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While ATV held the London franchise, the Palladium Show was staffed and equipped by the Elstree Studios. For the 8pm transmission, the riggers were the first in at around 6am to install the camera cables and communication lines to the scanner and sound truck parked at the rear in Ramilles Place. The sound crew (of 3) arrived at 6.30am to rig for the pit band and the other stage requirements. The sound director and number two arrived around 7.30am and expected to find everything rigged and working. If sound director Bill Nuttall couldn't walk into the sound truck and fade up the band channels to find them all functioning, heads would roll. The plugging was a mystery to many, including myself. Mike lines on stage were identified as one thing, went under the stage to be re-labelled as something else, and then out to the room backing onto Ramilles Place where they were designated as something else, then to the scanner. For instance the main riser microphone plugged into G4 on stage, LL3 under the pit, GF2 in Ramilles Place room then to main bay in the sound truck to C7 submix - these numbers are fictitious but give an idea. With some sixty or more lines to plug up after humping in the heavy equipment was a trial in itself. If there was a band on stage as well, the plugging multiplied. The senior sound gentleman working backstage had the plugging list, to lose it was nothing short of a calamity. I recollect one such occasion - Shirley Bassey was topping the bill. Jack Parnell's band had to dash from the pit to the stage during the commercial break after Beat the Clock. Bruce Forsyth introduced Shirley amidst lots of banging and thumping from behind the tabs. Sound assistant Dave Millard and I were to page the loom of band microphone cables as the revolve brought the band round. To our horror, the loom got caught in the revolve gap. Dave flung himself forward tugging at the loom but it was still stuck and he was heading for the stage. I grabbed his legs and managed to pull him back before he was about to make an unscheduled appearance on stage just as Miss Bassey was making her entrance from the OP side. I had previously employed Dave at Radio Luxembourg and recommended him for an ATV sound job. Years later, he became a television director at Yorkshire TV. He is still freelancing.The compere always wore a radio microphone, especially during Beat the Clock. One task, which I did often, was on the night to sit in the dress circle box and tune in the microphone which, un-like the modern day counterpart, was unreliable most times. When Bruce was in the wings waiting to come, the microphone would emit shush. As soon as he hit the stage it came to life. To test the microphone we would listen in while he was still in his dressing room; sometimes clear as a bell. When he found out this practise happened he blew a fuse and we were banned (officially) from eavesdropping. Bruce took added precautions by covering the microphone with his hands during sensitive conversations. Once or twice, a boom was wheeled out onto the stage to cover a sketch that was not possible with the three riser microphones. This was a nerve wracking job in front of an audience - I performed this task once and in my nervousness nearly tipped the boom operator (and boom) into the orchestra pit. The carnage would have been terrifying (not to mention the insurance) for the musicians and instruments. It became obvious that I was not destined for the stage.The show ran for years and possibly I worked on something like a hundred Palladiums. Come rain or shine not to be there for the rig at 6.30am was considered sacrilegious - I recollect driving from Harpenden to London in thick snow on the A1 where no other tracks existed. If I had spun off the road I wouldn't have made it. Our keenness to do the job, at that time, was astounding, it further epitomised the pride of working for the finest television company ever run by people of the Lew Grade ilk. We could do with more entrepreneurial skills with our television programming today.
One apocryphal story concerning Lew was his desire to know the top of the bill for the following Palladium show. Topo Gigio, the Italian puppet act had been on a few times and because the puppet was so small, the audience could hardly grasp what was going on. This worried Lew. On being told that Tito Gobbi was topping the bill the following Sunday, Lew remarked ‘Not that ******* mouse again?'From the viewpoint in the wings, to see the unbelievable magician Channing Pollack manipulate playing cards from out of nowhere or the singer from My Fair Lady breaking down in tears at the end of her act as the curtain fell was awesome. Or Norman Wisdom and Bruce Forsyth rehearsing the wallpaper sketch; possibly funnier than seeing it from the stalls. I recollect another magician throwing a