John Frame

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John Frame

[Start of Recording]


I: This is John Frame. I'm Tim Amyes. This is the 20th May [2017] and he was employed with STV between 1964...

R: 1964 till 1992. In September. 17th. It's OK.

I: So, John, where were you born?

R: I was born in a lovely little village called Carluke, which is now a town. Mining village. Everybody knew everybody else and nobody had any telly. It was radio or nothing. And the first time I was introduced to telly was 1953 - nine years old, next door neighbour who had their own little baker's business, they bought a telly for the only event that happened that year, the Coronation. So, everybody was in their home and I was sitting on the floor watching this all unfolding in this twelve-inch wide screen and I turned to my mother, apparently, (I don't remember saying it but everyone else says I did!) "I'm going to do that!" And she said, "Oh? Really! OK!" And I did! It took a while.

I: How did you progress to that?

R: From that point I went through school and all the rest of it. Highers and all the rest of it. I decided that in Fifth Year to do what I wanted to do - work in telly - I would have to have a degree. So, I would need all that was required for a BSc in Optics or something so got all the qualifications except I couldn't pass Lower French! So, I had applied to the University of Glasgow because that's the one I wanted and I sat the prelims in the University. Got the Maths, yet again, and I didn't get the French so I thought, 'Right, OK. I cannae do that! What about the Royal College of Science and Technology?' One thing less required - Lower French. Got it! Got in there and unfortunately, by this point, my mother had died and Dad's health was beginning to fail a bit and, so, instead of just getting a University bursary, I really needed to go and earn some money so I had to leave. Got as many part-time jobs as I could and, eventually, saw in the Glasgow Herald an advert for Camera Assistant in the Educational Television Service. But it was coming up in eighteen months time. The same advert was also looking for Lab Assistants and I thought, 'Science. Three Highers, Science - I'll apply for that one!' If I'm in the Corporation, I've got a good chance of jumping over. I did. Took the City and Guilds exam. It was a three-year exam and I took it in one year and got a First Class. Got me own school, Hillhead, because I thought, 'Right, if my salary is big enough then they won't mind me moving to television!' Which they did so I got into E.T.V., worked my way up - Camera Assistant, Cameraman, Film Floor Manager, Film Editor, which I loved! Loved taking the Arri[flex 16mm camera] out in the morning, sending out the stock over to Humphries in the afternoon; getting it processed; getting a cut and copy; copy back; next day put it in! It was lovely! I loved that! I was alright with electronics. They were fine. They were instant. But film, you could actually do it frame by frame. You can do electronics that way now but film was just my joy. Anyway, suddenly STV was looking for a Film Editor, an Assistant Film Editor. That's it! I decided that's my one so I applied for it. Got an interview with Willie Robertson, who was in charge at that time of the film, well, all things I would think, probably. And he interviewed me. Chat, chat, chat, chat! And three quarters of the way through the interview he said, "You don't fancy Vision-Mixing, do you?" And I said, "Well, I know how to do it!" "Good! There's a Vision-Mixer job coming up, would you like it?" I said, "Yes!" And I got it. And from that on, I built up as a Vision-Mixer, getting experience and all this sort of thing. [05:34]

I: What was the first programme you vision-mixed?

R: The very first programme that I vision-mixed was Late Call which was the religious programme last thing at night. Five minutes long. Opening caption, go to the minister, the minister talks for five minutes, go to the closing caption, a bit of music and that's it done. And managed to cope with that alright.

I: How many did you do a day?

R: Five. I do apologise! It was seven a day. Sorry! Because there was one for every night. I'd forgotten about the fact that it was seven. Anyway, seven of those. I kind of did the odd bit of sitting in in rehearsals of things and then one of the trained Vision-Mixers would take over for the actual transmission or for the recording. And, eventually, it got round to that I was doing the rest, like everybody else. Opportunity Knocks  when it came from Glasgow was great fun. There was one episode came from Glasgow. Hughie Green proved to be an interesting character shall we say but the whole thing was mind-blowing from my point of view because although it was carefully rehearsed, the reason why I say he was an interesting character because he would adlib a lot so everything you'd rehearsed had to be kind of thrown out of the window! But we all coped and it was fine. But the best joy I had at STV was a Director called Dougie Moodie. Douglas Moodie. He came from BBC to STV and it was Ibsen's The Wild Duck, the play. I'd seen it at the Festival and Douglas's interpretation of it, television-wise, was unbelievable. It just, he got Ibsen to a 't' and it was a great joy for me to be actually sitting there doing what he was telling me and it was all working visually and it was wonderful!

