I joined the BBC in 1965 and trained as a ‘technical operator’. In the
regions, TOs were expected to work in both TV and Radio. Normal jobs for a
TO were operating cameras and sound equipment in TV studios and sound
recording suites for radio as well as the sound control room. Radio Studios
were the province of a different breed called ‘studio managers’. These were,
in the main, graduates whereas the majority of the TOs were recruited from
schools after A Levels.
I spent most of my time working on camera crews in Gosta Green and Broad
Street. As a trainee I was only allowed to operate a camera in Broad Street
and for simpler programmes at Gosta Green, but I often drove the ‘Heron’
camera crane used on most of the dramas at Gosta Green. By 1968 it was becoming clear
that the TO role was a bit of a ‘dead end’ and that those senior to me were
not much older, so I was encouraged to look for other opportunities. I was
keen to explore production and broadcasting rather than engineering (TOs
were very much ‘engineers’ in the eyes of personnel). Local radio was just
starting, so I managed to transfer into that as a station assistant and
(after just two years) was promoted to producer. I stayed in local radio
until I left the BBC in 1996 from the post of ‘Senior Broadcast Journalist’.
Along the way I had spells as a Continuity Announcer at TV Centre and as a
trainer at the Local Radio Training Unit.