© BECTU History Project
Recording made 26 October 1987, 111 Wardour St., London
Interviewee: Ted Candy Interviewer: Roy Fowler
Analytical transcription by Sarah Easen and Johan Oomen, BUFVC
Section 1: Childhood years and first newsreel jobs [21:35 mins]
Growing up: first job at newspaper; starting at Gaumont British News; first job as a cameraman; learning to use a Newman Sinclair camera; beginning work as a war correspondent; World War II: First assignment on a convoy to Malta; capture and escape from a POW camp.
Section 2: World War Two and immediate post-war period – part 1 [23:33 mins]
World War II: Working in Ireland; filming around Britain and industrial relations; D-Day; some of the VIPs Ted Candy met; V-E Day; supplying newsreels around the world; processing laboratories.
Section 3: Newsreel Production and Industrial Relations [24:58 mins]
Newsreel production and processing laboratories; working hours; cameraman’s pay; industrial relations; role of the ACTT; the Newsreel Agreement; National Union of Journalists.
Section 4: World War Two and immediate post-war period – part 2 [19:33 mins]
World War II: Atrocity footage, Egypt, Ethiopia, Cyprus; Austin motorcar promotion competition; Princess Margaret in the Caribbean; about politicians.
Section 5: Newsreels in the 1930s and 1940s[25:21 mins]
Pinching stories; practical jokes; filming the 1948 London Olympic Games in Technicolor; newsreel wars; co- operation between cameramen; faking newsreel items; characteristics of newsreel companies.
Section 6: Politics, newsreel personalities and expenses claims [21:24 mins]
Political bias of newsreels and filming; the Royal family; newsreel cameraman; about Gerald Sanger and J Arthur Rank; about Mr Bateman – accountant for Rank; expenses and fiddling.
Section 7: More newsreel personalities, the 1953 Coronation and the decline of the newsreels. [20:50 mins] Expenses and fiddling; about Castleton-Knight; the Coronation; John Davis; about editors Roy Drew and John O’Kelly; sound recording; The last days of the newsreels: Look at Life; filming abstract concepts and emotions; general filming restrictions.
Section 8: The last days of the newsreels - part 1 [26:02 mins]
The last days of the newsreels: Leaving British Gaumont; moving to British Movietone News; British Movietone News closes down; Look at Life; Castleton-Knight leaves; Grafton Green; John Davis.
Section 9: The last days of the newsreels - part 2 [22:57 mins]
The last days of the newsreels: Jim Wright at British Paramount News; John Davis; Candy’s retirement and building up British Movietone News library.
Section 10: Insurance policies, newsreel personalities and British Movietone News moves [24:50 mins]
Insurance policies; compensation for injured newsreel cameramen; Candy receives the Royal Victorian Order; Adolph Simon – soundman for Pathe News; personality traits of the newsreel cameraman; Ted Candy’s secretary – Jackie McCarten; about Joe Telford; British Movietone News moves from Wardour Street to Park Royal.
Total running time: 230:17 mins [3 hours 50 minutes]
side 1 tape 1
TC: I was born in Bedford 1920, 2nd January 1920.
RF: What did your father do?
TC: My father, he died when I was very young and my mother brought me up, we had a big family and she looked after us, she did it all. I went to an ordinary elementary school, I left school at 14, I liked school, I enjoyed it, I was good at some things and better at others, the same as thousands of people, and at 14 you’ve got to get a job. So I did. I left school on the Friday and I started work on the Monday at half past seven.
RF: You were quite lucky, this was the time of the Depression.
TC: That was in 1934. I got a job and was paid ten shillings a week, that’s fifty pence today. That doesn’t sound much but it was quite a lot in those days. You have to remember you could buy a lot of things very cheaply in those days, you could buy a bottle of whisky for about 3s 6d and so in comparison it was quite worth while. I went to work, I was going to be an electrical engineer, I was quite interested in that, and then I was ill, I had rheumatic fever and one or two other things. And I got a job on a newspaper, I was a photographer, I was eventually going to be a photographer, I worked in the dark rooms and I learned a lot about photography, it intrigued me, I liked it, and working for a newspaper you were independent, you could have a ball, they were a good crowd of people.
First job at a newspaper
RF: That was a local newspaper?
TC: Yes, the Bedfordshire Times. Then unfortunately I had three heart attacks when I was 18 which kind of stopped me a bit. Then I went to work for the Luton News, and they ran a series of evening papers as well and you worked, you worked all the hours which God sent, you did, it was hard work but you learned a lot. One way of learning is to be in on everything. Then the war started. I remember the tickertape 1939 about the Germans had crossed the Polish border, and suddenly the war seemed to stop, you thought it was all going to be like 1914-18 over again, because that was the only war you knew about. Of course it wasn’t going to be like that but you thought so. And there was a certain amount of tension about it all. People took it very calmly but that’s how it happened to me. Then there were restrictions on zinc which they used to make the blocks to print the pictures in the newspapers, so there was going to be a restriction on it.
Bedfordshire Times; Luton News; Poland; World War II
The one thing which was the top of the pole in those days was the newsreels - they were in everything, did everything, so I wrote to, there were five newsreels companies in those days, there was Paramount, Universal, Movietone, Pathe and Gaumont British. And I wrote to Gaumont British and I wrote to Paramount and I didn’t write to Pathe, but I think I wrote to Universal, I’m not sure, I can’t remember now. Anyway I got an answer from Gaumont British and they said would you like to come up and see us so I did and I saw a gentleman by the name of Bishop, Bert Bishop, he was a nice man he was the production manager for Gaumont, and then I had to see Mr. Castleton-Knight, he was the boss in those days.
; British Paramount News; Universal News; British Movietone News; British Pathe; Gaumont British News; Bert Bishop; Castleton-Knight;
I went back home and carried on working and then I got a letter from them saying if you’d like to come up we’d be pleased to see you and we’ll give you a job. And I got £4.l0s a week. And I worked for Gaumont. I went with Eddie Edmonds, a great character, a lovely little fellow, he’d been with Gaumont since 1914, he took pictures during the 1914-18 war, but he was a wonderful character, a lovely man, frightened to death of his wife but a lovely man. He married a widow with five children, he had good reason to be frightened of her. Then there was Peter Cannon who was a little chap connected with the Kellino brothers, but he was a good cameraman, as solid as a rock. These are the first people I met. Then there was Ted Hawkins who was with Paramount and then he came to Gaumont and then he went back to Paramount. Bill Hooker, he was a sound man, they were the principal characters.
Eddie Edmonds; Peter Cannon; Ted Hawkins
side 1 tape 1
RF: This was 1940?
TC: Yes. Round about that time 1940-41. Then the next thing, I took pictures in those days. The first job I had to do, I’ll always remember it, we worked out of 142 Wardour Street, Film House, I had to go to Marble Arch where the Duchess of Gloucester was going to open a new building. All it consisted of was a picture of a car driving up, the crowds cheering, she getting out of the car, waving to the crowd, coming up the steps, coming up to you, passing, smiles at you nicely, then she goes in, honk, then she comes out, stands on the step, waves to people, comes down, gets in the car, drives away and the crowd all waves, as simple as that. It would have made 40ft if you were lucky in the newsreel, the Duchess did this, the Duchess did that, there was lots of things happening. I mention this because at that time it was the first job I ever did and when I came back, they said put your expenses in.
Wardour Street; Duchess of Gloucester; first newsreel job
RF: You were actually the cameraman or you were assisting someone?
TC: No I went straight to doing the camera, Newman Sinclair. No focusing, all guess work.
Newman Sinclair camera
RF: On a tripod?
TC: No we didn’t use a tripod. And there was no parallax, that was an innovation they brought in later on where you could move the eyepiece to allow for the parallax to the lens, because it was offset, the eyepiece was in the right hand corner and the lens was lower down on the left-hand side. So if you were trying to take the picture two yards away, you kept the head slightly up and over to the left as you looked at it and prayed it was in the middle, and it was nine times out of ten.
RF: How was it driven?
TC: Clockwork. And when I came back, the point I was trying to make, having worked on a newspaper, they said you have to put your expenses in so I did. Bus to Marble Arch 3d, return bus Marble Arch to Wardour Street 3d, 6d total. Take it up to Bishop. I took it up to Bert Bishop to sign it and he said you can’t put expenses in like this it’s not allowed. I said but it’s what I paid, and he said you’re not allowed to travel on public transport because the film you’ve got is nitrate film. I said it doesn’t make any difference. Oh it does, you’re not allowed to travel on public transport, what you’ve got to put down is taxi to Marble Arch and taxi back and charge for your tea, 1s 6d which made hell of a difference, because you were getting 1s 6d for tea, 3s to Marble Arch, 3s back again, that was 7s 6d whereas you only spent 6d.
Wardour Street; Bert Bishop; Gaumont British News; British Movietone News;
To me I thought it was a marvellous idea. But that was the first thing I ever did for Gaumonts, I’ll always remember that and the people that I met, the Wyands from Movietone, they were great people, Paul Wyand and Pat Wyand, Jimmy Gemmell and Jock Gemmell, Jimmy Gemmell worked for Paramount and Jock Gemmell worked for Pathe. Then Alf Tunwell of Movietone, Ken Gordon for Pathe, Arthur Farmer, Ronnie Read of Paramount, lots of others but they were all great characters, they were wonderful people. They’d stop at nothing, they couldn’t care less about anybody else, they only wanted to do the job they were supposed to do. That was the most important thing in the world.
The Wyands, Jimmy and Jock Gemmell; British Paramount News; British Pathe; Alf Tunwell; Ken Gordon; Arthur Farmer; Ronnie Read;
It didn’t matter a damn what anything else was, whatever they were going to do, whatever they were there to do, it wouldn’t matter if there were 10,000 people in front of them, they were going to do it and they did it and they were marvellous people. And they could put on the most wonderful act, everyone of them. I say this in all sincerity, you couldn’t find a group of people like them anywhere in the world, they were fabulous they really were. We did jobs, all kinds of jobs. The system was then every three months the newsreel changed. For instance the first quarter of the year, Gaumonts would have the Home Office, the Ministry of Defence or the Army and then Pathe would have the Navy and one of the other ministries.
Home Office; the Ministry of Defence; wartime pooling arrangement; expenses claims
side 1 tape 1
RF: This was a wartime pooling arrangement was it?
TC: Yes but you did the job so if there was a naval job Pathe got it, if they couldn’t send anyone, they hadn’t got anyone, they’d ask one of the other companies to do it for them. So you didn’t know where you were going, what you were going to do. The first job I got of that type, I was sent down to the Admiralty, Commander Kimmins, he was then, a great bloke, 6 foot 6, great big white flashing teeth. He was an author, he wrote plays, he wrote Lock up Your Daughters, great sense of humour, I got a war correspondent’s license and that was the first job I did which was the convoy to Malta in 1942.
World War II; British Pathe; Admiralty; Commander Anthony Kimmins; war correspondent
RF: What did you have to do to get that licence, was it a matter of security clearance. What did they expect?
TC: All they wanted to know was what your name was, where you lived, which company you worked for and if they put you up that was it. I got a licence and went in to see Commander Kimmins before I left and he said have you got your licence, I said yes, he said let me look at it and his first words after that were that’s no good, no self respecting captain would allow you on ship with that, take it back, because it was number 13. So I had it changed to number 14, so I had Admiralty licence number 13 and 14. Then I went on this convoy and I went up to Gurock in Scotland and we sailed from there on August Bank Holiday Monday.
Commander Kimmins; Gurock; Scotland
RF: How much gear did you have to carry with you for this kind of job?
TC: I did a lot of travelling but I always had a Newman Sinclair and a tripod, a spares case with all the lenses, you had another spares cases with the spare magazines because each magazine took 200 ft of film and then you had a container which in those days was a metal box film can, film transport can which is what you took the film in because it was all nitrate.
Newman Sinclair; camera equipment; film stock
RF: How much stock would you take?
TC: Well on that convoy I took 10,000ft.
RF: That’s really rather difficult plus your personal effects.
TC: Yes it was rather heavy. That’s why you always found that most newsreel cameramen had very long arms, they all did. When you think a sound amplifier weighted 3 cwt and if you were working with sound you got a sound man and yourself. And if you got an eight storey building and they say there’s no lift you’ve got to get up there, you’ve got to carry it up the stairs for which we used to charge 10s unload which was a fiddle but it was very good.
Malta; Mediterranean; Gibraltar; loaders, unloaders and expenses;
You earned it believe me you earned it, you did earn it too. And I went on this convoy to Malta, I was transferred from one ship to another, I did all the admirals, the briefings, that kind of business and then we set sail, we go into the Mediterranean. It was the biggest convoy ever to leave the country up to that time. We had twelve merchant ships, we had two battleships, the Nelson and the Rodney, we had seven cruisers, five aircraft carriers and forty one destroyers to guard twelve merchant ships to go between the Straits of Gibraltar and to Malta, and they left us just off Cape Bon. In the meantime they sunk the Eagle, they hammered the Indomitable which was a brand new aircraft carrier, they stopped the Nelson and they started to knock the merchant ships a bit.
Sinking of ships in the convoy to Malta
RF: Which one were you on?
TC: I was transferred from the cruiser the Sheffield to the merchant ship, Grand Ferguson, they all carried the same cargo, 7,000 tons of high octane aviation spirit and 5,000 tons of ammunition. [RF says “Oh Jesus”] We got hit, we got ours on August 12th, the beginning of the grouse season at four minutes to eight. It was unbelievable really, we were very lucky really, we got off it alright, I swam the sea for nine hours. I got picked up by a broken down lifeboat, there’s a lot more that happened, then we landed at an island, Zembra
Zembra Island; Tunis; Candy’s ship hit by German and Axis bombers; capture by the Vichy French;
side 1 tape 1
Island where we were picked up by the Vichy French from Tunis who took us into Tunis where we were put into a prisoner of war camp. Then I went to Tunis military hospital and when I came out of that they put me in jail for ten days.
incarceration in POW camp
RF: Why did they put you in jail?
TC: They transferred me from this hospital to, I didn’t know what they were going to do with me, they took me to the jail, the only thing was they wanted to cut my hair off, I’d wish they had done, I stopped them, I said I’m not going to do that, so they put me up on the roof and I stayed on this Fort [inaudible] on the roof. I stayed up there fourteen days and then they took me down to the railway station one dark night and put me on a train and there were all these survivors from this convoy and they took us down to Sfax and put us in a prisoner of war camp there and that’s where we were supposed to spend the rest of the war.
POW camp in Sfax
But there were five of us, and the only reason I was included was because I had a pair of leather shoes, and we got out and we walked from Sfax over the Atlas Mountains to Constantine in Algeria and we were arrested by the RAF, we didn’t even know they’d invaded. It was fabulous. That took us three weeks; they sent us home, it took a little time to get home and eventually we got back to Gurock and from Gurock back to Wardour Street. You always came back to Wardour Street. That was exciting, it was fabulous and the fact that you survived, and there were so many who didn’t. I remember the next job I did after that was out in the country thatching a roof, showing putting a thatch on the roof.
Escape from the POW camp; Sfax; Atlas Mountains; Constantine, Algeria; RAF; Gurock; Wardour Street
RF: This was still during the war?
TC: Yes. And that was for Ireland. Because during the entire war we supplied newsreels to Ireland but we couldn’t show a uniform or anything to do with the war. A weekly reel had to go out and most of the reels consisted of ploughing, thatching, farm work, because people didn’t farm in uniform. If you went to a farm where there was land girls, you had to move the land girls away if they wore land girl’s uniform because the Irish wouldn’t show it [the newsreel] if it showed any uniform, so we had to steer clear. So it was always just like the Duchess of Kent or the Duchess of Gloucester opening something or there was no military there, so long as there were no uniforms it was alright to use. We did that throughout the entire war. As far as Ireland was concerned, as far as we in the newsreel business was, there was no such thing as the war. When you consider the number of Irish people who were fighting in the war, who joined the British army it was quite remarkable really. I don’t know where they thought they’d all gone to but that’s the way it was.
