Pension Volunteer Gender
scheme Visitors equality
shortfall page 3 ruling
page 2 page 7
April 2011 Number 3
World Service cuts bite
Closure of Caribbean Service page 8
With highlights from Ariel
A summary of the 2010 Scheme
valuation made known
The plan needs to strike a balance between
It has been a turbulent year for the BBC Pension what is appropriate for the members, and what
is needed to ensure that the BBC’s covenant is
Scheme, with the corporation’s consultation on not damaged (ie, its support and financial
proposed pension changes for active members The Trustees and the BBC have now agreed a
recovery plan which sets out how the deficit will
last summer leading to strikes by staff, be made good. This sees the BBC making
deficit contributions over and above its normal
renegotiations and, finally, arrival at a pensions contributions, of £0.9bn over the next
11 years. The first deficit payment of
compromise deal. £110 million will be made this year.
The Trustees appreciate that this has been a
Throughout it all, many people asked why the and the money that the Scheme actually has at a worrying time for members. Pensioners and
PROSPERO BBC didn’t just wait until the results of the
2010 valuation, which was under way at the
particular point in time – its assets.) deferred members may have also found the
BBC’s proposals for change unsettling, although
April 2011 time, were known before proceeding with Why is there a deficit? their pensions are not affected by the changes.
changes to the Scheme. The deficit has grown over the last two years The Scheme, with the support of the BBC, is
In the interests of transparency, the Trustees because the Scheme’s investments returns have committed to pay pensions until the last
promised that the valuation results would show been lower than previously anticipated, in large pensioner or dependant dies or leaves the
the Scheme’s funding position had no changes part due to the 2008/09 financial crisis. Scheme. This is not likely to happen until
Prospero is provided free to been made, and also what it would look like if The longer terms trends for lower around the end of this century.
the changes went ahead in April 2011. investment returns (in real terms) and
retired BBC employees. It can Shortly before this issue of Prospero went to increases in life expectancy have added to
also be sent to spouses or print, the valuation results were released, with the cost of providing pensions. (In other words,
members being sent a news update from the the actuary expects that the Scheme’s If you didn’t receive the
dependants who want to keep Trustees. This article summarises the main investments won’t generate as much real income
points from that communication. in future, due to the erosive effect of inflation, recent valuation report,
in touch with the BBC. and also because people are living longer
Size of the deficit the Scheme will need more money to pay please contact the Pension
It includes news about
The valuation showed that the Scheme’s their pensions.) and Benefits Centre to
former colleagues, pension funding deficit was £1.6bn (if no changes were
made to the Scheme) and £1.1bn (after the The Recovery Plan request a copy, or you can
issues, and developments at changes are taken into account). The Pensions Regulator requires pensions
the BBC. Prospero includes This means the Scheme is 87.9% funded. (The schemes that have a funding shortfall to draw
download a copy from
funding level shows the relationship between the up a recovery plan which sets out how the bbc.co.uk/mypension
cost of providing pensions now and in the future, sponsoring employer will make good the deficit.
To advertise in Prospero or
the BBC Staff magazine,
Ariel, see page 12.
Pension increases and payment dates Here are the pension payment dates
from April 2011 to March 2012:
Inflation, as measured by the Retail Prices Index (RPI) was 4.8% for the year to Friday, 15 April 2011
December 2010. Monday, 16 May 2011
Subscription information for In line with the Scheme rules, pensions in payment for a year or more (Old and New Thursday, 16 June 2011
Benefits members) were increased by 4.8% from 1 April 2011.
Ariel is on page 12. Your BBC pension is paid directly into your bank account. Payments are made into
Friday, 15 July 2011
your bank or building society account on the 16th of the month. (If the 16th falls on a Wednesday, 16 August 2011
weekend, then the payment is made on the Friday before.) Friday, 16 September 2011
Friday, 14 October 2011
Wednesday, 16 November 2011
Payslip printing Friday, 16 December 2011
Currently, if you receive a payslip, you only get one in months where the net amount
paid varies by £1 or more. However, please note that from April 2011 this threshold Monday, 16 January 2012
will change to £10. For benefit and pension payroll queries, call the Service Line Thursday, 16 February 2012
on 029 2032 2811. Friday, 16 March 2012
CROSPERO 156 1
Editorial contributions Devised and compiled by Jim Palm
Complete the square by using the clues; these apply only to words
Write to: Prospero running across. Then take these words in numerical order and extract 4 5
the letters indicated by a dot. If your answers are correct, these letters
BBC Pension and Benefits Centre will spell out a recent BBC success.
Broadcasting House 6 7
Cardiff, CF5 2YQ Please send your answers in an envelope marked Crospero to The
Editor, Prospero, BBC Pension and Benefits Centre, Broadcasting 8
Tel: 020 7765 1414 House, Cardiff CF5 2YQ by Friday, 13 May 2011.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Clues: 1. Great! (5); 2. At the peak (4); 3. Direction (4); 4. A small
drum (5); 5. Wireless (5); 6. Ill-will (5); 7. Eat away (5); 8. Take food (3);
9. Sag (5); 10. Willow (5); 11. Female sheep (3); 12. Bedlam (5);
Please make sure that any digital 13. Preclude in law (5); 14. To the left at sea (5); 15. Personal book (5);
pictures you send are scanned 16. Nymph (4); 17. Perennial (4); 18. Move on ice (5) 12 13
at 300 dpi.
Solution to Crospero 155: Ruin; Meaner; Scar; Won; Deer; Herds; 14 15
Ryde; Lido; Roche; Water; Avast; Ages; Omen; Datum; Gala; Car;
Rely; Cereus; Seem.
The programme was I’m sorry I haven’t a clue.
The winner was Mr Ray Targett.
2• • April • 2011
Volunteer Visiting Scheme
Keeping the A fond farewell to Christine
The Pension and Benefits Centre said a
fond farewell to Christine Geen, the BBC
Welfare Coordinator, who retired at the
end of March. Christine was the main
point of contact for anyone involved with
the Volunteer Visiting Scheme,
organising roadshows and the annual
conference, and also dealing with the
day-to-day administration of Prospero.
The BBC Volunteer Visiting Scheme plays an Christine started with BBC Wales in
April 1987 and joined the Pension and
important part in the lives of many retired BBC Benefits Centre in September 1992. She
and Alison Crowley set up the BBC
staff – not only for the visitors themselves, who Volunteer Visiting Scheme in 1994 and
have seen it grow from strength to
find it enriches their retirement, but also for the strength. When the scheme was set up,
there were just under 6,700 BBC I also believe Christine, as befits her
people they befriend. The scheme offers a vital pensioners over the age of 70. In 2010, post, is a very caring person. In short,
she’ll be a very hard act to follow but of
link for those people who become isolated there were just over 10,000. She
coordinates the activities of 185 visitors, course I also wish her successor well.’
through ill-health or, sadly, who outlive their with over 1,000 visits carried out a year.
Visitor John Dunstan says: ‘I will miss
Sybil Jenazian adds: ‘I have been a
pensioner visitor since virtually the start,
friends and former BBC colleagues. Christine greatly. She has a great gift for so I have known Christine from when she
making you feel that you are important to and Alison set the scheme up. A great
her and a friend. deal of hard work has gone into making
A richer retirement ‘I have had to consult her on several
occasions to seek her guidance about
some aspect of visiting or a particular
circumstance and she has always come
it the success it is. Since Alison’s
retirement, Christine has carried on alone
– she will be greatly missed and a hard
act to follow. I wish her good health and
John Dunstan shares his experiences of being a BBC back with decisive and precise advice. good luck in her retirement – I shall
‘She is brilliant at chairing meetings, miss her.’
visitor with Prospero… getting through the agenda in a timely
fashion but without denying a fair crack Cheryl Miles, a long-serving member of
I have been a visitor for over five-and-a-half It is a great pleasure to be so warmly of the whip to those who wish to put a the Pension and Benefits Centre, has
years and have found it a rewarding experience. welcomed when I arrive for a visit and I am point across. She seems to have the gift taken over from Christine as the
I cover the St Albans area in Hertfordshire, privileged to enjoy the friendships forged. These
of remembering names and faces and of Volunteer Visiting Scheme Coordinator
which includes the surrounding area to a radius friendships often extend to spouses and partners
of about six miles of the city. too who, in my experience, usually like to be absorbing information. She also has a and can be contacted on 029 2032
There are currently 40 pensioners on my list part of the occasion. I am constantly astonished great sense of humour and it is always a 3772 or email email@example.com
and I visit 10 of them. (I also see three others by the wealth of information I pick up – much pleasure to have a social chat with her.
socially from time to time but they don’t wish of it nothing to do with the BBC at all. I have
or need formal visits.) Of the 10 I visit, eight learnt about local history, researching family
are themselves retired members of staff and the trees, collecting minerals, photojournalism, the
other two are widows of ex-members of staff.
In the case of the retired members of staff, it
natural world and all manner of things. There
is also the fascination of hearing about family
90th birthdays celebrated
is of course a pleasure to hear their stories, to backgrounds and how chance encounters or
reminisce with them about our shared
knowledge of BBC premises and to swap
events have come to shape people’s lives.