I: Was that live?

R: It was live, yeah. I dread to say it but there isn't a copy of it because it went out live and that was it. Lots and lots of things involved in. Everything from the early news, you know, Scotland Early, Scotland Now, Scotland Late were all the news programmes that we did. And you took your turn.

I: No one special?

R: No. I don't think, no, none of us actually concentrated on one particular strand of television. We all did everything that was coming along. I'm trying to think of the worst programme I ever did. It would probably be an outside broadcast. I can't remember the year but it was the Pope's visit to Murrayfield. And it was great. It wasn't because it was an outside broadcast about the Pope, it wasn't anything to do with anything except the equipment, the vision-mixing equipment that we had blew up half an hour before the Pope's helicopter was due to land! But they managed to shop around on the phone and got a replacement mixer and they very quickly replaced the faulty one with the real one but the trouble is, there were eight cameras coming into the vision-mixer and, in their haste, they didn't quite plug them up properly so, in fact, we had eight cameras but Camera One came up as Camera Four, Camera Two came up as Camera Six and so on so at any given moment in time what I was seeing on Camera One's monitor was actually coming up on that button there and then, vice versa. And it was my worst nightmare and I got a round of applause at the end of it! It was a joy to do in all seriousness because these kind of epic outside broadcasts tend to be somewhat predictable.


I: How much are you involved with the directing and deciding the shots when you have eight cameras?

R: Basically what you do with the Director (and I've done it since I became a Director myself) is that you sit down with them and you say, "What do you want? What kind of covers do you want? How many cutaways do you want? Who's the most important person in this..." We know the answer to that one! But basically, at any given moment in time, the Director, having talked it through, will let you get on with it unless there's something he specifically wants to do and then he'll tell me and it'll happen. It's one of those unspoken things. If you've worked with a Director before or if you've had a good chance to talk to the Director and the Director to the Vision-Mixer, you can actually form a kind of rapport and you almost instinctively know what the other one's wanting. In the case of a Drama, a Drama is much more highly plotted. The Director will know exactly what shot he wants at any given moment in time and he will indicate where he wants that shot to turn up so you get a complete script with the camera shots in it so you know when you are going to go to the next camera. The camera boys will all have individual descriptions of each separate shot, which is fine. The only thing I've been known to do in the past as a Vision-Mixer in Drama was suggest slight delays or slight advances to any cutting point where you are going from one camera to another. I've done that in the past and I think Tinna Wakerell, I loved working with her. She had something called, she probably won't remember it but she called it the marked-time cut whereby I was going from a shot of one actor to another actor and the other actor that I was going to was going to be turning his head and I went from one actor but I went a beat early so that we actually saw the beginning of the turn of the head and it gave the impact more to that shot as it developed. That kind of thing! But you don't actually do that on your own initiative. You suggest it and show them because it's unfair. They are the ones that are taking the credit or the blame if it doesn't work. Who knows who the Vision-Mixer is! It's just part of, the assembly process is actually a factory job with everybody members of the family.

I: And has automation come in to vision-mixing?

R: It has to a certain extent. You can actually programme lots and lots of physical effects, you know, electronic effects, and you can also programme in the precise number of frames for each transition from mix to A to B where one picture loses light, the other gains light and it mixes through. You can actually programme that in. I'm old school, up to the day I die. I still prefer, with a little fader, which does the job, to feel it rather than have a machine do it but it does do it. The whole electronic advance in programmes generally and cameras generally means that there is much more that you can do. You can do, I think Glen Michael was very, very dumbfounded when we first tried chroma key which is simply shooting the actor, in this case Glen Michael, against a blue background and electronically telling the Mixer that, where it says blue, cut a hole and replace it with another picture and so I think they call it green-screen in the big movies nowadays but, basically, that is simply single camera, shall we say, selection of a bit you want to replace and that kind of thing is coming on leaps and bounds.

I: [inaudible]

R: Again, it's one of those situations where very few Vision-Mixers get the chance to cut a football match because all the preliminary stuff with all the effects and all the captions and all the rest of it are done by the Vision-Mixer but, when it comes to the game, the Director almost inevitably says, "No, I'll cut the match!" So they actually select the pictures that they want. It makes sense in one sense because they are calling what the framing is in each different camera and if, in fact, he's got to call the framing for a different camera then tell the Vision-Mixer to take that one, it's going to be late.