dove intended for the tails of his coat, missing the target and the poor bird finishing up-stage as dead as a dodo. To see Tommy Cooper ‘explaining' his tricks to the director during the morning walk-through; was infinitely funnier than the act itself. These are memories firmed into my mind. (and a hundred others). The Val Doonican & Des O'Connor ShowsBoth of these programmes started out as UK productions. Val boarded the ATV ship after a successful period at the BBC. He was extremely easy to work with and took a surprisingly great interest in the sound control room; apparently, this did not happen at the beeb. All the shows went out ‘live' The Jack Parnell Orchestra being under the direction of Val's own MD Kenny Woodman.One particular programme I remember used the entire facilities of the Rupert Nieve 100 channel sound desk. The band took up some 35 channels, the audience reaction microphones another 12, floor microphones and booms another half dozen. But on this show, Acker Bilk and his band were guest stars using another 15 channels. On this show the band would have to dash out from the band room during the commercial break and appear on stage for the finale, another 35 channels used up, and probably quite a few pounds lost among the orchestral members in the race to studio D from C band room, some fifty yards, many carrying their instruments.For a programme of this complexity, I used my number two John Bain as a sub mixer handling all vocal mics. A sound crew consisted of seven, the number two kept in the control room with the sound director, three number 3's were designated bona fida boom operators whilst the last two were boom trackers and/or lowly foldback speaker pushers. Trays of teas from the canteen were usually shared by all grades. One crew member, Roy Rogers, could (and often did) supply five trays of teas before lunch. As previously described the foldback speaker operator could ruin the mix for the sound director by turning the level up too high. So, not such a lowly job! I can proudly recall pushing the foldback on the Nat King Cole Show at Wood Green Empire. He was appearing in the Royal Command Performance that year and an audience show was put together without him being present for any rehearsal. On the night, the legendary floor manager Billy Glaze, throughout the show walked just out of camera shot to point the way for Nat King Cole to move. Directed by Bill Ward, the show featured three sets, London, Paris & Rome. A 30-minute recess between each part was necessary for two scenery crews to quickly re-set. The defunct orchestra pit was used as a moonlit, foggy park for London, a jazz club for Paris to introduce the famous Nat King Cole Trio and gondolas on fake water for Rome. Shot mainly on a Mole crane with senior cameraman Johnny Glenister at the sharp end, I followed the crane around the huge sets keeping within good listening distance for the artiste without being in shot. After the show, Nat King Cole, came over, shook hands and thanked me. That was worth more than a week's wages. A very early export-only series was BROADWAY GOES LATIN featuring the Edmundo Ros Orchestra with various American guest stars. Produced by a dynamic American Milton Lehr, he would rush onto the floor to direct the dancers, dash back upstairs to harass the director and spin into sound control to lambaste the sound mixer. Most of the band numbers were from Edmundo's library of hit 12" LP's. Milton and I would pore over the albums at night and make up the following day's shoot material by editing bits of the records, sometimes taking dire liberties that the band had to cope with miming the tracks, usually without any rehearsal. Milton flew back to the States every week convinced that one day his number would be up, the amount of flying he did.We did dozens of these programmes and I have memories of Milton arguing with various artistes (or their managers) in the control room late at night over ‘misunderstandings'concerning Milton financing their return air fare. On completion he offered me a sound job at his radio station in Costa Rica. Worried about that return fare clause, I politely declined. Mr. Lehr was a commanding figure, a bundle of highly charged energy. When he swooped down on the floor the guys would quake if he headed in their direction.Back in those days sound and cameras were all guys. Today, women form a goodly proportion of all television crewing, probably more behind the camera than blokes. Girl sound mixers are not at all unusual; I recall one such at the Thames TV Teddington Studios; but I think the first girl sound person was Patti Belcher, an ex-PA at the HTV Bristol Studios, where an ex-ATV sound guy, Michael Gore, ran a very efficient department. HTV got into big-time drama production at quite an early stage, with shows like The Big Knife starring Stubby Kaye, The Forgotten Story with Van