Open to suggestion 

26 April 2021 tbs.pm/72770

 

 

The following is a rare document, created and typed by TWW announcer Maureen Staffer.

It’s a memo to the Chief Announcer of the company, Bruce Lewis. We can date it to sometime in 1959/60, because of the programmes mentioned, such as Abracadabra, presented by the deviser of Mr and Mrs and so many other quizzes, Roy Ward Dixon.

Not content for the company to rest on its laurels, Mollie, as she is known to her friends, advocated innovation, and beseeched the TWW to approach their in-vision presentation in a more dynamic way. Many of her ideas, such as using a fireside setting, were adopted by other companies in later years.

The innovations contained in this document were even more remarkable considering that Mollie was a young lady in her early twenties, who at that time could have been content to simply announce, read the news, and nothing else. In the context of the UK in 1958, this was revolutionary – a young lady having input into the presentation of a largely male-staffed television station.

According to Mollie’s daughter Sophie, her mum always enjoyed suggesting programme ideas and working closely with her producers throughout her long career, and a memo along these lines comes as no surprise to those who know her. This memo was copied to Wyn Roberts, who was an executive producer at TWW and probably responsible for presentation at the time. Ironically, Wyn was also the man who decided in 1963 that women were no longer suitable for reading news bulletins on TWW, as attractive ladies were deemed unsuitable to ‘put over’ bad news. This development, if it happened at all, was short lived!

Richard Wyn Jones

 

Maureen Staffer

Maureen Staffer’s first publicity shot for TWW

Further to our recent conversation re: general standards of presentation, I would like to outline one or two ideas of mine which, I feel will be of interest to you.

  1. For the past six months promotions have been “limited’ to say the least. Because of the small amount of space available in the Continuity Studio it is impossible to use a wider angled lens than is at present being used, which must be rather boring to our regular viewers.
  2. Surely the time has come with Autumn Viewing now in full swing to “liven up” presentation. To this end I would suggest more use being made of the facilities available in Studio Two. (24’ x 12’) .
  3. The use of Studio Two, together with our newly-acquired Ampex Machine would surely “fit the bill”. I would like to see more interviews with personalities from our shows as a more interesting method of promoting them. e.g. Roy Ward Dickson being interviewed about his current Abracadabra shows or Barbara Brown and some of the youngsters from “Youth Makes the Show”. This seems to me to be a sure method of quickening viewer’s in our local shows.
  4. We should, I feel, bear in mind that the viewers are watching in the comfort of their homes and that therefore we too should endeavour to at least give the appearance of “chatting” to them about programmes of interest from our equally cosy fireside. A few drapes, an armchair and coffee table can work wonders, and would surely make a welcome change from seeing the announcer in the same tight close-up night after night.
A typed letter card

Having passed the first audition, TWW invited Maureen Staffer for a second interview. She passed that one too.

It has also occurred to me that is is possible to present one or two small programmes from Studio Two (these need not necessarily entail the elaborate technical facilities which are normally required of a programme in Studio One. i.e. elaborate sound set ups and camera movements) . From our past experience it seems evident that programmes from Studio Two must be of a fairly static nature. Here are just a few examples of this:

  1. We could cater a little more for the young children by presenting a ten minute story slot – using just one camera on the reader, and one on captions. I feel that for children in this age group of 4 to 7 years, something of this nature is usually a “winner”.
  2. Our lady viewers are not being catered for at present. Why not a feature on the general lines of “What’s New in the Shops” – consisting mainly of filmed reports on new fashions or household gadgets which are currently available in most stores.
  3. An interview spot, perhaps once a week with people of interest in the West and Wales that week. This too, could be done mainly on film. In fact I feel that for both these programmes, the women’s feature and the interviews filmed items would be most successful – film is prepared beforehand, can be edited and can often give far more pace to a small programme of this nature, than a live interview, which is subject to the usual Studio distractions. In each case the studio could be used simply for links.

Trusting these ideas will be of interest to you. I await your reply.

 

A new office building

TWW’s studios and administration offices shortly after the facility opened.

 

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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Maureen Staffer with Richard Wyn Jones Contact More by me

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