My biggest blunder so far (unless I’m blissfully
nine months apart
anecdotes if we have any mutual ex-colleagues unaware of a worse one!) was when I said to a
or ‘superiors’ like Heads of Department. gentleman when leaving after about my fourth January was Ray
Their service tends to go further back than visit, by which time I felt we were getting to Lakeland’s 90th
Photo by Don Groom, retired Tel OB cameraman
know each other quite well, ‘By the way may I birthday and he
call you Bill?’ He looked at me and replied invited colleagues
‘…it is fascinating to listen slightly awkwardly, ‘Well you can if you’d like
to but my name’s actually Chris!’
whom he had
worked with to lunch
to someone who knew As for the material rewards for visiting – well,
I’m often plied with tea or coffee, very often and drinks as a
with lovely biscuits and sometimes with ‘thank you’.
Lord Reith…’ delicious home-made cakes! Among the guests
was BBC pensioner
mine of course and it is fascinating to listen, as
I have, to someone who knew, for instance, ‘they have all remarked on Jenezian. She told
It happens that quite a few of my ‘visitees’ had Prospero: ‘Being a
been involved in transmitter installations
how enormously happy they visitor gives me as
(maybe because this area is not too far from much pleasure and
Brookman’s Park). This is a subject I know very had been at the BBC and how enjoyment as I’m
little about but I can still enjoy the accounts I told it does to my
Indeed, I have found it just as interesting to
they had loved their work.’ ‘visitees’. I arrange a
get-together twice a Ray and Muriel Lakeland
listen to a pensioner who used to be a
distinguished commentator on radio for both I still do some freelance work and my wife and year, one in the
sport (cricket and rugby) and State occasions as I spend a fair amount of time helping out with spring/summer and one prior to Christmas, for many of my ex-OB colleagues, whom
one who used to be a graphic artist at Alexandra our eight grandchildren, particularly in school I’m fortunate to have on my list – others I either visit in their homes, or if they prefer,
Palace, painting captions by hand. I find there holidays, but I am very fortunate to be able also chat on the telephone. A number of people living alone prefer a Sunday visit which I
is such a wide spectrum of experiences. to do the volunteer visiting and I believe my life manage to fit in – this can be a long and lonely day for some.’
In the case of widows, I have found that is the richer for it.
generally they don’t know a great deal about the Ray was a senior Tel OB producer based in Manchester where he worked on the first
detail of what their husbands had done in their televised Grand National in 1960 as well as rugby league, golf, cricket and football,
day-to-day work but without fail they have all Visiting Scheme plus many major events.
remarked on how enormously happy they had
been at the BBC and how they had loved their If you would like a visit or Nine months earlier, Ray had organised a 90th birthday party for his wife Muriel (nee
work – indeed this is echoed by all the information on how to become a Schofield), which was also celebrated with colleagues. Broadcaster Geoffrey
pensioners I meet. The other side of this coin, volunteer visitor, please ring Wheeler spoke of Muriel’s days in Variety Department Manchester, prior to working in
however, is that they also all think that in recent 0845 712 5529. You will be TV drama and Tel OBs. Pat Lawrence (nee Lamont) reminisced on meeting Muriel on
years the BBC output has become seriously charged only as a local call. arrival from Variety Department London to Variety Department Manchester.
April • 2011 • •3
Contacts This issue… more complaints about ma tch covera ge;
If you would like a visit or information on A right royal mistake
how to become a volunteer visitor, please Surely the title of the article on page 8 of the
ring 0845 712 5529. You will be charged March issue of Prospero – TH and HRH – is
only as a local call. incorrect? The title of His Majesty King George
VI was HM. HRH is the title of the Royal
Queries Princes and Princesses.
For benefit and pension payroll queries, Peter Legate
call the Service Line on 029 2032 2811.
Prospero Palace of Arts
To add or delete a name from the With reference to the Palace of Arts I first
distribution list, ring the Service Line went there when it was known as the
(number above). Prospero is provided free Broadcasting Centre. Television OBs used an
of charge to retired BBC employees. On old building, the Palace of Industry – another
request, we will also send it to spouses or part of the 1924 Exhibition. The maintenance
dependants who want to keep in touch
with the BBC. Prospero is also available on
Creating the Dr Who ‘howl-round’ departments were in an old large roadman’s tent
using a flood lamp for illumination. Once all
audio disc for those with sight impairment. Reading the obituary to Norman Taylor in the was lit and quickly flashed in front of the the studios in the PoA had been removed, Tel
To register, please ring the Service Line March Prospero there was a reference to the Dr camera, and hey presto! A video howl-round OBs moved in until the 60s when BBC 2
on 029 2032 2811. Who opening title sequence. This brought back was created. I think it was recorded on film at started and OBs were doubled in size with extra
memories of actually making it in TC3 in 1963. Lime Grove, and used for many years as a Dr units. Acton, an old toffee factory, was the next
BBC Club At this time TC3 was equipped with MK IV Who opening title sequence. OB base with more space and plenty of parking
The BBC Club in London has a retired Marconi video cameras fitted with 4.5” Image Clive South for staff and now that has all been cleared.
category membership costing £30 a year Orthicon 405 line monochrome camera tubes. Ron Chown
for members and £39 a year for family The Dr Who production team wanted an WITH REFERENCE TO Norman Taylor’s
membership. Pre-1997 life members are interesting new title sequence, and a video obituary in the March 2011 issue, I had always
not affected. Regional clubs may have howl-round was suggested. been under the impression that it was Ben Grrrrugby coverage
different arrangements. I was one of the three-man engineering team Palmer in his capacity of S.Tel.E (Investigations) I so agreed with Mark Rowlinson’s views on
Please call BBC Club London in the VAR (Vision Apparatus Room) so we set who was the originator of the famous video rugby coverage in Prospero March 2011.
administration office on 020 8752 6666 up a spare camera channel to look at a preview ‘howl-round’ of Dr Who. Or perhaps I and many of my rugby watching
or email firstname.lastname@example.org. monitor switched to its own video output. Next I’m wrong? friends think that the television coverage of
was the really high-tech operation – a candle RG Matthews. rugby union has been getting worse and worse
Benevolent Fund over the last few years. Instead of viewing the
This is funded by voluntary contributions game as it happens from two cameras placed in
from the BBC and its purpose is to protect
the welfare of staff, pensioners and their
families. Grants are made at the discretion
Further notes on the the stand on the halfway line giving variable shot
sizes, the producers now cut to cameras
positioned anywhere that gives a good image.
of the Trustees. They may provide
assistance in cases of unforeseen financial
hardship, for which help from other
‘cocoa tin’ studio The trouble is that the viewer loses the flow of
the game. I often find that I don’t really know
what happened when a try is scored until I see a
sources is not available. Tony Byers’s piece on Plymouth’s replay, and I get fed up with seeing the back
Telephone: 029 2032 3772. ‘cocoa tin’ studio revived many of the linesman instead of the action. I’m sure
if football was covered in this way there would
Prospero Society memories for me. be riots.
Prospero Society is the only section of the I directed the News Magazine By all means use all the extra camera angles
BBC Club run by and for retired BBC staff programme in Plymouth from February for replays and 4th umpire decisions. But keep
and their spouses. Its aim is to enable BBC 1964 until my retirement in August 1987. to the two halfway line cameras while play
pensioners to meet on a social basis for Its title in those days was South West is active.
theatre visits, luncheons, coach outings at Six and the unique animated opening Jack Leathem
etc. Prospero is supported by BBC Club caption was a mechanical metal
funds so as to make events affordable. ‘contraption’ contrived by George Wilson I AGREE TOTALLY with Mark Rowlinson
The only conditions (apart from paying a – one of our engineers. Measuring the over the BBC’s match coverage of the Six
small annual subscription) are that you Nations, having myself bombarded Sports
must be a BBC pensioner and a member standard 9” by 12” and resting on a Department and Radio Times for the last four
of the BBC Club. For an application form caption stand in the studio, it was or five with exactly the same complaints.
write to: Graham Snaith, 67 Newberries operated by the floor manager using a Regarding the France-Scotland match, we
Avenue, Radlett, Herts WD7 7EL. series of levers, and it made such a turned off the sound during the first half to rid
Telephone: 01923 855177 clatter that it could only be used when ourselves of Jonathan Davies, and turned off the
Mobile: 07736 169612 there were no open mics. TV completely during the second half, since the
Email: email@example.com Incidentally, I was directing on the night IN 1973 I was the engineer who relocated match coverage was obviously being directed by
referred to, when the gardener’s bonfire the transmitters so the colour studio somebody with no knowledge of rugby, and
BBC products very nearly wrecked the programme. His could operate without interference. In even less of television.
BBC retired staff are entitled to a 30% Surely with the facility of the red button it
discount off the RRP of most products actual reply to our irate News Editor those days the lighting generated too should be possible to provide a feed of the main
in the BBC TV Centre shop. There is a John Tanton was, ‘Well Mr Tanton, I do much heat for the ‘cocoa tin’! match coverage (free of replays and meaningless
postage charge of £2.95 per order (not always burns my rubbish, I don’t put it I had good fun playing table tennis graphics) together with clean sound effects for
per item). Pensioners must quote their on th’ air for everybody else to look at.’ with Sue L and the other presenters. those viewers who just want to watch the match.
BBC pension number when ordering. Happy days! Happy days. In the ‘golden age’ of television we could cover
Contact: BBC Shop, Audience Foyer, Peter Page Peter Cleminson a rugby match with four or five cameras, with
Television Centre, Wood Lane, London the added bonus of the wonderful Bill
W12 7RJ. Telephone: 020 8225 8230. McClaren commentating.
