Stephen Kelly recalls working on Reports Politics

Just before the strike, I went to work on Reports Politics, and worked on that for a year. It was a weekly, local political programme. It was a half-hour programme which consisted of something like a 10-minute film and one, maybe two studio interviews. It had a great team working on it. David Kemp, who was the political correspondent, was the producer, and the co-producer was Gordon Burns, who also presented the programme. Researchers were Andy Harries, who went on to become a distinguished producer, and Clarissa Hyman, who went on to become a distinguished food writer. So it had a great little team, and we had a great time working on that programme, it was good fun. And it was a very good programme. The kind of programme that no longer gets made. There are no regional political programmes any more. And it’s a great shame, because the whole sense of regional politics has disappeared. And we would do a little local films, you know, about a dispute, maybe Bolton council or something going on at Manchester council or Liverpool, or we would cover the trade unions as well, if there was a dispute somewhere. I do remember that we made a film in the autumn of 1978. Manchester University had made the first microchip, and we did a film about it with people at the university saying, “This is going to revolutionise the world.” And I actually was given a chip which I put somewhere, and I’ve subsequently lost, which is a bit of a shame. But it was ground breaking. And they were right – the chip went into computers and changed the world. So I did about a year on Reports Politics. We did the conferences. And then in the autumn 1979 there was a general election. And Labour lost the election, the Tories won, and I did the coverage for that. We did the actual election coverage itself – and again, this is something that doesn’t happen any more because everything is now done centrally. What happened in 1979 was that, although the programme was done centrally, they had regional opt-outs. So about every hour, you’d go to your regional opt-out for 15 minutes, so that you could report locally about what had been happening. So I would do all that. And of course, it was before Google, it was before computers. So I had little index cards of every constituency, and what the votes had been, and we were doing calculations about the turnout and about the swing and so on. So we did all that. And that was done with Gordon Burns presenting and Jeremy Fox producing. That was great. I mean, it was an amazing programme because I remember going into work on a Thursday morning, I went to vote, and then came into work about 8:30, and didn’t leave until six o’clock in the evening the following day. But it was fantastic. I mean, the adrenaline was just amazing, working on a programme like that. 

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