Ireland; Duchess of Kent; Duchess of Gloucester; newsreel coverage in Ireland during World War Two
Then I went through the war, no end of things, we had the Blitz in between. At night, each and every person connected with the newsreel, you took it in turns so it was your night tonight, so if there was a raid or blitz on London, you did it, nobody rang or told you, you got up and went and did it, whatever you could, whether it was a big or a small raid, so long as it was something. You could spend all night wandering round looking for it, but if there wasn’t anything you couldn’t take it and the next guy took it the next night. And they’d give you a break, if you were in London, if you were out the way, Manchester or Birmingham, you did whatever happened, if there was a raid up there you did it, you were always looking for stories, everywhere. And the newsreels were mean, they didn’t have a lot of money, and if they were going to send you anywhere they’d try and work out a route for you so you could call there, do that, then go onto that. To give you an idea when they brought in this staffing thing which was for working on Sunday you got l0s 6d. That was after the war, well you never did a single job then, when it first started they resented that so much that you got paid for Sunday because my first contract that I had with Gaumonts was for 24 hours a day 7 days a week, that was your working hours, you were always supposed to be there, if you went anywhere, I always remember they said as far as we’re concerned if you go to the toilet you tell this office first and that’s how it was during the war, it really was, but it was all exciting and people were kind to you and everywhere you went they helped you no end. And there was never any, in the newsreels you get a lot of people who tell you there were fights and arguments, they always used to
The Blitz; London; Manchester; Birmingham; Gaumont British News; British Paramount News; British Pathe; British Movietone News; General Eisenhower; pay rates; working conditions; co- operation between newsreel cameramen
side 1 tape 1
argue with each other and it was like a battlefield when the newsreels used to get together; that’s a load of hooey, they always helped each other. If you went on a job and there was Paramount, Pathe, Movietone, they were there and you’d just come from somewhere else and you’d run out of film they’d lend you the film to do the job with, they weren’t trying to stop you. But they wouldn’t tell you anything, they wouldn’t say we’ve found out they’re going round the back door, they’re not coming out the front door, they’re coming out the back door, he’d slope off quietly on his own and wander round there and that was the only way you could get it, you had to brief yourself, you had to do as you saw fit.
The wonderful thing about the newsreels, nobody told you what to do, you were entirely free. The only instructions you got was a piece of paper which said so and so, that’s the job, it’s in Manchester, 9 o’clock Monday, maximum 400ft which meant don’t shoot more than 400ft. When you got there you’d look at the story and look at what would make the best story in your opinion, so you’d have a beginning and an ending and a bit in the middle. And it didn’t matter what it was, you’d climb a building and get your general picture and establish where it was, then you’d get the arrivals, what ever the story was, and then you’d finish up with a shot showing an identification so that you’d know it was in Manchester. Anyone who saw it in the cinemas in Malta would know it was Manchester, the Liver Building in Liverpool, they’d know it was Liverpool, that’s the way your mind worked. You did a lot of sport, a lot of football, all kinds of things, if it was on - during the war a lot of things were cancelled but they still had a lot of football, cricket, a lot of sport all of the time. And they’d have the races, we used to do the racing. Then I had to do, it’s only afterwards you realise it, I had to do a picture of a colonel, just a portrait, an identification picture, so they could cut it in if ever they wanted it, during the war, it was either a colonel or a one star general, Eisenhower, and he wasn’t important. Why I remember it so well was I couldn’t spell his name, Eisenhower, how the hell do you spell Eisenhower? I had to ask his aide, how do you spell that, Eisenhower, and he said EI, that’s amazing isn’t it. Because you always wrote your own dope sheets and when you went abroad you always parcelled it up, you took it to the airport or however you were going to send it. During the war the services took care of that for you, they shipped it back for you.
Assignment sheets; shooting stories; dope sheets; sending film back to Britain
Then I was attached to the United States Navy and I was told, I went home and I got a phone call at home, a guy said can you come to Grosvenor Square? I said yes, they said don’t bother about telling your office just come, so I said right so I went to Grosvenor Square and we had a cup of coffee and I saw various people. I said it’s just a dummy run, we just want to see what’s going to happen, just sit about the office for the morning, the rest of the day, now go home. That was the first time, the next time, the office knew I was, but they didn’t know what I was doing and then they rang me up and said we want you to report to the Admiralty tomorrow morning, 9 o’clock, be there. We want all the gear everything, so you thought this is it, D-Day. I got all the stuff together, all the film, climb down there and they said we don’t want you to get all excited, it’s not on, we’re just going to take you for a nice little trip. So we went down to Fowey, Cornwall, Daphne du Maurier’s place, we spent three days there I think it was, while they told you all about the fortifications on the Atlantic Wall and everything else. All the correspondents they took out of London to see what the effect would be and then we all came back again and eventually one day, I lived at Chingford at that time and I got a telephone call and he said, by this time I knew them quite well, have you got all your stuff? I said yes, they said come straight here, don’t go to the office, don’t tell anyone, just come straight here. So I went to Grosvenor Square, I got a little car, a black Ford, I bought it for £42 in 1941, and I think that was about six months old, but it had been stored because of the petrol situation, but that was the price of cars, it was a marvellous little car, I ran it for years, all over this country, £42.
United States Navy; United States Embassy; dummy run for newsmen for D- Day; Cornwall; Atlantic Wall; D- Day
Coming back to Grosvenor Square, a chap there says there’s your instructions, and there was a letter which said you will report with all speed to the United States Northern Ireland Naval Base, Londonderry where you will report to the naval commander, Admiral Stark, Admiral in Charge of United States Operations in Europe. I never told the office where I was going, I said to the chap how the hell do I get to Northern Ireland and he said don’t worry we’ll take you. We went from there to Heston and on the tarmac there was this
Londonderry; United States Navy; D-Day; Normandy; Plymouth
side 1 tape 1
United States Navy plane and I was wearing an army uniform, British army uniform, and all this gear came with me on the plane. Then I went to walk through and of course the British forces people there said wait a minute, where do you think you’re going, you can’t leave this country. The American said as far as you’re concerned, as far as everybody else’s concerned he’s an American, you’ve never seen him in your life so forget it and I just walked out. Nobody knew where I was or who I was. I got on the plane, went to Northern Ireland, stayed there, the ship I was on was a destroyer, the USS Schubrick and we were going to drop anchor 2,000 yards from the beaches. But before we went there we went down the Irish Sea which was the first time I’d ever been seasick in my life and I felt terrible. Then we got down to Plymouth and we turned round and went all the way back again up the Irish Channel and then turned round and went back because it was delayed 24 hours. I think by that time it didn’t bother me a bit. I didn’t care if anybody shot me, buried me or drowned me. We went to just off Cherbourg and we dropped anchor just before midnight and there were five destroyers in a row, 2,000 yards from the beaches, and I think it was 4 o’clock that morning, we opened fire. But before then they bombed the beaches, we had a grandstand view, you’ve never seen anything like it in your life. I’ve never seen so many planes coming down, I’ve never seen so many planes on fire, it was always the tail end which was always ablaze and you could literally see the bombs hit the ground and bounce because they didn’t do a scrap of good, it was all reinforced concrete and they bounced off it. The thing which really destroyed the fortifications was the next day the battleships way behind you, their 16 inch armour piercing shells, they’re the ones which did it, you could hear them too, by God you could, and the invasion started and that was it. I was there for three weeks with the USS Schubrick and then I came back to Plymouth and I caught the train to London and walked into the office in Wardour Street and the first words I heard were where the hell have you been? I said I’ve been to Normandy, I’ve been to Cherbourg, I said I’ve been shipping film back everyday, and I had and they shipped it back and it had gone into the pool system.
RF: You got onto the beachhead did you?
TC: No they wouldn’t let me land. I stayed on board the USS Schubrick all the time. They were marvellous, I had a lot of luck, everybody was very kind to me.
RF: Were US combat cameramen along too?
RF: Just you?
TC: Just me. But you saw the rocket ships, I’d never seen them before, they frightened me to death, and they were so efficient, they really were the Americans. But I saw both sides, the British Navy and the American Navy, different worlds. Marvellous really, people didn’t see that. The only time I was in the war, I was grade 4 at the beginning of the war, unfit for military service because I had the three heart attacks and I suppose if it happened today I’d have been into Harefield and they’d have killed me by giving me a transplant instead of letting me grow out of it, which I did because I tell you I swam in the sea for nearly nine hours. And when they examined me when I got back they said they couldn’t believe it, the doctors, they said we’ll pass you A1 now, so it didn’t do me any harm. And all the walking across Africa, across Tunis and the Atlas Mountains, obviously didn’t do me any harm, and I’ve never had the slightest problems since and I’m just on 68 and I had a marvellous time with the newsreels.
D-Day; American Navy; rocket ships; Atlas Mountains; Tunis
I’ve met everybody. I’ve met every politician, from Churchill, Aneurin Bevan, and Ernest Bevin, I knew Ernest Bevin quite well, I knew Thorneycroft to throw just a few names. I met a lot of American politicians. And I never met one who wasn’t a bloody liar, the biggest liars I ever met were politicians, that’s the gospel truth, I never met an honest one, ever. But for me I was only a country boy but I went with the Queen all over the world, I went with Princess Margaret to the West Indies, I went with Princess Margaret to Africa, to East Africa to West Africa, for months, I went to Egypt, I got deported from
British politicians in the 1950s; Royal tours; West Indies; Africa; Egypt, Suez; Ethiopia; Haile Selassie
side 1 tape 1
Egypt then went back again for Suez, I went to Ethiopia with Haile Selassie, I stayed with him. For a little old country boy from Bedford that wasn’t bad going.
RF: Let’s talk about some of those trips and some of those stories. You finished the war where?
TC: I finished the war up here, in Wardour Street.
RF: So you didn’t go through with the armies?
TC: No I think the final thing was the Victory Parade, and everyone was walking through. We were told we’d got to do it, there was the job, we were all detailed our positions, marked out for you, and you had to be early and all that kind of business. But the thing that annoyed me we were told that we’d got to wear a uniform and I said it was outrageous because a victory parade was a victory for them not for us, and we were told if we didn’t wear a uniform we’d be fired. And I always remember that very definitely, but anyway we all did in the end and it all worked out well. The Victory Parade went on all day, it was marvellous, that was the end of the war as such for us. Then we were getting back to normal as it used to be.
We started to ship newsreels abroad, we were shipping them to Canada. We supplied newsreels to Canada, every part of Africa, South Africa, we had exchange deals with pretty well every country in the world. At that time we were putting out a million feet of film a week, twice a week there was a thousand newsreels which were 1,000 ft in length, Monday to Wednesday and Thursday it was changed. The transport arrangements for that were fantastic, you couldn’t do it today. But they did it then. We used to print a 1,000 copies and we hadn’t got the high speed machines they’ve got today, we used to print a 1,000 copies from Wednesday afternoon lunchtime and they would be transported to every cinema in the country including Northern Ireland, Southern Ireland, the North of Scotland and everywhere by the next morning.
Newsreel distribution to the rest of the world; newsreel distribution in Europe; newsreel printing processes
RF: Mostly how, by train, by road?
TC: By train, by lorries, trucks, which when you think about that wants some doing. And the labs were marvellous to turn out the quantity they did.
Transport of film
RF: Did Gaumont British have its own lab devoted to the newsreel, or did it use one of the commercial labs?
TC: No, the labs were at Lime Grove because they were owned by the Ostrer Brothers and so was Gaumont British as Ostrer Brothers, before the Rank Organisation, General Film Distributors took over. But Lime Grove, you had Little Percy there, he was the developer, he used to take the film in there, he had a wooden frame, a drawing pin, he’d pin the film on, and he’d wrap it round this wooden frame, 200 ft of it and then he’d pin it up. Then he’d take hold of this frame, I can see him now, he had a rubber apron and he’d dunk this frame into the developer, and he’d do that a few times and there was a little red bulb on top and he’d pick it up and as he lifted it up like that to look at it, don’t forget he’s got a frame of 200 ft, he’d look down and drip all over him, absolutely soaking, I think we’ll give it a bit more and he’d dunk it a few more times and then in the water and fixer, then he’d take the next one and repeat the process.
Ostrer Brothers; Rank Organisation; General Film Distributors; Lime Grove laboratories; developing film
RF: Do you remember his last name?
TC: I can’t remember his last name, Percy, off hand I can’t.
RF: It was a separate part of the lab? Just for the newsreel?
TC: That was the labs at Lime Grove, they did everything there.
RF: Including the studio?
side 1 tape 1
TC: Oh yes.
RF: Do you remember Bill Girdlestone?
TC: Yes, he went to Rank’s same as I did at Denham. I knew Bill Girdlestone very well. I’m trying to give you some idea of the costs then, if you had the lads on overtime it used to cost 8d ...
Rank Orgn; Denham; processing costs;
RF: ... per person?
TC: ... if you held the labs. We used to sometimes hold the labs. Don’t forget the newsreels in those days kept the studios going, most of them, the newsreels kept the studios going during the war in more ways than one. When they had the polls during the war you’ll find all of them carried hundred per cent newsreels were the most popular thing in the cinema. That was at Lime Grove, Percy was there.
wartime popularity of newsreels
side 2 tape 1
TC: The reason I mentioned about Percy is to show you how primitive it was to what it is today. Today they’re putting through great huge rolls of films from start to finish, it goes through, it’s colour, they were black and white and that’s how newsreels were done and you would hold them and that cost 8d for overtime and it had to be thought about very seriously before you held them up. Then there was, we used to work from Wardour Street, you’d get your instructions there, you never saw the office, you didn’t go into the office, you just came in, say you’d been to Brighton on a job, you’d come back into Wardour Street, you’d go down to your locker and on a clip there’d be a piece of paper. And you’d know you had another job and you didn’t know what it was till you read it and it said tomorrow morning, it might be back at Brighton where you’d just come from or it might be Manchester, Birmingham, anywhere, anywhere at all, it would tell you what time you had to be there, who you reported to, that was all, you were supposed to know what the story was. The most important thing was how much they expected, 400ft, 200ft, 1,000ft, or whatever you wanted and that was how you modelled your film. When you got there and it was a good story, much bigger than you imagined you did the best you could and you shot as much film as you could and you’d phone up before you left and tell them what it was like. Because then you’d take the film direct to the labs which in latter years they changed from Lime Grove when they packed up out of Lime Grove, they moved to Denham, well that’s 25 miles from Wardour Street. If you were coming in, you’d come into London, into Wardour Street and then go to Denham or if you were coming from the West country or the west side of London obviously you’d make your way round that way, go into Denham, put your film in and then come into London and pick up your story for tomorrow.
Newsreel production; assignment sheet; processing laboratories
RF: It was your responsibility to get the film to the labs?
TC: Oh yes. Now I’ve got a scar on my face, at Lime Grove I did that. I went into the labs and there it was all in pitch darkness, this was about 11 o’clock at night, and we’d been told you’d got to take the film up and put it in the safe which was on the second floor, you had to do that. Well there were no lights on, nobody was around, I went up, found the safe, couldn’t find the lights because I didn’t know where they were, put it in there. Then I could see the lights through the window and there was the doorway which you used to walk down the fire escape down to where the little old red phone box used to be at the centre of Lime Grove and then you walked out the main gate and there would be this watchman and you’d just tell him you were leaving and you’d walk out. I walked across, tripped over and went straight through a film dryer and cut my face, I went to Hammersmith and they stitched it up there. But I had a job the next day and I got a great big black eye and my face was all swollen up and I had to go to Ascot on the Saturday for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes when Airborne was running so you can tell what the date is and they stopped me. They said no, you can’t do it, we can’t let you do it, because I used to like racing, if anyone sees you they’ll think we’re the wickedest sods
Injury returning film to processing laboratories
alive to make you work under those. So I said OK it suits me, I won’t go, I’ll go and watch it instead. But they said oh no, we’re taking you out of the paddock and you can do it in the country where nobody can see you. But that was it.
RF: How many hours did you put in each week on average if there was such a thing as an average?
TC: I don’t want to make it sound too bad but the hours, let me tell you when you had a week’s holiday you were all at sea until you got back because you didn’t know what was happening. You’d lost touch and nobody wanted to be away, everybody wanted to be there because you knew what was happening, what was going on in the world, you really did and to go away and not to know what was happening was purgatory. It really was you’d lost touch, you couldn’t do that. The hours you worked, according to one of my diaries I worked over twelve months and I never had a Saturday or Sunday off once and I never got paid one penny piece for working Saturday or Sunday because that was part of your job.