Other ways to order (quoting your
pension number when ordering):
Cricket buffs – can you help? Phil Thomas
By phone: 08700 777 001 I am currently researching for a PhD at the a rare pre-war SCCC blazer) to be (allegedly) ‘Singing’ Savidge
8.30am-6pm weekdays. By post: BBC
Shop, PO Box 308, Sittingbourne, Kent
University of Huddersfield’s Cricket Research
Centre, with a particular focus on the club
asked mistakenly. Bennett (ACL), who was a far
superior cricketer, went on to play for
ME9 8LW. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. cricket played in Surrey and the wider South of Northamptonshire, but it is his exploits for the I was saddened to learn of the death of Kenneth
Or visit BBC Shops in Eastbourne, England. One of the major forces in club cricket BBC club and the Conference that are of Savidge (Prospero March 2011).
Brighton, Leicester, Birmingham or from 1915 up until the 1970s was an relevance to my study. Would any of your I had the pleasure of working with Ken as
Liverpool. UK postage £2.45 for organisation called the Club Cricket readership remember ‘Leo’ Bennett, or indeed stage manager on an OB from Brighton in the
telephone, post and email orders. Conference who were captained in the know the whereabouts of the BBC Cricket Club early 60s, which may have been a forerunner of
Overseas: £4.50 for one item and £2 for immediate post-WW2 period by the BBC’s minute books? I’m sure these would be a the Songs of Praise series.
each additional product for telephone, skipper, Major ACL ‘Leo’ Bennett. fascinating and informative read (to me if Apart from being a highly respected and
post and email orders. Bennett, who wrote the book The Weekend nobody else). skilful producer, he had the unique talent of
Cricketer in 1951 (Sir Donald Bradman no-less Duncan Stone, University of Huddersfield, singing his camera directions to the tune of the
BBC PA writing the foreword), is actually the subject of Cricket Research Centre hymn being sung by the congregation.
For details of how to join the Pensioners’ Surrey County Cricket folklore, as he was to be http://www2.hud.ac.uk/mhm/history/research/ A much loved personality who will be sadly
Association, see panel on page 5. asked to captain the County only for a cricket/ missed by many.
namesake, NH Bennett (who happened to have email@example.com Peter Page
4• • April • 2011
music levels; announcers not enuncia ting; former collea gues...
Am I alone in wondering just why today’s
young announcers appear to have had little or
Parrott in the pit
I too was saddened to learn from the February
Prospero of the death of Ralph Parrott. He was
Chris Cherry’s letter to Prospero in February
no voice training? In ITV’s case, they so often indeed an innovative and resourceful engineer. was timely; shortly afterwards the BBC
sound as if they’ve just been taken off the One incident in particular, however, stays in received over 100 complaints about music
streets. (This, as some readers will doubtless my memory. levels in the scientific series Wonders of the
note, being the view of an 85 year old!) In 1961 the TV Outside Broadcast coverage Universe. The BBC agreed to lower the sound
I was delighted at war’s end to be posted of Wimbledon tennis was achieved by the after receiving the complaints, but the
to Forces Broadcasting, Hamburg, and to complete de-rig of equipment into two large presenter Brian Cox then entered the fray by
become an announcer and producer. Upon wooden huts on the old hard courts just below saying that he thought the BBC had made a
demob, the BBC then put me on the Somerset Road groundsmen’s houses. mistake, being ‘too responsive to the minority
an Announcer’s Course, doubtless in order June that year was very hot and, in the days of people that complain’. Prospero was
to greatly improve standards. I found my before effective air conditioning, the condition inundated by letters on the same issue;
new 6ft 3” pal, John Dunn, in a slightly tearful inside the huts soon became insufferable. unfortunately due to space constraints we are
state on the one occasion – but then, on being Ralph and the other vision control engineers unable to publish them all.
posted to Manchester, I fully understood why. (racks) were in a sort of pit out of sight below
When announcing Children’s Hour, the the production desks. Led by Ralph, one by So the debate about the levels of background
London Course instructor would be on the one the engineers discarded shirts, then shoes, music accompanying television programmes
‘phone the moment I came off air. ‘Mr Hill, sock and trousers. All was well until the rumbles on, with three letters in last month’s Brian Cox
Children’s Hour prayers were conducted by the transmission monitor above his head went ‘on Prospero. They are still at it however and no
ReverenD Peter Brookes – NOT ReverenT!’ the blink’. Ralph, without thinking, leapt up matter how much we complain no one seems audience was hearing a third-generation
(Ring-Ring) ‘Mr Hill, the current month is onto his seat to thump it with his fist; the to listen. A perfect example which epitomises analogue copy of the original sound recording,
Fe-BREW-ary – not Feb-YOU-ary! And she’d scream from the vision mixer (female) as this these concerns was provided by the first after editing, dubbing and the final transfer to
have registered at least ‘Point Nine’ on the naked man suddenly appeared in front of her, instalment of the Wonders of the Universe videotape before transmission; and studio
PPM. Ah me, happy days. could be heard throughout the compound. programme broadcast on Sunday 5 March. The and OB sound was seldom less than
Trevor Hill Ken Moir music was far too loud, intrusive and excellent. Repeats of programmes made in the
distracting, making it stressful to concentrate 70s or 80s bear this out. The crafts of set
on the challenging content of the programme design, lighting, camerawork, costume and
with poor Brian Cox (from the awesome silence make-up etc seem to me largely unchanged, so
The more things change… of the desert) fighting to be heard clearly.
why, in this age of digital recording, is the craft
of the sound recordist (always under-valued)
in apparent decline?
I came across the following recently, which was written in the 1980s, when I had THE LETTER FROM Chris Cherry It is well over 20 years since I had any direct
worked at the BBC for 25 years in Manchester. I wonder what would be written today (Prospero, February) would find an accord in involvement with professional sound
on their move to Salford Quays? many homes, and not just those of retired recording but perhaps one of my former
BBC staff. According to the letters editor of colleagues with recent experience of the
From black & white to colour Radio Times, complaints about intrusive independent sector, but now retired, could
From Peter House to Piccadilly music are among the most numerous in the enlighten us?
magazine’s postbag. Yet nothing is done Graham Hare
From Piccadilly to NBH about it.
From Dickie Road to St A It is, however, not just a question of THIS IS NOT the first time that this matter
From banda to fax loudness. Not only are the music and effects has been raised in Prospero and I believe it has
From celluloid to video frequently too loud but the sound quality of been discussed with senior technical staff in
From abacus to calculator the recorded dialogue, upon which these are the past.
From flimsies to photocopies overlaid, is often poor. I too am familiar with However, nothing changes. So are we to
From letraset to aston the edge of seat posture in trying to catch understand that either the technical and
From CNR to HOB unintelligible dialogue. production staff don’t believe what is being
From The Archers to The Bill In Film Department we were usually able to said or that they don’t care?
deliver intelligible dialogue even though the Chris Humphreys
From crisis to crisis
Plus ça change?
Feedback on BBCPA questionnaire
Interest in BBCPA is Among the morsels of information thrown
on the increase. It may up by the questionnaire was that the Club
be because of concerns once sold its own brand of cigarettes as well as
at the dire general wine, that the black and white minstrels wore
pensions landscape. It red and green make up. Secretarial courses in
may be interest in the the Langham once taught young ladies how to
Association’s plans to open and serve a bottle of champagne. We
work with the BBC to heard about the first person to job share and
capture our members’ the tech. op. whose career was set on course by
unpublished history. It the TV Toppers (the fishnets and feathers
may be our growing helped) and from the man who hired a hearse
website bbcpa.org.uk, with its links to other to move a transmitter.
BBC specialist groups. Whatever the reason, If you want to hear more about
we have already recruited as many members in what’s planned, come to our AGM at Small
the first quarter of the year as the whole of Hall, Friends Meeting House, 173 Euston
2010. Membership only costs £10. Road, London (opposite Euston Station), on
At Christmas we sent a questionnaire out Thursday, 21 April at 2pm. Roly Keating,
with our annual newsletter to judge the ex controller BBC 2 (pictured left) and
support for the ‘history’ initiative. We called it the member of the Executive Board and
Working at the BBC. There have been in charge of the Archive will talk about the
hundreds of replies and a lot of support for the BBC’s plans. But of course the main concerns
idea of linking with the BBC’s Genome will be – as usual – pensions issues and Geoff
Project (which includes digitising the whole of Jones, the pensioner-elected trustee will
Radio Times from 1923). A small group drawn also speak about the state of the BBC pension
from our respondents met in late March to fund. Members and potential members will be
discuss what form an online database might very welcome. For more information go
take and how recollections might be captured to www.bbcpa.org.uk.
– especially from elderly or frail pensioners David Allen
with important stories to tell about work in the Chairman BBCPA
April • 2011 • •5
Lord Reith at Savoy Hill Sorting the post at Savoy Hill
Lingering echoes of radio days
Research for an academic work on women at the BBC led senior producer Kate Murphy to a time
capsule beside the Thames, as she explains here.