Johnson and Separate Tables directed by John Schlessinger, starring Alan Bates & Claire Bloom. This was heady stuff for a regional company - happily, from a sound perspective, Mike ensured that the standard of sound pick-up etc was of the best quality - you don't spend years at ATV without having that installed in you. When I went freelance, Mike often put ‘jobs' my way and later we shared several weeks in Norway on a musical series, but more of that later in The Freelance Life segment to come. It was via Mike Gore that last year I got the opportunity to meet up with Edmundo Ros. Turned ninety years old he retains a commanding presence. Living in Javea on the Costa Blanca, Edmundo has the Freedom of that city (as well as London) and is known locally as ‘The Maestro' After a delightful recounting of how he met his wife Sue, he grumbled about the cessation of his band and touring due to ‘unionism' a subject that evoked high level dialogue from him possibly heard across the hills. Good luck Edmund.Reverting to Val, in three years of live transmissions of The Val Doonican Show, I only missed one. They planned to do a live transmission from Warwick Castle in the Midlands. Being an outside broadcast this would be facilitated by the ATV Birmingham based OB unit. Taking Val out of the comfort of his studio was not the best idea. Because the band were unable to appear in the castle, the music was all pre-recorded and in some cases Val had to mime to a track Val, always prided himself on his miming, and concerned that nobody at home would notice. But while he was introducing one item, the track started too early and he found himself talking over his own voice singing. He was not best pleased and the experiment was not repeated. Sometime during this lengthy run, two Americans came to Elstree to sell Val Doonican to the United States as a sort of ‘Irish' Perry Como. Bernie Kukoff produced and Jeff Harris directed the 13 part series, featuring a lot of American stars. Val enjoyed the experience but despite his easygoing manner, the show failed to hit the spot as a summer replacement in America. I think they went too far with the ultra Irish sets, donkey carts abounded etc.Many years later, I was sound director on a BIRDS OF A FEATHER Christmas Special partially shot on the Universal lot in Los Angeles. Driving past the main office building I noticed one of the prized parking spots was assigned to Bernie Kukoff, so he'd made it! Jeff Harris, a keen sports fan, became a committed football supporter and often attended matches of the Leyton Orient ilk and followed minor clubs even after returning to the USA. Where are you now Jeff? ↓The Royal Variety Show 1977 The American duo Gary Smith & Dwight Hemion were given the 1977 Royal Variety to cast aimed at the American market. The production from the Palladium would be crewed by the Birmingham arm of ATV, I was not allowed in the scanner but Gary & Dwight had organized the Rolling Stones owned sound truck to be parked alongside where I would duplicate all the microphone lines and record the entire show on sixteen tracks. This involved the cooperation of the Birmingham crew as every line going to their scanner had to come to mine. The following day, I would go to Los Angeles and re-mix every item after Dwight had edited it. This was a task I was quite looking forward to. The top of the bill was Julie Andrews, but Shirley Maclaine stole her thunder closing part three with her ‘If They Could See Me Now' routine. Cleo Laine with the Johnny Dankworth Orchestra was also featured along with a myriad of other names. The show finished around midnight and after the usual ‘green room' congratulatory drinkies, Colin Clewes (who would edit the British version) requested that I give him a copy of the sound tapes for their use. I got to work with Mick, the Rolling Stones sound guy to copy something like three hours of sixteen track tapes finishing the task around 5.30am. Although I had been in the Elstree sound effects library at seven that morning to find train effects, I didn't feel too tired. An ATV hire car picked me up at the Palladium and we set off with the pile of tapes. En route, the driver had been instructed to collect the very beautiful Lynette Davies, who was starring in John Cooper's FOUNDATION drama. I had done several ‘Foundations' but had never met Lynette before. She looked just as beautiful at 6.15am.By midday, I am in a 747 heading for LA. On arrival, I was booked into a rock and roll hotel on Sunset Blvd before hiring a Ford Pinto as a runabout to and from a dubbing studio, also on Sunset. There, it was discovered that we had the original master tapes leaving behind the copies for the UK dub (oh dear, silly me!). Over the next five days, Dwight would edit a chunk of the show in an edit suite on Burbank, bike it to me where we would find the segment, remix and return. . . . it