Working hours; holidays
RF: Did you get time off during the week?
RF: So it was seven days a week?
TC: Seven days a week, always was. The complaints used to be this weekend there’s jobs, we’re going to cover the Manchester United football match if you like and this that and the other. Nothing wonderful, nothing anyone could let excited about, they’d issue the passes for him and him, he’s going up to Manchester, you’re going up to Doncaster, you’re going to Brighton, this that and other. And there’d be one bloke left out and he would complain, what have I done, why haven’t I got the job, why are you isolating me, what have I done that’s wrong, every job I’ve done has been OK, ask Roy Drew, he was the editor, he’s quite happy with it, why am I being pushed out, why haven’t I got a job? That was the attitude, it really was, when you think about it, it sounds crazy but while they were pushing you, giving you the jobs, you were good, you were doing a great job.
Working hours; enjoyment from work
RF: What were they paying you?
TC: I got £4 l0s a week during the war. Then the ACT came into being, at least as far as we were concerned, and I got really a big jump to seven guineas a week. I’m not saying I didn’t get a rise in between then because I did but it wasn’t, it was different to what it is today or what it has been, you got called up at the end of the year, Castleton-Knight used to say you’ve done a great job, you’ve been very good, we appreciate your efforts and as from the first week in January you’ll get 2s and 6d increase in your pay packet, and you said thank you very much sir, that’s most kind of you, I appreciate that. Or you might get 5 bob, it has been known, or you might even get 10s a week’s rise which was quite fantastic, but I mean you didn’t know what anybody else got, it was purely yourself. And you wouldn’t dream of asking anyone else what did you get, did you get a rise, you never asked anybody else, it was purely yourself, and if you had of asked them they would say mind your own business.
Cameraman’s pay; ACT (Association of Cinematograph Technicians); pay increases; Castleton- Knight
RF: I’m still curious the hours you were putting in to get this £4 10s a week.
TC: For instance if you went away on a job, wherever it was, and you didn’t till you came back, and you wouldn’t have any time off when you came back, you’d just work again.
RF: How much of the time would you spend away from London, away from home?
TC: I’d say ninety five percent of the time away from London, it was only when you were in London that you got bored stiff because then it would be sitting there waiting for something to happen.
Travelling outside London
RF: Did you have a family?
RF: But the job came before the family in effect?
TC: I think the reason why we’re still married and we’ve got a very happy family, very successful family thank God, was because I was away such a lot, because I was always coming home and they were always pleased to see you. My son who is now 40 odd, he was 5 years old before I even saw him at Christmas, I never saw him at Christmas at all till he was 5 years old. The first time I ever spent Christmas I was with him I bought him a motorcar and that was only because I was in the business I was and I got one. I found out where there was one, I bought it in Wales and I bought it all the way back in the boot of the car, one of these little pedal cars, because you couldn’t get one anywhere else, you couldn’t buy one.
RF: As seen from today’s industrial relations point of view you were being exploited but you didn’t mind it.
TC: You weren’t exploited, it was a different world, things were different, if they’d suddenly brought in somebody, a company which said we’re only going to work a shift system of four days a week and it’s going to be forty hours a week but we’re going to work four days of ten hours, then everybody would have said not a bad idea and they would have done. But the system was such if you’d turn to anybody and said, just a minute, I want to go home on Saturday or Sunday, I haven’t been home for a week, I haven’t been home for ten weeks, four months, I want to have a week off, they’d have said in that case you don’t want to be a newsreel cameraman, you don’t want to work for the newsreels, you want a 9 til 5 job, go and get yourself an office job somewhere or go and get a job in a factory. You don’t want this job, that would have been their attitude.
RF: Tell me then about ACTT’s arrival on the scene. How did it organise the newsreels and what effect it had?
TC: I was a member of the union, National Union of Journalists, this was the beginning of the war, 1940 and I met Alf Tunwell of Movietone. We were going up to Lincolnshire, an RAF chappie who died about a month later, he’d just won the Victoria Cross and we were going up there to do pictures of him and playing and all this kind of business. It was a morale booster for the public, a young man who’s won the Victoria Cross. He went up for Movietone, I went up for Gaumonts, and also Ken Gordon went up for Pathe. Ken was an ardent ACTT man, he was president at one time or something, and Alf Tunwell was very much interested in the ACTT,or the ACT as it was then, and he said to me you want to join, and I joined. My number was 1117, I’ve still got the card at home. George Elvin was the secretary, I knew him, he was quite a nice man, we got on very well together, I spoke to him, he was always very easy to talk to, but there was nobody coming round to tell you what to do or how to do it. Rules or regulations, the ACT didn’t come into it and when they did, the most startling thing was the l0s 6d for working Sunday, never get that.
ACTT (Association of Cinematograph and Television Technicians); National Union of Journalists; unionisation of cameramen
RF: That was directly because of the union?
TC: The ACT. The only other thing was 7s 6d allowance if you worked after 7 o’clock at night. The income tax wasn’t consistent, Pathe charged 7s 6d and got it complete. Now Gaumont if you were drawing the 7s 6d you had to pay for your dinner out of that but Paramount they had to pay income tax on it, they said what the hell’s the point. By the time we’ve written it out and paid income tax on it and they’ve added it up it’s pushing us up all the time and they’re taking it away from us, not giving it us. And that was the first two things, the 7s6d after 7 o’clock and the l0s 6d for working Sundays.
ACT; allowances; income tax; Sunday hours
RF: There was no limitation on hours?
TC: No, when they first had it, it really was funny, we all laughed about it,
there was no viciousness about it, everybody was delighted with 10s 6d but they decided instead of having just one job, if they were going to pay you 10s 6d to work Sunday, they’d find you a job at 9 o’clock, then there’s the Armistice at 11 o’clock, then you can go onto Hampstead because there’s a job there at 4 o’clock, one of them would do all three, you might have two others to help on the Armistice but they would only do the one job, the other would do the two because you had to make it worth while.
RF: Did the companies resist the newsreel agreement?
TC: No, I don’t think so. They were a bit touchy to start with. You want me to tell the truth. In my opinion it was the wrong approach. The newsreels and the film bosses of the time were very hard businessmen and they didn’t want this attitude of restriction. It was the wrong approach. Ken Gordon, he was a charming bloke, a lovely fellow, I’m not pulling any punches, but hustle bustle and a big man, a great big man, he weighed ten stone, twenty stone, a great big tummy on him, and if he came into a room hustle bustle, he looked as if he was throwing the place about. And these people who ran the newsreel: Sir Gordon Craig, Castleton-Knight, Jim Wright of Paramount, one or two of the others, they weren’t used to that kind of approach. Now if you’d had somebody who said right Mr Knight, I’ll finish that, oh well by the way I’d like to talk to you if you’ve got a few minutes. Oh yes, it’s a little bit unfair, don’t you think it would be a good idea if we could come to an agreement where we could cut the hours down a bit, maybe have an extra day here, or give them a day off there, don’t you think it would be a good idea, I think they would have said yes we’ll go along with that, it’s not going to cost anymore, we don’t have to employ another fifty people to take care of it, fifty people was more than we employed altogether, that should have been the approach in my book. That was in the beginning. But it’s easy for me to criticise because I wasn’t involved in it. You mustn’t take it too seriously, if I’d been involved in it I’d have said but I wasn’t, I was just a member. The ACTT in my opinion did a very stupid thing in some respects when they tried to use the newsreels to bring the studios into line. I know it’s a war and they use whatever weapons they can, but they did, they tried to stop the newsreels because they were the constant ones through the laboratories, because the studios could stop or go as they pleased, it didn’t make any difference, if you had an overtime ban in the studios, most of the people who were making the films thoroughly enjoyed it, they said that’s a good idea, we don’t have to work so long. They weren’t all that enamoured of overtime, but when you said to us, the newsreels overtime, you could hardly leave London, go to Manchester and do the job and be back here by half past five, you’d be back here by half past nine. What they tried to say was that you drive up as far as Birmingham then turn round and come back, don’t go to Manchester, they were the wrong type of people, they weren’t used to that, you can’t do that, that’s what we’re supposed to do, this is our job, if you don’t take film nobody’ll know it will ever happen.
Newsreel agreement; working hours; Ken Gordon; Sir Gordon Craig; Castleton- Knight; Jim Wright; studios; news gathering; overtime ban
RF: What was the outcome of that?
TC: We still did the job but it wasn’t processed. I remember doing the Derby when Dante won the Derby, we took the film back to the labs but they never processed it, there was a lot of stuff which was never processed. There was a lot of stuff which was processed afterwards and used in the libraries and things like that because it came in the overtime ban.
The Derby; film not being processed at labs
RF: When was this?
TC: End of the war. The newsreels were terribly independent people, I stress this to you, that’s why you could send a guy from Movietone and a guy from Paramount and they’d go and do the same story but they’d come back with different stories, fundamentally it would be the same, the guts of it would be the same but their approach would be entirely different.
RF: Were you unique in that you were previously a member of the NUJ? Did you see yourself as a journalist and other people see themselves as technicians or did people all think of themselves as journalists?
National Union of Journalists
TC: They were all film. Peter Cannon he worked for Gaumonts originally right at the beginning when Gaumonts was a silent newsreel, he was sent up to Glasgow, they had an office up there. He used to take the picture, develop it, print it, cut it, edit it, put it altogether and also serve in the shop selling tickets. It was a one man band, he did the lot, everything. That’s how the business began. I never had an assistant in my life and I went to every country in the world, I went round the world six times at least, I went round the world once with one ticket from London to London in twenty-one days in a motorcar, it was an entirely different world. Later on you got people, and you could understand it, you could see the point, when they came in and said we ought to do thirty-six hours instead of forty or we ought to do forty instead of forty five, it was an improvement on their standard of living, their time off. But at the beginning it was never ever suggested, it was never dreamed of.
Pete Cannon in Glasgow – one person newsreel operation; round the world trips
RF: You say it was a different world, is it a world whose passing you regret?
TC: I’m so sorry the people in it had to go but I don’t believe in this good old days, the good old days you can keep them. My mother when I was young, life was hard compared to what it is today, the good old days as such. I don’t want to know, I don’t ever want to see them again, ever.
RF: Ted, in terms of your own career we’ve come up to the end of the war, and the Victory Parade, could you take us through some of the major stories you covered after that and the major trips, especially if there are interesting anecdotes?
TC: I’ll tell you this point about the war, at the end of the war they had all the material which came from Belsen, Buchenwald and all these other terrible places and they showed this film and we had to go to the Ministry of Defence to see it and they looked at it and the powers that be decided that we couldn’t use any of these pictures because the public could never believe it was real. They would think it was pure propaganda and those kind of things just couldn’t happen. So it was decided by the powers that be that these pictures should not be shown. But the boss of Universal, he came back, he cut a story, he made a reel up of all the material and in spite of everybody he put it out. And the newspapers once he did that broke the banks and they published the stories and three days later the other newsreels followed suit and of course you got the terrible scandal of the concentration camps. But those pictures wouldn’t have been shown if it hadn’t been for him, he was the boss of Universal, he did it independently on his own. I mean you can’t believe that a thing like that could possibly happen but it did, and that’s the reason.
Concentration camp footage; censorship; Universal News’ use of atrocity footage
RF: Did you go to Belsen?
RF: You weren’t in any of the camps?
TC: Thank God I didn’t. Ronnie Read was over there and a few others, they went to Belsen and the other camps, but Movietone had an office in Germany throughout the war and they had pictures of Germans, they ran the newsreel under Goebbels, when the war finished they had all the material still, mind you a bit of a shambles, later on in life when I took over Movietone I was selling pictures of Hitler back to the Germans, I thoroughly enjoyed that, that was always a sweet touch.
British Movietone News’ office in Germany
RF: What were some of the major stories you covered after the war?
TC: I was once sent to Egypt for the British army at Ismailiya, to the British Army base at Ismailiya, and I arrived in Cairo at midnight one night. It was quite warm, lovely when I got off the plane, and I was immediately met by four gentlemen, four Egyptian gentlemen, very nice people, who said ah you’re Mr Candy, the newsreel, why have you come to Egypt? I said I’m going to the British army base at Ismailiya, they said but there’s no such place, I said if you get your map I’ll show you where it is because that’s where I’m going.
Deportation from Egypt
RF: This was when? 46/47?
TC: Yeah, just before Suez. I said OK there’s no need to get nasty about it, I’m not going, what am I going to do then, they said we would like you to leave the country as soon as possible. Of course you will stay tonight. Tomorrow morning we’ll take you to the airport and you can go back. I said I do have to go back to London, they said no, I said right I’ll go somewhere else. So the next morning when I got up we went to the airport, they took me to the airport and that was the time when you had to have your gear weighed as well as you, I always used to have thirteen packets, thirteen pieces and I always used to count thirteen, as long as I’d got thirteen pieces of luggage I was safe, if I’d only got twelve I was in torment, something had gone wrong and I lost something, and I caught a flight to Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, and I stayed there in the grounds of the palace with Haile Selassie and I thought I’d go to the British embassy and tell them what I was doing there, also I wanted them to get in touch with the office and tell them where I was, and I saw the ambassador and his name was Lasalle and I said I’ve come to see you sir because I thought I’d like to tell you who I am and what I’m doing here so you’d know I was here, and he said to me and I presume you also want my advice, and I said yes sir if you’re kind enough to give it I’ll be delighted, I’d like your advice. Get the next bloody plane out of here, whoever sent you here must have been mad. I said why. He said don’t you realise what it’s like here, there’s a curfew at 7 o’clock at night, I said is there a curfew in the palace grounds, he said if you step outside your door after 7 o’clock they’ll shoot you without any compunction. He said if you’ve got a car and you run over a woman on the street, and you see the next of kin or whoever is there whether you’ve killed her or not don’t worry about it, give them seven dollars, seven Ethiopian dollars and drive away, they’ll be quite happy with it. He said but if you run over one of the little donkeys you’re really in trouble. He said you’ll have to get in touch with me and I’ll do my best I can to help you and that was the type of place Ethiopia was. There on King George V Avenue was two bodies hanging on a tree as a warning.
Deportation from Egypt; travel to Ethiopia; meeting with Haile Selassie
RF: What had they done?
TC: There was an uprising, the people who are now running Ethiopia were the terrorists of the time.
RF: It’s only, what, 150 years that we used to do that in this country too.
TC: I was out in Ethiopia and I did these pictures of Haile Selassie and he said he was very good to me because I took some pictures of him once and on the film I made him look whiter than he was and it was purely by chance and from that moment onwards whenever Haile Selassie came into this side of the world I had to go and take pictures of him. In Malta with Mountbatten, all over the place, but he was quite nice to me, so I made a film called Spotlight on Ethiopia while I was over there. I did the opening of Parliament, Haile Selassie dictating his terms, because it was most unusual. We covered the opening of Parliament here with its pomp and circumstance whereas the opening of Parliament in Ethiopia, all the tribesmen were outside with lion manes around their head, but Haile Selassie drove up and walked in and parliament as such stood up and then he just stood there and laid the law down, who would do this, who would be the minister of finance, who would be minister of so and so. The first week I was there he said he’d arranged a picture for me, I didn’t know what it was and he said you’ll have to take pictures, this will make a good picture for you and I was in the palace grounds, the square was set up and all the ambassadors came, and they all sat there, the British ambassador, the American ambassador, the Russian ambassador, in the square they put this triangle, brought this guy in, tied him up, pulled his shirt off and lashed him. That was Haile Selassie’s finance minister.
Filming in Ethiopia; filming Haile Selassie; opening of Ethiopian Parliament; filming punishment of Ethiopian Finance Minister
RF: It’s a pity we don’t do that.
TC: But that’s what they did, the so called picture, the social life of Addis Ababa brought up to date. A short time later I went back to Suez. I flew from London to Malta, Malta to Cyprus.
RF: This is the Anglo-French invasion?