I recently had one of those experiences that sends stripped bare. Walking around the dusty, empty adjacent room. By climbing onto the cornice he the broadcasting day as were variety, drama,
tingles and shivers down the spine: I visited rooms I got a real sense of daily life and activity. could walk round to her window and tap on the news and talks. Although the BBC’s regional
Savoy Hill and walked in the footsteps of the I could imagine Hilda Matheson, who I’ve glass to be let in. Health and Safety had stations might occasionally allow a woman to
pioneers of the BBC. For nine years, from developed a special passion for, making her way obviously yet to be invented introduce a programme, at Savoy Hill all
March 1923, the staff of the British Broadcasting from her office to the intimate Talks Studio on Maurice Gorham was one of the Bright Young announcers were male, attired in full evening
Company, later the British Broadcasting the first floor. She might have been Men who populated the BBC in this period. dress. However, staff accompanists could be
Corporation, were based in offices rented from accompanied by her dog; she was the only Another was Val Gielgud, who headed the female and Cecil [yes, that was her name]
the Institution of Electrical Engineers at No 2 person allowed to bring a canine pet to work. It BBC’s drama department. It was while he was Dixon became one of the earliest wireless stars.
Savoy Place, next to the Savoy Hotel. At first the could have been very noisy in the corridors with at Savoy Hill that engineers perfected the Her piano playing could often be heard filling
small staff of 30 were housed in a few rooms in nine studios potentially on the go at the same Dramatic Control Panel. This was a sort of the pauses between transmissions.
the main IEE building but as the BBC grew, time, none of which had perfect prototype mixing desk that made it possible to While the offices in Savoy Mansions were
more offices were acquired until the organisation sound-proofing. All programmes were broadcast broadcast, simultaneously if needed, different small and cramped, those in Savoy Place could
expanded to fill the entirety of Savoy Mansions, ‘live’ so it was important that staff and visitors dramatic activities that were taking place in be far grander. This was where the director
a large office block to the rear, on Savoy Hill. In remembered to be quiet, and you can still see different studios. So, there could have been general John Reith and his controllers were
April 1932 the Savoy Hill era ended when, the ghostly remains of a large sign that says actors in Studio 8, a string quartet in Studio 9 based, with Reith’s office directly overlooking
bursting at the seams, around 900 BBC ‘SILENCE’. and technicians in the echo and effects rooms the Thames. The room plans for Savoy Place
employees migrated to the sparkling new, There were so many rooms and so many in the basement, all being co-ordinated show that from very early on the BBC had a
purpose built Broadcasting House. stories to tell, it’s difficult to know what to pick together. This would have been a remarkable General Office which was where the typing pool
I’m currently finishing a PhD thesis on out. For example, the fourth floor housed the achievement for the times. was based; a post room, where thousands of
women in the BBC in the 1920s and 1930s so letters were dealt with each week and a
to see where it all actually happened was a real switchboard, operated from the beginning by
boon. The early BBC was a pioneering place to ‘All programmes were broadcast ‘live’ so it was important that Olive May. She and Reith became great friends.
work and from the very beginning the British Miss May recalled how he would often visit her
Broadcasting Company employed large
numbers of women, not just as cleaners and
staff and visitors remembered to be quiet, and you can still see for a cup of cocoa, once the evening’s
programmes had finished, on one occasion
typists but as programme makers, pianists,
librarians, advertising canvassers, sub-editors,
the ghostly remains of a large sign that says ‘SILENCE’ bringing with him the First Lord of the
Admiralty. Reith was devastated when she
cashiers and press officers. Two women were announced that she was leaving to be married,
department heads, Hilda Matheson as director BBC libraries. Here, Florence Milnes was busy At first the BBC found it difficult to persuade threatening disciplinary action against her
of talks and Mary Somerville as director of accumulating a comprehensive reference library people to broadcast, but as the popularity of fiancé, Mr Bottle, an engineer in Leeds. He did
school broadcasting. During my visit, I stood in while Kathleen Lines was the grand dame of the radio grew, increasingly eminent individuals forgive her, though, and presented her with a
what would have been their offices on the third photo library, which provided stills for graced the corridors of Savoy Hill. Performers silver inkstand as a parting gift.
floor of Savoy Mansions, looking out over Savoy newspapers and for all the BBC’s internal and grandees would have arrived at the North The walls of Savoy Hill have fallen silent
Chapel with its tiny tree-filled churchyard. publications. The photos that adorn these pages Entrance of Savoy Mansions and been shown to again. The builders are now in and there may
Apparently the racket from starlings gathering of life at Savoy Hill were probably organised by the artistes drawing room. Then, when their never be another time when the original layout
there before migrating made work almost her. One of her regular customers would have time came to go on air, they would have will be revealed. How extraordinary to have had
impossible for those who overlooked been Maurice Gorham, then art editor of the squeezed into the lift with Joe, a burley the chance to get so close to the birthplace
the churchyard. Radio Times. In his memoirs he described how ex-policeman, and gone to one of the studios of broadcasting.
I was able to have this view because, shortly his office, on the same floor, had a window on the upper floors. Studio 7 was vast; Kate Murphy is a senior producer at
before Christmas, the IET (the new name for which opened out on to a wide cornice that ran wood-panelled and double-height, it could Woman’s Hour.
the IEE) organised a tour of Savoy Hill. Savoy along the corner of the building. He used this accommodate a full orchestra or choir. Sitting
Mansions was about to be refurbished and the to great effect to terrify Miss Bryant who here I could almost hear the music wafting This article originally appeared in Ariel.
corridors, the rooms, the stairways were all worked on the layout of the Radio Times in an around me. Music was one of the mainstays of
6• • April • 2011
Keep it in the family MONEY
Still a teenager when he joined the BBC, John Martin could hardly have
imagined at that time what a central force the Beeb would become – not A matter of equality
The ruling of
only in his life but also in the lives of his children. the European
At the start of World War 2, I was working in My family Justice,
Orpington Kent as a lowly laboratory assistant, In 1948, we were all roped in to staff the announced on
working on the design of VHF transceivers and facilities provided by the BBC at Wembley for 2 March 2011,
telephone scrambling equipment. the Olympic Games. It was here that I first met to prohibit the
Imagine my surprise when I received a letter Audrey, who had worked in Broadcasting use of gender
asking me to join the BBC at Wood Norton in House since the early part of the war. We as a criteria in
January 1941. The salary, something like married in 1949, with our sons Roger and pricing
30 shillings a week, was quite an improvement Nicholas being born in 1953 and 1955
on my previous occupation. I had quite respectively – and so began my BBC family! insurance
forgotten that I had applied and certainly didn’t Naturally they both grew up in an atmosphere products has been met with mixed
expect to get a post. controlled by BBC interests, and it was not feelings.
It was quite exciting, as a young lad of surprising that Roger was sure that he would like In theory, that has been the case
19, to join such a world. There was no to follow Dad and Mum. He was very much since 21 December 2007. However,
immediate training – we were just told to get against proceeding to University. Like most Still in the family Member States have been able to apply
on with it, with brief guidance from the older youngsters, he wanted to get on with his chosen In retirement, Audrey and I participated in exemptions where actuarial and
members of staff. At that time there were a profession. However, by using the influence of many reunions to keep in touch with old statistical data is reliable, updated
number of young lads recruited and we became John Esler from personnel, whom I had known in colleagues. It involved a lot of travelling, and so regularly and available to the public.
firm friends. earlier years, he was persuaded to study at Chelsea when one of our friends suggested we arrange a
We worked through the night as well as University before joining Videotape Department. lunch closer to home, we did so – and selected So why has this come up now?
daytime as we covered the overseas services. I After 34 years, he took early retirement. the facilities at Motspur Park as suitable. A requirement of the exemption was
well remember one of our more strenuous tasks Nicholas was also keen to join the ‘family’ but In March 1991 we held our ‘BBC family’ that Member States would have been
was to be wide-awake at 06:00 hours to had no qualifications and was told he must wait reunion. There were 36 of us. The cost was obliged to re-examine the situation as
transmit the Koran. This was on a roll of film until he was 21. At about this time I had a about £10! at 21 December 2012 and submit, in
of just a few minutes’ duration. One day, when 25-year bonus interview with Hugh Wheldon The news spread like wildfire and we were effect, an updated justification to
I was feeling particularly tired, and having and during this we discussed the ‘family’ aspect. asked to include all the staff who were continue.
transmitted the six-minute item, we were I told him about Roger and Nicholas and their concerned with making radio programmes, This was intended to be a transitional
instructed to rewind the film and leave it ready desire to be part of the BBC family. mainly in the London area, but including measure but the Court was of the
for the next day. Having done this, I found that He assured me that this spirit of belonging was anyone who recognised an old colleague. At the
the film was then tail out – which meant it had exactly what he sought to encourage. This next lunch we had 60 guests. These were people opinion that, because there was no
been transmitted in reverse! Imagine my horror reassured me that my use of the comradeship who had worked together some 40 years before specific date for the transition to cease,
– the Koran transmitted backwards! Luckily it angle should be exploited, and Nicholas was – it was very exciting. there was a danger that the different
did not increase the chances of another world recruited into Videotape Library. He has made This was the beginning, not the end of the treatment of the sexes could go on
war; perhaps many other people were also excellent progress and has been very involved with story, because most of the people present had indefinitely. It has therefore revoked the
half-asleep. the introduction of systems for handling digital gravitated to Television in later years. We exemption from 21 December 2012.
