Eric Harrison on why it was ‘a joy to go to work’

In my day, as a cameraman we did all kinds of programmes like Shadow Squad and The Army Game and so on, which were done out of Studio 2 – I keep using 2, in those days it was 1 – before Chelsea opened, and we used to do these dramas and things like that. And I remember they did a couple of rehearsals for what became Coronation Street, which at the time was labelled Florizel Street, and my wife was a vision mixer on it, and I remember saying to her after I’d seen a lot of these dress rehearsals, “It won’t last more than six weeks, forget it. It won’t last more than six weeks.” And the director was Derek Bennett, who as I say, with Silvio Narizzano, who was a big drama director who came from Canada, a floor manager who we used to do the dramas with… but one way or another it was a joy to go to work. It really was a joy to go to work. Like everything else, it had its ups and downs and your rows and so on…

One of the other joys was to do Zoo Time at London Zoo with Desmond Morris. We did two a day – one in the morning, one in the afternoon – and you did all kinds of things. For instance, at Whipsnade Zoo, Desmond thought it would be a good idea if we did something with the wolves in the wood, and wouldn’t it be nice to put a camera in it. So I said, “Yes, it would, but crikey, they’re wolves.” He said, “No, don’t worry about that. What we’ll do is we’ll make a hidey hole…” – for want of a better word – “… with wire netting so the wolves couldn’t get in, and because of optics, if you shoot through wire netting you can’t see the wire netting, so you’ll be okay. And we’ll put this in the wood and put the camera in before we let the wolves out, and then we’ll feed the wolves.” So we thought it was a great idea. So we said, “Who’s volunteering?” And Eric Prytherch, at the time, was a senior cameraman on the unit, and he said, “I’ll do it,” because he was quite small. “I’ll do it in the wood.” So we did. He went into this thing, and we did the wolves, we fed them and all the rest of it so we got all pictures of the wolves. Anyway, we finished, we stopped tape, and I could hear on my talkback Eric saying, “Let me out.” So I went to Desmond and said, “Can we let the cameraman out?” He said, “We can’t do that for another couple of hours – we’ve just fed the wolves and we daren’t take them in.” So Eric Prytherch had to be in the middle of this with his camera while the rest of us went for lunch

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