TC: Yes, I got to Cyprus and there was a lot of terrorism in Cyprus and I arrived there midnight, I was always arriving at places at midnight it seems when you think back, and I rang up the hotel where I was supposed to be staying and they said no we don’t haven’t got any rooms and we don’t know anything about you coming, because I was supposed to report to the navy. So I got a taxi and went to stay at a little hotel in Cyprus, it was quite nice, I had a single bed, I got up in the morning and had a boiled egg, I always remember, a bit of bread and butter, and I rang up the navy people and said I’m here in case you’re looking for me, I arrived last night at midnight, there was nobody there to meet me or anything and they said where are you. I said what’s the name of this place, The Golden Crescent or something, and I told them where it was, and they said don’t move, stay there. Christ, the next thing I knew they had armoured jeeps and a tank outside come to fetch me. I said these people were very nice to me, they said you don’t realise, they’d shoot you as soon as look at you, I said nobody’s doing any shooting yet, I’m alright, they were nice to me, they said get into that jeep, don’t move, I said first of all I’ve got to pay them for the night, but that’s the type of place Cyprus was. Once you got in with the navy it was a piece of cake. I went over to Suez, I stayed there aboard ship, alongside De Lesseps’ statue. I mean then when we left Suez, we left in a hurry, it was a rearguard action to get out of Suez because they were sniping at you the whole time and I got a cable telling me to stop on and represent the Newsreel Association.
Conflict in Cyprus; Suez Crisis; leaving Suez
FR: In Suez?
TC: Yes, absolutely, and General Stockwell said I’ve never seen anything so stupid in all my life, what do these people think you’re doing here. If I were to allow you to stay, you’d last I should think approximately three minutes.
FR: Who sent the cable?
TC: The Newsreel Association. Stay there and represent us, in other words stay there and do some news shooting.
FR: Being a pool cameraman that would have meant?
TC: Stockwell said no so I came back, that was that. I went round the world in twenty one days with an Austin motorcar. And we ran a competition in the cinemas.
Austin car promotion and competition
FR: How did you do that?
TC: We flew a car round the world and then drove it across the land,
FR: Was that a promotion for Austin or the newsreel?
TC: Austin, and people entered for the competition and if they had to name the number of hours it would take to get to the gates of Universal Studios in Hollywood and somebody got a new car out of it and a few prizes. You were on your own and you had to ship the stuff back as often as you could and from wherever you could, you had to write the story, you wrote all the details down because it was only on that that they knew who it was.
Austin car promotion and competition
FR: Were you the only cameraman on that?
TC: I was the only cameraman for the Newsreel Association, the BBC sent a cameraman but he packed up, I repaired his camera for him at Milan because his camera packed up and it was the only camera he got and he wanted to go back home, but I did it for him, I repaired it for him, put a new spring in, so he carried on, otherwise the BBC wouldn’t have covered it, but they only did a little coverage, we ran a big story every 3 days, and that was one, I had a ball on that, thoroughly enjoyed it.
BBC television newsreel for Austin promotion
I went to the West Indies with Margaret when she was a young princess, every island in the West Indies. I covered that for the BBC, the five newsreel
Filming in the West Indies;
companies here, all the newsreel companies in America and from them all the supporting countries which they supplied, it all came from me, one camera, that’s what made it interesting. You did your stories as you went on, if you went to one island there’d be a garden party, well one island is very similar to another, you can’t always take a picture of a palm tree and the princess underneath it and say this is Jamaica, this is Trinidad, you’ve got a mother with a baby, a big bosomed woman with a baby talking to her because they’re all the same. So you had to do something different. So you do the garden party and the pomp and circumstance and the waving and then you do fashion on the hats and on the next island you do fashion on the shoes. But I had a long talk to her about this, I thought for Christ’s sake this is a fairy tale princess, she’s a lovely girl, she really was, she was a marvellous kid. I said these people want to see her, what are you putting her in a great big black saloon for, because don’t forget the windows were quite small in the big cars in those days. I said they’re coming forward because they want to see her, and the police are trying to push the crowd back because they want to stop them from seeing her. That’s crazy, put her in an open car. OK, it’s sunshine but she can hold a sunshade, that’s what you want to do, it made better pictures as far as I’m concerned, and they did it, and from that moment onwards everything was fine. There was no crowd rush forward, they all cheered and ran along with her, she was safer there than anywhere in the world, because they thought the world of her, they worshipped her and she was charming, she was marvellous, she was always very good, she’d do anything. You shipped it back, all you could do, don’t forget in those days you didn’t phone up from Jamaica because I doubt whether you could have got through. You had to go down to the cable office and send down a cable at night rate because it was cheaper, so you had to wait till then and you wrote the story, you shipped it out. You sent a copy for London airport for the customs to take and a copy for the office, you wrapped it up, film, copy for customs London Airport, a copy for the office and it got through the customs and they had somebody to pick it up and that was the way it was done. I went to America a few times.
Princess Margaret; newsreel coverage for all news companies including television; sending film back to London
RF: What stories were you on?
TC: I can’t even remember half of them. I’ll give you a for instance, I went to 5 countries in Europe and never stayed the night in one in one week, I came back to this country every day, I never stayed the night in one. I went to Holland, back to this country, I went to Belgium back to this country, I went to France, back to this country, back to Holland again, then to Ireland, back again, all in one week, that was how it was done.
RF: You said earlier there was never one honest politician, what prompted that statement, what were your dealings with the politicians?
TC: I have to be careful here. They weren’t truthful, you knew, you travelled around with them. Like you, you might say to me I loathe smokers, please don’t smoke because I can’t stand smoking, OK, I can understand that, I won’t smoke. They’d say that to you if you like but once they got in front of an audience they’d turn round and say smoke if you want to, do what ever you like it doesn’t bother me a bit, but you know jolly well he’s just kicked the dog but he’ll turn round and say I love dogs, but he kicked the bloody thing ten minutes before in more ways than one.
RF: Was any politician worst in your estimation than any other?
TC: I thought Aneurin Bevan was a past master, if you took his speeches as he recorded them, he always did the same thing, he would, like a good comic, he would tell them something, get them interested, then he’d tell them a story and they’d laugh and he’d wait until they stopped laughing, until they were absolutely quiet, then he’d tell them what he wanted to tell them.
side 3 tape 2
TC: Apart from politicians, people buy the rights to things today, they’re sold, we did that, before I joined the newsreels one of the things they told me about
Pinching stories; 1934
was when they bought the rights to the test match. Everybody remembers this, but I’ll tell you as this was told to me because I wasn’t there. That was at the Oval and they decided to have a balloon, a big balloon to stop everybody else from filming from off the flats opposite, so the balloon rose up and down with them. When they raised the camera onto the roof the balloon moved up, when they brought it down to the second floor the balloon moved down, this was done consistently. This was the time of Bradman, the great Australian. Lunchtime came and off they go and they leave the bloke who’s waiting by the balloon, and I think it was Paramount, they had a bloke nobody knew, because you knew everybody, he came up to the little fellow who was on the bridge. It’s amazing the way you keep up and down this balloon, he said why is it and he told him and said ah. He said what are you doing now, he said they’ve all gone to lunch but I’m standing by. He said [the Paramount bloke] that’s alright, you go to lunch I’ll stand by for you and watch it, would you? Right off, goes for a drink, see, so he did, as soon as he’d gone he let it go, wallop, so that was that. So they had to do something so they brought in a searchlight so that as Paramount moved they shone the searchlight in to Paramount’s lens, wherever they moved that was it. That was the time Bradman complained, he said he couldn’t see because somebody kept shining this searchlight at him, that was the kind of thing that happened.
Australian test match at the Oval; Sir Donald Bradman;
Jimmy Gemmell was a past master, they all were. I’ve seen them at the Variety Hall in Birkenhead for a bit of fun, if you were going to cover the Grand National everybody was involved, it was the one time we worked together beyond any shadow of a doubt, you had your bit to do and it was hello Jimmy how are you and this that and the other. And we always used to go to the theatre at Birkenhead, and we used to take over the first two front rows of the seats at the Variety Theatre the day before the Grand National. We’d all go to various places and meet up at Aintree. Well before the BBC ever did the Grand National, before it was televised, year after year we did it. The standard queue outside, I’ve seen Jimmy Gemmell doing a busking act outside, cap on the floor, do a little dance, Harry Abbott, one of the best performers ever used to do a little tap dance, and a little song, move his arms, dance about, and people would throw money in the hat, and as the queue started to move they’d pick it all up and get in the queue and move in with them, and they’d be sitting in the front seats. I think the best thing they brought the place to a halt when the comedian was on the stage and they didn’t think much to him, and they rather gave him a bit of a going over, and he did the thing he shouldn’t have done, he leaned over and said if you can do better, you come and do it, and they did, make no mistake, they really put on a show which was second to none and this is how they were. They were completely outrageous some of the things they used to do, Jimmy Gemmell used to dress up as Gandhi. He had an act and we were staying at Liverpool, I think it was the Adelphi, and they were kidding him on and they said come on Jimmy do your act, do your Gandhi act. He said right. So he goes upstairs, takes his clothes off, puts his sheet on, does all that, got his sheet tied down him, he came down and everybody’s gone then and he walks into the lounge and everybody’s looking at him, a white Indian, what’s happened, what’s this guy doing? They did some outrageous things. They barricaded a room, because there was one chap who could walk on water, he had no fear of heights of any kind, he was a Liverpudlian, he stacked everything in this room and then got out the window and walked round the ledge and of course, they even moved the refrigerator up from downstairs, that caused the trouble, all the way up the stairs and put it in this room and locked it in and then he walked out via the window and that was fine. In the end they had to get the fire brigade and the long ladder on the outside to get into the room because they key wouldn’t move, the door wouldn’t move, they tried to break it down, but when they moved the refrigerator they ruined all the carpets and the newsreels had to pay for the carpets which wasn’t very popular. So they stopped that.
Antics of Jimmy Gemmell, The Grand National; Harry Abbott practical jokes
Then you had the Cotters at Movietone, Terry Cotter was an outrageous leg puller. The classic story of all time, they had a long runner carpet, round the corridors, Gordon Craig’s office, and he couldn’t resist it, this chap standing there mocking Gordon Craig’s old door, he said come in, as he opened the door, he got the carpet and pulled it and he shot straight into the office, he did some outrageous things. There was never any viciousness as such. When Pathe had the rights to the FA Cup Final, Terry waited outside and he saw the bloke with the film and he said you’ve got the film then for Pathe, the bloke said yes, he said right give it to him, he put it in the back car and took it away. Movietone put their reel out and Pathe hadn’t got any film, they were going raving mad, where is it, what’s happened, and of course in the end it all came out. Terry said I didn’t think it would upset them that much, fancy that, they got all annoyed about it. When they
Terry Cotter; practical jokes; co- operation between newsreel cameramen
used to pinch things, if anyone got the rights, the obvious thing was whenever anyone had the rights to anything the other four companies could immediately say we’ll pinch it, we’ll show them they can’t do that kind of thing, we’ll destroy that idea for a start. And don’t forget the cameras weren’t small or tiny, they were all bulky and big, so you’d have a rash of picnics where people would bring baskets, taking the family on a picnic to FA Cup Final, and you’d get a lot of people in wicker chairs, invalids being pushed in with crutches which were tripods and that kind of business. The only thing you could do was put as many of your own people on the gates as possible because you recognised them, you knew who it was, oh come on, off, outside, that was the only way you could do it. Some of the things they did. But they had to be that way because that was the circumstances of the time. If you said today the BBC has the rights to so and so everybody would walk away, they wouldn’t say that’s the biggest incentive we’ve ever known to pinch it, we’ll do it, we’ll publish it which is what they should have done, they wouldn’t do it today, they’d walk away and say it belongs to the BBC.
We bought the 1948 Olympic Games, Castleton-Knight bought that. We did that, we had all the cameras, we had no colour, what we did there was bi-pack, two strip colour system from America, it was half a crown a foot to be processed, it was an overall red picture but it was colour.
Olympic Games; Technicolor bi-pack
RF: Was it the Technicolor bi-pack?
TC: Yes, but we had to ship it back to the United States and it took six weeks to see it before it came back. And of course in those days at the beginning, in 1948 it wasn’t so bad but in the beginning people didn’t fly to America overnight. If you could have flown to America you could have had a statue put up to you at London Airport. What girls were doing during the war flying these planes back had never been done before, the quickest way across the Atlantic was on the Queen Mary, the Queen Elizabeth, Le Havre to New York, that was it. But it’s not like today when you can get on a plane and back. And when you think today you see it as it happens from the other side of the world, that’s the difference, it’s a different world.
Sending Technicolor film back to the USA for processing
RF: What were some of the other incidents in the newsreel war as they called them when you were out to wreck or steal?
TC: You didn’t do any damage. They used to run a sweepstake for the people who got the newsreel stuff back from Epsom first, that was for the dispatch riders they worked that. Nobody ever did any damage, it was all on a practical joke basis.
Sweepstake for return of newsreel
RF: But if you could nobble him you would?
TC: But you wouldn’t hurt him.
RF: I understand that, but if you could prevent him getting the story?
TC: You didn’t try and prevent him getting the story because it was his job. If you got the rights then you were entitled to tell him to get out, to get him removed, just the same as you were pinching it and he got the rights although you could be the best of friends. He’d say I knew you’d be in you bastard, now get out, get rid of him, take him out and they’d march you out and throw you outside. What you do is go along to the next gate way and pay again and go in.
RF: Can you remember any specific stories of those circumstances when people got stories despite all the odds?
TC: I went up to the Lincoln, the Lincoln is a particular race because you’ve got a road which runs right alongside, the BBC once they came into being they had a car, you had a police car leading the way, then you had the BBC and then the newsreel car behind it, the Lincoln because it was a straight mile. And they used to start off, pick it up and run it along. We decided one day as Pathe got the rights we’d pinch it. So we put a car in a farmer’s hut, Leslie Murray was involved in this and young John Cotter, and as this police car moved off they drove out and they got in front of the police car and they held them all back because they were getting the picture, the police car couldn’t get in front of them because it was a narrow road and you had people watching the race and you can’t, and they’re belting along
Pinching stories from the BBC
there at about 55 mph and the police car couldn’t take a chance so they stayed behind them, then once you get to the top you break off and go round the stands, of course it carried on because the BBC were in an uproar, but of course they got out of the district, they got over the area before the police could catch them.
The same time Pathe were doing it I was trying to get some stuff in the paddock and the finish, and there was a guy called Kibbey who worked for Pathe at the time, a big bloke, went to Australia, he was only a youngster, after the war, in the end he emigrated to Australia. He was there and I was trying to go in and doing the best I can to keep out of the way, and Kibbey said hello Ted how are you, what are you doing here, I said I’ve come up to watch the Lincoln, he said I thought you might be covering it, I said you’ve got the rights, he said well I thought you might be, he said isn’t that your gear over there, I said yes, he said you are covering it aren’t you, I said yes, he said where are you going to do it, I said I’m going to do it over there. I thought that’s it, it’s the end of the world, he’d going to throw me out. He said you don’t want to do that, come up on my rostrum, you’ll get a much better picture there, so we did. There’s no wars. That’s just one incident. As far as he was concerned he couldn’t care less whether you got the picture or not. I’m getting the picture, you’re getting the picture, we’re both going to put the newsreel out and that’s it. The newsreels were a commercial proposition, that’s what you’ve got to remember, you had to sell.
Co-operation between different newsreel cameramen
The classic story of all time was the Leeds, I think he came from Leeds, the Leeds exhibitor who was Jewish, and we were putting out a full reel on this upstart Hitler, he said I don’t want this Hitler on my screen, I want this local agricultural show from Leeds, so we had to cover that to make a special for Leeds, and they never saw Hitler and his rise to power, what was going on in Germany, people didn’t want it, and he was a Jewish man too but he paid for the newsreel so he wanted this agricultural show, a local show, that’s the type of thing you had.
RF: Did you do a lot of that type of thing, local coverage specifically for a major exhibitor?
TC: Not an awful lot. When you think about it was much less than you would imagine.
RF: Well it must have been an expensive proposition to make up a special reel. You say the newsreel wars didn’t really exist, how about faking. Were stories ever faked to your knowledge?
