Interview with John Scarrott, 15 June 2020
When did you join Granada, and how did you come to join Granada?
Right. Well, I always wanted to be a film cameraman. Not a television cameramana film cameraman. When I was about 9 or 10 years old, I had a shed at the end of the garden that my parents used to put me in, and I had a projector and 30 large reels of 9.5mm films, and I used to put on little cinema shows for friends and things like that. So, I always had an idea that I wanted to be a cameraman. And it was film.
When I pursued my career, in the last year of school they suggested if I wanted to get into films that I went and did a course in photography and cinematography. So, I went to the Nottingham College of Arts and Crafts, which later became the Polytechnic, and is part now of Nottingham University. I studied photography and cinematography. Towards the end of the course in 1964, I decided that I needed to find a job, so I wrote to lots of companies, did some research with the union, and disappointingly found that, with the union, you had to have a card before you could get a job because it was a closed shop. And you couldn’t get a job unless you’d got a card. So, it was like one of those… it’s a wheel that keeps going around with a mouse in it.
So, anyway, I decided to apply to all the television companies and I only got two replies back. One was from Rediffusion in Wembley, and one was from Granada. This was in May 1964. So I got two interviews, and I went to the one at Rediffusion and the guy actually said, because I had friends who knew the guy at Rediffusion, he said they weren’t looking for anybody at the moment, but they would keep me on file and let me know as soon as something came up.
I also went for an interview with Granada. I think it was around about the middle of May 1964. I had an interview, and that went quite well as far as I thought, in July, and August came and I’d heard nothing at all from them. So I thought, “Well, I need to get a job. I need to do something.” So I applied to Kodak at Harrow for a technical representative job because it might enable me somewhat, somehow, to get a union ticket at some point or another. So, I applied for that job and subsequently, got it.
So at the beginning of September, I started to make arrangements for digs in London, in Harrow, and moving out of my parents’ house and everything else. Now, my father was a commercial traveller. So he said, “I’m going up to Manchester.” He said, “It’s a shame that Granada hadn’t even had the decency to reply to you.” I said, “Yes.” I said, “`I’ll come up with you. You can drop me off at Granada and I’ll go and find out why they didn’t even reply.” He dropped me off at Granada on Quay Street, and I went to front reception, and they phoned Personnel, and they said, “I’ve got John Scarrott here. He came for an interview three months ago. He’d like to come and see you.” They said, “Oh yes, yes, yes. Send him up.” So, I went up, and I walked through the door and they said, “John Scarrott?” I said, “Yes.” They said, “Oh. We’ve got a letter for you here in the outbox. We were just going to post it to you.” So I said, “What is it?” They said, “Well, we’re offering you the job. You can start as soon as you can.” Sugar! “I’ve got everything arranged for London, but yes, I want the job.” So I had to go through the whole process of cancelling my digs, all the moving to London. I had to phone Kodak and say, “I’m sorry, I can’t start because I’ve got the job I really wanted it in the first place.”
So, when I got to Granada, I started on October 4, 1964. Tom Price was the head of cameras, and I was put on Les Chatfield’s crew. Les, at the time, was still working as a senior cameraman. Shortly afterwards, he had back problems, and he was taken off and he was put on a director’s course, which was really good for him, but we’ll come to that later. The other senior cameramen were Bill Podmore, who’d just come up from Chelsea in London, and Andy Hall, and Eric Prytherch, who went on to produce Coronation Street, but Eric was in charge of the OBs. I was a trainee until August 1965 and then I got first year, second year, third year. This was a natural progression, until you got to fifth year cameraman, which is… I think that was the 12th grade. I can’t remember exactly what they were now. So, I got to the top grade in 1970, and it took another 10 years to become senior cameraman with my own crew. There were six people on my crew.
When I joined Granada in 1964, The Beatles were in Studio 6 doing a TV special produced by Johnnie Hamp, a Granada great. I remember odd little things, like doing Wheeltappers and Shunters. I was given a mobile crane to operate, but you couldn’t move either the crane or yourself for all the pints of beer on the front platform around your feet. But it was a great show.