to Dwight for layback. The quantity of ‘chunks' was due to the huge number of commercial breaks they put into the Royal Variety. After the job was done I slept for twenty hours before returning via a snow covered New York. A cabbie asked me ‘what the hell was a Limey doing here in NYC in the damned snow'- I told him. The show had gone out the previous night and he had watched it. ‘Hey' he said, summing up the two and half hour show; ‘I watched that programme with some other guys and that guy with the fez . . . . he really broke us up - terrific'. I got several comments like that from the hotel staff. So, Mr. Tommy Cooper, you could have been a big star in the States with your own show in Vegas, long before David Copperfield.The Julie Andrews Christmas SpecialAfter a successful series of musical Specials made in Hollywood, Julie Andrews came to Elstree to continue the good work. Husband Blake Edwards would string along to executively produce the new series and possibly to further liase with Lew Grade for the continuance of the highly successful Peter Sellers Pink Panther movies.The 1973 Christmas Show was shot perilously close to transmission date with guests Peggy Lee as the sugar plum fairy and Peter Ustinov as a comedic Father Christmas. The Dougie Squires 2nd Generation singers and dancers added to the splendour of the beautifully designed Christmas settings whilst the Treorchy Male Voice Choir travelled down from Wales to accompany Julie on four set pieces. These 100 Welshmen managed to drink the bar dry in the first lunch break before gathering in Studio D band room to record two perfectly performed tracks.Julie's previous musical conductor was the legendary Nelson Riddle, who, apparently, was unable to do the UK series preferring to care for his un-well wife. Ian Fraser took over the baton. Musically, Ian, a British ex-pat, had made quite a name for himself in Hollywood, and this programme was to be the start of a long running relationship between us for some years to come. Ian is a brilliant musician, arranger and conductor. He played the harp and all the usual keyboard instruments to perfection. Unlike some musical directors, Ian had an earnest interest in the sound aspect of our shows and greatly admired our facilities. The orchestral arrangements were largely the work of Andre Previn. Even today, I don't think I have ever heard better arrangements for Christmas carols written for a large concert-style orchestra and performed by pitch perfect, Julie Andrews. Studio C band room was packed jammed tight with extra strings, brass, woodwind and percussion. A terrific Christmas present for an enthusiastic sound mixer.Before shooting, Ian arranged for the crew chiefs to visit the Albert Hall, where Julie would be performing all the Previn Christmas stuff along with her usual repertoire. After the show, Ian, acting the perfect host, took us all to a nearby Vietnamese restaurant. During the meal Ian suddenly noticed a man pushing a wheel chair leaving the restaurant. Incredibly, it was Nelson Riddle and the wheelchair occupant was Mrs Riddle. He came to our table and Ian introduced us all. I don't think many knew who he actually was. However, Nelson Riddle was my idol; I had admired his records and accompaniment of top stars for many years. He seemed a most charming man. Wishing Ian all the luck in the world with the forthcoming Julie Andrews project, he left. Later, when Ian called for the bill, the waiter explained that Mr. Riddle had settled it. Wow! What an exit! Peggy Lee arrived complete with oxygen mask and two boy friends. One of whom, I think, was elbowed after a couple of days! Peggy and Julie did a Sugar Plum Fairy 16-minute medley. For this we had the casings of the C451 hand microphones jewelled. They looked terrific. Neither needed ugly windshields (my pet hate) both artistes had perfect microphone technique and never popped once. Ian Fraser devised this medley and I gave him the follow-up song ‘It's Impossumble' to follow the lyric ‘But The Folks Don't Eat Their Possum, Like They used To Do Before' - I got a very special bottle of Rioja for that suggestion. Blake Edwards would have probably directed the programme had union rules allowed. So a surrogate director, Jon Scoffield was appointed. Jon had made his name on the fabulous Tom Jones series, recorded at Elstree for three years. It was the biggest success ever in the USA.On the last day of shooting, Peggy Lee had a flight out to the States allowing no time for rehearsal or re-takes. She sang a poignant six-minute version of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' in a mock aircraft seat, finishing with seconds to spare. Boom operator Dave Pull was inches from her with a handheld microphone, he recalled ‘She sang the song just for me' Then the studio was wrapped and only the sound control room remained active in order to re-mix