TC: Oh yes, I can tell you a story which was faked because it was impossible to do, you couldn’t do it. The RAF bombed Budapest. They bombed it with a 1,000 bomber raid, how we hadn’t any pictures of the bomb, we had pictures of the bombers taking off silhouetted against the sky, 1,000 bombers take off to bomb Budapest and we had pictures of their arriving, coming back, but we hadn’t any pictures of the bombing. So we had to make a story of the bombing. Then we got a map and there’s Budapest, there’s the river, and we did this at Denham, we did the plane flying, and we bought a 6d puncture outfit, John Bull puncture outfit, and we put blobs of glue on there and lit them, because we were using a hand turned Mitchell and you could turn it back as you know, superimpose one picture on another, and we lit these bombs as they hit the deck, in the end we set fire to the river, we set fire to everything, we set fire to the bloody map, we got the bit of stuff we needed, and at that time Britain was having a bit of a rough time, she was being hammered in more ways than one. And I remember standing at the back of the Odeon at Barnet and you saw this 1,000 bomber raid and you saw the silhouette take off against the sky, all the droning planes taking off, then you saw the night, the flashes, the bombs dropping, you saw it and you saw the flames, it was quite an impression. Then you saw the planes coming back, the people stood up and clapped, they were cheering, they really were. And I thought if you knew that half the picture you saw was phoney, faked, but in detail it was a true story, but the pictures of the actual bombing were not true, they were phoney, the impression they gave, and it was only an impression, but it gave the people something to cling on to, never mind about what they’re doing to us, let’s give them some of it back.
Faking stories; RAF bombing of Budapest
RF: That was propaganda of which there was a great deal. But in peace time were there fake stories?
TC: I don’t think so.
RF: So it was all on the level?
TC: All the stuff I can remember. When you say phoney stories, if you were going to do a story on German politicians you’d use a picture, say right President Roosevelt, you’d bring in President Roosevelt, you’d show a picture of President Roosevelt, it might only be ten, fifteen feet, but you showed the picture of him, but it wasn’t the picture of Roosevelt as he was there, it was a library picture, the same as you might say one of the politicians like Foster Dulles, you haven’t got a picture of him there but you’ve got him there and it was a big news item and that that was it, you were just making a fact and showing the people concerned with that but it wasn’t taken at the point, the place. Nobody took the pictures there because it wasn’t allowed, that’s the only kind of fake you could say that there was.
Use of library pictures
RF: In the heyday there were five British reels and ten issues altogether each week, that was a great deal of coverage, did each newsreel have its own identity, its own character, would you say?
Character of each newsreel
TC: Yes. And they were very proud of that, each time they would have a showing and they would show all the newsreels together, the show copy, it might be at Film House, or Pathe’s or Movietone in Soho Square, one of those three and they’d show all the newsreels.
RF: Was this a regular occurrence?
TC: Yes. Every week. And if you weren’t doing anything you’d go in and watch them because it gave you a chance to see all the others, but I didn’t see them very often, nor did anyone else, but all the powers that be did, then you were wide open because they’d say why didn’t you get that picture of so and so on that story. And you’d say I did, then it was the turn of the bloke in charge of the editing and he’d say why the hell didn’t you use that picture, and in the end you used to say would you like me to follow the Paramount cameraman round, I’ll follow him round all the time, I’ll do exactly the same as he does, or do you want him to follow me, which do you want. Because you couldn’t do it. What they were seeing were five completed stories and each one had treated it in a different way but it was fundamentally the same story. Then when you had the five to pick from you’d say that one was much better, they liked the way that one was done, it was polished, although it had the same material that did and that did and that did, it wasn’t quite as good as that one in the way it was completed, in the way it was done.
RF: Of the reels, and try to be objective about this, which was perceived as the slickest, the most polished, the most admired?
TC: I’d say Gaumonts was very good but I’m prejudice to a certain extent. I dare say if you had Jimmy Gemmell sitting here now he’d say without doubt Paramount.
Best newsreel according to Candy
RF: Well let me ask you then which was your second favourite?
TC: I liked Paramount, I thought they were very good, I liked Movietone, don’t make any mistake, Universal never had the same facilities as the other reel so it would be not fair to compare them.
RF: It was the backup?
TC: They didn’t have the power of the others. For instance they didn’t have a sound outfit. They were silent with dubbed sound everywhere, they couldn’t put on speech or record speech.
RF: Was there a political bias to the reels?
TC: I would have thought there was very definitely, I would have said they were all Conservative, make no mistake. I remember the time when Attlee was prime minister, he was elected prime minister, looking through the stuff which we’d
Political bias of newsreels; filming
already got, Mr Howard who was actually the Mayor of Chiswick, he was the fall guy editor, you always had an editor who was going to take the brunt of any trouble. He had no power as such on the reel, that was always the general manager who decided what was what. There was this general election in this country, we saw the stuff which they’d got, and we saw how they were going to put it out and somebody said what happens if Labour wins, if Attlee gets in, because Churchill was going to walk it, I think that’s right, oh my Christ, we haven’t got a picture of Attlee, we haven’t got anything, this was the type of thing, we had to get in touch with Attlee, we took him down to the East End and he stood in a block of flats in the centre, he made a speech, we got all these housewives to lean forward on the balcony so we could take their pictures and they laughed and played about and were great fun and he gave them the speech, and he did it purely for us and he had them in stitches half the time, he was a brilliant man, he put his point over, he gave us about half an hour, and we’d done all the stuff we wanted of Mr Attlee, he couldn’t have been nicer. And it happened that he won it. So apart from the fact that the things you couldn’t get ready you’d now got a reel on Mr Attlee, so we could put it out. We could then do all the stuff as it turned up, the last minute this, the excitement, the crowds, because we always used to do it in Trafalgar Square when they had the elections, that kind of business, but if we hadn’t have done that bit we wouldn’t have had a picture to show.
Clement Atlee in the East End; R.S. Howard
RF: Was there any attempt to make him look foolish?
RF: It was quite straight. Was there any attempt to promote Churchill, to make him bigger, more important?
TC: No. How can I put this to you, Churchill only had to stand there with a cigar and somebody’s going to read the detail out of what he’s done, whether it’s right or wrong or in your way of thinking or not, Sir Winston Churchill, the bulldog breed, the man with the cigar, the man who won the war, they reeled off all these things. He became an overall powerful picture, if you had him playing hopscotch he wouldn’t have looked so good but there he was, he looked like a bloody bulldog.
Churchill’s charisma in front of the camera
RF: So the bias lay in the selection of the material?
TC: That’s the picture.
RF: That still goes on today with television news.
TC: Of course. Don’t misunderstand me, every cameraman who was there had his likes and dislikes and if the bloke was a good one, always had time for you, what do you want me to do, right I’ll jump off that roof, OK, so long as I land on my feet, is that alright, OK, bang he’d do it for you, he was always good, because he always gave you the time, he’d always do it for you. Therefore you got better pictures of him. If you got someone who turned round and said what are you doing here, I don’t want a picture, I don’t want any of that, you knew damn well that he did but he put on a show and you’d say right I won’t take any pictures of him, the only pictures taken were of the back of his head. So you did.
Different reaction of people being filmed for the newsreel
TC: People who were nice to you who made your job easier, like the Queen Mum, she was the best in the world because she always did the job for you, all you had to do was stand there wherever you stood, whether you put a rostrum up and a tripod and a camera and sound, microphone, whatever it was, you just put it there, and left, because if she was reviewing 10,000 guardsmen she’d walk along until she got to the point. Then she’d stop and then she’d turn, and you’d already picked the guardsman you want, he looks good and he’s got rows and rows of medals, you know which one it is and she’s turning half to you and half to him and she’s talking away, how marvellous this that and the other, and she’d almost look up at you, and if you like you’d turn round and thank you ma’am and she’d carry on, if you didn’t, if you were still filming she’d stay there, she’d stay all bloody day, then she’d go on but she knew where you were. When we did the Coronation she wanted to know where the cameras were, when we did the Jubilee she wanted to
The Queen Mother and her media awareness; 1953 Coronation
know where the cameras were, which side of the road and where all the cameras were going to be because that was where she wanted to be, she didn’t want to be facing this way if the cameras were there, she knew her stuff.
RF: What was her interest, helping you or helping the family business?
TC: Marvellous woman, she was selling the royal family, she did a marvellous job and she was always the most gracious of ladies, I’m an ardent royalist, believe me, I wouldn’t have their job for all the money in the world. I find them, they’re so good, they’re the highest paid if you like but you get them for nothing as far as we’re concerned. If you came round, no matter who else it was, you could say the Queen is going through Denham at 7 o’clock in the morning and it’s pouring down with rain there would be somebody waiting there to wave to her, there is nobody else in the world they’d do that for, they’re marvellous people. And when I think of the hours I’ve spent and they’ve had cameras watching and all they want you to do is just touch it, if you’re standing there and your nose itched and you just wanted to do that nobody would take the slightest bit of notice of you or me but on the front cover of Life next week, you’ve got Margaret holding her hand like that holding her nose. They’ve got to be so careful at that time. At that time with the royal family you couldn’t have a microphone, nobody could report what was said, that was the agreement, you could record the music, you could record everything else, but you couldn’t record what was said, if you did you didn’t use it. I mean a few years ago the royal family it was very much, not so easy as it is today, therefore when you got the facility you took full advantage and did the best job you could, and if they let you, you could get away with something, then that was great, but the law was no microphone, no sound, what their conversation was, was entirely private, it always was, but when television came in and they started putting microphones from the side of the crowd, long range microphones picking up the sound and using it, that’s when I said we’ll do the same and there was quite a bit of trouble about it but in the end it was all sorted out.
Queen Mother; restrictions filming the Royal family; changes television brought to filming royalty
RF: Who were the best newsreel cameramen in your opinion?
TC: They were all good, I didn’t know any bad ones.
RF: They didn’t last if they weren’t good?
TC: They were all good, they could all work, they all had their own idiosyncrasies, they all had their own way of doing things, you got one bloke who was absolutely brilliant with 35", 24" lens, he had the patience and he did a marvellous job, you had another bloke who would cover boxing extremely well, you get another cameraman who would be an artist at horseracing, you’d get another bloke who would do the run of the mill stories but was always up to date with what was happening and therefore he was one step ahead of everybody else.
Newsreel cameramen’s strengths
RF: How many were there at Gaumont British at any one time?
TC: On all five newsreels I don’t think they ever had more than, and that’s including soundmen as well, more than forty people,
Quantity of newsreel staff
RF: Was there a considerable turnover or was it a job for life?
TC: There was no where else to go, once you were involved in it you were involved in it. I can’t imagine anyone jumping for joy if you walked in saying you were looking for a job, what were you before? I was a newsreel cameraman, they might say did you cover that story which we saw the other week which I liked and you say yes and they say well it was very good, you did very well but unfortunately we’re building motorways, we’re building houses, we’re selling this so you’re no good to us.
RF: You could have got into documentary filming perhaps?
TC: But there was nothing to us.
RF: It wasn’t so exciting?
TC: Not only that, it was exciting you went, you just think, I went round the world at least six times, I’ve been to every country you care to mention, I went to Russia after the war, when Joe Stalin died I went to Russia, I was the first one into Russia from this country and my stuff was the first back. I learned two words in Russia which were a passport to anywhere, spasíbo, pozhálusta.
Visiting Russia in the post- war period
RF: I know what the first means, what’s the second?
TC: Thank you, please and thank you. And with those two you can get anywhere, it worked with me in Egypt, North Africa, Libya, South Africa, Mauritius, Australia, Canada, you name it, everywhere I went, Caracas in South America, Brazil, the Far East, the Middle East, Sweden, different types of people, there’s nothing more different than the Swedes to the rest of Scandinavia in my opinion, they’re entirely different but it always works the same, as long as you’re polite and say please and thank you, you’ll always get away with it.
RF: How about Sanger, Gerry Sanger?
TC: I’d like to make a statement here. In all my years and I’ve been working for 51 years, in my years in the film business I met two real gentlemen, one of them was Gerry Sanger and the other one was Lord Rank and they’re the two I would rate as two real, in the meaning of the word, gentlemen, they were first class gentlemen.
Gerry Sanger; J. Arthur Rank
RF: A remarkable endorsement. Did you meet J. Arthur?
TC: Yes, he was charming and always considerate, he was a different kettle of fish entirely, he always appreciated what you had to do and he always said it’s marvellous, it’s wonderful, how did you do it, how did you do that. And sometimes you’d look at him and think what the hell is he doing talking to me, I’m down here on the ground, I’m one of the ants who are working here, and he’s an eagle up there, what’s he talking to me for, what’s he trying to do. But he wasn’t, he was always the same, a charming man, a gentleman. Gerry Sanger, I never heard him say, and I knew Gerry quite well over a number of years and I never ever heard him say one word against anybody and that’s the gospel truth.
J. Arthur Rank; Gerry Sanger
The most honest man I ever met was a Mr Bateman who worked for Rank, he was the most honest man I ever met in my life. He would screw you for one foot of film, I have memos to say you should have in your possession 2,862ft of film, I have your returns here which say you have 2,681ft [sic], would you please explain where the one foot has gone, for one feet of film he would want to know where it was. But he wouldn’t cheat you of a halfpenny, he would stand up and fight everybody to see that you got what was yours. I’d trust him with my life and yours as well.
Mr Bateman – accountant for Rank
RF: Bateman was who?
TC: He was an accountant, a chartered accountant who worked for the Rank Organisation. At the beginning he ran Radio Pictures, he was the chartered secretary of Radio Pictures and he had three big film companies to run, but a certain gentleman went along to him one night and said from now on I want you to make two sets of books, one in pencil.... And he said not me you don’t, I don’t do that, I either do it my way or I don’t do it at all, and three weeks later he was demoted and he finished up with us. Why a man like Bateman with his accomplishments and his qualifications doing a job that any, lets face it, fourth rate accountant could do, yet he stayed with us all the time, he died working for us, but he was a lovely man, and he would stand up to the powers that be, if he thought you were entitled to five shillings more than you got, he’d stand up for it, he’d fight for you, never mind if it was £3, for £3 he’d take them all on, but he would be just as hard on you if you were trying to swing one penny piece, but he’d be just as hard on anyone trying to cheat you of a penny.
Mr Bateman – accountant for Rank; Radio Pictures
RF: Was he aware of all the fiddling which went on expenses?
TC: There was never any fiddling on expenses which is as true as I’m riding this bike. No when you say fiddling on expenses, look I’ll give you an instance. I went to Russia, when I got there the Russians stipulated you couldn’t take any money out
Expenses fiddling; finances in
of the country, you could cash it, you could get the money through the bank but once you cashed it you couldn’t take out roubles and you couldn’t pay it back into the account. Now I’m there at the International Hotel, there’s a gentleman from Sweden who’s a salesman, he’s going back to Sweden and he says to me you’ve come a way, how long are you staying here? And I said yes, I’ll be here about 3 months, 6 weeks, 3 months. He said you can use this then, it’s no good to me and he gave me a wad of money. I took it and said thank you very much and he explained the system to me. If that’s a fiddle I took that money and used it and then charged the company for it, then that’s a fiddle.
RF: I was thinking of relatively innocent things, earlier you said 3d on the bus became 3 bob in a taxi.
TC: I was illustrating to show how naive I was ...
RF: It’s still a fiddle.
TC: Oh yes. absolutely. I can tell you, old Eddie who was a genius, marvellous fellow, he’d do the job but he’d do an elevated shot from somewhere and if he’d got an elevated shot in his reel, his story, you could rest assured he got charged for a ladder, he always charged for it, 5s.
RF: That’s a good space, point, to break I think ...
side 4 tape 2
RF: When I was talking about fiddling I thought it was a relatively innocent practice?
TC: If you work it out I think the most money I ever got, even when I got the best after television came in and I was offered a job by television, and the company offered me a job to counteract that so I stayed with them, the most I ever got was £32 a week and that was at the end in 1960.
RF: I wasn’t at any moment pointing any fingers, it’s often said about me that my most creative work was done on expense accounts.
