I joined the BBC…
As a junior editor I was allocated all sorts of work like Match of the Day, Top of the Pops, Play School, Rugby Special, Film ’80, Nationwide and a load of trails (or trailers) for BBC 1 and BBC 2. Within a year, I started to concentrate on ‘Light Entertainment’ programmes, as they used to be called back then. Fortunately after that it was…as Edina said in Ab Fab…
“Names, Names, Names”
Only Fools and Horses (right from the start), Blackadder (Series 2-4), Absolutely Fabulous (Series 1-3), Bottom, One Foot in the Grave, Parkinson, Saturday and Sunday Night Clive, Yes, Prime Minister, KYTV, ‘Allo ‘Allo, French and Saunders, Alas Smith and Jones, Just Good Friends, Hi-de-Hi!, Not the 9 O’clock News, A Kick up the Eighties, Dear John, Agony Again, Joking Apart, So Haunt Me, May to December, Butterflies, The Magnificent Evans, Terry and June, Open all Hours, Heartburn Hotel, In Sickness and in Health, The Brittas Empire, The Val Doonican Music Show, Goodnight Sweetheart, Tonight at 8.30, Fist of Fun, Ever Decreasing Circles, Clarence, Mulberry, Brush Strokes, 2.4 Children, Goodness Gracious Me, Waiting for God, Next of Kin, Bread, The Vicar of Dibley (Series 2), As Time Goes By, and a couple of Royal Variety Shows with numerous other music specials.
Amongst the laughs, were other programmes like a drama series called Maggie, and the coverage of the Advent Service from Salisbury Cathedral called From Darkness to Light.
I left the BBC in 1998 to go solo. The series happily kept on coming in my direction, such as High Stakes and Teenage Kicks for ITV, Time Gentlemen Please for Sky and back to the BBC for ten series of My Family, Roger Roger, Dad, Lee Evans, and My Hero.
In more recent years I have worked on five series of Parkinson for ITV, four series of The Green, Green Grass, three series of The Catherine Tate Show, two series of The Old Guys, a John Sullivan comedy drama called Rock ‘n Chips, two series of Mount Pleasant for Sky, along with The Apprentice – You’re Fired for the BBC. Yet more sit-coms like Count Arthur Strong for the BBC, Vicious for ITV, and most recently Birds of a Feather and Mountain Goats for BBC Scotland.
In 2019 I have just finished series 6 of Still Open All Hours, to be transmitted on BBC 1 in the autumn and at Christmas.
When I were a lad…
In the 1960s ‘video’ at home was unheard of.
All we had was film – Standard 8, Super 8 (and 16 mm for the kids with rich parents). Editing these formats in a domestic environment was somewhat unrewarding as the results could hardly be described as good, and syncing sound was a real problem.
But what we did have was recorded sound and 1/4” tape.
Here at least, with a splicing block and a cheap and cheerful sound mixer, you could produce reasonable sounding results. Things like, putting your favourite tracks all mixed together on a reel of tape or producing sound effects for school plays, could all be done at high quality at home.
That’s how I started really
I was selected to do a vacation training course with the BBC in 1975 in the Telecine and Videotape Departments, I found that editors there were dealing with sound issues just as much as editing the pictures. Wow, and I had done some of that sort of work myself.
For example, I saw that editing the vision from a freeze at the end of a slow motion replay of a goal was simply a matter of deciding where that cut should happen, but mixing the sound from a roaring crowd and a commentator talking as though his trousers were on fire, to a quiet throw-in 10 minutes later, took individual skill and technique.
My career decision was made.
After university, where I was studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering, I joined the BBC as a recording engineer and was promoted to senior recording engineer in 1978. Right from the word go I was assisting real edit sessions, with different editors for a huge range of programmes the BBC was producing at that time. I just cherry-picked the skills and techniques which my senior colleagues had already acquired working with the kit at the time.
I was promoted to editor in 1980 and, as a junior editor at the ‘Beeb’, I was allocated all sorts of work like Match of the Day, Top of the Pops, Play School, Rugby Special, Film ’80, Newsnight and a load of trails for BBC 1 and BBC 2. Within a year, I started to concentrate on ‘Light Entertainment’ programmes, as they used to be called back then, even being asked to edit the first series of Only Fools and Horses by producer/director Ray Butt in the summer of 1981.
I still edit about three series a year, still mostly comedies for the BBC and in my spare time I tutor GCSE and A-level Mathematics.
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