In 1947, after having served in North Africa recordings for multi-channel transmissions. He eventually had to run two lunches – one for What does this mean?
and Italy, I found myself in Broadcasting will soon be celebrating his 25th year. Radio and one for Television. In plain terms, no gender bias means
House, renewing old friendships. Most of us Our two sons are a great help in listening The spirit of the BBC family is still being
were still unmarried, and we enjoyed a to the grapevine and that is what links us nurtured today amongst past staff, bringing that insurance rates (which include
happy-go-lucky lifestyle in London. all together. much pleasure to so many friends. things like pension annuities) will all
have to move to ‘unisex’ rates and of
course that brings potential winners
Join Radio Derby for
Touch rugby! its 40th birthday
Sue Sharpe, Local Radio Administrator
Arguably, women gain from an
improvement in annuity rates for them
but men lose because rates for them
For the nth year in succession, members of the The next meeting will be held at the same at BBC Radio Derby, writes: worsen.
now extinct BBC Rugby Club held a reunion time and place on Monday, 13 February 2012,
in celebration of their many successful and not so put it in your diary now. The member with BBC Radio Derby celebrates its 40th It is anticipated that younger women
to be forgotten tours to Guernsey over the the current furthest distance to travel appears to birthday this year and four decades on will lose out in terms of car insurance
Valentine’s weekends. be Rom Meager, who comes up from Dorset. it is in rude health, with not a wrinkle but that there will not be much change
Held again at 12.30pm on the Monday closest Pete Osborne is the general co-ordinator, but in sight! for men.
to 14 February at the King’s Arms, Roupelle any queries can be addressed to It is the current Sony radio station of The impact on pension savings,
Street, just off Waterloo Station, 13 ex-tourists firstname.lastname@example.org the year and one of the top performing especially in relation to defined
turned up, with excuses from others, for one English BBC local radio stations. contribution schemes, is likely to be
reason and another. significant. Many men who have
A great time was had by all, but it was the The station went on air early in 1971
when news broke that Rolls-Royce in savings in personal pension
familiarity of the faces and the memories of the
many great games and times that we all had that Derby had called in the receivers. With arrangements, or Additional Voluntary
makes it worth being there. Unfortunately, a work on the building still being finished, Contributions, may wish to look at
few of the lads are no longer with us, and some programmes were recorded on tape and bringing forward the date at which they
who are unable to be with us for health reasons, driven to the transmitter for broadcast. convert their funds to pension income,
in particular the initiator and ‘Ead ‘Itter of It all started officially from a former motor in order to get a better conversion rate.
‘Over the Bar’ – Brian Keyser, who is showroom in Derby on 29 April 1971. However, such decisions are seldom
remembered by all and Sends His Regards straightforward, and annuity providers
To celebrate being ‘Fabulous at
whilst hoping to make it again, one day. may well move to make changes well
A number of the well-known lads from the Graham Bradley, John Burke, Ron Clark, Lawrie Forty’, BBC Radio Derby is inviting
de Whalley, Leigh Dyer, Brian Elliott, Mike Hill, ex-staff to join them for an informal before 21 December 2012. We can also
past are also missing without trace. For example,
where are: Tom Palmer, Norman Goody, Dave John King, Rom Meager, Gerry Morris, Pete get-together from 7pm on Sunday, expect providers to look at other
Filkin, Chris Bridge, Alan Wareing, Alan Osborne, Jim Tebby and Pete Thomas. 8 May at the Pitcher and Piano bar, 20 criteria to maintain a competitively
Mansey, Bruce Messenger, Mike Johnson, John Friargate, Derby (near the radio station). priced product and it remains to be
Barker and all those lost souls with whom we For more details and to let them know seen how they will do that.
had such good times? Lawrie de Whalley turned you can make it, call 01332 361111 One thing is for certain, it is more
up, so where are you lads? (office hours) or email important than ever to shop around for
George Haley, now in Germany, provided the the best rates available and to seek
cost of a barrel of beer (at 1967 prices of email@example.com. A station tour
is offered to ex-staff at 6pm independent advice.
course), which amounted to £16 and nine
pence. Because of his current affluence, he (booking required).
kindly donated £20 to the kitty (Aye! Twenty Food will be available to order off the Bob Perkins DipPFS
Poonds!) (Perhaps some of those mentioned menu on the night and there will be a Technical Manager
above would like to make a similar gesture if bar open to buy drinks. Origen Financial Services
they are unable to attend.)
April • 2011 • •7
Back at the BBC
020 8752 6666
Help the BBC create a ‘mood map’
Winners The BBC is looking for people to help them with
February’s lucky a survey about the moods we associate with TV
winners: Frances Tait, Albert Willis,
Annakia Everitt, Evelyn Conway, Stanley
Appel, Hassan Rumani, Jenny Legg, Musical Moods is a five-minute online quiz (at The results will be used to train computers to
Bruce Vander, Simon Pinkus, Sarah www.musicalmoods.org.uk) that could help a analyse a programme and predict the mood of
Daley, Peter Mann, Lesley Taylor, Peter team at Research and Development find a new the theme music automatically.
Ranyard, John Gibson and Charles way of classifying TV programmes in the BBC’s
Chilton. To be in with a chance of massive digital archive. ‘Emotion catalogue’
winning next month, email The idea is that people might come to the Sam Davies, a research engineer at R&D, says:
firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to online archive not knowing precisely what they ‘We are looking to classify all TV programmes
your account on the BBC Club website. want to watch or how to find it – there are four in the archive by mood and emotion. At the
million items for TV and radio, close to one moment we are looking at the video, audio and
million hours of material. If you were able to speech within a TV programme and classifying
Young At Heart search the archive with not just key words that in a similar way to the theme tunes.
BBC Club’s next retired members lunch relating to specific programmes, but also on the ‘Hopefully we’ll be able to build up a big
day is Tuesday 5 April at Club West mood or tone of a show, it could help you find mood and emotion catalogue. When the BBC
One. As always we will be serving up programmes you didn’t even know existed. archives go online, it will be a new way for
some tasty treats. Enjoy a main, desert people to browse and search them.’
and a cup of tea all for just £5. For Guess the genre The survey, which has been launched in
The experiment randomly selects five theme association with the British Science Association
more details please contact
tunes from a catalogue of about 150. There are and the University of Salford for National
email@example.com. contemporary theme tunes such as This Life, Science and Engineering Week, is available
the new Doctor Who and the current BBC through the Musical Moods website.
April food offers news, and older tunes such as Eldorado, The BBC needs 20,000 people to respond in
Easter Offer: From 28 Feb to 22 April Challenge Anneka and Billy Bunter, a children’s order to make it a valid scientific study. The
get a hot cross bun and a cup of programme from the 1950s. Respondents will results will be analysed by R&D and the
Blighty’s best brew (tea) for just £1.40 be asked to rate these according to their mood University of Salford to determine whether it
– playful, serious, heavy, etc – and decide if they will be possible to classify TV programmes in
at ALL the Club sites.
like what they heard. They will also be asked to this pioneering way.
Time For Thai: At West One on 7 April guess the genre the theme tune comes from. www.musicalmoods.org.uk
from 12-3pm Thai buffet and a drink for At the end of the short quiz, people will be
just £6.95. told what programmes the songs came from and
There will also be our monthly coffee the year they aired on the BBC.
promotion, the ale loyalty card at West
One AND food and coffee loyalty cards.
All in all it’s going to be a GORGEous
April Section Promotion
Caribbean Service ceases transmission
Join a Section before 16 May and get The Caribbean Service in English finished broadcasting on Friday
£5 off your annual subscriptions.
Already a Section member? Refer a
25 March, after seven decades. Its closure is the result of the cuts to
new member to a Section or join a new the World Service announced this January.
Section yourself and we will give you a
£5 meal voucher for the Club. BBC Chinese (Mandarin) and BBC Azeri
Offer only available to new Section also stopped broadcasting on radio,
members. This offer cannot be used followed by BBC Russian on 26 March
towards membership renewals. You (ending 65 years on air).
must become a Full Club member. If The head of the Caribbean Service,
Section annual subscription is less than Debbie Ransome, believes that the end of
£5, BBC Club will only contribute the the service will leave a gap that will be
value of the annual subscription. hard to fill. ‘Given what we know BBC
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org ext 26547. Caribbean means for providing
pan-Caribbean coverage for a strong
Gliding Open Weekends radio audience, plus the online links it
Trial lessons and group membership will provides between the Caribbean and its
be available for £50 (compares with the Diaspora, and the amount of goodwill it
public rate of £95). Hourly time slots are brought for the BBC from a loyal
bookable. 25 April Booker Gliding Club, audience, clearly a void will be left.’