I: Yes, because the BBC had Vision-Mixer Directors very early on.

R: Yes, that's right. Yes, that's right. The BBC has always been keen on as much multi-tasking as possible because small programmes and things which are not complicated, they would rather, shall we say, someone who is slightly higher up the grading ladder, do the small bits. There are exceptions. The Vision-Mixer Director is actually an unknown beast in BBC but a Director Vision-Mixer is not. A Vision-Mixer Director is someone who, Vision-Mixers don't actually set up shows. Vision-Mixers don't actually set up any part of a programme but a Director Vision-Mixer can! This is where nomenclature becomes a bit of a pain!

I: What was the most memorable programme you dealt with in terms of vision-mixing?

R: There's so many memorable ones! Starting off first, every single programme, including the Late Calls, was memorable because I'd been working in Educational Television before and educational programmes are very, very, shall we say, important. They were at the time. We were teaching primary school kids how to speak French with the French programmes that we did. We did Maths. We did Science. All of these programmes were, in their own right, worth making but they were not, how can I put it, taxing because all of the on-screen personnel were teachers! Now, I've got nothing against teachers but they're not television people and nine times out of ten you have to quietly pull them back to tell them what we cannot do. You cannot actually pirourette from one side of the studio to the other and expect a cameraman to follow you and things of that nature. In STV, the joy of it was, first of all, people were seeing it and suddenly everything you do has an audience! Now, I'm a bit of a showman - always have been - my very first show was a circus in our back garden with a tortoise and a frog and inviting the neighbours to come in and see how the performing frog goes on. I'm a showman! But, at the same time, you feel as if you are achieving something more by the fact that it's not something which is totally predictable and if it's live, you can't do it again. And then that makes it exciting.

I: How did you get your Union ticket?

R: I got my Union ticket because going in at that particular time it was fudged. The best way to put it. Willie Robertson went to the Union and said "He's been doing this, this and this job; got letters from ETV saying that he's been doing this, this and this job for x number of whatevers - he needs a ticket!" And I got ticket that way.

I: And how did you get the job as a Director?

R: I slid into it. There was a slight hiatus around about 1973/74 when, it never happened to me before, I got a phone call from BBC and asking me if I would like to work in Queen Margaret Drive as a Vision-Mixer. The money that they were offering was about the same and I thought, 'the glamour of it all!' The BBC! Gosh! I said "Yes!" and went over there for, did my three months notice and went over there and in that time I was helping and this is where I was learning to actually have enough confidence in myself to actually step in and be a Director, even in vision-mixing because the BBC system was different. I did a Mainly Magnus where Magnus was up in Kirkwall or somewhere, I was in the studio and basically, the Director was up in Kirkwall and a couple of things changed and his picture was coming through the studio and I had to take an instant decision and I did that and it worked, which is fine, but that gives you an incredible amount of confidence to actually trust your own judgement and did lots of things, the, I'm trying to remember the Dramas that we did. One with Iain Cuthbertson.


I: Sutherland's Law.

