Tony Drinkle

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Tony Drinkle

Interview with Stephen Kelly, July 21, 2015.

 

How did you come to join Granada?

Well, I left school at Christmas in ’55, and I started working at an advertising agency just off Peter Street, you know, brew boy, errands, things like that. And one lunchtime – I used to walk around town, as you do, have a wander around – and this particular day I was walking down Quay Street, and I noticed there was something going on at the bottom of Quay Street called Granada TV. I thought, “Oh, (??1:12),” but at the time as well, my wages were two pounds five shillings at this advertising agency. So I don’t know if it was the same day or a day or two later, I thought, “I’ll give them a ring and see if they need anyone.” So I rang into Granada and said, “I’m making enquiries, do you need anybody?” I just told them the details, you know, 15-year-old lad, blah, blah, blah. So they said, “Yes, come down.” So I got an appointment to come down, saw this chap who was doing the recruiting, I thought he was doing it for everything, every job that was there, and he said, “When do you want to start?” and the big carrot he held in front of me was he offered me three pounds a week. Well, from two pound five, it’s a big jump, you know, so I thought, “I’ll have a go at that!” So I said, “Yeah, okay.” So I started on April 9, 1956. Basically that was it. In the post room.

 

So you started in the post room.

Yes. Do you know the names Bill Leather and Graham Wild?

 

Graham Wild I knew, yes.

Well, he was already in the post room, he started before I did. And Bill Leather, I think he went to production manager or along those lines. They were both there when I started. Jack, Jack (Dardis? 2:54), who goes to the dos, he started the same day. We were both sat there, me and Jack, just young 15-year-olds, you know, we started on the same day, and then it was just… it was just a question of time, I suppose, I think Graham and Bill moved on into the production office at the time. I was still in the post room when, one day, a chap called (Bill Wide? 3:32), he was in charge of the film department at the time, and I more or less just got a hand on my shoulder. “There’s going to be a vacancy in the film department, doing the film dispatch, would you be interested in doing it?” because the chap that was doing it at the time, (Alan Ringland? 3:52), who has since died, he was doing the film dispatch at the time and he moved into what was called commercial makeup, which was basically joining the commercials together on a spool – you used to get this list from the presentation department of all the commercials, the breaks and everything – and that was a step up from film dispatch, you see, so Alan Ringland was moving in there, so that’s when I moved to film dispatch. And then… the job that I ended up doing for most of the years, the time was split between… or the likes of Bill Lloyd, because I think he started as assistant editor, you know, he wasn’t in charge of film ops when they first started, it was a chap called Tom Hewson, who only lasted I’d say about 12 months at the most, and then Bill took over in charge. But at the time, you have to remember that the transmission, it didn’t transmit after about midnight, it closed down, mornings was always schools programmes, so the type of work I ended up doing, like feature films and one-hour programmes, like The Streets of San Francisco and rubbish like that, whatever, there wasn’t much of that going out at the time, so the people, the assistants, people like Bill Lloyd and a chap called (Riz Kennington? 5:25) and (Fred Massey? 5:26), they’re dead by now as well, they were doing that sort of job, and like I say, Bill Lloyd said do I want to go in doing film dispatch, so I said that and that was it. And then eventually Alan Ringland moved up into the assistant editor, so they asked me then if I wanted to co into the commercial makeup, so I was like following him, you see, so I went doing that for a few years, and then the usual thing happened, Alan Ringland went to be assistant – by this time I think Granada had got around to making their own programmes, on film, the off half-hour bits and quarter of an hour things, and also news inserts on the news programme, stories and that. So I did that, I can’t remember how many years, and then eventually, like I say, I took over from Alan Ringland, doing what’s called the assembly editor’s job, which basically… like I said, you get the normal feature film, they were the same prints that had been used in cinemas, so you’d end up with nine, 10, 11 cans of film, and you had to join them together, obviously, view them, time it, and you’d get timings from presentation – John Rigby, that’s the name, Joe Rigby – have you interviewed Joe, by the way?

 

No.

No? He was in charge, he was still in charge when I left. And from that department, we used to get all the running times that they wanted. You’d have a film, and it might be running, say, 120 minutes, but they only wanted 115, so you just viewed it, hopefully cut five minutes out that nobody would spot…

 

And that was your responsibility? To do the cutting and decide what could go?