TC: You know Hungerford Bridge, across the Thames, one guy put in for a taxi over Hungerford Bridge, and the classical moment made about the expense account, you’ve put in everything you possibly can on this expense account, the only thing you haven’t put in is to tip the cable for carrying current. But everything else you’ve got. You’re going up to Glasgow and you’ve got six big cases and a tripod and everything else, you hump it yourself, you put it in the guards van yourself, you’ve got a trolley and you’ve loaded it up and you take it and you put it in the guards van and when you get to the other end you get a trolley, and you load it all in, check it in, and push it out and you put it in a taxi and you get to the hotel and you’ve done it all yourself, and you tip the porter, 2s 6d, tip to porter other end 2s 6d, that is technically fiddling, but you could have done just the same, we have a super accountant over here, the wickedest man who ever lived, but that’s another story, he didn’t like this unloaders we used to show to him, which we used to have in the early days when they had the soundman and the camera man and they had to unload piles of equipment and you think you have a connection, they used to weigh 4lb in weight, a brass connection, that weighed 4lb just to clamp it together, not these tiny things like they are now, but great big clamps, if you had to hump it up you got 10s and 10s unload, this genius suddenly said we’ll stop this, from now on I want a receipt, so they said certainly, so the first job they go to they said we want a couple of labourers, where can we get a couple of labourers from, we’ll go and get them from the council, they hired a couple of blokes from the council, got a bill for it, paid for them, so much an hour, they put it in, from that moment onwards they said don’t worry about that any more, the unload stays, I think it did too, because the only thing they were charging was what they were entitled to, they were entitled to spend it. If you were going from here to Luton and I’m supposed to go by train, if you’re going up there with me and you’re taking me by car I’ll pay you for the petrol but that’s not going to stop me charging the company for the train fare there and back because they were prepared to pay that in the first place.
Expense accounts; unloaders
RF: In the light of the poor salaries they paid, the quite extraordinary conditions, it seems little enough recompense.
TC: They never gave you a big expense account for entertaining or something like that which you could make money on. The most I ever added on, I did that car trip round the world and old Castleton-Knight said you know you’re carrying the name of Gaumont British, you’re an ambassador, I said yes sir, I know all about that. Right for any small town for which you’re in we’ll give you £2 a day social expenses, for any big town like New York or Los Angeles we’ll give you £5 a day. I said thank you very much, charming. Well when you work out, I did the job and I did it well, everybody said so, I put my expenses in and Mr Bateman said to me I think you did extremely well Ted, it had to go to Knight for signing and he turned round and said what’s this about social expenses, I said that’s what you said, I wouldn’t say a thing like that, don’t be ridiculous. I said stay where you are, don’t move, I went out and got hold of Mr Bateman and said can you come in a moment Mr Bateman please, he came in, I said Mr Bateman, Mr Knight can’t remember when he told me I could have £2 social expenses and £5 social expenses, do you recall that, most definitely, I was here, sitting here at the time, Mr Knight that’s exactly what you said. Old Knight said, well in that case, OK I’ll sign it.
Expense accounts; fighting Castleton- Knight for expenses
RF: Had he forgotten?
TC: No he was playing hard to get.
TC: He would have given it to me in the end undoubtedly but he would have made me pay for it in more ways than one.
RF: Tell us more about him.
TC: He was the best showman I ever met, he could sell anything to anybody, he would get you to do anything with enthusiasm, he was going to do it. We’re going to do this, we’re going to do that, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that, although you said at the beginning no I’ll never do it again. But I’ll give you an instance. We were in 142 Wardour Street up the road here, and the King died in Sandringham. George Fleischman who’s over in Ireland he was sitting at the desk with Castleton-Knight. I knocked on the door and went in to him, I’d torn the tickertape off and said Mr Knight I’ve got some bad news for you, the King is dead. He said I’m very sorry because he was a good man. I swear to you exactly as I tell you this happened, he picked up the phone and rang Technicolor, George somebody or other, he said I want an option on every Technicolor camera, he told him first of all the King was dead, then he said I want an option on every Technicolor camera in Europe and I want an option on the plant, and I want it in writing and I want it today. For the funeral, he said no, it will be for the Coronation. I thought Jesus Christ, I’m thinking about the funeral, and the sons and all the kings and princes of Europe walking behind, as they’ve done before and always have done, and my God, and this guy’s he’s thinking way ahead of that, the Coronation, and he was absolutely right, and he got the chop from John Davis because of that too, although if he hadn’t have done the Coronation, I tell you straight, there would have been no Rank Organisation today, the reason the Rank Organisation is alive and kicking today is because Castleton-Knight did that Coronation, he made more money they’d ever seen, and they were in such a bad way they needed it.
Death of King George VI; Castleton- Knight; the Coronation; Rank Organisation; John Davis
RF: And you say he got fired?
TC: He got hauled over the coals, coalfloor [sic] two years later, who gave you the authority to do that? That was John Davis, he gave him a rough time. But Castleton-Knight had, not only his own ability and tremendous strength, and he’d back you one hundred percent, that’s where his strength lay, if you were going to do anything, he’d move heaven and earth for you, he’d fight for you tooth and nail, even if you had to give way in the end, he’d fight, he really would.
Castleton- Knight and John Davis
RF: He was a good boss?
TC: Yes he was a good boss, he had his idiosyncrasies just like everyone else, he’d fire you as soon as look at you and then start you on again. And then if you turned round and gave him a rough time he’d probably turn round and give you a raise, just to show you there was no ill-feeling.
RF: Was there a barrier between management and staff, how did you call him?
TC: I called him CK, Mr Knight, he was fairly human, very ordinary, but a brilliant mind when he set his mind to anything, when he wanted to do something he’d do it. And he had a great showmanship. When we did this film on Arnhem, we did it on next to nothing, on a shoestring, yet when he put it on at the Gaumont Haymarket, he had searchlights put on the top of the theatre going across the sky and the crowd stopped to watch because the war hadn’t been over very long, Christ they’re all coming back, what’s going on, there were these searchlights, he had the police outside on horses, he staged it, he staged managed everything, but always with a reason, I’ve never seen a man work so hard as he did on the Olympic Games, after all the ballyhoo and pomp and circumstance a lot of work has to be done, and he did that, by God he did, in two days he put that picture together and finished it and that wanted some doing, he was brilliant, mind you he had some brilliant people working for him. I’m not referring to myself, Roy Drew and John O’Kelly, they were hard workers, brilliant workers, they really were.
Castleton- Knight; Arnhem film, ‘Theirs is the Glory’
RF: They were editors?
TC: Yes down at Denham, that was how it was done. It was so different in those days, you didn’t have tapes, it was all done on, and if during the war you wanted the sound of the bombs or sound of gun fire, we used to put a camera on the roof, Poland Street garage, 1000 ft camera and just point it up to the sky, there was nothing to look at, you couldn’t see anything but you would hear boom boom, etc.
Editors at Denham; recording sound effects
RF: This was a single system camera?
TC: Sound camera. Then you’d switch it on and you had two microphones out there, you’d wait until you thought it was going to happen, it would get closer, and then when there was a lull you’d switch it off, and switch it on again, if you got anti aircraft guns going bang, bang, bang, you’d switch it on, you’d get it going up, they’d take it and be processed the same as the film, the picture, but you got the track, that’s all and I did it the usual way. In the latter stages of my life we were laying magnetic tape, if you wanted a racing car you got a picture of a racing car starting, you’d look it and say right that’s a Ferrari, right we want a track of a Ferrari,
RF: Out of the library?
TC: ... pull it off and lay it on. I mean that’s what you did. If it was an airplane you put it on.
RF: Let’s talk about the last days, the final days, when it all began to fall apart. When was there an inkling the fate of the newsreels was sealed?
Final days of the newsreel
TC: You knew it was, you knew it couldn’t go on because it was costing us more to print the bloody thing than the money we could get in for it.
RF: When was that apparent?
TC: I was running Movietone at the end, and we were paying Rank something like £25 a reel for printing and we were charging Rank £20 a week, £20 an issue to show it.
RF: Ted, you say you were running Movietone, tell us about that, I thought you were still with GB.
TC: No when GB News packed up, Paramount packed up first of all.
RF: That was when, roughly, if you can’t remember exactly?
TC: About 1956. Gaumont packed up about 1960, then we started to make Look at Life until ‘69 and that was very profitable, we kept all the same people.
Look at Life
RF: You were a cameraman for Look at Life?
TC: No I ran the camera side.
RF: Assigning cameramen?
TC: Yes and deciding what we were going to do and how we were going to do it.
RF: You would chose the subjects or you would set up the servicing?
TC: No, I’d go to all the meetings and say what, you’d come up with questions of your own, but you’d then give reasons why you couldn’t do that, they came up with some right stupid ideas which would have cost us thousands and thousands of pounds to do. You have to keep within the bounds of what to spend.
RF: What was your budget?
TC: Not very much, you’d be surprised. I can’t remember exactly but it was very very little.
RF: You were getting one reel out per month?
TC: Per week. Fifty-two a year and the occasional special thing here and there but it was, you were dealing with people who had no idea what you could do with a camera, what you couldn’t, no idea of the limitations, and the way you could do it. You had to explain everything, you can show a picture, somebody said something about stress, if you want to illustrate that with a picture, in the old days, they would show somebody holding their head, oh Christ I’m going barmy, and then they would cut to a shot of a rope slowly but surely breaking, untwining [sic], as an illustration of stress. When you suddenly say you want to show stress in the general public outside, then all you can do, you can take pictures from a window and show them crossing a road, cars and the flashing lights, and the stop go and the cars going across and the stress of it all. You can’t suddenly take pictures of people’s eyeballs in the street as they’re walking along and see a reflection in a window of a person as they’re walking along and do the reflection in the window and cut to their face. You don’t know who they are and you’ve never seen them before in your life and then you’ve got to quote to them that a lady is under dire stress. This lady can turn round and say later you’re joking, I’ll sue you from here to Christmas. You had to explain all this to people, that’s why the meeting used to take place. And you’d say leave it with me and we’ll do it but I’ll have to do it my way or I can’t do it at all and then you’d go away and do it, that’s what it amounted to.
Filming abstract concepts and emotions; restrictions of filming generally; Percy Livingstone
0:19:48 0:20:50 [ends]
Then when that ended, I wrote to Movietone, I wanted to see Percy Livingstone, he was the boss of Movietone and he wasn’t there, he was in America, I said to his ADC was there, I said he doesn’t know me from Adam but I understand that you’re still running Movietone from this office so what I’d like to do is give this list to you of all these people who have been so brilliant in their lifetime and who’ve been thrown on the waste heap by being made redundant, and there’s all their names and what they do, their telephone numbers and address and everything else, and I’d like Mr Livingstone to consider them.
British Movietone News
RF: To interrupt you for a moment. The Rank Organisation just slung you out after 30 years service?
Leaving the Rank Organisation
TC: That’s right, for which I get a very small pension I paid in for. That’s what I did to try and keep in them in the business, they were too good to throw out and take any job they can because you know in the film business, you know as well as I do, if their circumstances are such then they have to survive, they had to, some of the big shots eventually were driving vans at one time because they couldn’t get a job
anywhere else, eventually they came back, but that’s what I did and I was amazed to hear, I got a telephone call from 20th Century-Fox saying could you call in the office, we’d like to see you. I said yes, I thought they were going to say we can take two of your people but we can’t take any more, which two would you recommend for this job. They said we’ve got all these names but now we see your name is not on the list. I said no, it’s not. They said we wanted to know where you’re going to work, what you’re going to do. I said what am I going to do, I’m going to take my wife on a holiday, we’re going to have a ball, I’m fed up of worrying about redundancy and people losing their jobs, I’m going to go out and play golf and forget about it. And they said have you got a job? I said no, I’ll think about that when I come back. They said, well, would you like to add your name to this list and tell us what you can do, I said no. I said I’m not really interested in it – I’ll decide when I come back, I’m going away, and that was that. Then I got a telephone call, Mr Percy Livingstone would like to see you, would you come and see him, I said yes. So I went to see him again, what’s it all about, he said I’d like to offer you a job, I said that’s very kind of you, thank you very much, may I ask what the job is. I want somebody to take over Movietone, I want somebody to run Movietone. We’re losing money hand over fist, and it means I’ve got to stop it and I don’t want to do that, I’d like to keep it going, so that’s the first job.
The other one, I’d like to make some shorts and I’d like a producer, if you’d like to take on the job of producing some shorts for me you’re in. If you’d like to take on the job of running Movietone you can. He said it’s up to you. I said I’ll tell you what Percy, I’ll run them both, I’ll do them both or not at all. I know what you’re going to do, you’re all the same, you’re going to use Movietone to make the shorts anyway, that’s all you’re trying to do. If I do it I’ll do them both, I want the final say on this that and the other. I said from now on I’m going to make my own name, I’m not making other people’s. I want you to understand that before we even start. He said that’s it. You’ll have to give me time, I just want to check up on this that and the other, I said yes, and when I saw him he said I haven’t had time to check up on you, I said you don’t want to worry I’ve had time to check up on you, I’ve had a little bit of time to find out about you and I know exactly where we stand. Don’t worry about it, everything will be alright and it was and we kept Movietone going for about another 15 years which was a struggle, on a shoestring, we made a few bob but they wouldn’t spend it the way I wanted them to, I had no interest, I had no part in Movietone, I realise afterwards what I should have done, I should have bought it, I should have said look I’ll give £25,000 for it and they’d have taken it, could have made a fortune, but instead of that I took it on, I ran it, I made them a lot of money and we kept everybody employed right up to the end, we were the last one, and even then we kept it going afterwards. We developed the library whilst we were running it and we made it into a world wide set up on a very small scale because a) we had no money for advertising, it was just catch as catch can, and using the friendship of people you knew, and that’s what we did, and it developed, it really did. If Lady Rothermere had helped us with some money now and again we would probably have done much better, but they wanted to take it out, they didn’t want to put it in.
Producing shorts at British Movietone News in the 1960s; Candy goes on holiday
RF: Why her, a shareholder?
TC: Yes, Lord Rothermere owned forty five percent and 20th Century-Fox was fifty five percent. Fox was very good and I’ll tell you this much if I hadn’t worked those last fifteen years for Fox I wouldn’t be sitting here, I’d been working somewhere, swinging a pick or digging a hole in the ground, because I couldn’t live the way I live now without Fox, Fox was marvellous.
Shareholders of British Movietone News
RF: What happened to the others who also were let go and weren’t so lucky? They just went out of the business?
TC: They were all old enough to retire, we all got a pension from Fox which nobody paid in for, it was all supplementary, and I got them to agree to bring their pension scheme up to date, which they did, which made all the difference in the world. I got John O’Kelly back who used to be with Gaumonts and he was at Pinewood working in their library, I got him back to work for Movietone, he retired with Rank and then he retired from Fox and this is just between you and me, it’s of no interest to anybody else but his pension that he got for the few years he worked for Fox was ten times for the forty five years he worked for Rank. That’s a fact.
Ex-newsreel personnel; pensions
RF: When finally did Movietone close down?
TC: I’ve got the final poster up on my wall at home with the signature of everyone who was working on it on the last day. About 1979.
RF: It had really ceased to be a newsreel of course at that stage?
TC: We were still putting out a reel, one a week, in colour.
RF: But it was less news and more topics I suppose?
TC: There’s no point in competing with the news as such as we used to, it was a spectacular news, what we did. Right, the Derby, but we had to make it different. Everybody knew the winner before we even put the reel out so you got to make it spectacular. So we stuck, we couldn’t afford to build 75ft towers like they used to when you used to do the Derby from the start to finish in one sweep, that’s how they did it originally, the old newsreels always did the same, a great big tower up on doo-dah, we used to put, we’d go down the seven furlong start, you’d spend a day down there trying to find a different angle so you saw the horses coming up and then you’d run them slow motion, so you saw nostrils going, and the faces of the jocks, and the whips coming up and you made it live, you made a different type of picture of it, you wouldn’t have done that in the newsreel because they’d have said we can’t afford to run this bloody thing, it runs for 120 ft, we only want five feet of that, but it made a marvellous picture of it, you tried to make the picture, make it different, I did very well at that, that was the only way you could do it.
Competition with television
RF: How many cinemas was it going into at the end?
TC: You see you had first run cinemas, they were the money spinners. If you had the first run cinemas, that was the first showing,
Distribution in the 1970s
RF: How many prints per issue, per edition?
TC: It was down to about 35, it was costing us more to buy the prints than it was to sell them on the first run, then there was on the second run they used to run them a week, 9 days, and eventually you’d get them up in the North of Scotland and they’d pay £l, which hardly paid for the transportation.