R: Sutherland's Law. I did several of those and the one thing I remember (it's nothing to do with STV) but one of the shots in the Sutherland's Law - it was being recorded in shot by shot for this particular sequence was a, the lady took a shotgun, pointed it at them, at her enemy and fired it and the shot to cover that was the camera looking straight at her, at the barrel of a shotgun and she was going to press the trigger and it would explode, which it did and, all of a sudden, the shot, we should have seen her face, suddenly disappeared. It was all white and, oh, four or five seconds later, from the left-hand side of the screen, a head came out with a finger in their mouth and then, from the right of the frame, another head came out with another finger in the mouth and the magic words "I think the lens is gone!" So, I mean, that was one of those situations where that was quite expensive for the BBC but the whole thing about the BBC was I was learning a lot. I was even actually getting involved in the odd bit of radio, you know, because I used to be involved with the Glasgow's Hospital Broadcasting Service and the odd, sort of, occasion where they would use my voice for something or other, which was nice! It was good! It wasn't money but it was just, it was good to do that. But I couldn't help thinking that it wasn't for me because it wasn't a family. I had gone from working in the laboratories in the schools - it's a family, small family, to educational television. It's a family. Going to STV - it's a family and then suddenly I am part of this large organisation rather than family that I'm not even extended family because I hadn't been there long! So, to escape the contract, the Establishment Contract it was called in those days, if you were there, employed by the BBC for a year you had to give six months notice to leave and, if you couldn't give six months notice, you had to pay for someone to do your job for six months. And so, eleven months, three weeks and four days after joining BBC, I left to escape the Establishment Contract and the reason why it was made easier was because STV phoned me up and (this is the luck) they had phoned me up, oh, about a week before, they really would like me to come back! Slightly higher salary. Not much, just slightly higher, and I pretended I was thinking about it but I had already made up my mind so went back and, from that point on, I felt more confident in myself. I felt, I was still a Vision-Mixer, but, at the same time, I felt as if I could actually grab a bit more of the responsibility in making television programmes. That kind of, shall we say, escalated into a programme called Cartoon Cavalcade which I had been doing the vision-mixing for a long while and I think, was it Sandy Ross's time when he was in charge of Entertainment and he had a chat one day and said, "Look. you're vision-mixing. You're putting a lot of ideas into this - do you want to try directing it?" And I said, "Oh! Give me a think about it. I'll do it!" Because it's a programme I loved. It was for kids and it was actually a really, entertaining for them and it was also sneakily hidden in it was some educational stuff as well. So I tried it. And the first programme I did, directed was shit! Forgive the word but, sorry! And I'll tell you why it was shit because I was thinking about being a television director. The second programme I did was an awful lot better because I just sat there and I did it and it makes all the difference. You flow then; you're not thinking about what you're doing but do it and it worked!

I: So many people have said "I did something wrong!".



I2: Let's have a quick pause.

I: So we were saying when something goes wrong, you learn about it.

R: Absolutely yes. I think what was more important, if it had been the BBC I might not have had another chance to do it.

I: Can you start by saying, "When something goes wrong..."

R: Oh yes, sorry. Well, when something goes wrong you really have to work out, first of all, how to fix it but, more importantly, you have to work out why it went wrong and, in my case, it was saying I was sitting in the Director's seat, having done all my homework, everything was prepared, everything was, in theory, running smoothly and I was sitting thinking, 'I'm directing this - wow!' Concentration gone, you miss a cue. You have to go back and do an edit and that, as far as I am concerned, was an admission of defeat. I'd messed it up. Fortunately, I'm a pig-headed so-and-so and, having made a mess of it, you carry on. I mean, the first time I sang a solo in a local choir in the church, I missed one note in the Oratoria I was singing and, by great good fortune, I knew it was coming back forty, fifty bars ahead, and I was determined all the way through, up to that point, I'm going to get it right this time and I did. That part of me, I think, is very valuable for me anyway that if I make a mistake or if something goes wrong, I will fix it. May not fix it all the time but I'd keep trying!

I: And the family accepts it?

R: Absolutely! Oh yes! Oh yeah! It's one of those situations where I am very lucky in that respect.

I: Me also. STV is very forgiving.

R: Aye, that's right and the bottom line is, as I say, STV has been really very good at that because they will take you to one side and say, "That wasn't very good!" I said, "I know!" "Right! Can it be better?!" "Yeah, it can be better! I'll make it better!" "Right. On you go!" I think, to be honest with you, there's too much pretension in a lot of television organisations. It may not be quite so much nowadays but it certainly was in those days! I remember the, which anniversary was it in the BBC when I was there? And they had a public exhibition going on in Queen Margaret Drive and the number of members of the on-screen personalities in BBC who constantly - I was going to use the word, good old Scots' word, traipsed - traipsed through the foyer, one after the other, to be recognised and I thought, 'No, hang on a minute!' Here you have to have a cardboard box on your head with a little square hole in it before they'll recognise you! That's not my way of thinking and, to be honest with you, I can't think of anybody in STV when I came back that was, in any way, like that. The great joy about it was, from my point of view, was when my father died, J R Miller, who was my boss, phoned me up and said, "Right, John, come back when you want to." And that, actually, was the kind of the ultimate in familyness. And I wouldn't have found that at BBC. I'm positive! Because one of my colleagues, ex-colleagues, unfortunately she had a bad relationship which went AWOL and, although we tried to stop her, she eventually took her own life and her ex, who still worked at the BBC, was expected to come back to work the next day. Although they had parted, there is chalk and cheese, really. I don't really want to damn the BBC but to get back to the, STV, when I came back, was the epitome of a Scottish family. They'll shout at you but, by goodness, don't let anyone try and cross you or they'll all be round!