Yes. You had to put it on spools to start with…

 

So you had to make sure you didn’t cut something crucial.

Oh, yes. I mean… he’s to here now, Alan Ringman, he dropped one of the biggest clangers before I started doing it, on 42ns Street, he cut the song out! The… the biggest mistake I might have made, and it was my own fault, was… where the films… you’d have a running time for the film, and especially at weekends or on a Sunday, they didn’t sell all the commercial time, so we (add on films? 8:24) – they were called COIs (Central office of Information) like driving… just the odd little 30 seconds, 10 seconds – but this particular Sunday there was about seven or eight minutes short of unsold time. I only worked the five days, Monday to Friday, and this particular Friday, one of the Fridays, I got involved with the lads, everything work-wise was finished, everything tidied up, I got back to work at about five o’clock or something like that, and there was a message they needed this cartoon for Sunday, there’s a feller (cutting ?? all the time? 9:05). Now, e had a big cupboard, and there must have been about 1,000 cartoons there of Tom and Jerry, Road Runner, all these things. And what I’d done is I’d timed them all and wrote the running time on each one so whenever they wanted… because it was always last-minute stuff, “Oh, we’ve not sold time, we’ve got to fill for six minutes 20 seconds.” “Right, okay.” So a chap who was in charge called Burt (Guy? 9:38), who was in charge of the film dispatch bit then, all these were kept in his room because there was no room in… my room was on the front of the main building there, so only a small edit… you couldn’t keep all this rubbish in there. So we used to just look through and get a cartoon that would be the nearest time, which was this particular one. Basically all it was doing, you just have the standard leader on the head and backspacing on the end to run out, which I did. But… 99 times out of 100, just to make sure, you would view it to make sure what the quality was like, because you used to get a lot of scratched prints in those days, nobody bothered like it is now, so you just used to check it and if it was bad you’d say we can’t play it. Anyway, this one went out, I didn’t check it, which I should have done, and it was all in French, wasn’t it? One cartoon out of all the lot! So it went out on a Sunday afternoon, I didn’t know anything about it until I got in on Monday and Bill Lloyd, who was in charge, first thing, called into the office… we used to get on all right and all this, you know… and he said, “I’ve had a presentation. A cartoon went out yesterday – how come it was in French?” I said, “Oh, it wasn’t, was it?” He said, “Yes.” So I told him, there’s no point making up excuses, I told him exactly what had happened like, and 99 times out of 100 you would have got away with it, because the timing was right. It was Pepe le Pew or something like that. And it was just, “Just be more careful in future.” In fact, I found out later, after it had gone out, the announcer actually said, “And that ends our programmes for French-speaking people,” or something. So that was about the biggest mistake I’d made, I can’t think of any more. There must be some more minor ones.

 

When you started in 1956, it must have been a very small company. Handful of people, almost.

Well, we started off in what was called Granada House in Water Street, you know the building in Water Street?

 

No.

It’s now the Royal Bank of Scotland, opposite the college. Because the offices were there, the first studio like where they are now, across from Quay Street, but the next one was the main entrance on Quay Street, next door to it was a petrol station.

 

I remember the petrol station, yes.

So you had the petrol station there, and then along the side of Atherton Street were all these small garage, repairs, servicing. There mist have been about seven or eight companies in these ramshackle old buildings, you know. It was only a few years later when Granada had bought them and cleared them all out and built the building that’s there now, where the main reception used to be until a few years ago. But yes, like I said, the post room at the time was in what was called Granada House, which was right at the bottom. If you go down Quay Street, you know when you come to the Globe and Simpson building, turn right there, and right again onto Water Street, on the right hand side, as Water Street goes right down on the left, it also crosses over, and if you just go down there… I had a walk round last year actually, just to see, because it’s changed so much round that area. The college is still there, just before the river, just this side of the Irwell, is a college, and then facing it now is the Royal Bank of Scotland. The actual building has been knocked down, it was just a three-storey building, and on the corner there was a pub actually called the (Bollocking Donkey?! 14:08), which one or two people used to pop into. Like I said, it was three storeys, not a very big building, and accounts was on the top, that’s (Frank Clarke? 14:21) on the top floor with a chap called (Roy Montrose? 14:26), the two of them, they were like the… they were probably the accounts department at the time.

