World Service cuts bite by suchenfz

VIEWS: 52 PAGES: 12

									                             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
                                     BBC Pensions

                                    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
                                                                                                                                               health).
                                    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
 classified advertisements.
                                    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
                                                                                                                      2                                            3
                                     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.
                                                                                                                      9                                      10
Email: prospero@bbc.co.uk            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);
                                                                                                                                               11
                                     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.
                                                                                                                      16                                           17

                                     The programme was I’m sorry I haven’t a clue.
                                                                                                                                         18
                                     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



links alive
                                                                                                           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 cheryl.miles@bbc.co.uk
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
                                                                                                           visitor, Sybil
I have, to someone who knew, for instance,            ‘they have all remarked on                           Jenezian. She told
Lord Reith.
   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
have heard.
   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.
dumbed-down!

                                                                                                                                                             April • 2011 •                        •3
Letters
Contacts                                      This issue… more complaints about ma tch covera ge;
Visiting Scheme
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 member.relations@bbcclub.com.        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: graham.snaith@yahoo.co.uk                 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.
Email: tvc.shop@bbc.co.uk.
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
                                                                                                                                                       remembered
ME9 8LW. Email: bbcshop@bbc.co.uk.            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          dstone38@hotmail.com                                 Peter Page

4•                    • April • 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                      Letters
music levels; announcers not enuncia ting; former collea gues...
 Voice training
 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
                                                                                                          Music levels
                                                                                                          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.
                                                                                                          Geoffrey Manuel
                                                                                                                                                            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?

 Sue Jennings



  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
  early days.


                                                                                                                                                               April • 2011 •                              •5
 Memories




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
                                                                                                                                                                              Memories


Keep it in the family                                                                                                                                             MONEY
                                                                                                                                                                 MATTERS
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
                                                                                                                                                                                            Court of
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
                                                                                                                                                                and losers.
                                                                                                                                                                  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   leighton.dyer@yahoo.co.uk                              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                                                                sue.sharpe@bbc.co.uk. 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’
               Lottery
               Winners                       The BBC is looking for people to help them with
                Congratulations to
                February’s lucky             a survey about the moods we associate with TV
winners: Frances Tait, Albert Willis,
Annakia Everitt, Evelyn Conway, Stanley
                                             programmes.
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:
sachin.gangwal@bbc.co.uk 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
bbcclub.events@bbc.co.uk.                    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
month.

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 wai.man@bbc.co.uk 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
                                              back home.
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.
carolynhowgego@gmail.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
                                                    Asian communities.
                                                      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
 Road, Norwich.
                                                                                                         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
 jelewisuk@btinternet.com                                                                                practice guide.
                                                                                                                                                     River City - £8.1m


                                                                                                                                                      April • 2011 •                        •9
Obituaries

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
and Rangoon.
   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
BBC Television.
   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
                                                                                                                                                                        Obituaries

 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? [1952],         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
                               Prospero – the future
                               There have been rumours (not sure where they have
                                                                                                                                                              Classifieds
                                                                                                                                                  Venice, Giudecca apartment, sleeps 5. Fully
                                                                                                                                                  equipped, very quiet, vaporetto to St Mark’s.
                                                                                                                                                  Tel: 01260 227262,
                               come from) regarding the future of Prospero, with                                                                  Email: maggie_harwood@btinternet.com
                               some readers believing that the publication is on the
                               brink of being axed.                                                                                               Menorca. Detached villa sleeps
                                 The BBC Pension and Benefits Centre, which has                                                                   2-7. Private pool. Close Es Castell/Mahon.
                               responsibility for Prospero on behalf of the Trustees,                                                             Brochures/prices 01621 741 810 or visit
                               can confirm that this is not the case. The Trustees                                                                www.menorcaholidayvilla.co.uk
                               recently appointed a specialist pension                   that Wordshop has helped out with Prospero over the
                               communications agency called Wordshop to help             last year on an interim basis. I believe they have
                               produce Prospero.                                         already improved the look and structure of the           Somerset holiday flat. Near coast and
                                 The small company in Dorset prides itself on            publication, and we look forward to making further       Exmoor National Park. Sleeps 2. Affordable
                               providing a high level of service to its clients, which   design improvements, which you will begin to see         rates. Tel: 01643 704778;
                               include BAE Systems, British American Tobacco,            from the next issue.’                                    www.cottageexmoor.co.uk
                               Sainsbury’s, Whitbread and the House of Commons,            Jeff adds: ‘People who wish to submit articles and
                               to name but a few!                                        obituaries to Prospero should continue to send them
                                 The company has been shortlisted in this year’s UK      via the Pension and Benefits Centre, as we have final    Seaview, Isle of Wight. Wanting to get
                               Pensions Awards, in the category Communications           editorial control over what goes into Prospero, but      away for a break? Pleasant ETB 4* studio
                               Provider of the Year, as well as winning numerous         having Wordshop to help us has certainly made it a       annexe, sleeps two comfortably. Near beach
                               industry awards over the 20+ years it has been            much easier, smoother process, as well as costing        and village. For details contact
                               in existence.                                             considerably less than we used to pay.’                  studioannexe@btinternet.com
                                 Jeff Webley, Pension Communications Manager at            You can find out more about Wordshop on their          or tel 01983 812180
                               the BBC, says: ‘We have been impressed with the way       website, www.wordshop.co.uk
                                                                                                                                                  Lake District. Historic watermill, secluded
                                                                                                                                                  in woods and fields, sleeps 6, beautiful all
                                                                                                                                                  year for walking, climbing and sailing.
                                                                                                                                                  Tel: 020 7387 6654;
                                                                                                                                                  Email: jocelyn.mayne@virgin.net


