Red Dwarf camera dude Rocket gets technical with Mr Flibble.
11 June, 2004
How did you start in the industry?
I wanted to be a cameraman from the age of seven. In 1955/6 I lived in Southampton, and a guy who walked across the Arctic came back to Southampton to a massive Civic reception. All the school children were given little Union Jacks to wave, and I got caned because I wasn't facing the road - I was facing backwards because behind us there was a BBC television camera on a little tower with a man operating it. And from that day I was going to be a television cameraman.
I joined ABC Television when I left school in 1967, who did ITV, Midlands and North at weekends - but they were based at Teddington which was odd. We were all black and white in those days. I was a camera trainee there and did live dramas - Callam and Mystery Imagination. In 1968 we got absorbed in the first of the ITV shake-ups and became Thames.
I bailed out in 1969 to come here [Shepperton Studios] and join British Lions Films, and they decided to invest in the 'new' television. They got some money together and formed Lion Television Services, and they built a colour television Outside Broadcast unit, which was never heard of. There was one facilities company in Europe - Intertel - and they thought 'there's a market here'. So they invested all this money, and their head of cameras was a guy called Dave Swan who is sadly now dead, and he recruited me and Barry Dodd and Mike Fitch and others and we became the cowboys of the television industry! (Laughs)
Then in 1973 there was a recording company called Trident Recordings, and they were the first company to do multi-track audio recording of records - they recorded The Beatles multi-track in 1968/9. They wanted to go into the music television business, even though it didn't exist, and they bought the ailing Lion Television and put it with Trident and made a company called Trillion, who I worked for. Fortunately another company they owned called Trident Music had fledgling bands, and one of them was Queen! And so in 1975 we made the video for Bohemian Rhapsody with Queen, and after that for nearly ten years, nearly all I did was make rock videos.
Then in 1979 someone suggested that I do it for myself, so I handed in my resignation but Trillion said 'don't do that do it for us'... and they gave me my own company called Tricam, which survived a noble seven months, and was profitable, but unfortunately Trillion wasn't! So we had a parting of the ways and in 1980 Mike Spencer who had been my engineer, also left and we formed Telegenic. The rock video business had dropped off by then as everyone wanted to shoot on film, so we went into programme making.