 

I remember Sidney Bernstein being in Sunlight House.

I don’t remember being in Sunlight House, to be honest. (Cathy Arondale? 14:50) will tell you that for certain, but I don’t remember him being in Sunlight House. I remember him being in Granada House, because his office was there when he was up in Manchester, him and a chap called (Victor Piers? 15:03), he was always up here, and obviously Cecil, but Cecil didn’t seem to have as much involvement or control as Sidney did.

 

So it was a small, close-knit group?

It would be. Have you ever seen the Year One book? I’ve got one at home somewhere. If I remember rightly, it’s got a list of the Granada staff from the opening night, and there’s quite a lot in there when you look through it, if you come across a copy sometime, have a look – there are quite a lot of names there. I can’t think… like I say, going back to…

 

When did you move into the…

Into the big building? I couldn’t say for certain. It was probably… it was a good four or five years later, because I remember one of the (??16:48), as I say, I started in 1956 and I had roughly two years in the post room, so going up to 1958. While I was in film dispatch, all the film was done in this Granada House in Water Street, and every morning, I had to take all the film over for tele cine, which was in the building as it is now. So we had this big truck, it was about so big and so tall, and we used to bang all the film in it – because it was nearly all 35mm film, including commercials as well, roughly about three or four reels of commercials, and you used to put them all in this truck, and we used to have to take it from Granada House over to the main… the other building, you know, dragging it across the road. I remember doing that. I must have done that for a year or two, so at a rough guess it was probably close to 1960 when that building was built.

 

Because they did have something there on that site, as you say.

Well, tele cine, all the transmission stuff was over on that side, and what was called network operations at the time.

 

So there were two sites.

Yes.

 

Water Street and Quay Street.

Yes. Water Street was mainly just offices, but on the ground floor was film ops, which was about three or four editing rooms. When I say editing rooms, Granada hadn’t got into making your World in Action type thing s then, they didn’t do anything on that scale then, but all the sort of what we call packages –feature films, our programmes, stuff like that – was (Don Kelly, Chris Kennington, Fred Lassey? 18:50), they used to do what I ended up doing on the programmes then, sort of thing, which was on the ground floor, and the post room, obviously was on the ground floor with reception next to it, and then like I say, the other floors were just producers, directors, what few there were then. There was one or two, (??19:17) for one I can remember, (Guy Nottingham? 19:17), he was another one…

 

And the newsroom would have been over in Quay Street?