I: So what was your first job as a Director after?

R: After that there was a quiz show, bought from America, called Wheel of Fortune and Anne Mason was set, was given the task to produce it and Anne and I had worked together for a long while. In fact, I'd almost forgotten that we also did the one with the, oh God! The terrible twins in it and - Funhouse - and we worked together on that and it was great fun. It was kind of, it was mayhem but it kind of worked! She knew how I thought and I knew how she thinks, thought, and it kind of worked so she asked if I could do it as a Vision-Mixer. So I said, "Yes, of course! I'd love to!" Did the first two series as Vision-Mixer and then the third series, because she was setting up the next series, she said, "Look. You direct it and do you want a Vision-Mixer in?" And eventually I said, "Yeah. OK." So I directed it and a Vision-Mixer came in. After the second show, I said, "No, we don't actually need the second Vision-Mixer! No offence but I can actually do this, do both jobs." So then it went to Director Vision-Mixers and I can't remember, it wasn't, it could have been Norman Morrison, it could have been Norman McNeil, I can't remember who came in anyway to, for the first couple of shows, and then, in fact...

I: How did the Union accept it?

R: The Union was perfectly happy with it because we'd done a deal. I was getting the add-on money and so they were happy with the deal itself. Again, it was my luck more than anything else. They didn't, BBC, sorry, STV, didn't actually call me a Director, they had me as a Technical Director or a Vision-Mixer and the Technical Director's money was as a Director simply because, as we sit here now doing this, I'm still waiting to hear if I got my last Director's job that I applied for in STV. I still don't know yet! It's one of those funny situations where admin has not been the strongest in STV at times!

I: So, from Wheel of Fortune you moved on to...

R: Oh yeah, we went on to lots of other quizzes - Win, Lose or Draw, which was through in Edinburgh and the Win, Lose or Draw in Gaelic was fun because I don't speak Gaelic so I had to try and guess what they were saying all the time which, I don't know how, but it kind of worked out. There was also, there was something else that I did. In between times, I hasten to add, when I was doing Wheel of Fortune and these other shows, I was also doing Take the High Road through in Edinburgh. I was also doing my share of Current Affairs so it was a kind of mixed life until eventually, on '92 [1992] I decided that I think I'd rather jump ship, not because I think it's sinking but because I think I would be much more in control of my own life because in the last analysis I was working seven days a week and, basically, I thought, I could do with a little more control over my life. So I resigned. I took the redundancy package and went off into the big, wide world! But I still missed it which is why, oh, months later, I was asked to do some work for STV as a freelance, I jumped at it gladly. The money wasn't as good as in some other places but it was just the joy of getting back into that building!

I: [inaudible]

R: It was, that one, I think, would be the, one series of Wheel of Fortune and tying up Glen Michael's Cavalcade for the last episode so that kind of rounded off that contract and also rounded off the Wheel of Fortune until it was finished.


I: And why did Cavalcade finish?

R: I really don't know about that. It was, when I was going through the directing process with it, we were having more and more difficulty in finding cartoons because they, Disney had, at long last, decided 'No, you cannot have Disney cartoons for Cartoon Cavalcade' and the contract on quite a few of the Warner Brothers' cartoons was coming to, indeed, its end. The way that they had been bought by STV was that you were given, you bought a cartoon and you had four plays at it and each time you did a play, that's fine, until you get to the last play and then, after that, you cannot use that cartoon again unless you want to repurchase and, at that time, we, cartoons was being done, shall we say, not on an extravagant budget and, therefore, the library was becoming vacant, as it were, until we found some cartoons of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle or something, I can't remember it now! But they were great fun. But they were thirty minutes long until I sort of sat down for five minutes in a panic and then realised if you chopped them into three bits, put two bits out one week, one bit the next week, then the next week you are putting that one bit out plus two bits of the next one so it's an ongoing thing. It seemed to work as far as the kids were concerned because they were always clamouring for more!

I: Who purchased the, was it Michael Trotter who purchased...?

