monday night in 1988 when we went away in a.

SPEAKER: M14

Harry Pepper and Ronnie Waldman in the channel Charleville orchestra. Charlie Saville orchestra Charlie Saville Orchestra quite and I used to do a show up there was called the Red Cross radio contest which Ronnie used to compere his competition and you'd have sounds a b and c it was all on disc. So I was the guy who jumped over on the other pencil marks on his cue for sound A and now we have sound B and now we have sound C and he was also the head of light entertainment in television when I first did Harry Worth in Manchester and when I saw him once in London he said Well all credit to you and your team up there because although Harry appeared at the Palladium down here for nine months we didn't spot him as a bloke who could do his own shows. As you proved he can do and so that's why when I got this this wire from Ronnie Waldman I really thought this was wonderful it says official public recognition but never better deserved warmest congratulations. Ronnie Waldman you know I can't say I found that well from Charlie Curran who was the director general time. It says Dear John splendid news I feel you may have had trouble with Ernie whith Eric and Ernie after being in the public eye in this way. But I suspect you will endure whatever they may say your colleagues will be universally pleased. Yours. Charles Curran that was as interesting as well because Ernie Wise doesn't take papers obviously like the Guardian or The Telegraph where they print the whole lot of the MBE or OBE complete list. He probably took the Sun or something whether you show the sportsman and the ones that are at the top of the list who are very very well known. And I don't think.

SPEAKER: M15

I think it shattered him because he actually told me he rang up the BBC press office to find out what it was because it's true that I got my MBE before they got the OBE the following year on say  Charlie Curran was right here. The director general he was quite right.

SPEAKER: M18

And there's one here from Mike Yarwood and he says See what you get when you work with a mimic. Congratulations. I sent him something similar I think when he got his OBE which was in the Wilson resignation honours list the the one which caused a bit of trouble I think David Frost name is there and then got deleted or something 1978.

SPEAKER: M3

Was that what you well Callahan was only there for about a year with me. No Wilson must been in 77 said better. I say I've got many many more from technicians and people I've worked with through the year.

SPEAKER: M17

And I was very impressed by the  of so many of these congratulations that I got from all quarters and well deserved.

SPEAKER: M19

Thank you. You then went back to a second series of Morecambe & Wise of the no no no.

SPEAKER: M15

Because now when you were doodling around I am really I am doing right. Oh I did a series of Max Bygraves.

SPEAKER: M7

I did six with dear old Max which I like my I was bit shattered when Bill Cotton said I'd like you to do these six with Max. The way it happened was we did one and I think I did it with Yvonne Littlewood who was directing and on this occasion it was a it was a sort of either a New Year's show I think we did on New Year's Eve and it was looking back through the years it was one of those 50 but last 50 years of show business or something and it worked so well that I had a letter from Max from his nice flat he's got in the Bahamas in Nassau USA and he was on holiday there and he said you know the show at new year went extremely well.

SPEAKER: M20

So is his any chance of asking Bill if we can do half a dozen shows which really go through my 40 or 50 years in show business to take ten years at a time or something like that. So I saw Bill actually in the bar and I showed him this letter and he said Oh you want to get out there and have a chat with him. I said Are you serious. Going to the Bahamas see if I know the BBC as I did I didn't think he would be that profligate. But he said Yeah. And he said you can't go first class. I said no well it's all right.

SPEAKER: M15

Well I'm not happy like a tourist or something to the Bahamas urge. So it's about going with the luggage if you like the Bahamas.

SPEAKER: M7

So I went and I saw actually what happened was it all went wrong I was supposed to spend a week with Max at Nassau but after. I think it was three days he had to leave rather earlier than expected to go to Canada. He was doing some tours over there and so we did three days chatting about the series and then I came back via New York. So I hadn't been to New York before I didn't make any difference to the money but I went from the sort of 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the Bahamas to about 20.

SPEAKER: M20

it was snow on the ground in New York. It wasn't it was a really a foolish thing to do really. But I had a couple of days in New York so I was okay. And we did these six when I got back and they went quite well actually with Max through the years. from the time he was born.