Yes, the newsroom… in fact, there again, coming back to that year one book, mi think there is a picture of (??19:34) mother in there, when she was in the newsroom. As you came into the reception, you turned to the right, it was like one fairly long… it was down to like where the car park lodge is, that building, but what they did, they used to have curtains separating different departments! So you’d have the newsroom, which consisted of about four or five people at the time, then next to it had been another department, some sort of production office maybe for something they were doing, you know… and like I say, everything was transmitted live then, no programmes done in the studio… The Army Game (corr), that was a popular programme at the time. It also happened, while you were in the post room, one of your duties was, one night a week, after you’d finished in the post room at six o’clock, you would have to go onto reception in the main building with – they were called commissionaires in those days, not security – the main receptionist would have finished at six, and one of the commissionaires then took over the desk and was there until 10 or 11 o’clock, whatever it was. But they needed someone on call in case an artist or someone needed a job doing, or errands, so once a week you would end up working until 10 o’clock, so basically we were just in reception in case anybody came in and said… the chap inside, the general manager, was a chap called (Simon Kershaw? 21:27), I don’t know where that name’s cropped up, Simon Kershaw was like the overall general manager, and somebody might come in or have come to see Simon and you would take them to the office then, from reception. So anything like that, anything in the studio, if somebody came and said, “I’ve come for a programme,” you would take them down, just generally running about, you know. But you worked until 10 o’clock and the advantage of only being 15 was that you had to have a certain amount of breaks, so you couldn’t start work until 12 o’clock the following day, so you came in at 12 and still finished at six, so you got overtime for doing your night, so… it was okay, like. There was a programme called My Wife’s Sister (corr), that was the one I used to end up doing on the nights I worked, Eleanor Summerfield, I remember that. That was very popular at the time. And like I say, I think I was probably around 20 when I went to do the job I ended up doing, and at that time it had always been a one person job, so there was only me doing it, except obviously when I was on holiday, one of the editors would step in like Reg and Fred, who I referred to before, they’d do it while I was on holiday, and like I said, it was… there was enough to do but it was never too busy because there was no morning transmissions, it was all schools programmes. Like I say, they finished transmitting at about midnight, so there was nothing through the night, but then as it started building up I don’t know what came first, whether they started putting film programmes out in the morning or after midnight, but it built up where it got to the point where I couldn’t cope on my own, so that’s when Barry came to help me. He started at Chelsea in London, he was a bit younger than me, and he started working at Chelsea at Nine sort of thing, because he was only a young lad then, and then eventually, obviously they closed Chelsea down, and they asked him if he wanted to come to Manchester, he obviously said yes, he came up here, and he came in, like I say, I was getting too busy and couldn’t cope, so Barry came in with me, helping me, and did that for a couple of years or so, I don’t exactly know how long. But I was quite happy because it was half past nine until six job. I was quite happy with what I was doing and I didn’t really… I wasn’t too concerned, moving on and going onto the what you would say proper editing, creating programmes, you know, (??24:51) Blaze and things like that. I was quite happy and content doing what I was doing, so I just stayed plodding on, but Barry wanted to move on, you see, which was fair enough, and he got the job as assistant editor to go and work on… as I say, Barry will tell you. And a girl called Ruth who had been in commercial makeup, she came in with me, she did a couple of years and moved on, and then a lad called (Brian Cardingley? 25:25) came in with me and he took over as the main one when I finished, and he was still (??25:30), but we were getting busier and busier, so ended up with three of us, there was another girl came in, Joan. So the actual section that I was doing ended up three of us doing this particular job because you’d got the 24-hour transmission then, you know, and of course they wanted you to fill most of the time with feature films or, you know, one hour things. And I just carried on doing that for about 30 years!

 

When did you leave?

I left in 1989, just when… it was when the voluntary redundancies… I was 49 at the time, and funnily enough me and Jack Dardis left on the same day as well! We started on the same day in 1956 and left on the same day in 1989. So they were asking for redundancy and at the time it was a good deal – a month for every year you had been there. I didn’t jump at it, put it that way, because as I say I was only 49, but they said that I could start drawing my pension at 50, which I had been in for a few years, but it was talked over with the wife, and I said, “I’ll take it, we’ll have a couple of decent holidays and then I’ll start looking for another job.” Of course, while I was off, roughly about a year after I’d been off, I got a phone call off a chap called David Black, do you remember him? You could say he was more in touch with that department, presentation, everything used to go through Dave Black. And I got a phone call one day from Dave, and he said, “Can you do us a favour and come in for a month?” What it was, there was this Brian, and Maurice had come in as I left, and the girl, three of them, when there were three of us working there you could only have one off at the same time on holiday, and they wouldn’t let you have two on holiday at the same time. But I think Maurice wanted to go to America for a month and someone else was off for two or three weeks at the same time, so Dave asked me to come in. So I went back into Granada doing my old job for a month, of course while I’m in there, you’re seeing people, “Oh, hello, you’re back, how are you?” “I’m all right, I’m only here for a month.” You know, you’d get talking. And one particular day, a guy in the post room called Barry, I was just talking to him about things in general, and he said, “What are you going to be doing?” So I said, “Well, I’m looking for a part-time job really. I don’t want to be doing nothing, I’m only 50…” So he said, “We could do with somebody to cover in the post room, you know.” Going back to square one! So he said, “Are you interested?” I said, “I’m here for a month, I’ll tell you before I finish.” So anyway, to cut a load of rubbish out, at the end of the month, I saw the chap in charge of the post room, a feller called (Dave Crowther? 29:31) at the time, and he said, “What we could do with is cover for holidays when there’s two off.” So I said okay. I was virtually like on standby. I might get a phone call saying, “Can you do next week? I’ve got someone off.” So I would go in and do a week on the post, and I actually ended up doing regular mornings, 8am-1pm, which fitted in great. So I started that roughly in 1991 and I left again in 2002, so I actually finished with Granada completely in 2002, and then that was it really.

