Jane Houston on her PA training and the excitement of live TV

Well, I was trained at first by Hilda Miller, which was strange because she was really the reason that I wanted to do the job, because she was my mum’s friend. So it was weird to be trained by her. I’d known her all my life. But it was fine, and I took to it like a duck to water, loved it right from the beginning. Then I did things like Picture Box and University Challenge and all the things that we all did and got through all those quite fast. And then it was time to go and do the news and Hilda didn’t like doing live telly. So Sue Wild took me over there. I was trained by Sue doing the news, and just loved it right from the beginning. And it was in the days when it was presented by Bob Greaves and Tony Wilson, Bob Smithies, Richard and Judy. So, they’re quite bit characters presenting the news as well. And so you had to know what you were doing and you had to be confident and that… but just straight away, I loved it. And that was what I loved doing was live telly, live sports as well, but there wasn’t as much of that then.

Were there were two PAs?

Yes. There were two PAs. One would do rolling and cueing. When I was being trained by Sue, I got timings because she didn’t like doing timings, she liked doing rolling and cueing. So she used to sit at the back and let the girls do the timings when it was my turn to do rolling and cueing. But I think it was supposed to be a nine-month training period. And I think I came off supervision after about six months, and I was left to do the news myself. Oh actually, no. The first show I did was a show called Weekend… like a Friday night magazine show presented by Susie Mathis and Ted Robbins. And that was live as well. So that was quite a good thing to start on. I did do a lot of live telly early on, because the news centre at Liverpool opened as well. And I went to train the PAs there, even though I was the newest PA. I think I took to computers quite well. So I went and trained the new PAs that were taken on there. That would be late 1986 when that opened.

Was there a point where you did drama, certainly Coronation Street… would you still want to do drama, that would’ve been your passion and your aim?

I didn’t really at that stage, no. Because I just loved doing live telly, absolutely loved it, more than I ever thought I would. 

What was it about live telly that you liked?

I loved the adrenaline, just the fact that once you’ve done it, it was over as well. It was done. It was just… I absolutely loved it.

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