High Wycombe, Bucks, SL7 3DP AND The roots of the Caribbean Service
Dunstable Open Day 7 May at London began in 1939 with Calling The West
Gliding Club, Dunstable, Beds, LU6 2JP. Indies, featuring West Indian troops on
Contact Roger Limb on 020 8342 7016 active service during World War Two
or email glidinggroup@bbcclub. reading letters on air to their families McDonald Bailey (left), former West Indian athlete and
coach, and Trevor McDonald, sports commentator
Homeopathy at the Club In 1943 the programme became archives will be donated to the University ‘As we move on, we will continue to
Homeopathy appointments lasting Caribbean Voices, focusing on West of the West Indies. serve our audiences through online and
45mins - 1 hour are currently being Indian writers including VS Naipaul, mobile services.’
offered to BBC Club members for £55 George Lamming, Andrew Salkey and Unique heritage The BBC Russian website will continue
(non-members for £60), including all Samuel Selvon. The BBC’s Russian-language broadcasts to be updated with regular stories for its
remedies prescribed. Most health The service also nurtured the talent of began in March 1946. The service audience which put Russia in a global
insurance companies accept claims for producers and presenters such as Louise covered a huge array of stories including context. Three Russian-language radio
homeopathic treatment. Carolyn is a Bennett, Jones P Madeira and Trevor the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet programmes have closed, but a further
member of the Society of Homeopaths, MacDonald. Union, two Chechen wars and Beslan three will be available on the website
CRB checked and fully insured to The BBC Caribbean website will not be and the Russia-Georgia conflict. as well.
practice. To enquire about an maintained and will only include highlights Head of Russian, Sarah Gibson, said: The BBC will also cease short- and
appointment please contact her directly from the archive. ‘We are proud of the unique heritage our medium-wave broadcasts to Russia
on 07931 905818 or email Copies of the sound and text content of broadcasts have left behind - in the hearts in English.
email@example.com. the BBC Caribbean’s radio and online and minds of millions of radio listeners.
8• • April • 2011
Back at the BBC
Audiences Services should have Soap costs
mostly on budget
continued to handle case Production costs on EastEnders,
Casualty and the BBC’s four other
Audience Services was wrong to cease Nutrition were misleading. continuing dramas are tightly controlled
handling a case because the Unhappy with the BBC’s reply to his and largely within budget, a National
complainant was excessively rude, the misgivings, the complainant then Audit Office report has found.
BBC Trust Editorial Standards embarked on an exchange of
Committee has ruled. correspondence with Audience Services
In its latest Bulletin, the committee, staff, making various allegations against
chaired by Alison Hastings, says them, such as ‘Mr…seems rather tired
although it has sympathy with the view and emotional’, ‘Mr…is either stupid or
that Audience Services staff were dishonest’ and ‘if you refuse to see this
subjected to offensive language and you are stupid’.
personal slurs, that was no reason to A request by Audience Services for the
stop corresponding with the perpetrator. complainant to moderate his language
The decision has disappointed the was ignored and, deciding that enough
Audiences Services team, which is at the was enough, a member of the team does not believe the decision to stop
frontline of dealing with the public. decided it could no longer continue with dealing with the complaint was
‘There is no need for people to be the case in good faith – a decision appropriate.
impolite and strident but we have backed by Keith Jones. ‘The Committee agreed that an
spotted a trend among those who ‘The complainant seemed to think that effective complaints process requires
contact the BBC – particularly online and because he wasn’t using swear words, mutual respect between complainants
on message boards – to be rude and he wasn’t being offensive,’ says Jones. and BBC staff, and that in his
confrontational,’ says Keith Jones, head ‘Even though it was made clear to him correspondence with Audience Services
of Communications and Complaints, that his language and behaviour were the complainant had not displayed the The NAO’s value for money study
Audiences Services. ‘It presents us with unacceptable, he just carried on.’ level of courtesy and civility that would covered EastEnders, Casualty, Holby
a real challenge.’ be expected,’ it says in its bulletin. City, Doctors, Welsh soap Pobol y Cwm
The complainant at the heart of this Mutual respect While it does not agree with the and BBC Scotland’s River City.
particular case first contacted the However, although the Editorial decision to cease handling the It found that while average cost per
corporation last July, claiming that two Standards Committee points out that complaint, it is the Committee’s view that viewer hour had risen by almost 9% in
online articles regarding a report from the Audience Services staff are owed ‘a duty the complainant ‘should consider the the last eight years, total production
Scientific Advisory Committee on of care’ while carrying out their work, it effect of the tone of his correspondence’. costs had fallen by 20% over the period,
and most steeply in the last two years
when the BBC has been implementing
Possible reprieve for Asian Network its five-year efficiency programme.
Over the last four years, audience
approval rating for the programmes had
The BBC Asian Network, earmarked for closure staff. It is reported that the plan would include climbed by an average of 6.5%.
by the end of the year, could remain on air as a halving the station’s £12.1m budget. All of the dramas had strong, if
national digital station. At the same time the station would be inconsistent systems for setting and
The possible reprieve has arisen from detailed expected to draw even more listeners. In the monitoring budgets, with 33 out of 46
work done at the behest of the BBC Trust to past year audiences have climbed by a third to series coming in on, or under budget,
explore how best to serve Asian audiences in 477,000 and last month the network posted its
the report notes.
future. After approving the plan to close the fourth quarterly rise in a row, up 3.2% since the
But it recommends that the BBC
network as a national station, put forward as
part of Mark Thompson’s wide-ranging strategy
review last year, the Trust tasked management
autumn and 32.5% year on year.
It was just over a year ago that the BBC
announced its intention of closing Asian
Why sound should set formal objectives for what
individual series are expected to
with finding more effective ways of reaching this Network, replacing it with part-time local deliver, in the same way it currently sets
audience. The idea will now go to the radio
workstream of the Delivering Quality First
process, led by Today editor Ceri Thomas.
services in areas where there were large British
At the time, the Asian Network audience had
matters such targets for channels and genres.
Without those measures, the NAO
Difficulty in hearing TV dialogue is not was unable to say whether value for
A BBC spokesperson said: ‘Following the fallen from 18% of Asian adults to 12%, with money was being achieved.
strategy review in February 2010, the BBC the biggest drop among young listeners. just down to background music,
Trust asked the BBC to produce more detailed The dramatic reversal of that decline over the according to the findings of Vision’s TV Such a move would ‘make decision
plans for the best ways to serve Asian audiences. past 12 months, coinciding with more audibility project. making more transparent and provide a
‘We are exploring whether the Asian Network family-targeted output, may be a factor in the The study looked at the facts behind clear baseline against which to
should remain on the national DAB and the re-think. the sound complaints received by the measure the impact of cost reductions’,
work around this is being done as part of the A campaign to keep the station open won the BBC in relation to its TV shows. the report says.
Delivering Quality First process. No decisions backing of high profile Asians like actor and Launched by Jay Hunt in 2009, it Other recommendations include that
have been made and any proposals will be writer Meera Syal and Olympic boxer Amir involved a panel of 20,000 viewers, the BBC should seek competitive
subject to approval by the BBC Trust.’ Khan, as well as many in the British Asian tenders for all its continuing drama
much technical experimentation, and
Radio 1 and Asian Network controller Andy music industry, including Jay Sean. contracts. Of contracts examined,
Parfitt outlined the proposal in a briefing to work with Channel 4, Voice of the
Listener and Viewer and the Royal £6.4m worth of business had been
National Institute for Deaf People. procured competitively, but £4.3m had
Writing about the findings on the TV been awarded without competition. The
BBC East reunion Alexandra Palace Blog, BBC One controller Danny Cohen BBC should also benchmark its costs
Our next reunion lunch will be held TV Society says issues range from the clarity of the against competitors, the report says.
actors’ speech to unfamiliar accents In an email to Vision colleagues, Nick
on Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at
This year’s reunion will be held on and noisy background environments, Brown, director of Drama Production,
the Oaklands Hotel, Yarmouth
2 June 2011. as well as the prevalence and volume questioned whether ‘the publication for
of background music. the first time of the total cost of each
Everyone who attended the 2009 This year it is 75 years since the
Combining these factors only show, without any context or
reunion should automatically have service first started, and 65 years since
compounds the difficulty, something comparison, is helpful in improving
been sent a booking form around late the reopening after World War 2, so
which contributed to recent audience clarity and understanding about how
March. (If you’ve changed either your this will be a special reunion. Everyone
research that showed nearly 60% of the licence fee is spent’.
home or email address since our last who worked at AP is welcome.
viewers had some trouble hearing what
meeting, then please let us know.) All Notices will be sent to regular Current year’s budgets:
was being said in TV programmes.
former BBC East staff and freelancers attendees during April, but if you have EastEnders - £29.8m
To help programme makers to
are welcome. not received yours by the end of April Casualty - £21.8m
place more emphasis on clear sound
please contact Yvonne Littlewood on Holby City - £18.6m
For further information contact John ‘before a single frame is shot’, the
020 79359170. Doctors - £11.1m
Lewis on 01603 715850 or email findings have been used to form a best
Pobol y Cwm - £10.1m
firstname.lastname@example.org practice guide.
River City - £8.1m
April • 2011 • •9
Robbie Cameraman famous for
Robinson tripping up to get the best shot
Selwyn Cox sadly died on 23 January following Selwyn was seconded briefly to Cardiff in the
an illness which included a couple of strokes. early 60s during which time his skills as a
He had been receiving daily care at home for mountaineer were used in broadcasts from
some weeks. Snowdonia. A few years later he was a key figure
He joined the BBC after his National Service in the success of several live broadcast climbing Selwyn on Wimbledon Centre Court
during which he was a radio instructor in the programmes, notably the Red Wall on South lining up a camera during the pioneering
RAF. Selwyn worked initially in transmitters, Stack, Holy Island (off Anglesey) in 1966, and colour broadcasts in July 1967.
including Ally Pally, before becoming a racks the more famous Old Man of Hoy (1967). He
engineer at Lime Grove; a colleague remembers climbed with elite climbers such as Chris when he encountered a low bench. Tripping up
him there in 1959. Bonnington, Joe Brown and Hamish McInnes, he tumbled on shot. ITN later broadcast shots
The 1960s saw him remustering as a rigging and operating cameras as well as of this incident with the immortal commentary
cameraman with Television Outside Broadcasts instructing the climbers in camerawork. He had ‘And BBC cameramen are tripping over
at Palace of Arts, Wembley. been promoted to Camera Supervisor by 1982 themselves to get the shots…’ Selwyn was quite
In 1964 when I joined OBs as a trainee on when he returned to Hoy to supervise another cross at first but soon saw the funny side of it
Unit One, Selwyn was No. 2 and enthusiastically major live OB from The Old Man. The and is sure to have dined out on his moment of
On 30 January, Ronald Neil (Robbie) shared his expertise, which he always did with programme was acclaimed as a technical and fame many times.