 

In those early years, did you come into contact much with the Bernsteins?

Not really, apart from… he would always let on, Sidney, if you walked past him in the corridor. We never stood face to face and had a conversation type thing, so I only knew him on nodding terms, you know, so I can’t really say anything about that. I had a foreman and all that lot, but it was just saying hello really, if you saw them. Especially in the early days, Sidney would go into the canteen, there was no feeling he should be up, alone… he would just walk into the canteen for his dinner, stuff like that.

 

A lot of people have talked about the canteen, the stables and the old school, places where you could relax, socialise and network.

Yes. (??31:44), it was basically The Stables or The Old School, I very rarely went into the canteen. I think the only time I went into the canteen was if I was working late. When I was in commercial makeup, you used to work late and take it in turns in there, because in those days, everything was transmitted live, even the commercials. If you had a reel and a join came apart in tele cine, they would always try and slot the commercials in later on, so they needed somebody on standby. It didn’t happen a lot, but it was saving money at the time, you know, because you wouldn’t lose the commercial. And so whenever I had to work late I always went in to have my tea, but that was the only time I ever went into the canteen.

 

Could you get food in The Stables or The Old School?

Basically just sandwich type things to start with, pie. I can’t ever remember having a proper meal there.

 

You’re from the north west.

Manchester, yes.

 

How important was Granada to Manchester and the north west?

I would think it was very important at the time, because it was a completely new thing. People were so used to the BBC. I think a lot of people were against it at first, the fact there were adverts breaking the programmes up – I don’t think people liked that idea. You sat watching the television and then an advert would come on, and from what I can gather I think there may have been letters to the press saying it won’t last and that sort of thing. But I think it was very important, eventually, as it progressed.

 

And those programmes that they did were very kind of north west.

Yes.

 

And the presenters, people like Chris Kelly and Mike Scott.

That’s right, he was a presenter, mike Scott, yes. He did a lot of presenting. Of course Parkinson, have you had a go at him yet?

 

No.

He was there, he was on local programmes at one stage.

 

Bill Grundy?

Yes, Bill Grundy. He’s ended up in a few places where he shouldn’t have done, put it that way, falling asleep on trains.

 

Kay McPherson was a presenter, wasn’t she?

I’m not quite sure actually, I can’t say for certain.

 

You must have seen huge changes in the technology.

