Dear Mr Hargreaves…
8 Sep 2016 12 comments. tbs.pm/9628
6 October 1967
Thank you for your letter, I’m sorry I’ve not had time to reply earlier but things have been rather hectic lately, a threatened strike by Rediffusion staff and the anticipated death of Lord Attlee are just two of the things that have been keeping us on our toes.
You’ve asked a lot of questions and I’ll endeavour to answer them, so here goes. A book was published recently on TV announcing, I think it is called ‘Practical Television Announcing’ it is published by the Focal Press, but it costs 2 guineas, you could ask your local library to borrow it for you.
Owing to the limited demand for the book in this country the author has included a considerable number of things that are not applicable to English Television, but it is the most comprehensive study of the subject available.
A cheaper more general book is ‘Working in Television’, most libraries have a copy of this, it is usually shelved under ‘Careers’. The Annual ITV Handbook, price 7/6, if you have not already got a copy, is very interesting. The 1968 edition to be published early next year will give details of the new network set-up due to come into operation next Sept. Robin Day’s book ‘T.V. A Personal Report’ is very good, and Richard Baker’s ‘Here Is The News’ gives an interesting personal account of life in BBC-TV.
If you have received the impression that I play more opening music than my colleague (Don Murray-Henderson by name) then it is a false impression, because the same amount of music is always played. The opening procedure is detailed on the Daily Schedule. The music is called ‘The Granada March’ and was specially commissioned by Mr.Bernstein, no-one seems to know who the composer is, but your mother is quite right it does sound like Eric Coates. The music is taped, in fact it is on a Kassette, and comes directly from the studio central control room, Winter Hill as far as I know do not have a copy of the March, they do play some music from the transmitter but only when we are off the air, for instance in the afternoon between schools and ‘On Air’. During a break-down if they cannot get any sound from us they then play some music but I cannot remember when they last did so.
My title is ‘Station Announcer’ not ‘Transmission Announcer’, and the announcers do not control the music or the caption changes, this is done by the Transmission Controller and his assistant. We do sometimes take a caption change as a cue, but if music is being played we have to wait for his cue because we cannot judge whether the music has been toned down sufficiently. The announcer works from a small room called the announcers booth, it has a large double-glazed window that looks onto the Central Control Room where a bank of monitors is situated, but we do have a personal monitor that shows the picture domestic viewers are receiving. The booth is fully sound-proofed and as a further precaution we switch on a red light a minute before we go on the air, this is to warn people that they must not walk in. The announcers did work from a light cue once but it was a long time ago when Brian Trueman did some announcing. At the BBC they have a different system, the announcers do their own caption changes.
You have obviously done a good deal of research into television procedure and terminology, I must congratulate you. I think that you should now consolidate your knowledge by taking a trip around the studio. The best time to go into the studios is at lunch time (1.00 till 2.00) or at tea time (3.30 to 4.00), and if you wish to see the ’Coronation Street’ sets it will have to be on a Thursday or Friday. Drop me a line before your half-term and I’ll try to fit my arrangements in with yours.