Explain that crane.
It was a mobile crane. It was always parked in the corridor outside Studio 6. It was like a cantilever platform on front of a long arm with lead weights in the back of it. If you’ve never walked down outside Studio 6… in the early days, you’d have seen it parked outside Studio 6, but it had a big platform on the front where you could put your feet, swing yourself around like that, and the crane could move – but for Wheeltappers and Shunters it didn’t move at all. It stayed in one place. But you could get high shot, but because every single member of the cast and the crew and the audience all had free drinks on Granada, which I don’t think would happen nowadays, so there were pints all the way around the front of the crane, which was quite amazing. So, I really couldn’t do much at all other than to tune and pan a little bit at all, without knocking all the pints off. Anyway, that was Wheeltappers and Shunters.
Now, where do I get to now?
And all those drinks, that was all part of the set, was it? All those pints?
Oh, yes. We were shooting over tables in the foreground to a stage in the background. I don’t know whether you have ever seen Wheeltappers and Shunters, but it was like a working man’s club. So, it was like a small stage with curtains on it, and there was tables in front of it, and I took the wide shot from the back. You could actually, if there were no pints on your thing, turn around and get a shot of the bar, where Bernard Manning was always leaning up against, or you could pan to right and get a shot to Colin Compton in his little booth with his bell, ringing the bell, introducing the acts. Yes, it was all part of… it was a really good Johnnie Hamp show, that was. Right.
So, I became a proper cameraman in about 1970. Then in 1977, I think it was 1977, I applied for a trainee director’s job. There were four jobs going as trainee directors, and it was part of Denis Forman’s drive to new directors, new young directors. When I thought, “Well, I’m not that old, certainly, so I’ll have a go. I’m 32.” All the successful candidates, though, were researchers, and I’ll tell you what they were because it’s taken me a little bit to find them. It was Julian Jarrold, Mary McMurray, Andre Singer and Paul Greengrass. So, Alan Clayton and myself were deemed to be too technical. We weren’t creative enough. We were two technical people – he was a floor manager and I was a cameraman – and I suspect maybe that we finished up in the final six or four jobs as a sort of, I don’t know, “Let’s just put two people in there that we think are very, very good, but they’ve got no chance of getting the job.” I think it was designed for researchers at the time. I must admit, those people have gone on to do remarkable things, all of them.
Were you always studio?
No. We did OBs. I’ll come on to that later.
But going back to the applying for the director’s job. Denis Forman had both me and Alan Clayton in his office at separate times to explain why we didn’t get the job, which I thought was really good of Denis because I was there for nearly an hour I think. But I was a cameraman, and I enjoyed being a cameraman, but what I really wanted to do, by that time, was I wanted to get into lighting, but it was early days. In 1980 I got my own crew. Or ‘79, ‘80, I got my own crew, with certain people on it, and it took me until 1988 to get a job as a trainee lighting director. I applied three times. Well, the first time they wanted two, because they were going to train new lighting directors instead of bringing them in from outside or using the established three that they’ve got at Granada. They wanted to train more. So, what they did was they gave the jobs, four jobs, four new jobs, two to sparks and two to cameramen because the new agreement they got was going to create a new grade, called lighting supervisor A and B. Now, lighting supervisor A and B could either do camera work or could light, or could do a combination of both on the same shoot. So, that’s when I got to work outside on mobile units. There was a thing that David Liddiment did, telethon, and I did the camera on that, but I could just as well have done the lighting as well, because it was all shot on location. I’m digressing now from what I’ve written down.
So, I started as a lighting supervisor grade B, and it took five years to get to LSA grade, and it should have been two, but Granada weren’t in the process, in 1988, of promoting people once they got to a certain grade, because we just had two upstart caterers join us, as you well remember, and they put a freeze on virtually everything. There were to be no promotions, only redundancies. But I’ll come to that again later. I didn’t get promoted to a full grade of lighting supervisor until I got my redundancy in 1998.