Yes, especially with tele cine, things went out… by the end, well before that finished really, everything was being transferred to tape, the features and everything. One particular thing I remember, which probably wouldn’t happen these days, but it’s one of those things that stick in your mind… quite often we wouldn’t get a film until the day it was going out because another company would be playing it, and they would send it off. There was a transport company who used to collect and deliver films, based in London. (Axon? 35:38), and all the films had to go down there, after we transmitted them, they would all be sent down to this place, and they would say, send them to Anglia to play a day later or something like that. But occasionally there would be one, say Yorkshire would be playing it one day and we need it the next day, so not a lot but sometimes you would get a film on the actual day of transmission, so a bit of a rush, not to put you under pressure like, the usual thing, you join it together – on average you get about 10 cans – but each part, if it was in four parts you would have four spools, each part on a separate spool, and you would go in the theatre and watch it, and while you’re putting it in the spool as well you’re timing it, so by the end, so you’re like, this film runs 106 minutes, that’s fine, but you might need 108 so you get on to presentation and say, “We’re two minutes short,” so they would work around filling that two minutes, or the other way, it might be two minutes over, so I’d have to take two minutes out then. I remember we got this film, The Mask of Dimitrios (corr), I think it was. An old black and white 1940s film. And like I said, we used to get a lot of prints that have gone round the cinemas. Unless they were really badly scratched and terrible, they used to go out – I don’t know if you remember seeing scratched films and stuff like that – but sometimes you just had to say, “Dave, the print’s terrible, I don’t think we can play it.” It was okay if you had a day or two spare, but if it was the last minute… anyway, this one came in and I was viewing it, and it must have been 15-20 minutes from the end and it went way out of sync, really out of sync, and it seemed a long time – 20 or 30 seconds – and there was no way you could cut it out, it was a vital scene right near the end of the film. So I said to Dave, “You can’t play it.” In fact, I think it was before Dave. Anyway, whoever it was… luckily – and I got a brownie point for this – I was watching the telly the night before and something had broke down or gone wrong, and straight away the announcer had said, “Sorry about the fault, bear with us,” type thing, so I thought, “Why not play it as it is and put this caption over?” which is what they did in the end1 it was the only way I could think about getting it – putting the caption up to hide the picture but still hear the sound. So that’s what they did. Another big problem – Dave Black solved this one – when we were playing Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time. They didn’t like putting features out on the network because they used to always get better ratings than the main programmes, but they always liked to put a network one out on Boxing Day and Easter Monday. So Raiders of the Lost Ark was being transmitted for the first tie. I mean, different companies used to take turns; one film was being networked, say Thames or Yorkshire, and then we would do one, and we got lumbered with Raiders of the Lost Ark. But apparently, it’s supposed to have come from Spielberg, that whenever it’s transmitted for the first time, you weren’t allowed to cut it. And chipping in again, a big help as well, I can’t think when this came in now, but it was a very big help to us, and that was when tele cine got this new equipment, and we had been transmitting films at 24 frames a second, so that’s how it went out, and then we got this equipment, we found out that you could adjust the speed. And they found out that if you went up to 25.26 frames a second, you didn’t notice – the sound wasn’t distorted and you couldn’t tell. So you could transmit at 25 frames per second rather than 24, so that meant if you had an hour programme you could save two minutes, so if a programme was two minutes over you could just speed it up and you didn’t need to edit it, which was a big help. So getting back to Raiders of the Lost Ark, it was running over – and this is Dave Black, I had nothing to do with this, I’m not getting any credit for this – if ever you see Raiders of the Lost Ark, the end credits run for about five our six minutes, but we couldn’t cut them off, we weren’t allowed. And they are just white on a black background, very slow for about five minutes. So Dave Black came up with the idea of transferring the end credits separately so they could play the sound at the normal speed but speed the end credits up, which he did – and that gave us the time we needed. So the complete film went out, including the end credits – that was always a favourite, if something was running over, if it was only 30 seconds or a minute but the end credits went on and on, we always used to fill a form in which had the running time on for each part, and also you had to decide where the breaks would be as well. Nowadays the breaks just pop up – half the programmes that come on now, we’d have had a right telling off for putting the breaks where they go now! So it had to be at the end of a sequence, or ideally at the end of a scene where it just fades out, then fades in again. So on these forms we had to fill in, we had to give a description of what was happening , like, “So-and-so says to so-and-so: ‘Right, I’m going now.’”. Then you used to measure how much time there was from the last dialogue to him walking out, it might take 10 seconds, so then the transmission controller could fade the picture out and roll the commercials. I forgot what I was leading to! I as confusing myself, babbling on. But yes, basically if there was a feature film and there were a lot of end credits, you would say there are three minutes 30 end credits, and the transmission controller would decide when to fade out, but we couldn’t do that with Raiders.

 

That’s interesting. Were you involved at all with industrial relations?

No. not at all.

 

Did it affect you very much? Did you have many rules and regulations in your department?

No, I can’t… it was very easy going from what I can remember, you just got on with your job. Just days and weeks on end. All I would do is go to the reception at Granada, up to the first floor, down the corridor, into the room at the end, facing what was the croquet park, they were all facing there, all the editing rooms. So no, there was… we had our usual… you know, we had a few strikes in the early days, but that was just sort of union… I used to quite enjoy it as well! Being single – I didn’t get married until I was 31 – so quite a few times we would go on strike, it always used to be round about August, you know, and e were off for three or four weeks sometimes. So I didn’t mind that, I was a single lad, I didn’t have to bother about family and stuff like that.

 

You’ve mentioned a couple of programmes that you remember. Do you remember any others?