SPEAKER: M14

Geoff Well Geoff Love the orchestra with Geoff Love and the orchestra. I don't know whether it was Geoff may have been Peter Knight. I think that Peter Knight is a nice story tonight. Bob Dixon of course of course Bob the film was round. Yeah. We went to get some pictures some still pictures of the place where he was brought up at the docks area there Bermondsey in Bermondsey and Max not long before had written a book about his life there in Bermondsey. And he'd mention the name unfortunately of one of the people his neighbours who had gotten jail. And he mentioned him by name.

SPEAKER: M18

Unfortunately we met his family. When. Were. Filming and they had quite an altercation with us and I was standing there. It's last nasty. Because Max was a bit silly really mentioning this chap because it was his daughter who said look you know mine names mud. You used Freddy his name in this book about what being a jailbird and everything. And Max had talked about bugs on the wall you know. What he obviously he was speaking the truth but nevertheless they had a bit of pride these people you know. And he said to me just as this somebody was going for him a quietly said to me can't get me out of here. Get me out of here because he was getting worried that there'd be fisticuffs in a moment. So I actually gave them some tickets which was a silly thing to do because of course they didn't use them. He didn't want to come and see Max's show after this lot. Was done. I can remember it was an awkward experience really but the series itself went well and I am quite fond of Max he and I heard stories about him before but he was he was very generous to both my wife and myself.

SPEAKER: M20

He invited us out with Blossom to a very nice yeah. I think at an Italian restaurant at the basement of his flat in Stack place I think Peter Sellers lived there one time in  Victoria and Victoria. Yeah yeah. And I mean it's a small thing but it's it's it meant something and a lot of them my wife and myself I think he gave us a cheque for 50 quid for the multiple sclerosis society. Well it was a nice gesture at that age. Yes would have been done by everybody. No. Very few very few that we know. I mean what did we ask you say about Max and I went to see him. I think probably for the first time on the stage at Victoria Palace there he was appearing as top of the bill and there's no doubt about it he has got the star quality it gets across to the audiences which which is I know many of them around these days is that when he started making the records the sing along. It probably was rather the story I mean you know he dumb this down with Philip Jones he'd done things done on the Thames. Well I would like with Geoff Love that was and I think he worked with Geoff Love down there but to that was probably one of the last series I did before I made this decision the fateful decision ready to leave the BBC after donkey's years.

SPEAKER: M19

Did you not do any more. Morecambe & Wise was this.

SPEAKER: M7

No no no not not not. Ernie had taken over and of course they left the BBC.

SPEAKER: M22

I think it must have been 66 77 77 . That's why I left in 78. You say Yeah they left I think in sort of mid 77 or early 77. And I did the shows after about 74 I think. And then Ernie took over.

SPEAKER: M4

So the fateful decision yes because I had had lunch with Philip Jones a year or so or two before I had the next lunch. He rang me up. I think it was the first time he rang me the second time you had been staff all this time at the Beeb.

SPEAKER: M12

Oh yeah. Obviously you were coming up to retirement age anyway. Well no I know yes. In another six years I was only 50 for 54 I would tell you. Yes.

SPEAKER: M17

Yes I had to think this over obviously because I was going to lose out I lost more than they would now of course because they've made it much easier for staff to retire early because they wanted to go or most people want to go.

SPEAKER: M19

Yes it was difficult to transfer pensions then wasn't it.

SPEAKER: M4

Well that's right. Can I just say what I did I. I did actually take the pension. And I think I I I took the pension at fifty four. Well obviously I had lots of discounts you know because of the leaving early leaving six years early and it was I had to think this over but I was getting a bit disenchanted by then by light entertainment department I think that it was starting to change a bit and I wasn't really getting anything that I was really very keen on to do in those days.

SPEAKER: M5

I mean I'd finished with the Yarwood within the Morecambe & Wise that the big shows were beginning to disappear.

SPEAKER: M12

Then when they were actually getting expensive.

SPEAKER: M23

Well again I hate to say this but in MU wise to use the kind of orchestras the big studio orchestras that you were using that Thames were using but building materials use the major companies you know were proving very very very expensive when they.

SPEAKER: M19

Well they were often times and yes it was and doubling fees and porterage and the others all clocked on. I mean the MU has a lot to.

