It was when I was 7 or 8 years old that I fell in love with the idea of working in television. Coming home from school meant that I could switch on BBC One and watch the broom cupboard! For those of you not in your mid to late 30’s, the broom cupboard was the nerve centre of the newly re-branded ‘Children’s BBC’. It was the place where from 1985-1987 Phillip Schofield (often accompanied by Gordon the Gopher) presented the bits in between the actual programmes. It was arguably as good as the programmes themselves and was must-see viewing for millions of kids all over the UK. Let’s not forget the remix of Petula Clark’s ‘Downtown’ that reached the UK top 10 because of broom cupboard admiration and how we all knew the lyrics to the classic kids TV show ‘Cities of Gold’ thanks to Phillip! When he and Gordon left, he was followed by Andy Crane accompanied by Edd the Duck and many others after that, but it was the original Schofield days that made me want to work in TV.
Today I had the opportunity to go to Whitminster C of E Primary School near Gloucester to speak to the children about TV production. The children were around the age that I was when I first decided that TV could be my career so it was something I was really pleased to do. The children are leaning about the television industry in a project called ‘Lights, Camera, Action’ and when I was asked by my school friend Alison (That’s Miss Parry-Jones to you!) to come in and talk to the children, I was delighted to do so.
We got to talk about making programmes like ‘Blue Peter’ which I worked on in the golden days of live transmissions from London’s Television Centre, as well as talking about ‘Saturday Kitchen’ and ‘Home Comforts’. After watching a clip of James Martin cooking Chicken Basquaise from one of this week’s ‘Home Comforts’ shows, my mouth was watering and the children asked questions about how the decisions are made: How do you choose the music? How many cameras are there? How long does it take to make a programme? Does anything ever go wrong? Have you had to sacrifice anything for your career?
Thanks for all you questions and for spending the afternoon with me kids! It was a real pleasure coming in to see you. It’s lovely to be able to talk about my career and to see that there’s a new generation of people interested in making telly. Let’s keep learning and I’ll see you in the studio soon!
And let’s not forget, even the teachers leant something today – If you can’t find the lids to your pans, you can always make a cartouche out of greaseproof paper! Just remember to put a hole in the middle!