R: It was Michael Trotter at the time who did the contract purchases then it moved, I think, to Eileen Gallacher, she was ultimately responsible for that situation. I mean, we had the funny situation on that tail-end of cartoons when Bank of Scotland wanted to sponsor Cartoon Cavalcade, which seemed like basically a good idea! It was a child's account that they were trying to sponsor. Fair enough. So, deals were done and we made a Cartoon Cavalcade for that following Sunday with the sponsorship top and tail but in case, for some reason, anything happened, we then remade it without the sponsorship details, which is fine. I mean it wasn't that much work but we had to be sure because Eileen Gallacher's department were still trying to nail down the I.B.A., I think was it ITV or I.B.A. at that time to actually say the definitive "Yes!" They said yes in principle but they hadn't actually said yes to this particular programme. The conversations were about the fact that it was a children's programme and they had to be very careful and sponsoring programmes wasn't that common in those days so, anyway, it came to the Sunday and I went in to STV and in to the VTR area, the Video Tape Playback area, with two tapes in my hand. One in the left hand - that's sponsors, one in the right - that's non-sponsors and it's getting to within twenty minutes of the transmission and I still don't know which one I'm going to put out so I phoned Eileen Gallacher at home and I said, "Sponsor or no-sponsor?! We've got ten minutes!" And she said, "Sponsor!" So we put that one out and it was right. I mean, she had guessed right what their answer would be but it was, it was moments like that that actually, you suddenly find, I'm standing here panicking but I'm enjoying it! Why?!


I: How did you feel leaving STV are so many years?

R: I was sad. Only because I really was beginning to feel the pressure of, you know, seven days, one after the other. I couldn't argue because I was enjoying the work but I could see that my weight was beginning to drop and I was beginning to miss out on any kind of social life, never mind anything else! But a little birdie inside me nut said, 'Well, hang on a minute! Once you leave, you are freelance. You can work for anybody!' And, interestingly, the day I put in my notice that I am leaving, with the date, the next day the phone rang at home and I got the, work for the next day from the Scottie Power, "Can you cover their, the ATM of their, you know, their meeting, their company." I don't know what you call these things! But, as I say, I thought, 'Right, I've done the right thing!' And, there's nothing that can stop me going back as a fully paid up Union freelance member to go back to STV to work on contracts and the way it worked out, it worked out very well from that point of view as well. OK, Wheel of Fortune and Cartoon Cavalcade came to an end but the one thing that I always loved doing with STV was the outside broadcast church services. And they did quite a few of them. They did, I think they shared it with Grampian and I loved doing those! And then, as a freelancer, the STV had actually shifted responsibility for church services to an independent company called Scope who were paid a fee to make the programmes and Scope instantly booked me and we used to do them. And, what was interesting was that, as time went on, we were doing, we used to do two services in a day, one for now and one for later, as it were. As time went on, STV, I think, were beginning to really have to pull in the purse strings and it was becoming more and more expensive to stage outside broadcasts at all these various locations and eventually the budget being allowed to Scope from STV was too low to hire a unit. And we had a meeting. We had a meeting to what could possibly happen? Is this the end of it? And, after we had been sitting around for a while, it sort of, I had one of my brainstorms, how much is it going to cost to hire five cameras, five cameramen but that's it! No outside broadcast wagon. How much would that cost? Quite expensive! Right. OK. How about five cameras and three cameramen? That's more like it! Now, how about hiring television monitors for a room in the church? Oh, that's peanuts! Right. OK. And how about a quad-split recorder to record three of the five cameras with time code? Yeah. And how much would it cost for a ten-hour edit session? And the sums worked! So that's how we did them from that point on!

I: And still had a lot of STV employees!

R: That's right, yeah. So it was the way that, eventually, STV was, STV, it was kind of symbiosis actually almost! STV Scope. STV Edit123! They were living in each other's pockets because they were all almost interchange of staff, as it were! It was a kind of tight, complete unit and it worked until eventually ITV in general gave up church services and then we quietly went away again. But again, it was the joy of liaising with STV religious department, Scope, Edit123, it was a kind of, again, a family atmosphere! I keep coming back to that but that's the way it always was for me!