SPEAKER: M14

I think I was one of the yeah I think going back I was one of the first people the first bloke first shows to record pre-recorded all the music in a program like Morecambe & Wise mainly because in Studio 8 we didn't have any room may have been. Yes it was a we didn't have any room for the orchestra we used to put them round behind the side and it was like conducting in a tram. I think Pete and I called it a great long thing I.

SPEAKER: M15

I mean you can hardly see the back rows either side.

SPEAKER: M14

And the of sound quality another reason we because I remember Bill Cotton Ronnie Hazlehurst saying well we didn't really when we fixed the prerecorded agreement to pay them so much if they're ppre -record we weren't thinking of pre-recorded all the music on the program.

SPEAKER: M6

Which is what you're doing but I think once we'd done it everybody else seemed to do it because it suited us of course because we just didn't have the room for an orchestra as well. But for this problem having them up on a stage and everything else you know that was the problem. So. So that's what we did. We recorded all the music in the program.

SPEAKER: M5

But nevertheless the time came that you had to make your mind up.

SPEAKER: M4

I did. And I think what happened. I think Philip saw me took me out to lunch the second time and then the first time oh I know what happened the first time. Yes. It all comes back to me the first time I went for lunch with Phillip I because Eric and Ernie. I told them I've seen Philip Jones and I was still doing the show with Eric and any of them. So it must have been back in 73 or something like that. And I say I'm going along to Philip Jones wants to have lunch with them. And Eric said Well you know mention our name. I said you or you wouldn't come with you. He said well yes we were. This is what Eric said you said. So I thought That's right. When I was with it when I saw Philip I dropped this into conversation and he said Well come on that. That's very interesting you know if if that would happen.

SPEAKER: M18

And when I got home I hadn't been home five minutes an Ernie Wise arrived. Right.

SPEAKER: M2

He said Look I know Eric said this but we wouldn't want you to go ahead on the basis that we definitely cut you know in other words they got cold feet. I mean he must have said to Eric you and Johnny might go over thinking we're going to go straight away. So they did.

SPEAKER: M4

And Ernie was sent to sort of soft pedal that the whole thing yourself and make it not quite so definite that they would come. But in any case apart from that I didn't go in on that occasion. I would. It didn't seem to be ready for it. Now the next time it happened I thought Well I think this time I will not. The fateful thing I said to do to Philip was I said Well look I'd like to offload the directions side if you can get me a good director. And he said we'll give you one of our bright young directors which when I look back now was hysterically funny phrase because I certainly didn't get a bright young director. Which caused me more trouble than if I'd said straight away look I'd get the union ticket and then come over because of course I wasn't a member of ACTT. No of course not this. And this was gonna be a problem anyway and it proved to be a gigantic problem and it happened quite unjustifiable problem as it happened. And to my mind an unprofessional problem as it happened. But I got to Thames and the first program series I got to do with Philip it was Bernie Winters because he just broken up with his brother and Philip who seemed to be a mate of Bernie. Did he go to school with them or something somebody they seemed to do very buddy buddy but didn't they were and he wanted to use Bernie in a series on his own a half hour series. Now I found Bernie very co-operative. He worked very hard actually. And but I had this problem that I had to find the format of the show and I had to get writers. And of course in the format we had decided on with four sketches linked by Bernie with this dog that we got this shnorbit snubbing the dog that we found this and Bernard dog  which everybody thought was his dog which wasn't we got it from an agency and but getting in the writers was a great problem because it's about the most difficult thing in the world to get sort of four or five minute sketches where they laugh in every line and good tag and everything you know that would suit Bernie. So I really had to work very hard here. I even I got some of the old Dick Emery sketches I managed to rehash for him. Johnny plum Warren and John Warren had died. You used to write the series for Dick Emery. Of course I didn't mention that in early I did. I worked as executive producer with Colin Sharman on Dick Emery. I'll let the camera shake and then I think I was also executive producer with the next producer after Colin whose name I've forgotten at the moment.

SPEAKER: M6

He does the one of them this series with the Oh.

SPEAKER: M24

I can't remember. And then will come to you. It'll come to me in a moment.

SPEAKER: M4

Hal Snow Hal Snow. Yes he took over and I became executive with him. Good director a good director Oh yes he did very well he's done he's done with a show I can't remember that's on now with a big woman Hyacinths. Yes yes yes yes yes yes. And Patricia Routledge. That's right. That's right.