So, as an LSA/LSB, it was a new grade which enabled somebody on the grade to switch between lighting and cameras or do both roles simultaneously. I worked on local programmes Granada Reports, Upfront, This Is Your Right, Aap Kaa Hak, Clapperboard. And then I spent, rotating with Paul Maddocks, some six years lighting This Morning in Liverpool. So, that was a role where it was mostly lighting, and it was definitely on location. We all used to go round the dock and we used to light a shop so that Richard and Judy could go down for five minutes and interview the person in the shop, or in a restaurant where they would have a celebrity chef or something. Not everything was done in the studio. Quite a lot of it was done on location around the dock, and we had plug points around the dock where you could plug the cameras in, and there’s some interesting stories there as well, because you had to replug and plug the things.
I had a chap, a cameraman called Alun Evans, who was the senior cameraman with me working on This Morning, and there was one classic instance when we were doing Coffee Time with Richard and Judy, and they went to the VTR, and Alan thought they’d finished Coffee Time, and the VTR, they would reposition to the studio. So he started unplugging the cameras, but of course they’d got another link to do to go to an ad break before they came back to the studio. By the time we’d got out of the VTR, the cameras were all dead and Richard had to do a voiceover, and it was just over a This Morning caption. It was not funny at the time, but they saw the funny side of it later. The director was going, “I’ve lost camera one. I’ve lost camera two now. I’ve lost camera three. What’s going on?” I can’t remember, I think it was what’s his name… it’ll come to me in a minute. I’m a friend of his on Facebook. Anyway, that’s immaterial, that was a little story about This Morning.
So, in other programmes I worked on lighting wise, after This Morning finished, I went down to London actually to help them and advise them on lighting for the new studio, which was in the London Weekend building, overlooking the river. Because the biggest problem with This Morning was the light. If it was sunny outside, then you had to have nets across the window. If it was not sunny and it was dull, all the nets would get pulled back. So you had to have neutral density nets to actually adjust the sun. So, the same principle applied in London as it did in Liverpool, where you’d just pull nets across the window. And I think, I’ve got a feeling that’s still the case. Although, Don Trafford and I went to Pilkington’s Glass near St. Helens, and they were developing a new sort of glass, which was you connected it to electrodes on the bottom of the glass, and the glass would turn dark as you put more current into it, and turn light as you took the current out of it, which was a really good idea. But at £40,000 for each six foot by 12 foot panel, it was out of Granada’s reach. So, we carried on using nets across the window. So, that was my little contribution towards This Morning in London.
But immediately after that, I think it was 1997, I got to go on the road with Don Trafford doing World In Action, Granada 100 it was, travelling around the country, lighting different locations where they had 100 people in the audience asking politicians questions about the up-and-coming general election in 1997. And the cumulation of that was the only time I ever worked in a studio outside Manchester. I got to light a studio at London Weekend for the Granada 500. So, it was a Granada 500 special, which was produced by World In Action. It was at London Weekend, and Jenny Bowles, was the presenter, and I think there was Tony Blair, and there was John Major, and I can’t remember who the Liberal candidates were. There were four people I know on the panel answering questions. Most of the time in later years I was usually on my own, but sometimes shadowed other LDs as a learning curve. I remember doing Children’s Ward, it was a Granada programme.
Yes, it was a children’s programme.
That’s right. I shadowed Peter Nolan, who was lighting director at the time, and I think Barry Hairsine was lighting on it as well, and Jim Robson, and I got to light an episode myself in 1990, according to IMdB. I didn’t know I’d lit an episode actually, but I’ve got a credit on the IMdB website.
What is IMdB?
It’s a list of all the television programmes that have ever been made with cast and crew. You could look it up and you’ll find any programme you want to have a look at. IMdB. So, I spent a lot of time lighting locations on This Morning, and then running the live broadcasts. This Morning was quite a challenge, because there was a live promo at nine o’clock, there was another live promo at 9:30, then we went live at 10 o’clock. And it was live from 10 o’clock till 12:15.
