Last day at the BBC in the Queen Vic;
That's not an old fridge we are leaning on, its an EMI 2001,
a type of camera I operated for 16 years.
L. to R. Jeff Naylor, Kevin Coe, Ian Adrian, Geoff Feld and Neil McLintock.
My Career as a Cameraman
From 1974 to 1990 I worked for the BBC, begining as a trainee and leaving
as a Deputy Camera Supervisor. 1990 to 1991 was spent at Mersey Television as
a Lighting Cameraman on Brookside and Waterfront
My interest in directing began at school when I joined a film making group.
Soon I was instructor on the course, and the teacher asked me what I was going
to do when I left. He made me believe that I could get into the business and
even might make it to director. Thank you, Mr Armitage. My career in TV began
in October 1973 when I landed a job at the BBC as a trainee camera assistant
(Training course A19 - the first thing ex-Beeb employees ask when they meet!).
I transferred to Crew 2 at BBC Television Centre at the start of 1974, which
at that time was led by Frank Wilkins and was renown for its work on Drama -
indeed one of the first studio dramas I trained on was Churchill's People
- now famously included in "TV Hell". Studio drama was still made in the traditional
multi-camera style pioneered by the likes of "Armchair Theatre" and the first
handheld cameras to come in to the Centre had to be operated by OB cameramen
for political reasons - but by the mid '80s BBC TVC cameramen were turning out
some of the finest handheld camerawork, mainly due to experience gained making
Top of the Pops every week. It took me five years to get a cameraman's
grade (some people before me had taken twelve years due to the over-recruitment
inspired by the opening of BBC2). In that time I undertook a six month attachment
to Pebble Mill in Birmingham and gained confidence by operating cameras on Pebble
Mill at One. Other highlights of the time included working on The Old
Grey Whistle Test - my first "as live" music show camera was on a Rory
Gallagher concert (repeated as a tribute when he died - I was the cameraman
at the back with the very long hair). As a cameraman, I worked
on a number of sit-coms including some written by my favourite comedy writer,
John Sullivan - Citizen Smith, Just Good Friends and Dear John.
Other memorable moments included an exploding Dalek and Live Val Doonican shows.
I had a spell on Crew Seven run by the highly acclaimed Ron Green and survived
Stewart Morris' traditional shouting at Camera 5. Around 1982 I joined Garth
Tucker's Crew One, who were making some excellent dramas, including a play called
Roller Disco State directed by the brilliant Alan Clarke. I joined
Roger Goss' Crew Eight, one of the crews to start off Eastenders
(Episode 3, in fact) which finally
got studio cameramen out into the open air! I then joined Geoff Feld's Crew
10 where I became a Deputy Camera Supervisor. There I worked on the best of
studio based drama remaining, got the hang of Steadicam (two 7 minute live Rap
numbers on one camera!) and became used to being on the front of the Nike crane
on TOTPs. By now the BBC studios were contracting at an alarming rate, and faced
with a diet of quiz and chat shows I decided to apply for a Lighting Cameraman's
job at Mersey Television after a chance discussion with Peter Boisseau who had
both lit and directed the show. Pleased but surprised to get the job, 1990-91
went by in a blur - soon after I arrived the show went
three nights a week. My favourite memory as a cameraman was shooting on location
in Rhodes and a typical Brookside moment when we used a Pedallo as
a camera boat and the PA commented "I can't do continuity and pedal at the same
time!". And then I was offered the chance to direct....
I continue to be a member
of the Guild of Television Cameramen. You can visit their web site at