NOTE: This interview is full of anecdotes, and some amazing experiences; John Cooper has gone through life as a “joker”.
Born 1924 Bermondsey, London. Educated Clapham College, evacuated during the war years, left school 1948, went to Great Marlborough Street Labour Exchange and was sent to Humphreys Labs aged 17, starting as an office junior at £9 a week. 1950: National Service in the RAF; went back to Humphreys in 1952, went through positive then negative drying departments. In 19959 went into the Eastmancolor section; when commercial television arrived, went as contact man for the lab. He then got a job with Rediffusion at Wembley. Was then moved to City Display (a Rediffusion associate) at Shepherds Bush where they made the scenery for various TV companies. He was becoming rather disillusioned with that particular TV scene, when out of the blue came a letter from Bill Cheevers, asking him to apply for a job at Westward TV as Schedules Officer at £20 a week. It was at this time that he met Peter Cadbury, who became a great and lasting friend. Later he was to become Head of Film at Westward. He instituted the annual Head of Films Conferences in 1973 which lasted through until 1990.
He talks about the Head of Conferences role and the various visits arranged and he talks about his life at Westward genereally.
He talks about the 1979 TV strike and how it affected Westward’s chances in the runup to the new franchise auction, and he gives a great deal of the background to the split within Westward which broke the company’s chances. He went to TSW and stayed there for a short period, but in 1983 he left.
He talks about working for Arriflex, and then about obtaining leave of absence to start Media Developments International which was based in Hayes. The company specialised in supplying all kinds of equipment and also provided a full back=up service and then, through a management buy-out he became Executive Director of Media Film Service, sharing the same premises as Bell Lighting and Arri Lighting Sales. He talks about his aspirations for the future, and about his sons, three of whom have followed him into the business.