                                                                                                                                                  Provence. Modern traditional-style
                                                                                                                                                  three-bedroom villa (sleeps 6) with pool. Near
                                                                                                                                                  enchanting medieval village. From £550pw.
                                                                                                                                                  Tel: 01908 561324 for brochure


                                                                                                                                                  Lagos, Algarve. Small townhouse,
                                                                                                                                                  2 bedrooms, roof terrace, near beach, from
                                                                                                                                                  £150pw. Also large apartment. Contact
                                                                                                                                                  07956 181613; cgodleman@hotmail.co.uk


                                                                                                                                                  Paphos. A/C studio apartment, sleeps 2/3,
                                                                                                                                                  spectacular balcony view, from £95pw.
                                                                                                                                                  Amenities adjacent. Taxi/car hire
                                Founder member of British Computer Society                                                                        arranged. Tel: 01455 635759;
                                                                                                                                                  www.cyprusapartments.net
                                Arthur Radley MBE (Farrand to his Quaker friends         Waterways Association, the Alumni Associations of
                                and some organisations to which he belonged) died        former members of both his old school and his            West Dorset. Recently renovated
                                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
                                sadly overshadowed by illness but he was devotedly       significant role. He also lectured widely on many        quiet village close to Beaminster and Lyme
                                cared for by his wife Laura whom he married at 81        subjects which held a special interest for him.          Bay coast. Tel: 0118 341 566
                                and to whom we all send our deepest sympathy.              Arthur was a unique personality – a man of many
                                  After leaving Friends School, Saffron Walden,          parts – and who touched the lives of many people.
                                with which he had long family connections, he            He had a great sense of humour as well as keen           Brittany, Dinan. Delightful medieval riverside
                                went to St Edmund Hall, Oxford to study Modern           attention to detail, a strong streak of spontaneity      town with many restaurants. Attractive
                                Languages (French and German) and it was there           and invariably the ability to rise to the occasion.      apartment in old merchant’s house; quiet,
                                that we first met.                                       I remember once travelling by car with him and           central. Beaches, walks close. Near St Malo
      The next issue will         He was already a Territorial when war broke out        arriving at the Norwegian-Swedish border behind          channel port and Dinard airport (Ryanair).
                                and he enlisted in the Lancashire Fusiliers. From        a long queue of cars. Never one to waste time,           Sleeps 2, double or twin. From £190pw.
       appear in June           1941 – 1944 he served in Malta and for a period          Arthur persuaded the official at the passport control    Phone: 020 8995 8543
                                was ADC to Lord Gort VC, the General Officer             that the third member of our party, Alastair Watson,     Email: dinan@chiswood.co.uk
                                Commanding. He then joined Special Operations            was in fact the grandson of the famous Dr Watson.
                                Executive (SOE) in the Mediterranean area and in         Happily for us, the official turned out to be a keen
                                May 1945 became a senior staff officer in the            fan of Sherlock Holmes and we were waved                 Salcombe, Devon. Family cottage,
                                British Military Government in occupied Austria,         majestically on ahead of the queue of waiting cars.      spectacular views, sleeps 6, three minutes
                                a country to which he became closely attached and          Arthur’s general knowledge was immense and his         to wonderful beaches, National Trust walks,
                                which honoured him with a decoration, as did the         interests and pursuits of a very varied nature. They     sailing, great restaurants.
                                British Government, for his military services.           included choral music, playing the cello, rivers and     Email: tony@blackroot.co.uk
                                  Arthur joined the BBC in 1950 in Organisation          canals, industrial archaeology, Georgian and
                                and Methods Department, and in 1960 moved to             baroque architecture, chess, archiving and               Niton, Isle of Wight. Holiday chalet for 2 in
                                Television. He retired in 1976 as Management             protocol, etc.                                           peaceful and secluded landscaped gardens.
                                Services Organiser. He was a founder member of             He was supported by a vast research machine in         Ideal base for walkers. Tel: 01372 462732
                                the British Computer Society and represented the         his attic cabinets of files, documents of every sort     www.ramblersretreatatniton.co.uk
                                BBC on metrification mattes affecting both radio         including postcards – to say nothing of his vast
                                and television. During his retirement he sat on a        collection of 10,000 slides.
                                number of national committees, as often as not as          So you see that he needed 94 years to fit              BBC music magazines with CDs complete
                                Chairman or Chief Executive, as for example the          everything in!                                           from Issue 1 to present. Offers to 01494
                                Institute of Personnel Management, the Inland            Denys Salt                                               523121, Bucks. Email: ggstable@gmail.com


 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
Please phone: 0161 485 6540                                 james.gilman@btinternet.com or by writing to Prospero.’                               pension number.

                                                                                                                                                 Designed and produced by Wordshop, Sherborne, Dorset
12 •                 • April • 2011

								
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