Then one day my life changed. David Boulton joined Scene. He had been Sidney Bernstein’s press secretary and a newspaper journalist. On his first day he was told to produce a 4-minute item about the TUC conference for that evening’s programme. The only direction he got was a vague ‘helicals are that direction, 4 headed the other way and grams are on the second floor’. David had never worked in television, never seen a script and he sure as hell didn’t know what a helical was (it was what we called two headed cameras as opposed to video cameras known as ‘four headed’). His desk was next to mine so he asked me if he could see a script. I rummaged in my desk looking around for my best example but of course he was only interested in how it was laid out. Later he asked if I fancied a coffee. I said yes. That day my (happy) fate was sealed.
Six months later David Boulton was running Scene and I decided it was time to move on. Denis Forman, then Programme Controller, asked me to act as secretary to FOG, a typically witty acronym for the Forward Outlook Group. This was brilliant, terrifying – and instructive in the art of subtle diplomacy. That’s when I became familiar with the phrase ‘I hear what you say’.