I: Very good! [unintelligible]

R: I think the one thing that I do remember particularly was the Queen's Jubilee. No, it wasn't the Queen's Jubilee, I do apologise, it was the Queen's visit to Northern Ireland for the first time in her reign. ITV and BBC were sending units to cover it but, because of the situation it was in, in Northern Ireland, it had to be volunteers so it was a scratch crew on both BBC and on our part and I volunteered because I quite fancied it! I'd never been to Northern Ireland. And we were called the, the Volunteer Brigade for a while! But the, needless to say when we said, "Oh, can we get some danger money for this?!" "Not on your life! You volunteered!" But, anyway, I can understand that. But the one thing about it that really, well, there were several things but the one thing that we had a major fight with the army about it because the army wanted to transfer, transport all of us in armoured cars and we all said, "No way! Listen! We'll travel in a bus! They are not interested in camera television people! They are interested in armies!" So, that was one of them. The other one was the, my shock meeting with the Queen. There was one spell when she was off doing something in Hillsborough House and we didn't have any programme to record for about an hour so I went for a nice, long walk around the gardens of Hillsborough House - it was lovely - walked up to, wandered up to the house, came up through the front door, and was walking up the marble staircase, and I'm aware of two or three people coming down the stairs till I suddenly realised that one of the ladies diminutive, "Oh, fuck!" That's exactly what went through my head! Do I bow? Do I curtsey?! So I flattened myself against the wall of the staircase and bowed and, fortunately, she seemed to sail past without even noticing! Which was quite an event!

I: [inaudible]

R: Sorry?

I: Did you have an agent?

R: I never did which I think is one of my mistakes. I'd always thought, 'Well...' The trouble was, I was really quite well-known around the area and the phone didn't ever stop ringing and, so you get to the stage where, I mean, I landed, at the BBC I landed Off-Side, you know, the kind of football programme simply because somebody had seen what I had done and I thought 'Well, that's a waste of money!' I wish I had done it now because when the times got rough, an agent would have been very useful long as they were Scottish!


I: Shall we do the three questions?

R: Oh yes! Ah ha!

I: Do you want to stop or do you just...?

I2: [inaudible]

I: That's very good!

R: It's alright? I'm sorry, I rambled a bit!

I: No, that's perfect!

R: Can we do the rest like this?! Right! I can't even remember the questions now!

I: What was your most memorable moment in your time at STV? And you are meant to say, "My most memorable moment..."!

R: Yes! Give me a couple of seconds. My most memorable moment at STV was actually a concert which was coming from the Usher Hall in Edinburgh and it was the Bolshoi Orchestra and it was being simultaneously transmitted in the UK and Russia and everything was going well in the afternoon, we had done all the rehearsals and everything else and we were constantly, our little translator, Russian translator, was constantly on the phone to Moscow - "Yes, it's coming through!" blah blah blah! So we came to the actual transmission itself and before it started we did the last checks and the little translator said, "Russia", sorry, "Moscow are not getting the signal!" "Oh! But we're sending it!" "OK!" And then, a little wiggle of Russian and, "What was that about?" "I've told them that we are sending it!" And this may sound a very small moment but that was glorious from my point of view! Breaks barriers! Breaks everything else!

I: What do you think was the most important contribution STV made to Scotland and why?

R: That's an easy one because...

I: OK. Remember the question first!

R: Sorry! The most important thing that STV did for Scotland, for Scotland not to Scotland, was gave Scotland a chance to be proud of what they were watching on the box. Not out to make glamour! Not out to make Hollywood be Scottish because (you can fight me, if you like) the Scottish Nation have an inferiority complex and Scottish Television hit that squarely on the head with a jeely piece!

I: And what was your funniest moment or fondest?

R: Funny, fondest moments? Let me think! There's lots and lots of wee, teeny ones. There is one which is a little indelicate but it was again, Hillsborough House. Outside broadcast for the Queen's visit to Northern Ireland.

I: So that was...

R: Oh yeah!

I: Your fondest memory?

R: Oh yes. My fondest moment is during the outside broadcast we did from Hillsborough House for the Queen's visit to Northern Ireland. Quite a momentous occasion! The outside broadcast unit in which was the Control Room and we all sat was about three quarters of a mile from the nearest toilet. It was parked in a group of bushes so that it couldn't be seen (decoratively) and, regrettably, as rehearsals went on and on, we did have the problem that we might have to evacuate the bladder now and again and that, inevitably, had to be in the bushes and, at the end of the whole, the whole escapade when everything was being wrapped up, the Colonel-in-Chief of the whole security operating came up and said, "Right! That it finished?! Right! Men! Clear!" And we discovered that there were soldiers in the bushes and, ah, I'm embarrassed! I don't know if that's any good or not?!

I: Excellent! Well done!  

[End of Recording]