Robinson passed away at his home at rookies such as myself. Generous to a fault he production success, much of that down to He was sad to retire in 1996 but took the
the age of 92. Robbie was one of the engendered his passion for excellence. Selwyn Selwyn’s planning input, which covered every opportunity to buy himself a yacht. He bought
technical pioneers at BBC television, was an enthusiast and threw himself into a series aspect from camera positions and lenses down ‘Rhapsody’, a Westerly Centaur, in the West
of hobbies as well as work. Over the years he to ensuring that adequate supplies of decent Country and on his maiden voyage sailed her
later transferring to lighting.
accumulated an array of paraphernalia resulting beer were available in The Stromness Inn where singlehanded to his mooring in Keyhaven. As
Born in Gillingham, Kent, in July 1918, from this, which became a subject for teasing. he had booked the crew in. In recognition he with previous pursuits Selwyn threw himself
Ron joined the Marconi International He was among other things a rally driver, was awarded a Certificate of Merit by the Guild into every aspect of sailing and ended up with a
Marine Communications Company in mountaineer, watchmaker, circus clown, of Television Cameramen. new mooring in Cherbourg.
1936 as a Radio Telegraphy operator ornithologist, astronomer, falconer, beekeeper, In 1983 his work on The Old Men at the Zoo Selwyn was a colourful eccentric who strove
on merchant ships. The job was not just fisherman and yachtsman. He and his rallying was recognised when he and Dave Gautier were for perfection and could get very grumpy
about sending Morse Code radio partner (together Selchin Instruments) designed nominated for a Bafta in the Video cameraman with himself and others when standards fell
signals but involved maintaining the and built a prototype rally computer for his category. short. He was a father of two boys who
radios at a time when they were souped up Mini. He never lost his interest in Selwyn is well remembered for an incident at inherited his love of outdoor activity. Sympathy
radio and was an active radio amateur well into Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh. During the goes to those he leaves behind, Anne, Neal,
unreliable and temperamental. For the retirement. He had call signs for his home, his field events, operating a hand held camera, he Jeremy and Natasha.
next two years he travelled to Australia yacht and his car. was following a competitor across the grass Peter Cook and Robin Sutherland
and back and then shuttled between
Bombay, Calcutta, Colombo, Karachi
It was when in Rangoon in February
1938, aged 20, that he fell seriously ill
Journalist jailed for editorial freedom
with dysentery and was eventually There can’t be too many position so Radio Guernsey interviewed a ordered to pay a nominal fine of a few hundred
hospitalised in Calcutta. It was BBC local radio managers maritime lawyer from Southampton to try to pounds. This was later quashed on appeal.’
who have faced Christmas clarify the situation. Before his appointment to Guernsey, Reg had
probably this event that made him in gaol because a ‘Things happened fast after that. The police a varied journalistic career on the mainland. He
reluctant to travel abroad again (and government objected to seized the tape and Reg and the reporter were started out as a weekly newspaper reporter in his
never to eat curry); when he returned to one of their station’s accused of contempt by the Bailiff in his native Crewe and then joined the Liverpool
England a few months later he resigned programmes. But that is capacity as senior judge on the island. Daily Post and Echo as a district reporter.
from Marconi. the dubious distinction ‘Christmas was approaching and there was a From there he moved to BBC Radio
Being a trained radio engineer made that was held by Reg real threat that Reg could be held in custody Merseyside as a producer in 1969 and helped to
him an ideal recruit to the engineering Brookes, former manager until a trial in January. But BBC lawyers launch the broadcasting careers of a number of
staff at the BBC, where he started work of Radio Guernsey, who died in Plymouth stepped in and he was released immediately people including comedian Tom O’Connor
in June 1939 as a junior maintenance
aged 76. on bail. (then a local schoolteacher) and Robert Kilroy
The former Head of Local Programmes for ‘There was a real issue here about BBC Silk who later became a Merseyside MP.
engineer. However, by November of BBC South and West, Derek Woodcock, editorial freedom which Reg was determined to In 1983, with the launch of BBC Radio
that year he had been called up to join recalled that a major story broke for the island uphold. And he did so stoically like the real Devon, Reg was appointed senior producer in
the RAF to support the country’s station when the captain and officers of a cargo professional that he was. charge of the Plymouth studios and pioneered
wartime Radar operations. ship abandoned the vessel in the harbour ‘We went to trial and the presiding judge programme sharing in the area with Afternoon
At the end of the war, in late 1945 and because they hadn’t been paid and they couldn’t turned out to be none other than the person Sou’West, a phone-in show which was broadcast
now aged 27, Ron was able to rejoin pay the harbour fees. None of them spoke who brought the charge, the Bailiff, sitting with each weekday afternoon on Radio Devon and
the BBC. Four years later, in 1949, he English. other States members. Radio Cornwall.
was transferred to work with the ‘The harbour authority impounded the ship ‘There was no clear Guernsey case law to draw Reg was a thoughtful, patient sort of chap
and local people provided food for the crew on so we sat through hours of legal argument, who would quietly offer a helping hand or a
embryonic television service at
until decisions could be reached about referring at times to bits of French law, Norman piece of well-timed advice to younger, often
Alexandra Palace. He was one of the ownership, liability and who would pay for law and UK law. inexperienced, staff. He leaves a wife, Freda and
very first Technical Operations repatriation. ‘Consequently, Reg and the reporter were a married daughter, Linda.
Managers ever appointed by ‘There was some confusion about the legal discharged but the BBC was found guilty and Roy Corlett
For the last ten years of his working
life at the BBC he changed to television
lighting, working primarily on light BBC engineer who shared technical skills with the world
entertainment programmes (perhaps a
Ken Mossman, who died on 16 January 2011, when new processes in technology meant huge
skill he inherited from his photographer joined the BBC in 1944, and apart from National changeovers such as from Film to ENG. Ken
father). His name, ‘Robbie Robinson’ Service with the Fleet Air Arm, remained with advised London-based BBC production
would frequently be seen on the credits ‘Auntie’ until his retirement in 1987. facilities, and also many other BBC studios in
roll at the end of TV shows. This was a Ken trained in-house at Evesham before the UK. He also travelled abroad on behalf of
period that Ron always recalled with joining Outside Broadcasts based at Alexander the BBC to share his skills with organisations
great enthusiasm. Palace, where he became Head of Radio Links seeking to establish television broadcasting.
To quote from a BBC publication at OBs. Ken was involved in the forefront of Ken had a discerning and brilliant technical
the time of his retirement: ‘He innovative engineering techniques that ability that led to his involvement in new projects
generated enthusiasm and set facilitated broadcasts of events such as the State such as the first broadcasts from the Open
Funeral of Winston Churchill and the maiden University facility, the Houses of Parliament and
professional standards that have been voyage from mid-Atlantic of the Queen Mary, the introduction of computerised weather
retained by all those people who were and many other similar ground-breaking broadcasting and other significant changes
fortunate to have worked with him.’ ventures. During this time he met and married required by the advent of the computer age. He
Sadly Ron’s wife and childhood Betty and the couple had two children. retired as a much respected colleague and well
sweetheart, Dolly, died in 2005, a loss In the early 1960s Ken transferred to Project known individual within the organisation.
from which he never fully recovered. Engineering at the newly established Television He is sadly missed by his son Christopher
They had no children. Centre Studios. Here he liaised in the and partner Lynda, daughter Janet and his
Bob Mariner production of TV drama and programmes in three grandchildren.
order to ensure reliable broadcasts at a time Jan Robinson (daughter)
10 • • April • 2011
Radio producer and prolific composer Talks Department
Born in 1928, Alan attended the Guildhall
School of Music and Drama and joined the
Jacobs, Alan Keith and Robin Boyle; he gave
the King’s Singers their first broadcast on a
to radio producer
BBC as a clerk in the Music Library. He and a programme presented by Steve Race; and he Michael Bell had three careers in broadcasting,
colleague, John Meloy, tested the patience of produced the writer, Richard Anthony Baker, beginning in August 1946 when he joined the
their superiors by singing out loud the dozens in two music hall series. BBC as a talks producer. He was engaged
of new pieces of sheet music that arrived daily When he retired at the age of 60, a radio principally as an assistant to Alec Robertson on
from the publishers. Also at work, he honed his suddenly appeared at his farewell party. When music talks, but he had time for a fairly wide
talent for mimicry, frequently giving vent to it was switched on, there was a recorded range of other subjects – book reviews, short
lengthy impersonations of his favourite reminiscence of him by Alistair Cooke, who, stories, the cinema, ballet, cricket.