the entire show from 16 track recorders using video playback in synch. This was an all-night job. At 10.30pm, our sound door opened and Julie Andrews came in with a tray of sandwiches (and some liquid refreshment!). Wow! We mixed down until around 5am. After layback to the original VTR 2" quad tape the show was ready for UK transmission that night. Julie spent something like three hours a day in our vocal booth singing scales. A sign on the entrance proclaimed NO SMOKING- I think that was the first time that edict was seen at Elstree. Julie had perfect pitch and was the consummate performer in every way. The opening song ‘Hark the Herald . . .' was perfectly mimed with fake falling snow, particles of which fell in her mouth, some of which she swallowed. I think it went out in London at 11pm - surely, such a beautifully made Christmas Special deserved a better transmission slot instead of being the victim of serial squabbling among the various ITV franchisees? To see it now would surely be a delightful Christmas experience for young and old?Fortunately, I have this, (and many other) Specials in my archives.The Englebert Humperdinck Show‘Enge' as he was affectionately known (think ‘stone') was from the same stable as Tom Jones and Gilbert O'Sullivan. Gordon Mills the ‘inventor' of Enge (proper name Gerry Dorsey) was fashioned into a super star by Gordon - a role that Enge took on board with gusto. I sound directed all eighteen Humperdinck Specials with some of the most fabulous guest stars ever. I fondly remember an ageing Phil Silvers in his ‘Bilko' outfit, Donald O'Connor with oxygen standing by after a short dance sequence. Dionne Warwick saving her voice for the night to Enge's consternation. There was also a hilarious rehearsal performance by the American comedian Milton Berle, known universally as Mr Show Business.It was the custom for director Colin Clewes to walk the artistes through the show the night before being on camera. Everybody else watched this from the sidelines making various notes in cahoots with Colin's directions. Mr. Berle, from the outset, was not happy being directed. .. walk here, do that, walk back etc. Instead, he took over the role and at one point even showed Enge how to descend a set of stairs with elegance. He did this by getting Enge to watch carefully as he did it, rather exaggeratedly and talking the move the whole time. We all looked on in wonderment. Never before had a guest star been as oddly entertaining during a walk-through. Colin, a legendary ex-BBC senior cameraman, very kindly let Mr. Berle do his thing. He'd probably change it later to suit his pre-conceived camera plot.Enge smiled more on that rehearsal night than I remember before. Did he take in all the suggestions by Mr Show Business? Was it going to work on the night before an audience? The dress rehearsal the following day still instigated verbal direction from Mr Berle, rarely keeping to the scripted plot. It was to everybody's astonishment that ‘on the night' before the audience Milton Berle performed to the script with perfection. His lines were delivered with utter polish and immaculate timing. His deference to Enge was excellent. The show went so well and we all knew by now why Milton Berle was referred to as Mr Show Business.Enge had a problem with foldback on many occasions. With the orchestra in a distant band room, their output is fed to the floor via a movable loudspeaker box known as foldback. If the foldback is too high, the band sound leaks into the vocal microphone and discolours the mix. Thus, foldback is kept back to a minimal level. This was never enough for Enge and there were countless occasions where rehearsals stopped to ‘discuss' the problem. On one occasion, the band left the band room to play out of vision on the studio floor, thus foldback seemed superfluous. However, 36 musicians can make quite a noise and thirty feet away Enge, on a hand microphone, complained he couldn't hear the band properly. I went down to the floor and arranged two foldback speakers in front of him with the feed of the band. However, this proved unsatisfactory as Enge said he couldn't hear the speakers because the band was too loud! A break was called while we screened off the wonderful Jack Parnell Orchestra situated beneath the production control rooms before greatly increasing the amount of band foldback to Enge's speakers. Sound mixing can often be knife edge and personal perfectionist sacrifices have to be made at all times to keep the talent happy.Some audiences must have been perplexed when they came to see their idol reading his introduction speeches from huge cue cards and having to watch many vocal re-takes usually for a host different reasons, if the reasons were difficult to explain to the audience, foldback was usually shunted forward as a good old standby. Often the studio recording would go on