Tell me about the care you received when you were sick.
They looked after you body and soul, I would say. They were always, always caring about how you were, whether you were well – not many companies had a health centre within the building. Two nurses, a doctor on call, you could go there at any time for anything, from a cut finger to… and you would be dealt with straight away. So that was on site, it was there as well to help studios with audiences, I agree, but any member of staff, we were regularly checked up, they looked after us for every foreign trip, they made sure we had our injections, the right drugs, the right first aid kits, everything was given to you and you were taught what to do, and what drugs to take on certain days in certain countries, so in that respect they looked after you there. Socially, you had a nice pension you paid into, so they were looking after you that way, work in terms of clothing, you were given outdoor clothing allowances, the famous Tenson colours, you had a blue Tenson, a yellow Tenson, a red Tenson… everybody had a Tenson, moon boots, over trousers, hats and gloves – all provided for you to work outdoors.
Do you think the management was too lax in a way, back in the 70s?
I think it didn’t need to be hard, because it was a very profitable company, and I think yes, they didn’t want to rock the boat with the unions too much, the unions – or certainly the sparks – probably had too much visceral power over them, and they didn’t want to strangle the output they wanted to be made, it needed to be made, and at times you could only make it if you kept the union happy. And it’s wrong, it wasn’t right, but in the end, the negotiation between the union and the company did allow us to be cared for quite well. Me as a film cameraman, I travelled around the world regularly – I probably spent six or seven months of the year out, abroad or out of Manchester, and we used to travel well. Basically we did a lot of travelling in business class, and staying in very nice hotels all over the world, but that wasn’t just luxury, it certainly wasn’t a holiday. If you’ve ever travelled with a film crew, it certainly isn’t a holiday because the cameramen, with all the Customs, you’ll have boxes and boxes of kit, it’s not like going with a suitcase, you had your own suitcase and then probably 15-20 boxes of other stuff to get through, clear the Customs, get it in, pay the excess, get it on the flight and then go. So flying in business class allowed us also, which was one of the main reasons for doing it, is that you could arrive relaxed and refreshed and start to film almost immediately. Had we been in the back in economy class for much of the journey, you wouldn’t have slept so well, you would have been cramped, you probably wouldn’t have been able to feel quite as energetic once you got off, and regularly I could remember landing in places and literally starting to film almost immediately. You would pick up a hire car, in you go and off you go to use that day – so that, to me, had a justification, that you were bing treated well, the company treated you well in the way they flew you around the place and hotelled you, and you were expected to be able to film for as long as you could on those days.