Newsreel distribution in the 1970s
RF: Did you have a budget, a weekly budget?
TC: No, we just had to make a profit. At the end of the period, we started off with meetings once a month and by the end we didn’t have a meeting once every twelve months. They left you on your own, the only thing you had to account to Fox was what your bank balance was and what was happening, and how much money you’d got.
RF: What was your exact position at this stage?
TC: General manager. We didn’t have a managing director. I was also a director of the company, I didn’t get anything for it, it just meant I kept in the know to what was going on and I could argue with them.
RF: And you carried the can?
TC: It always looked good, if you were a director of the company.
RF: How many short subjects did you make?
TC: I should think about thirty, forty.
RF: What was that? One a month?
TC: No, we used to make one for Fox, because it was no good making a short and trying to sell it because you could never sell the bloody thing, because nobody
would buy it. Rank wouldn’t buy it, they’d reissue the old ones rather than buy new ones. So what I did, I levered Fox into the position that if they got a film coming over and it ran or so long I’d say you could put a short in there. I used to sell, the film, the short to Fox and they would pay me for it which would make a profit. they would make a very nice profit out of it too on the distribution because we always had to pay the distributor whether we were winning or losing.
RF: They couldn’t lose with the Eady money, could they?
TC: Exactly. It was just the same with Look at Life, that was done on an Eady money basis. It was a very profitable set up, it really was, but then again these people get, how can I say, they get a touch of the Lester Piggotts, they get greedy, they’re not content. Some people if they had an income of £10,000 a year they would have said I’m in the seventh heaven of delight, I’m grateful, but there are some people who are not satisfied with that, they want £50,000, they want £100,000, they want £200,000, they’re never satisfied, so eventually the engine blows up.
Look at Life
RF: Well we’re living through it once again, are we not, and they bring the wall tumbling down. I remember fifty years ago my father used to say there are two motivations in the City of London, one is greed, and one is fear. We’re seeing it operate now. Ted, I feel we should backtrack a little on Look at Life, is there anything more to be said of that, since it was an indigenous reel for the Rank Organisation?
Look at Life
TC: I was running the camera side and they said we’re going to close down Gaumont-British News, and that wasn’t because of television which everybody seems to think it was but it was a particular policy because Castleton-Knight left because John Davis forced him to. That’s besides the point, but that’s primarily...
Look at Life; Castleton- Knight leaves
RF: Well, no, it’s a matter of history, so it’s good to know he was forced out again after years of loyal service.
TC: That’s what I’m saying but I couldn’t prove it to you.
RF: The stories?
TC: It could be denied emphatically. But the kind of thing was, we had a signature tune, the March of the Movies, Gaumont was [hums tune].
RF: Leslie Mitchell reporting...
TC: Not Leslie Mitchell, that was Movietone. Ted Emmett, brilliant, absolute genius, a wonderful sense of humour and he could, he got a bloke, Roy Drew, who was a brilliant editor, and he’d work, never give up, he’d make something out of nothing, but he couldn’t see the funny side of anything.
RF: This was Emmett?
TC: That was Roy Drew, But Ted Emmett could. He could see the humour in any picture, he’d say we’ll twist that round and we’ll use it in that way and it was funny, and it would make the audience laugh. You know as well as I do, you get a cinema, it’s spontaneous, as soon as one laughs they all laugh, one laugh will lead to another, will lead to another and if, like the old Charlie Chaplin pictures, if he made them laugh he had them crying the next minute, as long as you do that you’ll always win. But we were told we were told we had to change the title, change the signature tune, after all these years, and ...
RF: Where did that come from, South Street?
TC: Yes. And then why hasn’t been done, this that and the other, and they came out with the 64 dollar question, either you do it or I’ll get somebody who will. And I couldn’t believe it, I never believed it. But when old Knight was retiring I thought that’s it. He’d been a friend of mine for years and he never told me, then he said I am retiring, I’m going. I said why do you do that, what the hell are you up to. He said circumstances are such that it’s the only thing left open to me. And he said I can manage alright so I’m retiring, so he did. I said who’s taking over from
Castleton- Knight leaves Gaumont British News
you and he says there’s a man called Grafton Green, he was the editor of the Sketch, Daily Sketch, and I said oh, he introduced me to him and he was quite a nice man. I said to old Knight do you want this bloke to take this job or not because if you don’t want him to have the job he won’t have it three weeks, I’ll guarantee this to you. I said we could stop him dead in his tracks because he knows nothing at all about it, nothing at all, and he said oh no, he’s quite a nice man, help him all you can. I said right, so we did and we made him, no two ways about it. This is the biggest snob I’d ever met in my life, I’ve never met a man quite like him ever.
RF: This is the man coming in?
TC: Grafton Green. You couldn’t believe it. You couldn’t believe people existed still the same, a bloody liar too, he really was, one of his favourite words was kinsman, he’s a kinsman of mine and this that and the other. He never mentioned his brother who I happened to know, he worked as a sweeper up at Wimbledon Dog Track and I assure you he didn’t go down well with me. Anyway that’s between you, me and the gatepost. I would say he, Grafton Green, knew as much about the film business, a little bit less than that frame of that picture.
Grafton Green takes over at Gaumont British News
RF: How much longer did the reel survive after he came in?
TC: Ten years we kept it going.
RF: What was your function, were you still a cameraman?
TC: No I ran the cameras, I set it up and I did the stories and we went to the meetings and I told them what they could do and what they couldn’t do, I even had the powers that be that used to come down from Rank Film Distributors, they said when we have a meeting would you please keep your head still. I said what do mean, what are you talking about, from now on will you keep your head still. I said I always keep my head still, what are you talking about? When somebody says anything, they look at Grafton Green, you always look at them and go, perhaps we’ll have to think about that, it has possibilities but and then he said you go like this, oh yes that’s a very good idea, why don’t we ask you and we’d save a lot of time and trouble.
Candy’s role at Gaumont British News after the departure of Castleton- Knight
RF: I should point out for the tape you were nodding your head either up and down or side to side.
TC: But that was why it was done, but you’ve got to help him, you’ve got to protect him which is what we did, so we made it work. And the only way me made it work, it wasn’t because I nodded my head, believe me, it was because we had three or four cameramen, Peter Cannon was still there, Bill Hooker changed from sound to camera, then we had Albert Wherry who was a lovely kid, he died when he was 45, but he was a worker second to none, do anything. I wanted to do a picture of the Post Office Tower. I saw that commercial the other day which was up there and I thought how long it would it take them today to do it, we hadn’t got anything like that, we couldn’t get a helicopter, we couldn’t afford one, but not only that they wouldn’t let you fly a helicopter over there, so we put him up on the end of the crane, you know one of those buckets, he went up the top sat there as good as gold, did it all, lowered him down, pulled him up, he did zoom shots and they looked fantastic and he did a marvellous job, but they made it possible.
Peter Cannon; Albert Wherry; filming the Post Office Tower from a crane
RF: Well, that’s so often the case, the foot soldiers actually doing the graft. What would you say, at that stage, was the level of competence of Rank executives, was that typical or was he a one off?
Rank Organisation and John Davis
TC: No the vast majority of Rank at that time, don’t forget you’ve got a strong arm man at the top, John Davis. John Davis was a good man for the period of time, when it was essential that you had somebody like that, to hold it together. But he was also the wrong kind of man, I always feel, this is only my opinion, that the power structure went to his head a little bit, nobody worth his salt who’s going to be a man is going to be told what to do and how to do it all the time, sooner or later he’s going to turn round and say just a minute I know my job and I’ll do it the
way I know is right. I’ve had people say to me we’ve got to do so and so, and I’ve said I don’t know how you can do it. They say it doesn’t matter we’ve got to do it, then I say I’m sorry but I just don’t know how to do it so you’ll have to tell us how to do it because I can’t do it. I wouldn’t know the first way of doing it, now how do we do it, you tell me, and their only answer was but the chairman wants it, I said I’ll tell the chairman, I’ll ring him up and tell him there’s only one way I know to do this and we’d have to employ one person and that’s Jesus Christ because he’s the only bloke I know who could do it, nobody else in this world could do what you’re asking us to do and therefore I can’t do it.
side 5 tape 3
TC: He ruled with a rod of iron, I’ve got a docket now at home which says, when he first started, nobody shall spent £10 without my authority, J. Davis. We’re running a newsreel, I’m down at Folkestone and there’s a training ship that’s missing, one of these with all the kids on, and the local press boys from Fleet St and everybody else says we’ll hire a tug and go out and look for it. It’s the only thing we can do, because it’s supposed to be in the North Sea, right, you can’t go out in a rowing boat. How much are we going to pay, if we all chip in £25 quid we can charter the thing for twelve hours or whatever you like, so we can go out six hours and six hours back and see if we can find it. [Break in recording] I rang Mr Howard, about this £10. Mr Howard, I want to hire this tug, can I have your OK to do it and the phone went dead and I rang back again, I thought I’d been cut off, nobody in, the phone girls were there and said I’ll put you through, no reply, couldn’t get any reply.
Expenses under John Davis; fear of John Davis
RF: What was he doing, hiding under the desk?
TC: It was just that nobody would take the responsibility. I couldn’t get hold of old Knight, he would have said do it, so I did, and I spent the £25 and thought Christ if we don’t find this boat there will be hell to pay now. But that was the kind of thing that happened.
RF: An atmosphere of fear?
RF: Was your job on the line?
TC: I thought I could talk my way out of it, I had a strong reason, I couldn’t see them being that stupid. In my book if you’re going to employ people you employ them because a) they can do something you want them to do, if you employ a gardener and he’s got a spade and is going to dig a garden you don’t tell him how to do it. You’d just say I would like to see a bed of flowers there and you let him do it because he knows more about it than you do. If you’re going to stand at the side of him and say push the shovel down, push the spade down a bit further, no don’t take it as deep as that, there’s no point of having him. He knows more about it than you do, let him do it, and that was always my policy. I had people work for me and I said right that’s what you’re going to do, now tell me what you’ll do, I thought we’d do this and we’ll go and have a look at that, and do this, great, sounds fine, I like the idea, do it, bang. And I’ll tell you this much, I don’t think I had one failure, it always worked because you gave them the responsibility and with most people if you give them the responsibility they’ll see it through, they won’t run away and hide their head under a pillar, they’ll do it, most of them would, and I was lucky, I had them all who did it, they helped me no end, all of them.
Expenses under John Davis; employees and responsibility
Great people, I met a lot of famous people, a lot of poor people, a lot of rich people, but in this business that we were in I think the greatest show man of them all was Castleton-Knight for exploitation, I think one of the bravest men I ever met was Jim Wright at Paramount. He was the boss of Paramount News, he didn’t have to go to the war, he didn’t have to be involved, he didn’t have to hear a shot fired. Instead of that he went with the American forces on the daylight bombing raids and I’ve taken a picture of Jim Wright when he stepped out of a plane when he was hosed down with a hosepipe because he was covered, because they got hit with a cannon shell and all kinds of things happened. To me he was a brave man. When he died I went to his funeral, I had to go, do you know there was not a soul from Paramount, there wasn’t even a wreath.
Newsreel personalities particularly Castleton-Knight and Jimmy Wright
RF: Why was that?
TC: I think Paramount had changed hands two or three times and nobody knew he even existed. His obituary was in the Times, you know his son, Jimmy Wright Junior.
RF: Is that his son, I didn’t realise?
TC: Oh yes, and I saw Jim there and he thanked me for coming. Out of all the people he knew in the business there was only two people there. Power from Kodak, and myself, after all the years he put in, it seemed to me a bit much.
Jimmy Wright’s funeral
RF: It’s a pretty shitty business on occasions.
TC: I would have thought they would have done something.
RF: What happened if one stood up to Davis because some bullies retreat? Could you call his bluff, if such it was?
TC: Can I tell you, I went away with John Davis to various Cannes Film Festivals, to Venice Film Festival, to various others, Berlin Film Festival, to my way of thinking he was brilliant in what he was doing at times when circumstances were such. But the people he had were small fry in my book because they hadn’t got the guts to stand up to him, they were bought pure and simple. That I’m convinced. They turned round and suddenly got a big car, big expense account and big salary. They didn’t want to lose it, I can understand that too. I wouldn’t have wanted to have lost it but there are some things you have to stand up for and some things you have to be counted on and one of them is what you yourself are, what you yourself do. He hadn’t got anyone like that, if he had he would probably have done much better. He had one bloke I knew very well, Harry Norris, a great man, he was the assistant managing director of the Rank Organisation and he left, unfortunately, but he was a brilliant man. The others I don’t think there was one of them in the same category as Davis. John Davis was in a lot of respects brilliant and to me personally couldn’t be nicer. And every time I’ve had to tell him something, he’s always explained things to me. I was doing some pictures there and said Mr Davis will you do this and he said no, I don’t want to be in this picture. I said right we’ll arrange another one. I wondered why not, then he came over later and said I must explain to you why I didn’t want to be in this picture and explained it. I said I understand, I didn’t realise that, thank you very much for telling me. He didn’t have to tell me, I was employed by him, he could have turned round and said, you’re fired for even asking. He was always generous to me, he was always nice, he never expected you to do anything, he’d expect you to work but always wanted to take you out and give you a good time. He said to me one day if I see you with that bloody camera anymore, I’ll fire you, you leave it where it is, I’m going to take you out and we’ll have a good time, and I did. Leave that camera at home, I don’t want to see you with it, just leave it.
Personality of John Davis; Harry Norris
RF: He was a good companion on an occasion like that?
TC: Yes, and if you were in trouble of any kind, John Davis would be a first class man to appeal to. I think he’d help you, I think he would, I don’t think
John Davis’ staff
he’d run away, that’s my opinion mind you, but I never had to ask him. I would assume that, I would think so from what I know of him. He was always nice to me and he was always good to me and I could see his point in lots of things, but I must say I don’t think much for the people he had working for him. They were a load of rubbish most of them and should never have been in the positions they had. His one weakness in my book, he couldn’t pick the right people, because the right people wouldn’t work for him, that’s the point because he wouldn’t give them the freedom.
RF: You say Fox Movietone closed down in ‘79 so you were still comparatively a young man?
TC: I retired. I was 60 then, then we went to work, we made some shorts, I did a lot of work for countries abroad because we still had the contacts with what they wanted doing and we covered stories for them, shorts and documentaries, and we built the library up, we spent a lot of money on that, by hook or by crook we were going to build that up and we did so it was a very big money spinner too, good business.
Ted Candy retires but continues to work on shorts and building up the Movietone library
RF: A lot of that must have been nitrate stock.
TC: A hell of a lot of it.
RF: Did you have a plan to transfer it?
TC: I wanted to transfer it, I got them to do a deal. I got Rank’s Jim Downer, I said you’ve got all these people here, they’re not all working all the time, now if I gave you say 200 reels and wanted them transferred onto safety stock, you’ve got to make me a new negative, but there’s no rush, nobody’s saying those 200 cans have got to be done by 4 o’clock this afternoon. It doesn’t matter whether it’s done this week, a fortnight’s time, three weeks’ time, six weeks’ time, two months’ time, I want a special deal, and he quoted me prices and I beat him down. Then he helped me on that. Then I said to him it’s going to work out, we’ve got about 6-10 million feet to do. Oh Christ, it will keep us going for a few years. Then they didn’t come up with the money, we’ll consider it, we’ll consider it. Without, they do something about it, every month we were throwing a can of film away. There were pictures, not the famous pictures, I’m not talking about those. The little police car with the two policeman with the tall hat which was the first motorised policeman in England, there they were in a little two-seater car. If they’d arrested anyone they couldn’t have put him in it, the only way they could have done it is put him in a boot. There they were down a little country lane, that was the first motorised police car in this country. That’s a picture, it’s not famous, nobody is going to turn round and put it on the 9 o’clock news, but for my grandchildren that would be interesting, they see today streaking along the motorway, that’s all how it all started.
Transfer of nitrate newsreel to safety stock
RF: It says far more about life as it then was than any politician.
TC: I quite agree, so much has been lost and thrown away. Prince Charles’ wedding I did that on 35mm colour stock, I had the entire negative duped and the original negative I had sealed up. They used the dupe negative, the original negative has never been touched. That’s kept there. Not for this year, not for next year, not for ten years’ time, but my idea is that it would come in handy in 500 years, in 200 years or in 100 years time they may be able to put it onto paper, I don’t know, but it will be there.