for well over an hour past allotted time. Three years later, he came back for one Special. Colin Clewes directing and producing again. He stunned us all by being the perfect performer throughout, his need for cue cards were minimal, his comment on foldback was nil. His act and performance was honed to perfection. I guess a few years on the road had worked wonders.The Englebert Humperdinck series had gone out coast to coast in the States at least four times surely enabling the success of Enge's US tours? ↓ The Des O'Connor shows went well as a summer replacement in the States sponsored by Kraft and called The Kraft Music Hall. It even extended to a 2nd series. Whether this was due to executive producer Mort Lachman's desire for another season of golf at Carnoustie is a matter of conjecture. A Kraft representative ensured (thankfully) that no ‘cheesy' jokes crept into the script.Des had all the advantages of big time guest stars of the Jack Benny calibre and the ‘I say, I say' segment with the likes of Roger Moore, Rachael Welch, Norman Wisdom and visiting superstars popping in to do a gag, certainly enhancing the show.Des had an easygoing vocal style but if he couldn't hear his voice coming back from the PA, he was unhappy (even doomed). I gave him PA of his voice alone belting out of loud speakers dotted around the studio, under the audience area and behind the cyclorama. He was more than happy with that, although other sound directors throughout the industry may have considered I went too far. They were probably being pressed for a similar rig.Keeping the talent happy again . . . . . and again!Two guys who kept the talent perpetually happy AND the crews was the remarkable team of Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion responsible for many great shows emanating from Elstree between 1969 and 1977* Kopykats Series Herb Alpert Specials* Burt Bacharach Specials Julie Andrews on Sesame Street* Barbra Streisand & other musical instruments Peter Pan with Danny Kaye* Ann-Margret Olsen Special Ann-Margret Smith Special* Bing Crosby Merrie Olde Christmas Special Sammy Davis Special* Julie & Jackie Gleaso PeterPan (1st stereo production from ATV Elstree)* Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme - George Gershwin and Cole Porter SpecialsGary & Dwight were also involved with the first series (1976) of THE MUPPET SHOWNo ExcusesIn 1982, we embarked on another stereo drama series. ‘NO EXCUSES was a re-titling of Barrie Keefe's tale ‘Bastard Angels' about a fading rock star, Shelley Maze played by Charlotte Cornwell.Charlotte, an established actress, had quite a rock-ish voice and the fourteen songs for the eight one-hour episodes were performed either in the studio or on location in rock venues. The songs were all written by a brilliant keyboard player Andy J. Clark leading the heavy rock band. It was a harrowing tale and drama director Roy Battersby was first time venturing into a musical zone. He virtually shrugged off the stereo commitment until he heard the first scene we shot in the baronial hall of the mansion that Shelley Maze had purchased in the twilight of her career. The butler (Alfred Burke) was laying a huge dining table with crockery and silverware. His long walk round the table, with jangling cutlery and heavy footsteps on flagged stones echoing around was something that Roy, enthused about, he could not have been more cooperative to sound all through the arduous shoot. Recording in stereo requires the microphone not to be moved too much as this affects the image. Often camera shots had to be adjusted to facilitate this.For the series opening sequence, Shelley arrives by Rolls Royce to inspect the baronial hall she has purchased. The Rolls going up the drive took a minute or so, and on the sound dub, I played a single low note increasing the level gradually until it hit a crescendo as she slammed the car door when we crashed into the huge opening number. It was a dramatic moment par excellance!We recorded sequences in several clubs around London and the deafening levels from our rock band was such that some of the crew were unable to stay in the vicinity - ‘it shook my rib cage' one cameraman complained.Yes, it was loud but not as loud as a show that I mixed before becoming a sound director in the early sixties. This was a children's programme, hosted by Pete Murray and going out live at 5.30pm. The guest band turned out to be none other than Jimmi Hendrix. The guitars and keyboard was so loud I had to put huge screens around the drums to avoid the drum microphones being swamped. Normally, we screen drums to avoid leaking into other band microphones. I had also increased the number of drum mics from two to eight, cutting the level required from each to a minimum, therefore assisting the screening out of Jimmi's guitar. Cameras had to operate way back from the set on different lenses