So, I did mobile units on Hold Tight, which was a new Brighton Rock. Hold Tight was done up on Alton Towers, and it was a kids’ programme, and that didn’t go out live, but there was a lot of pop groups and all this. The very first one I ever did, I did the mobile unit, and it was Simply Red, their very first record. And they actually wanted to use that promotional video, but Granada wouldn’t let them. There was a lot of that going on where we shot promotional videos of their number. All right, they mimed to it and everything else, but we went up in helicopters to do… I can’t remember the name of the group now. Tim Sullivan was the director of all of these, and a very, very talented man as well. But Granada wouldn’t release the videos to the groups so they could use them for their own purpose, which was a shame really.
Right, so we move on now to I was deputy steward for the union BECTU under Jimmy Grant in 1994, when Jimmy was shop steward. Now, you probably know Jim better as Lee Child.
Yes, I did an interview with him a couple of weeks ago.
You could’ve given him my regards, because I last met him in New York in 2009, and we went out for lunch together. We spent three years working together. I was his deputy while he was shop steward.
Right, yes. Yes. I can see you’ve got one of his books behind you.
I’ve got loads. I’ve got them all somewhere.
They’re all up there, yes.
Some of them have been lent out. There not on the wall at the moment
Yes. Good, good, good, good.
Right. So, I was deputy steward under Jim from 1994 to 1997, and I remember Jim telling me as a transmission controller, it was to be automated, and everything was going to Leeds, and the transmission control area in Granada would be defunct in a couple of years’ time. But not to worry, I’d have to represent him at his redundancy meeting because he couldn’t represent himself. Normally you’d have the shop steward with you, so I went up with Jim, because he’d said under no circumstances was I to try and save his job. I said, “Why?” He said, “I’ve just had an advance from my publishers.” I think it was £50,000, and everything was going well, for a thriller he was writing, it was his first book. And he said, “And if they agree that it’s good and I’d go ahead with the full novel, I get another £120,000.” Bloody hell, Jim. Well, that was quite a lot of money in 1977. Next Friday, he said. “So all I want you to do is to maximise the amount of money I can get out of Granada, because they’re screwing my job anyway.” So I didn’t have to do anything at all about saving his job, which was inevitable anyway, because everything was money-orientated by then, and if they could get rid of somebody on £60,000, £70,000 a year, that was a really good… you know?
So Mr Allen could push that share price up a little bit more, so their pot got a little bit bigger. So Jim left in 1997, and because nobody else wanted the job of shop steward, it fell to me to become shop steward for a while. So now the company was being run by the two upstart caterers who wanted even more savings, so the house agreement was under severe attack. We used to get nice benefits like three times the pay, or two times the pay and a day off in lieu if you worked on a bank holiday, things like that, and they wanted to change that all, so you only ever got one and a half T on a bank holiday. When you pointed out to the company that one and a half T on a bank holiday was only really half T because everybody else got paid for the bank holiday, whether they worked it or not. You know? “Well, that’s tough.” Anyway, so what we did was, the company were determined to slash as many of our benefits as they could. Although we were willing to talk, the company weren’t and sought to impose it from a certain date.
So, I can’t remember exactly when, but it was late 1997. I held a shop meeting and the members suggested a ballot for industrial action. There was new legislation introduced by Margaret Thatcher, which said that you now had to have a ballot and you had to have seven days’ notice and you had to wait two weeks for the results of the ballot and everything else, but surprisingly for myself and the company, votes in favour of the full stoppage were… sorry, the voting was 68% of the membership, and of those 68% that voted, voted 97% in favour of full industrial action. Not only was I gobsmacked, but I think the company were as well. So I was summoned to Brenda Smith’s office and full proper negotiations were put back on the table. It was a terrifying period as stop steward, because I didn’t really know what I was doing – although I had two brilliant union officials helping me. It was Freda Chapman and Gerry Morrissey. Gerry became chair of the union and he subsequently retired. Eventually we agreed a few small changes to the house agreement to bring it up to date, but we received a good compensation package in return.