SPEAKER: M5

And I went back to the other John. That was John Warren and John. The other part of the script partnership that did the Dick Emery's I can't remember his name anyway at the moment but I'd got his permission to use some sketches which worked all right and I got some from Cooke and Mortimer you know working there they'd done one or two for Tommy Cooper we rehash all sorts of sketches and then I went to Michael Mills who was working then that.

SPEAKER: M14

at Thames and of course I knew him when he was head of comedy at the BBC all the greats. Yes and yes in deed. And he he said well look I've got a young chaps who's just starting off but he's doing very well he's writing a he's written a pilot for a series for me called Chalk and Cheese and you might like to see it because I think he might be able to write these five minute sketches.

SPEAKER: M20

So I saw this pilot which I thought was terrific. It was about these it became a series unfortunately not with one of the guys who was playing the working class type. It was a working class chap on a middle class chap living side by side. Hence the title of Chalk and Cheese. And this first pilot was all about two characters who were their respective wives. It was in a maternity ward all the anteroom and then the actual ward these two women were having a baby and really it was very nearly a conversation piece for twenty five minutes I thought it was very tightly cleverly written up saying who is the.

SPEAKER: M10

Said Shakespearean actor who was in musical recently.

SPEAKER: M24

No. Can you switch off a minute on remember this a moment Jonathan Price

SPEAKER: M14

right Jonathan Price. Now he played brilliantly  as working class I forget who the other chap was but he didn't want to do the series. He didn't want to be typed in light entertainment. So they had to they got in Mike Miller's got in Mike Crawford where he played his usual part.

SPEAKER: M15

Some mothers and it wasn't shall we say as completely convincing. Now the writer of this these shows was a fella called Alex Sheaer who is now my son in law. That's how it happened.

SPEAKER: M4

By the way I must thank Michael Mills the late Michael Mills because I got on to Alex who was living in Bristol and I went down to Bristol. He came up to see me and I said look I explained my problem. I said I want five minute sketches pretty tightly written for Bernie Winters and he came up and we did two series of their two series of six of Bernie Winters and he must've written about 10 sketches and they were very good indeed and very very well. So I really I saved my life. Later I introduced him to my daughter and. Then are married and they live in Bristol and they've got two lovely grandchildren.

SPEAKER: M15

I said I write thanks to Thames Television. If I hadn't left the book he would say she wouldn't have met him if nothing else. It is amazing how he has quite these things happen. Anyway after doing the two Bernie Winter Series.

SPEAKER: M7

Eric and Ernie of course had come over a year before me. I hadn't gone with them because I hadn't produced them at the BBC. They come over more than a year before and Keith Beckett had done a few shows with them.

SPEAKER: M4

Then poor old Eric had another heart attack and while he was convalescing I got a call from Philip Jones and he said that that Eric would like me to produce the next series when they went. He was well and came back again which I thought was very nice of Eric. So I rang Eric and I got him at Harpenden and Joan his wife. She answered the phone and put me on to Eric and I said Eric it's very very nice of you to ask me to come back. Of course I'd be delighted to come back to the show but can I come over and have a cup of tea with you this afternoon you'll see and so he said fine. So Joan made us a cup of tea and I drove out to Harpenden. And there's the two of us there in the lounge having a cup of tea. I say it's great. Eric thanks very much for inviting me. But there's one thing I must make quite clear is that I haven't changed it there's anything something it may occasionally happen as it did before you say something a joke and I then disagree with you and I shall disagree with you if that happens in the future he said with a smile. He said no. Well that's fine because that's very good. You'll be able to check me now there aren't many stars who actually say that and not only say it then but if you get the book from the library. Written by son Gary Morcambe which was written whilst Eric was still alive and I'm quite sure that Gary showed every page to Eric to just vet you will see that that story is told in the book because Gary came over to us one day and I told him that story on dates he has a little a few pages about me in the book and that is quoted.

SPEAKER: M2

So Eric was quite happy for people to know that I was there. Perhaps occasionally to check him. And anyway I then did the next series. It was a bit unfortunate because what was happening then was that the BBC when Eric and Ernie left to go to Thames I think they quickly got in quite naturally and signed Eddie Braben and up on an exclusive contract. And that was still operating certainly for another six months.

END OF SIDE 6

Biographical