Nick Steer talks about his time on World In Action.

So after that first year on local programmes, I then got assigned to World in Action with Alan Bale, who was the recordist and George Turner, who was the cameraman. A few of the other cameraman came in for various things, but it was mostly George. And I had about a year just doing that solidly, which was again, opened my eyes basically, and we did all sorts of interesting stories. We went to Portugal, to Lisbon, when the dictatorship was overthrown there, and we were filming people raiding the Secret Service headquarters and pulling files out, and bugs out of the wall, and things like that, which was amazing. A similar thing, in the same year we went to Greece after the Colonel’s regime ended to do a programme about torture. And we went to the… a sort of funny story but I think they were playing a bit of a joke with me really. We went to interview a Mr Meanies, who was alleged to be one of the chief torturers, which he denied absolutely. And he was kind of posing as a businessman. So we did the interview in his office, and fine, and left, got back to the hotel, and Alan said to me, “Oh, I forgot to do an Atmos track,” which I don’t know if you know, just a post track in his office, which is an editing device. “So can you go back and just do that?” So okay, I’ll do that. So I drove the hire car back to his office and knocked on the door and tried to explain to Mr Meanies, the chief torturer, that I wanted to sit in his room and record silence for three minutes. Not an easy thing to get across, but I managed to do it. The rest of them, I’m sure, had a good laugh.

As far as the World in Action goes, the, the move we did one about with Mike Beckham about the, Maharishi, the Yogi, the Beatles guru, which was amazing. We went to his sort of world headquarters, which was in this disused hotel on the top of the mountain in Switzerland. It was absolutely amazing. So that was good fun.

Another one was with Gus McDonald. We did a thing about the special unit in Barlinnie jail in Glasgow, where the most sort of famous resident was a man called Jimmy Boyle, who had been locked up for murder and sort of gang activities in Scotland. And then he sort of discovered art and had become a writer and a sculptor.

So we’re allowed in this, this unit, which was a prison within a prison, and they were all sort of convicted murderers, and had also been, you know, involved in violence within the prison system. So that was Gus McDonald, and I think Brian Blake who did that. So that was amazing. We were allowed to be alone in a cell with this guy called Larry, who was a sort of very strange and dangerous looking, who kept budgies in his cell. And they had a detention cell for the budgie as well. So…

So this was with Alan Bale?

With Alan Bale. I mean, Alan was a fantastic mentor to me because he certainly taught me an awful lot, not just about sound recording, but about how to work as a crew. And he was great. They all were, really. And obviously I stayed working for many years, and I just worked with George Turner again recently on the, on the Up series. So I’ve done that every seven years. But we also, that same crew, we went on to do some of the, the Christians documentary series with Bamber Gascoigne. And we went to the Philippines with Leslie Woodhead and Mike Scott to do a thing called The Psychic Surgeons.

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