I know one of the programmes that used to go on quite often when I was doing a late night was Russ Conway (corr). He had a programme on the old piano, a request type programme (Probably The Wakey Wakey Tavern)… I’m just trying to think now… I mean, obviously… I remember a bit about the opening night on May 3, because they had all the… we were actually classed as messenger boys, that was the official description, the boys working in the post room, and a lot of the work in the post room would entail doing errands around Manchester – if the producer/director wanted something collecting from somewhere, we would go and get it – that was another part… but getting back to the opening night, e were all on duty, it was really chaotic and I remember people buzzing about – practically running in some cases from one place to another – and Arthur Askey was sort of the big star they had to actually open it, you know, the official opening. I’m not sure, I think Gracie Fields was there, I’m not sure. There were quite a few what you would call celebrities at the time, stars… I can’t remember…

 

Did you say it was a bit chaotic?

Yes, a lot of buzzing about, not being used to it – and I was only 15 at the time – and it was like, “Can you take this down to dressing room seven?” it could be anything, just running around really. I didn’t see anything that went out on transmission that opening night.

 

How did it feel, seeing people like Arthur Askey?

It felt good. Any sort of stars, it’s like they’re not normal, not human, star-struck, I suppose, in a way. I suppose everyone… you see these people, and I don’t think he even nodded or said hello to me, so I can’t put that down as a claim to fame! I remember Eleanor Summerfield, all the people to do with the programme were all based in London so they probably did all the rehearsing in London and just came up for the transmission, and once it had gone out – say nine o’clock – I do remember them all gathering in the reception area on the front of Quay Street and there would be a couple of taxis to take them to Piccadilly for the train back to London, just little things like that. They’d just be stood around talking and you’d be watching and listening to what they were saying.

 

Was there anything else you want to add?

I can’t think of anything in the younger days, like at the start… no, it was mainly once it was classed as assembly editing, not what we call proper editing. I remember one thing about when I as doing that job, it must have been the late 60s, there was a programme called The Fugitive, very popular, in America a well, a top programme. It had gone on for I don’t know how many series… it was this feller who had been done for murdering his wife be he reckons he had seen a one-armed man coming out of the house, and he got convicted, he had got the death sentence but while he was being transported the train had crashed and he was on the run, and the basic story was he would turn up in another town and there was a detective who was always one step behind. When it came to the last episode, they had made two or three different endings, and they wouldn’t… we used to get… when it was a normal series we’d probably get it maybe a week in advance, the actual film, and you just dealt with it in the normal way. But with it being the last episode, we wasn’t going to receive it until the day of transmission because they didn’t want anybody to know about it. So I don’t know how it came about, but they decided on big publicity. It’s my 15 minutes of fame. All of a sudden, this reporter and photographer turned up from the Daily Mirror, and it was the Evening News as well, and they wanted a picture of me – at the time, this was before (steambex? 52:36) had been invented – they were what were called (acmaid? 52:39), have you ever heard of that?

 

No…

Basically they were 16mm, you couldn’t put 35mm on, because we had a few programmes that were 16mm of which The Fugitive was one. You just basically put the film on one end, lace it up on the screen in front and that was it. And of course we hadn’t got the print, so this… (Joe Rigby? 53:05) got involved with this… so I took another programme, whatever it was, and put it on, and I had my picture taken and all this, and it was in the Daily Mirror – this was about three or four days before the actual transmission, it had me stood there in front of this machine without saying anything, and the headline THIS MAN KNOWS THE SECRET. He knows how it ends, whether the one-armed man is found, and all this business. And of course everywhere I went people were asking me, and I didn’t know anyway because we hadn’t got the actual print. Because people were saying, “You do know, don’t you?” I honestly didn’t! And we actually received the print on the day of transmission, and it was dead straightforward, it didn’t need editing or anything. I can’t even remember how it finished now! It’s just the fact there was such a big fuss being made about it, you know, being in the papers. Funnily enough, my mother died about four years ago, and when we were sorting everything out – papers, policies and everything – we got this cutting out of the paper of me. I can remember that. So when you think that was the highlight of my career, it’s not very much, is it?!

 

That’s terrific – thank you very much for that.

 

ENDS

 

 

 

 

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