This now left the door open for me to apply yet again for redundancy. I had applied once previously and they said, “No, no, no, you’re too valuable. We can’t let you go. We want you to stay.” The attitude changed completely once I became shop steward and became troublemaker. So they decided that, “Well, maybe we can let you go.” I said, “Yes, but I want a decent package, and I want the promotion that I should have had some years ago before I go, because of my pension.” At this point I’d worked 34 years for Granada, most of it a most enjoyable career, maybe except for the last few years when Allen and Robinson took over. I got my promotion to the grade I should have been four years previously and I was offered a really good redundancy package with a guarantee of 51 days’ work in the first year after I left Granada, so they weren’t giving a lot away because they were going to use me anyway. So, a whole new world was opening up for me at the ripe old age of 53. I’d done 34 years at Granada so I’d got all my full pension rights. So there was no reason to stop me at this point.
I was offered a three-month contract to light the Littlewoods Shopping Channel at the Albert Dock, it was called Shop!, I believe, and along with Chris Chisnall and myself, he was the manager in charge and I was doing the lighting, lasted 13 weeks while we got it up and running and I lit the whole of that ground floor area in the Albert Dock, which was a wonderful building. Absolutely wonderful building. Did you ever go to it? It was great.
I worked in the Albert Dock briefly.
Yes, superb. With that gallery around the top. Most of the lighting was put on that gallery and then we had trusses put across between… three or four trusses across between one side of the gallery to the other, but all the lights were suspended off that. It really was a fantastic set, that. Of course, a lot of people did a lot of training. There’s a cameraman now, who’s a senior cameraman on Emmerdale in Yorkshire TV and I remember him, Paul… can’t remember his surname, and he’s now in charge of cameras on Emmerdale. So he’s gone from Shop! in Liverpool in 1998 to one of the top jobs on Emmerdale in Yorkshire TV. So anyway, unfortunately Shop! only lasted about three years. I think Granada fell out with Littlewoods for some reason, I’m not quite sure what the circumstances were, but I think it was something to do with money again. So it failed, it didn’t carry on. Like other brilliant ideas, like On Digital, that were doomed to failure from the start really.
I’ll always remember Sidney doing his rounds and looking for dust. Sidney just used to just show up without warning, so everything had to be kept neat and tidy. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, management were a delight. They didn’t always agree with you, but they always listened. Until we won the franchise and Alex Bernstein pass the reins onto Robinson and later Allen, why after all the years of loyalty, didn’t Alex pass the job on to David Plowright? A true TV man, and not bad at table tennis either. Used to play table tennis with him when we used to stay at the Imperial in Blackpool doing the conferences. David was always game for a game of table tennis in the evening, especially when we were having a few drinks. Robinson and Allen seemed to make a mess of everything they touched, from the LWT takeover, followed shortly by Forte Hotels and Crest Hotels, the debacle of On Digital, the running down of Little Chef by over-pricing… I mean, I could go on.
But I’m glad I left to go freelance in late ‘98. I couldn’t face being part of the constant destruction of Granada all for the sake of putting money in the upstart caterer’s pockets. John Cleese was spot on. Fortunately, we’d all worked for a great company. If anybody went sick, they always got paid, often full money for many years and not just for the minimum period. Granada must have been the best company ever to work for and I deem myself so lucky to have got that job in ‘64.
Highlights of my career, I suppose the Lawrence Olivier plays, there were six, and each camera crew got one play. That was a time when there were six crews, and there were seven people on each crew, we had 42 people in the camera department. I think there are four permanent jobs now at Granada. Our crew got Cat On A Hot Tin Roof with Natalie Wood and Laurence Olivier, Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner. Coronation Street has always been a pleasure to work on either as a cameraman or an LD, and This Morning was professionally demanding five days a week, live TV for over 40 weeks a year. You never knew what was going to happen.
I’ve got some lovely stories going back a long way. Michael Parkinson presenting Cinema, again another pleasure to work with, and how he remembered everybody’s name, I don’t know. Michael Parkinson used to know every member of the crew’s name. Whoever he asked before he came in the studio, I don’t know. Michael Scott didn’t, Michael was a great guy, but he never called the crew by their first names, but Michael Parkinson always did. I worked on many programmes also that were superb, many to mention, but Return Of the Antelope and Brass stand out as two programmes that received little recognition, but were superbly written and produced.