as the excessive sound level caused microphony, a condition that affected the picture causing it to ‘wobble' It was reported that during transmission iIn Studio A, Jimmi Hendrix could be heard in the canteen some hundred yards away leaking through ‘sound-proof' doors. Pads were installed into the microphone chain to stop overloading and distortion. After a rehearsal in the morning, Jimmi would come up to sound control and listen to a playback. He was a sad individual; often so morose he was unable to communicate. I was given this series as a trial by the Head of Sound, Des Gray. Jimmi Hendrix probably wasn't in the equation at that stage. I like to think my promotion to Sound Director some weeks later had something to do with Mr. Hendrix and his extraordinary talent (and sound level!).Andy J. Clark, on NO EXCUSES had a long way to go to give me a problem with level. The ‘No Excuses; series was a costly production, no expense spared. The floors of the awe-inspiring mansion sets were entirely covered with flagstones. Roy Battersby got the best out of Charlotte performance-wise. The dialogue content was often daring and very dramatic and harrowing; Charlotte showed a huge depth of acting talent.Sound post-production was made more genuine by discarding the usual sound dubbing suite loudspeakers (some £1500 each) and mixing the entire show on a domestic stereo television set in an effort to simulate home viewing. Titled ENCORE, an eighth programme was put together consisting of just the musical items. Later, an album was produced of the recorded music from our show by CBS records which we re-mixed at the Manfred Mann Studios in south London.I don't think the programme got a good transmission slot. It was also critically panned as well. A pity, it was such a good story that a re-make today would, I think, be a great success.West End TalesThis was a nice comedy cops & conmen caper directed by the talented Jimmy Gatward. Jimmy was a film director and got me to operate on the floor with a floor mixer and headphones . . . oh and a take bell, an unknown item in television broadcasting. This experience whetted my appetite for the film industry quite a bit. Jimmy found out I was from Leytonstone, in east London. ‘So was I. , , and so was Alfred Hitchcock' he responded. He further enquired what road I lived in. I told him; ‘what number' 288 I replied. ‘Ah . . . ‘ he shot back ‘I was number144'. He had a marvellous system of working, shooting the master shot of the whole scene in one take. Then single shots followed by two/three shots from both angles, then the master shot once more. It may seem convoluted but in edit he'd have everything covered to perfection. When we looked at him enquiringly after each last take, he would say (after glancing at his shooting script) ‘Lads, you're on your wrong marks' and we'd hastily get set for the next scene. I began to think, if this efficiency happens in films, what am I doing here in telly?Later, we did a lot of location work in the West End, always at weekends when it would be quiet. Oh yeah! 6am is when road works start in the West End with shop alarm bells ringing unattended for hours on end. Occasionally, we had to change venues because of this. Most times it was freezing cold and Roger Wilkinson (my number two) and I looked forward to a lunchtime hot toddy before the afternoon shoot. Jimmy decided to post produce after the entire series was shot. Part way through the sound relaying task of dubbing, he unexpectedly (to say the least) won the franchise to run the new Southern Television Company, now to be called TVS. Jimmy shot up in the world to chauffeured cars and high tech meetings. He left West End Tales to us. The show was not un-like MINDER, very light and very enjoyable.I think Mr. Gatward went to Australia to get back into films after TVS.A touch of technicalityOn WEST END TALES locations we used the filmic Nagra tape machine to record all sound for eventual relaying onto master video tape. It may be worth explaining this procedure at the post production stage. The 2" video tape allowed just two outer tracks for sound storage. These tracks were far from hi-fi and after editing from master to master then copying and recopying by other transmission stations, often ended up sixth or more generation sound. Magnetic tape was not generation friendly and with the consequent increase in background noise the finished sound product did not fare well. By relaying, the 2nd generation sound would be more acceptable. The importance of this will be obvious in the BOB HOPE ROYAL GALA segment (The Freelance Life; to come) where the sound went out in the States something like 9th generation. Today, of course, with digital sound reproduction, a hundred transfers from one source to another would not affect sound reproduction one iota.

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