Brian Trueman recalls his early days as a newsreader

Very peculiar it was, wearing my makeup which was bright orange in order that I’d look normal with a vivid emerald green shirt which would look white because we were on, what did you call those cameras which were very slow? Very early black and white, very primitive camera. I read the news quite successfully as they said to me, “That was great. The only thing is when you look up from your script…”

No autocue, no monitor for me to look at, no ear piece or anything like that, just a cameraman behind a small camera about three feet away from me. “When you look up from the page, can you raise your head a little more slowly.” “Why’s that?” They said, “It smears on the camera and what happens if you come up too quickly your eyes stay behind and come up and join you 1.5 seconds later.”

So I started news reading. There was no earpiece so we had an ingenious system, which allowed them to tailor the news to the time available. They didn’t have a P.A. either; you just had the editor running it and the tech. people. On the desk was a little light box that lit up with numbers 1 to 10 and they related to stories 1 to 10 which were of varying lengths, which were, supplementary stories after main stories. So you read the main ones that had to be got through then they calculated how much time they had left. Depending on how much time you had, did a quick calculation, No. 3 would come up and you’d read Story 3, put that to one side, and 7 would light up, you’d read 7. All very primitive. It worked alright until they started running pieces of film on it and I was supposed to comment or relate to the film but I couldn’t see the film. There wasn’t a monitor, well there was later, but the camera itself did not have a screen so the cameraman lines it up on a TV monitor on a stand he had next to him and obviously it’s back was to me so I couldn’t see the damn thing. They couldn’t think. There’s no way we can do so I came up with a brilliant idea of having a mirror low down on the door, immediately behind, tiny room on the door that you came in, screwed to it so I could see the film, albeit in reverse, so I could do a commentary on it as long I didn’t have to say on the left of your picture. It was left there for years and I heard someone say “I don’t know what it was down there for, perhaps it was a dressing room for dwarfs.”



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