I was asked to work with Ian White to produce new titles for Coronation Street in 1989, just after I got the LSBs job, so I could do it. So if any lighting was needed, I could do it. But I was sent out. We were going to go from 4×3 to widescreen, 16×9, and this involved being sent out to Salford with Ian White, a camera, and a tower. When we got to Salford, Ian told me that he wanted all the shots to move. And I said, “Ian, we’ve got a tower. If you move it, the platform alters, so it doesn’t stay level.” He said, “No, I just want you to move down a telegraph pole.” I said, “Well, it’s not that easy.” I said, “Because as you move down the telegraph pole, the platform will tilt by that,” or like that, as we went down – so it started off like that, and as it went down, it went like that – but the only way I could get the shot, and I don’t if you remember the opening of Coronation Street, there’s a telegraph pole in the foreground on the left-hand side and we tracked down it. I had to undo the bowl in the tripod, and as the camera came down I had to push the camera over to the left-hand side all the way down to keep it level. Quite challenging, but we did it – and Granada used them for I think probably 10, 15 years before they replaced them with new titles. I’ve got a picture somewhere myself with the cat on the cobbles, which was in the Manchester Evening News.
The Centre Players. I’ve got to mention The Centre Players. They were a group of Granada employees who’d got together to perform at The Stables Theatre in the mid-‘70s. I produced two productions there with the Players: Old Time Musical 1974 and the following year, Whatever Happened to Pantomime? Peter Moran was our magician and the barbershop quartet was Roy Jackson, Stu Darby, Howard Arundel and Alan Clayton. Dave Warwick, the director, was on piano, and our personnel manager, Bob Connell, was on drums. I can remember that.
Before my time.
Yes, it’s a long, long, long way back. It was, I think, the Stables Theatre had just about broken up. It started at about ‘68, ’69, and the theatre was empty, and The Centre Players put on quite a few productions there. They put on plays and then the two that I was involved in was light entertainment, was an old time musical and Whatever Happened to Pantomime? which was a skit on all the terrible jokes that you get in pantomime. And it just went on and on and on. The Stables of course, at the bar in front of the Stables Theatre, many happy evenings after working were spent there. Sidney had a policy of no alcohol on the premises, but reluctantly, after much pressure, allowed the Stables Bar to operate as a Granada TV Bar because it wasn’t technically on the premises. At that time, Grape Street was open, so it was off the premises of Granada TV, which is how we got the bar open. Later on, of course, it switched. It was close to staff when tours came along and then the bar was switched to the old school, again off the premises. Sydney never, never – the Bernsteins never, never allowed a bar actually on the premises, which was probably a good idea because in 2002, I think they closed the bar, any bar that was accessible to the employees because of health and safety. So you had to go up the road to the post office club or to… I can’t remember…the Preston?
The Preston, yes.
And there was the, the New Theatre at the back of the, the, the Opera House. There’s a, there’s a pub called the New Theatre, and everybody used to go to there, including Bill Grundy by the way. I don’t know if you remember Bill or not.
Before my time, but I do know of him.
Right, well, I can remember when we used to work, when we used to work on ENG, you would come back in the evening and then you would do the late news bulletins, because Granada, of course, and the studio finished.
So, just before I left Granada in September of 1997, I was offered on loan to Yorkshire TV to light a block of Emmerdale, as they had an LD on long-term sick. It was a bit daunting as one of my first tasks was to light Leeds Town Hall for a night shoot, and it wasn’t just a small night shoot, it was people coming out of the town hall and a full wide shot. I had three Simon towers, two with 10Ks on them, 10K HMIs, and one with a cameraman on the top. I was just lighting. But that was horrendous to be thrown in on that, but thanks to so very cooperative sparks, it worked a treat. Eventually, after leaving GTV and successfully launching Shop! in Liverpool, I did sort of freelance lighting on Coronation Street, I was contracted by Brookside who wanted me to light for some pickup days, and shortly afterwards I was contracted by a lovely lady called Beryl Richards, who was the executive producer for a new children’s TV programme called My Parents Are Aliens. I had to go to London for an interview with her, but then I luckily got the job. So, I did six episodes of My Parents Are Aliens in the Yorkshire TV Studios in 1999. So then I finished up working on a further 87 episodes, so 93 in total until 2007. I then returned to Hollyoaks lighting and Coronation Street lighting, where I worked until about 2010. At that time I was 65 and I thought it was about time I was retired. So I did a bit of painting, decorating all sorts of things that you do like that. But in 2012, you remember the Olympics?
