Miriam O’Reilly on Pres desk

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The photo is of Miriam O’Reilly operating the Midlands Today pres desk at Pebble Mill in 1990. This was a year before the big stereoification refurbishment of all the regional pres desks in 1991, which in turn led to the building of the pres gallery next door.

Notice the diamond-shaped strips sticking the ear-piece wire to behind Miriam’s ear, probably of toupee tape – I bet those hurt when they were pulled off. There’s also a handy reel of what looks like camera tape on the desk, carefully out of shot, in case of emergencies!

Thanks to Stuart Gandy for sharing this photo, which was originally posted on the Pebble Mill Engineers Facebook group.

The following comments were left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:

Mary Sanchez: ‘Great photo! I used to sit to the right of her punching up the graphic slides and ‘floor managing’ timings etc from my chair! Seems so simple now!!’

Jane Green: ‘Miriam was I think the first to do the self-drive – presenting and pressing all the buttons. I was next to her when she did the Breakfast bulletin and instead of pressing the button to bring her name up on screen at the beginning, she cut to the end weather caption. Then something else, and so on. Poor lady! I could do nothing to help. At the end of the bulletin, she pointedly looked down to the buttons to find the right one to opt back to the network, and looked up and gave a lovely smile before opting back. She stayed calm throughout.’

Jonathan Dick: ‘I remember being in there with Janet Mayo, on one of the first times that she worked in that suite – probably around 1988/9. On the 0855 bulletin, she faded beautifully down-and-up from network to the BBC 1 Midlands symbol, said ‘This is BBC 1 for the Midlands’, then cut straight back to network sound and vision (now showing the South East News), rather than her camera. So we got SE News plus Janet’s voice over the top of it. Somewhat recklessly perhaps, I put my arm in from the side, trying to keep low, beneath the camera shot, and punched the camera button. As I moved back after doing this, I caught a lovely view of myself doing so in the TX monitor… not low enough, obviously. I then realised that I hadn’t stopped network sound from going out, so desperately inched my arm in once again, managing to stay out of view, except after I hit the requisite button, when my arm recoiled, and flew-up through the shot – at least I didn’t accidentally punch Janet on the jaw at that point! All was OK after that, and poor Janet kept on reading throughout my contortions beside and in front of her. I went nervously back into the newsroom afterwards, wondering what would be said, but nothing was – Roy Saatchi was there chatting to some colleagues, but nobody mentioned the incident. I thought I’d got away with it, until Mike Johnston arrived a few minutes later, and from the other end of the newsroom, saw me, pointed at me and shouted ‘Hey – star!!!’. Later in the morning my appearance was reviewed by several of us on the VHS ROT in Studio 9, with the tape being stepped forward a frame at a time, in order to determine my point of maximum visibility.’

Diane Kemp: ‘Yes, it hurt! The camera tape is how we stuck the wire to our necks. It’s all about the glamour you know!’

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