So many of us have vivid TV memories than seemingly nobody else remembers.
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Nottingham, in either the late 80s, or more probably the early 90s. The teatime edition of Central News East is on. I’m watching it, because not only am I fascinated by television, but I’m very specifically fascinated by television which is being transmitted live just up the road from where I live.
Anna Soubry is presenting, in the days when she was a journalist, long before she was an MP. I remember very little about the programme. I can’t even remember who she was presenting with. I just remember the very end of the programme. Anna and her co-presenter are sharing their usual banter. Her co-presenter said something. I can’t remember what. But as the lights dimmed and the closing credits appeared, I vividly remember Anna’s reply:
I actually remember that the sound was slightly dipped at the end of the word as we went to the wide… but it was very clear what she said. I also remember the general air of embarrassment in the studio on that final shot. It was bloody great.
* * *
I can’t imagine this particular gem ever being unearthed. Anna must have presented hundreds of editions of Central News East; I can’t even give you a year, or the name of her co-presenter, or any of the stories featured in that edition. My memory tells me I actually recorded it on VHS; my memory also tells me I recorded over it shortly afterwards, like a damn fool.
Nowadays, that clip would probably end up all over YouTube. Back then, unless it made it onto It’ll Be Alright on the Night – and I’m sure this didn’t, or else we’d all know the clip – it would often just disappear into the ether. I don’t think it even made it onto one of Central’s blooper-filled Christmas tapes. Unless someone who worked on the show remembers it and made a note of when it was, I can’t imagine it’ll ever be seen.
Which is a little unsatisfying. So instead, I can offer you the following Anna Soubry clip from Central’s 1985 Christmas tape1. At 11:42, dealing with people who look old enough to know better:
“ITV’s Scotland Decides averaged 400,000 and a 5.5% share over the same period.”
This, however, is not how the article read earlier today. The above paragraph originally read as follows:
“ITV’s Scotland Decides averaged 400,000 and a 5.5% share over the same period, also for two simulcast editions – STV’s version for Scottish viewers fronted by Bernard Ponsonby and Aasmah Mir, with ITV News’s programme for the rest of the UK, anchored by Alastair Stewart.”
The bulletin begins with the announcement during the title sequence that the lead story won’t make it. Not an unusual event maybe, but it’s thrilling to hear it actually happening. Unfortunately, things get worse from there. The whole thing is better experienced as a whole rather than just having me picking out bits and pieces, but trust me: it’s well worth your time. (If you’re in Dirty Feed’s core demographic, at least.) It all builds up to a genuinely thrilling climax… and one that the production team, to their credit, pull off superbly. That cut, 6:18 into the third part, is beautifully done – under immense pressure.
Incidentally, despite working in a TX suite which deals daily with live news, I don’t listen to enough open talkback to judge whose fault it is that the bulletin nearly falls apart. If anyone with a bit more experience in a live news gallery feels like playing the blame game, please do so in the comments. As a TX op, the bit that does give me the shivers is when the team realise they don’t have a duration for their late-delivery tape, meaning they can’t give TX a proper off-air time. “We’ll crash out of it, I’ll talk to pres…”
Finally, a slightly more serious thought, with the inevitable crunching gear change. What I found interesting about the lead story here is how much it has faded from the collective memory, mainly to be remembered only by the people involved. This isn’t some big story that impacts on a large number of people – it’s a very personal slice of pain. Listening to the story now, when the main public interest in the case has long gone, feels at best rather uncomfortable.
It’s an odd feeling to have about a news story which went out to millions of viewers on BBC1.