I do. I went there. So what of it?
Yes, so Granada had not bothered thinking about booking cameramen for August, the two-line August in 2012. So I got, suddenly got a phone call, right, in July saying, “John, you’re not available for any days are you, to do a camera on Coronation Street?” I said…
“Well, we haven’t gotten anybody to do it.” So I said “Yes, I’ll do a few, a few days.” So I did a few days during July and August while the Olympics were on, and then Mandy, who was our schedules officer had moved to Hollyoaks, and she heard I was working again. So she phoned me up and said, “We’ve got to re-shoot 12 weeks of Hollyoaks because Channel 4 are not happy with them. And if we don’t re-shoot them and rewrite them, they’re going to ditch Hollyoaks at the end of the year.” So I said, “What do you want me to do?” She said, “I want you to do some blocks for me, if you would. Lighting.” And I said, “I’m too old. I can’t do whole blocks. It’s three weeks, six days a week for three weeks, eight in the morning until eight at night.” I said, “But I will do as many pickups as you want and all that I can cope with.” So, I continued working for Hollyoaks until 2016. When I went to my sister-in-law’s party, tripped over a step and tore my Achilles tendon.
That’s nasty, yes.
It was horrible, and I couldn’t do anything for about six months. So I couldn’t work. I tried going back to do a couple of days’ work in 2017 on Coronation Street, but I couldn’t… you can’t manage 12 hour days, you know, when you’re that age, 72. So, call it a day. But I’ve had an absolutely fantastic career. Incidentally, I lit two specials for the BBC’s Children in Need production in 2003 and 2004, the one with… I don’t know whether you actually saw the one with the Grease Medley, set in the garage with all the songs from Grease, set in a pub as well. And 2004, the Oliver medley as well, which was all the songs from Oliver, both went out on BBC’s Children in Need. I think I did that for a nominal sum, about £100 a day, you know. It was all shot in one day, but it was about a seven-minute piece, so it was quite good. So, I retired in 2017, but I’d had the most wonderful time. So 53 years in TV.
That work was never a chore. It was a pleasure for the creativity and challenge of lighting was fantastic. I’m just glad I didn’t miss any of it. And that’s it!
It’s terrific. Absolutely wonderful.
Can you just… LSA…
Lighting supervisor A.
Lighting supervisor A is a higher grade than lighting supervisor B. You started off as lighting supervisor B.
And then you went to lighting supervisor A. Then you went to lighting supervisor, then you went to LD, lighting director. But they stopped me at lighting supervisor A, because of our two friends, Robinson and Allen… promotions. You didn’t do promotions unless you absolutely had to.
You made them… they kept the capsules on cameras. There were MK… this is when you were doing, was it the Coronation Street or the Leeds Lighting? Using cameras. Was it MK something or…? You said yesterday, two…
Were they mobile cameras?
Well, they weren’t… there were several different ways of Granada using out. So we could use ENG cameras, which have, which have tape in the camera itself. And so you are absolutely independent on your own. Or you could use what we used to call the LNVR, which was a little tiny scanner. …And I can remember going through Old Trafford, standing on the back of it with a camera, shooting a man running behind us. So everything was in that unit. So you didn’t need any cables or anything else, but where there were cables from that unit, so the camera on the back, that’s all that I was stood on, which was a bit dangerous at the time. But then there was the mobile unit, which was a really old OB unit, but they used it for football matches, they used it for Travelling Man, they used it for Flood Tide and along with the LNVR as well. And The Return of the Antelope used the LNVR. So they all use portable cameras. There were no big cameras, the only big cameras we had were on the main OB scanner, which I think we got rid of.
LNVR stands for…
Light, lightweight mobile video recorder. LNVR.