comedian, Max Wall. by then, had become a close friend. He When he was on holiday in Scarborough
Alan was the cousin of both Clive Dunn, described how committed Owen was to his during the cricket festival in 1948, he heard
who played Lance Corporal Jones in Dad’s work and how difficult it was to divert him Bradman was to be presented with the
Army, and Gretchen Franklin, better known as into anything relaxing. Away from the music, honorary life membership of Yorkshire
Ethel Skinner in EastEnders. As each actor was Owen was an antiques dealer with a regular County Cricket Club during the match
becoming well-known in the 1940s, it is Saturday stall in the Portobello Road market, between Australia and the MCC. At very
Alan Owen, who has died at the age of 82, was perhaps unsurprising that Alan’s show business specialising in old clock and watch parts; he short notice he arranged for a recording car
a distinguished music producer for BBC Radio connections led to him making his only indulged his passion for art house movies; and, to be sent over from Leeds, and it arrived just
and, under the name Alan Langford, a prolific appearance as a performer in a small role in the as a member of the Performing Right Society, in time for the microphone to be set up in
composer of light music. The pinnacle of his Frank Loesser film, Where’s Charley? , the organisation that distributes copyright the marquee as the players were coming in
radio career was 11 series of programmes on based on the farce, Charley’s Aunt. payments to composers, he took his place on a for lunch. Edited versions of Bradman’s
Radio Three about America’s finest songwriters Once he was promoted to music producer, committee that considered the plight of acceptance speech went out that evening in
and jazz musicians, written and presented by he worked across the radio networks, members facing financial difficulties. the North Region, and down the line to
Alistair Cooke, better remembered for his something that was encouraged in the less In retirement, he recorded books for the Radio Newsreel in London.
long-running Letter from America on the Home stratified years of the BBC. blind, enormously assisted by his perfect After four years with Talks Department he
Service and later on Radio Four. His work with Cooke began in 1974. enunciation and his ability to assume different resigned and for the next year and a half he
Besides his light music, which has recently Between then and 1987, they worked on no voices. He married twice, but both marriages worked on the other side of the microphone.
enjoyed a resurgence of interest, he wrote fewer than 74 programmes that culminated in ended in divorce. He is survived by his two He ran a Music Club for young listeners,
mood music for commercial recording libraries a six-part series, The Life and Music of George daughters from his first marriage, Fanny introduced a number of programmes for
and many avant-garde pieces, chiefly for his Gershwin. Besides Cooke, Owen regularly and Carey. Schools Broadcasting, a series about animals
own enjoyment. produced such Radio Two stalwarts as David Richard Anthony Baker in music for a children’s programme
produced by Lionel Gambin and adapted
books for serial reading in Women’s Hour.
He was then asked to join Gramaphone
Passionate chorister Department and he stayed there until the big
changes that took place when Radios 1, 2, 3
and 4 came into existence. His range of
Geoff Timms joined the BBC from Mercers’ broadcasts, including a visit to the Bolshoi subjects was pretty wide, and at one time he
school, had a short spell in the navy, and Theatre in Moscow. was engaged simultaneously on a feature
returned to the BBC after demobilisation, Retiring in 1986, he and his wife Josephine celebrating the centenary of Covent Garden
spending most of his career at the forefront of left their North Finchley home and his beloved Opera House, and a series of record
classical music broadcasting. garden for Reydon, near Southwold on the programmes introduced by Tommy Steele.
His whole life was devoted to choral Suffolk coast, where he quickly became involved Other presenters he worked with were Eamon
singing, a passion instilled in him as a boy with vocal groups, bell-ringing and church Andrews, Alan Melville, Larry Adler and Dirk
chorister at Exeter Cathedral, and his work committees. The London Consort of Voices Bogarde, and he produced a feature called
patterns as a Music Studio Manager allowed (secularly known as The Seven Deadly Sins), Reluctant Star about Bogarde’s 10-year rise
him time to sing as a deputy bass in The Blyth Consort and The Reydon Consort from discovery to stardom. As an executive
Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral all benefited from Geoff’s artistry, knowledge producer he was responsible for the launch of
choirs. On one occasion he went with a senior and enthusiasm; in all, he was loved for his Alan Keith’s Your Hundred Best Tunes.
BBC colleague to record a choir at St Clement integrity, warmth and sense of fun. On the break-up of Gramaphone
Danes Church in London, only to be found His character, courage and determination were Department he found himself in Aeolian
singing in the choir himself. epitomised by a dogged refusal to allow Motor Hall as an executive producer for Radio 2.
As a music balancer he could be described as Neurone Disease to get the better of him, and But now the range of programmes was far
conservative, using a minimum number of his fight to try and maintain some sort of more limited and in 1971 at the age of 55 he
microphones, usually one, rather than the dozen mobility was eventually too much for his heart. took early retirement.
and more used by some of his contemporaries. He died on 29 November 2010 leaving He said that if he had had his time again,
He was not limited to vocal music; he worked his wife, Josephine and sons, Graham he would have stayed with the Talks
on Proms, Royal Festival Hall concerts, Covent and Malcolm. Department, in spite of the rather irksome
Garden, Glyndebourne and many other outside Keith Wilson schoolmasterly way it was run in those days.
Mrs AC Upjohn
‘Anonymous soldier’ who spoke at the Guildhall Tonmeister’ to ‘The Good Old Days’
When my father, Edward Percy Stuart, left the Eighth Army, and so it was that my father John Drake, His duties were almost exclusively on outside
school in 1934, he joined the BBC at was asked to speak at the Guildhall. This speech who died at broadcasts although he did some programmes
Broadcasting House as a messenger/page boy. was recorded by the BBC, and put on a 78rpm home on 22 in the studio as well. The Oxford Road Show,
He was then appointed as a junior clerk in gramophone disc. I can recall, as a child, playing February after a which he did in the 70s, was a sometimes
1936, and was at the opening of Television at this disc on our gramophone at home. brave fight with controversial live youth-culture programme and
Alexandra Palace during that year. Promoted to Over the next 25 years, Dad worked in cancer, was a Brass Tacks was a complex live current affairs
clerk in 1939, he was called up for military various posts in the BBC, from catering stores Senior Audio programme hosted by Eric Robson, which he
service in 1940, and joined the Royal Corp of auditor (which involved travelling to various Supervisor based did from the then new Studio A in Manchester.
Signals for the duration of the Second World offices throughout the UK), to other positions in Manchester On OBs, as well as all the usual sports
War, serving in Lord Montgomery’s Eighth in Shepherd’s Bush, Television Centre and for most of coverage, John did most of the It’s a Knockout
Army. He came home unexpectedly on leave in finally Wood Norton in Worcestershire. In his career. He and Jeux sans Frontieres programmes and he
1943 and married my mother, Emily Seymour, 1976, at the age of 58, Dad took early was 73. particularly enjoyed his association with One
before returning to his regiment to take part in retirement and spent the last 34 years of his life John was brought up in Saltdean, just to the Man and his Dog.
the landings on the Normandy Beaches. After being involved in various local, church and east of Brighton, and studied electrical Life was never dull working with John. He
the war he came back to the BBC as Assistant village activities (having moved to Bloxham engineering at Brighton Technical College. He insisted on high standards and he was always
Head of the Messaging Service. in Oxfordshire from Finchley North London qualified as a member of the Institution of ready to try out innovative techniques. One
In 1947, Lord Mackintosh (for whom my in 1974). Electrical Engineers. such innovation was to fit radio mic collars to
grandfather worked as a chauffeur) and Lord During the years that we lived in Finchley, He joined the BBC in 1960 as a Graduate sheep on One Man and his Dog. This gave rise
Montgomery joined Hugh Dalton, the Dad secured employment not only for members Apprentice Engineer. He spent two years in to some high quality renditions of what sheep
Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a campaign to of our family, but also our neighbours. Out of London on a fast-track scheme, spending two do best, apart from baaing and eating grass!
promote National Savings. This campaign, nine people who lived in both houses, only two months in each of a number of departments, a John never forgot to make work enjoyable
known as the Silver Lining Campaign, was of us had not worked at the BBC! period he much enjoyed. At the end of that time and he took a delight in practical jokes. His
launched at the Guildhall in London on 29 Dad led a busy and active life, with four he elected to continue his career in Programme crew always had to be on their toes for his latest
April. They needed an anonymous soldier, who children, five grandchildren and seven Operations rather than Engineering and he then wind-up.
had served under Field Marshall Montgomery, great-grandchildren to his name. He will be spent two years in Cardiff before being To his wife, Margaret and his family we
to speak at this event. Lord Mackintosh knew sadly missed by a great many people. appointed Sound Supervisor in the North extend our sincere condolences.
that his chauffeur had a son who had been in Colin Stuart Television Unit in Manchester. Jerry Clegg
April • 2011 • • 11
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at the impressive age of 94. His latter years were college. In all these bodies he played a very 3-bedroomed cottage with gardens in
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ARIEL SUBSCRIPTIONS Can you help? Prospero Classifieds, BBC Pension and
Benefits Centre, Broadcasting House,
James Gilman sent in this photo taken inside the old Telediphones Cardiff, CF5 2YQ
UK: 6 months £26 Department at Broadcasting House in the 1950s. He writes: ‘The Please enclose a cheque made payable to:
1 year £50 person in the foreground is my late sister, Joan Gilman (later Joan BBC Central Directorate.
Overseas: 6 months £36 Ratcliffe). I wonder if you could print this and ask any former members Rate: £5 for 20 words.
1 year £60 of the Telediphones Department if they would care to contact me on In a covering letter please include your
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12 • • April • 2011