Charles and Diana’s wedding; preservation of film;
RF: Digital, on computer.
TC: Quite possibly. All the enthusiasm for that got beaten out of me because nobody would listen. The Minister for Arts, I wrote him a long letter explaining to him and the work I’d done over the years on the various things which helped his party and the time which came I needed some help and I detailed it all out and a friend of his and people he knew would be forgot in history unless this film was protected. Thorneycroft, and he wrote me a very nice letter, dear Mr Candy I do appreciate your difficulties, this that and the
Letter from G.E.P Thorneycroft
other, but the only thing we allow so much to the arts and so much to this that and the other and so much to this film council the only thing I suggest is that you appeal to them. So that was that. I wrote again a couple of times, I wrote to lots of other people. If I know what I know now I would have gone with a begging bowl and tried to have got a sponsor for it saying that every time you show this film you have to show a clip of Kellogg’s Cornflakes, then I could have got the money to do it.
RF: Ted, I guess we’re getting towards the end now, is there anything that you would like to add to what we’ve done now in terms of your career?
TC: I would like to add, when I say it’s a different world now. I explained to you how I cut my face, now I’ve got a permanent scar the side of my mouth, I didn’t get any compensation for that, but I didn’t expect any. Also when I was in Ethiopia I broke my back but I didn’t get any compensation for that.
Lack of financial compensation for injuries
RF: How did that happen?
TC: I fell off a truck. Instead of using a truck with proper clamps, I was doing surrounded by these tribesmen and I had a flat bed lorry, he was driving down and I said to the him who was driving stay steady, for Christ sake’s don’t slam those brakes on. We were in the middle of a mob, one of them immediately stops in front, he slams the brakes on and I go straight over the side and I cracked my spine across the back. Anyway we survived that was the main thing.
Falling off a truck in Addis Ababa
RF: What was the hospital like in Addis Ababa?
TC: Well, I got up alright, and I thought I’d hurt myself and I was out of breath, and this Jewish, he was looking for the lost tribe of Israel in Ethiopia, I thought he was a nut, he was a German, but he happened to be a medical student and he got hold of me, there was no medical, no doctors or anything else, and took me back and he got this bandage and soaked it in this water and bound me up from my hips to my chest. He bound it around as tight as could be all the way round, and then he pinned it up and taped it up and I kept that on, and it dried with the tightness of wax, and I was alright. I couldn’t move, but I could get about, I could move my legs. I didn’t think I’d hurt anything, I didn’t think I’d done anything, but I knocked, you know on a Cameflex camera you have an inching knob which you push in to turn the shutter out, when I fell I knocked that off, but I could do without it. I could tape it over and carry on without that, you had to switch it on and off to move the shutter. But when I came back I’d been back about 6 weeks and then I had to go to Egypt again after having been thrown out once and they said the insurance wanted to know how the camera was damaged.
Back injury in Ethiopia
RF: Not the cameraman?
TC: No, the camera, and I explained what had happened in this report, so they then turned round and said you will have to be examined by the Rank doctors before we’ll insure you to go abroad again. I saw Teddy, what’s his name, he was the first Rank doctor, a nice man, and he examined me, I was working on my car at the time when I got called. He said I think it would be better if you went to Middlesex Hospital, I’ll made an appointment for you to go there. So I went up to Middlesex Hospital and they took x-rays and then they slapped all this plaster over me, and I got a case of plastering and they said you mustn’t do anything for three weeks. So it was great.
Insurance cover for cameramen
RF: No compensation?
TC: None at all. No question of it. But then you didn’t expect it.
RF: I’m surprised they didn’t carry some kind of insurance policy, what would have happened if you’d lost your life?
Insurance cover for cameramen
PC: Ah yes, we had an insurance policy then.
RF: But nothing to cover injury?
TC: You got an insurance policy if you lost an eye, a leg, an arm, both legs, both arms, both eyes or you were dead.
RF: Do you know what it would have paid if you’d lost your life?
TC: When I was missing on that convoy to Malta I was missing for about 6 weeks, presumed killed you see, the insurance policy was for £2,500. I wasn’t married or anything, it would have gone to my mother, God bless her. They were very good, old Knight, about that because they arranged for them instead of paying her £2,500, to pay her £1,000 in cash and £1,500 in shares which would bring her an income which I thought was very well thought out and done. They made sure it turned out alright for her, which was good, but then unfortunately I turned up, I was alive. Eddie Edmonds, I’ve mentioned, at the end of the war we had big Ford V8s and they all had spare wheels with a little clip on which you used to put the flange on, the cover. We used to carry it on the top of the truck which was a big wooden shooting brake, well if you had to put a portable rostrum on, you had to take that wheel off and put the rostrum on and then drive and put the spare wheel on the top. He stood on top of this truck in Poland Street garage and he threw the wheel off and the flange got caught on the ring on his finger, and it pulled him off and he cracked down onto the concrete floor which must have been a hell of a shock. Anyway he went to the Ministry of Information, the job he was doing, all the generals were being given Russian awards which entitled them to free rides on the trams in Moscow as well as the decoration and that kind of thing which was rife at that time. He rang up and said I’ve done this but I fell off and hurt my back, could you possibly get somebody to pick the things up and take them back. I said yes. He went to the hospital. He come back. He’d broke his back but he carried on and did the back first, there was no question of Christ I can’t go on and he must have been in absolute agony, but he did the job, that’s what I mean. That was the whole point, you couldn’t say I can’t do it, I’ve seen Eddie come back from the East Coast when the floods came in where we had to scrape the mud off his ears and give him a wash before he could go to the Dorchester to do a job because everybody else was out, we were all going to other places. Really I mean that. There was no question about, you can’t believe, I never heard anybody ever in all my life say I can’t do that. I only heard one person say that and that was me and the old man said to me when Mountbatten was Viceroy of India, I want you to go to India, you’ll be on his staff and take pictures of Mountbatten and all this. And I said please, I’ve never turned down wars, fires, floods or famine, but please don’t send me to India, I couldn’t stand it, I couldn’t stand the poverty, so I didn’t go, John Turner went.
Insurance cover for cameramen; hardiness of cameramen; refusal to travel to India
RF: What else were we going to cover, or is this towards the end of your working life that we’re talking about?
TC: There’s one other thing, when I retired and I told everybody I was retiring, I was 65 [RF: You retired at 65?], Fox didn’t want me to, I must say that, but there had been changes there and I knew it was no good, you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. I got a very interesting letter saying the Queen has decided to make you a member of the Royal Victorian Order. Which I was thrilled and delighted with, and so I’m a member of the Royal Victorian Order, and I went to the Palace and I’d covered the investitures many times. I’d even covered the one inside, the first one which was filmed inside and that was when Matt Busby got his knighthood and she was marvellous to us, and when I went there all I wanted to do was say thank you very much, thank you ma’am, and I never got the chance because she said oh Mr Candy this is a small thank you for all you’ve done for me and my family and I thank you very much indeed. I said thank you ma’am, I almost fell over backwards, that was the last thing. I’ve been very fortunate, I had a ball, believe me when you think, what chance has anybody today. I never went to a good school, I never went to university. What chance have they got of going round the world. I wasn’t paid a lot of money but at least I was paid for it and I kept my family and gave them a good education and all that kind of business, and I had a ball and I went everywhere. I went, as I told you, to Khruschev who was quite nice to me, smiled, got out of his car, stood while I took his picture, and I went all over the Kremlin and had
Receiving Royal Victorian Order at Buckingham Palace; meeting Khruschev
a look round. It was like the Tower of London more than anything, and they were very good to me, very kind, I liked the people, I liked the people everywhere.
RF: Would there be any chance of you choosing another career given an opportunity to do it over again?
TC: No, I couldn’t have done better as far as I’m concerned, I’ve had a ball, I met the nicest people, I worked with characters and I can think back and they were marvellous, fabulous people.
RF: Someone that I recorded a week or so ago,I wonder if possibly you knew him, that was Adolph Simon?
TC: He was a Frenchman who came over with Pathe to work for Pathe. Simon must be 90 odd [RF: 93]. Yeah, marvellous bloke, always used to wear a black tammy, always. Did he tell you that?
RF: A French beret do you mean?
TC Yes. Charming bloke. Do you know honestly, I thought he died. I did really.
RF: He’s in a home, a nursing home, but his daughter and his son-in-law brought him over to their house which is near Uxbridge to be interviewed. So we interviewed him.
TC: I am pleased because he’s a marvellous bloke, 93. He was a sound man.
RF: He began as a cameraman actually, he switched to sound at the coming of sound.
TC: When I came into it, it was sound, when the first sound, I looked at no end of the first sound reels, and what they did was they put the microphone up and this was real sound you were hearing, if somebody was going to make a speech in the park and in the background is a bloke ringing a bell, they just let it run because that was the point you could hear him ringing the bell. If the clock tower decided to chime 12 or 2 or 3 in the afternoon, the bloke speaking would stop because it went DOING DOING, but they recorded that, that was marvellous, sound. They didn’t change the lens, they didn’t change the pictures, the sound was there to run, no matter what happened let it run to pick up the sound, the sound was the god. And when I knew Sim, he’d been there a long time when I came on the scene, when I met him he was the sound man for Pathe. Of all the people around I knew him, he was always quiet and gentle and he was always how are you, how is so and so, good, good, how did you get on, that type of thing, but I was never close to Simon, we were all friends, but he was soundman and I was cameraman, big difference. I didn’t understand what he was doing and as far as I was concerned he didn’t understand what I was doing. Obviously he knew more than I did. I thought he was dead. Bill Hooker died the other week.
Sound and the newsreel; Adolph Simon
There’s only one person I know of who’s still around, who’s still alive and that’s John O’Kelly. Of all the people I knew at Gaumonts at the beginning, he’s the only one who’s left. He started to work at Gaumonts when he was 14 and he’s 10 years older than I am. His daughter married a Spaniard and he goes over there quite a lot, he spends a lot of time over there.
RF: We’ll have to try to get to him then, he obviously saw a lot.
TC: He saw more than I did. He and I have always been good mates.
RF: Where does he live in this country?
TC: He lives in Barnes ... [phone number removed from audio]... Pat Holder.
RF: Shall we then bring the interview to an end? Covered everything now?
From my point of view I think we’ve gone into each of the areas. As I say, if anything occurs to you that you feel we’ve left out or not covered...
TC: I hope I haven’t given the impression that nobody ever had a laugh or enjoyed life because they did, they worked very hard
RF: But a lot of practical joking.
TC: A hell of a lot, I tell you, just one instance to give an idea, we were doing the marines, as they used to be with the white helmets, pith helmets, pipe clay and this that and the other and the officer in charge in the front with his sword. Leslie Murray was late turning up and all the others were over there all on trucks, lined up, ready to start this parade. Just as he did that across the parade ground came this truck, it was Leslie Murray who was late and he’d got to get where those trucks were and line up with them and as he came across the parade ground, all watching, he threw an anchor out on the end of a rope, dragged it along, as he shot across, with sparks flying, as though he was trying to slow down, and of course the entire parade fell apart, no mistake about it. You see the picture, they were no longer to attention, they were just about laughing themselves sick, but that’s the kind of thing you did, nobody else would have dared done it. One of the others, we had to move from one side to the other when they’d done this, they put a chain round the back axle of the truck and around the lamp post. Everybody moved off, he went to drive off, wheels bit in and this bloody lamp post was slowly but surely coming down towards him before he realised what happened.
Then you said about the cameraman, when I think about it the best cameraman I ever met was a bloke named Harding, Jack Harding, he was the quick wittedest. The best of a type, Jack Harding would take a camera and one magazine and he carried the camera as it was, without the case, without any spares or anything else. He’d have a toothbrush in his top pocket and you’d see him walking across the station. Where’re you going Jack, I’m just going up to Manchester, and he’d do it and cut it in the camera. Absolutely. I’d no more dare do that than the man in the moon, but he could, and he got enough for insurance and he knew exactly what he was doing. He’s come unstuck now and again but he always got a very good reason.
RF: That breed of man what do you think he would be doing nowadays?
TC: He should be either mixed up with racing or on the stock exchange or something.
RF: A piratical element to their nature?
TC: Yes, a little bit. He always called everybody bonny, hello bonny, hi yah bonny. The trouble is you forget many things and it’s only when you’re talking it suddenly comes back to you and you begin to see it all again and it’s been a long time, but they were marvellous days. I tell you straight, I can’t think of anything I could have done that ever would have been half the life I had. Great. Jackie, you know little Jackie McCarten, when Castleton-Knight retired in the last days of Gaumont British, old Knight said would you come in, would you do it because the others were all retiring. Bishop retired, and everybody else retired, and it left this new man Grafton Green with no staff and nobody to do anything. Would you stay on, would you come in, don’t pack up camera work and come in, and I said yes if its going to mean any more money. I got two children, that’s all I really worried about. I thought right I’ll do it my way and Miss McCarten, she was there and I said to her how would you like to be my secretary, she said I’d love to. I said right you are, so that’s how I first met her, and she stayed, we were good friends for a long long time. We still are good friends, but I mean we worked together well, she was brilliant, she was marvellous. She was with me with Look at Life as well, and we improvised so much, we got nothing to work with. We made a cotton reel do the work of a tank, believe me, that girl could do anything, she was marvellous. And if there was a subject, there was a great many I knew absolutely nothing whatsoever about, and I just mention it to her and say Jack, do you know anything about this, and she’d say no but I’ll find out. Right, you do that, if you can get a book on it it’s alright because we’ve got three days to do that, if you would. That night she’d go to the library and read every word on it, there was a specialised
Jackie McCarten, Ted Candy’s secretary
library up in Hampstead. The next morning I’d pick her up and take her into work; not only would she have the entire thing but the specific things that I wanted to know she’d have all typed out, absolutely bloody marvellous. No payment for that, no overtime, everybody did what they did just to keep the bloody thing going.
RF: I didn’t know she was there. It might be nice to give your recollections of Joe Telford.
TC: I didn’t know very much about Joe. He was always jolly, always outspoken but when he was with Rank Advertising Films, but I didn’t have much to do with them when they moved away from Film House. Then they moved back when we moved to Park Royal, the old Ilford place from Wardour Street, well from Denham actually, we moved out to Denham and then, it was really a changeover you see, we were in Wardour Street, then they moved us down to Denham because we had Denham as our cutting rooms, and when we ran Look at Life we ran it from Denham, so they moved all of us down there,cameras as well, and then suddenly, they moved us from Denham so that Movietone could move in. They were moving from Soho Square, but nobody knew about this and I met Paul Wyand one day, and he said have you heard about this deal between Fox and Ranks, and I said deal, Paul, what deal? Don’t give me that, you know all about it, we’re moving into Denham. I said when’s that, you know the dates, you know everything about it, I said I don’t. He thought I was kidding him but I wasn’t, I didn’t know the first thing about it and the best thing of it was nor did anybody else. That was set up by John Davis for the shares situation when he was trying to garnish all the shares in because Fox had so many shares in Gaumont British and Odeon, see. But we didn’t know anything about it, Grafton Green didn’t know anything about it. When I told him he had a fit, nearly fell off his chair. I said you do realise we’re moving? What are you talking about? I said, we’re moving. what are you talking about? We’re moving to Park Royal, the old Ilford Place, that’s where Visnews is now. No, I don’t believe it. I said well we are, you can ask all your friends in Wardour Street, so of course he was in an absolute panic. But he didn’t know either, but we were all moved. And you just think what kind of move that was with all the film stock ....
Joe Telford; Look at Life; move from Wardour Street to Park Royal
side 5 tape 3 continued ...
TC: ... all the library material, everything which had to be moved out, Christ. Tremendous
RF: Ted, we’re just about there on this tape.
TC: Well thank you very much indeed for your kindness, no, most kind of you.
RF: Well thank you sir, it’s been very interesting.
TC: Sorry it’s not more explicit and I’m sorry I can’t remember all the details of things and there were a couple of names I can’t remember.
RF: We’ve covered some stirring times, one way or another, well I hope you’ll continue to enjoy your retirement down in the West Country.
TC: Thank you, I’m sure I will
RF: Thank you most kindly