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Club Meetings at Mere were still cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. A series of Zoom Meetings were arranged throughout the month.
Thursday 27th May 2021 – Club Meeting Speaker, Mr John Miller, who gave a talk entitled ‘Life at the Beeb.’
John started his talk by reminding the members that he first gave the same talk to KRPC ten years ago! The talk was primarily about the period he was a member of BBC staff. He worked for the BBC for almost thirty years, mostly as a producer in Manchester.
John’s BBC career started when he was appointed as a Studio Manager in January 1963. After a six-week training course, he worked predominantly in radio, working on gramophones, tape recorders, sound mixers and sound effects, such as rattling tea cups in Mrs Dale’s Diary! He moved on to the BBC World Service at Bush House, which at that time, transmitted in 44 different languages. However, the announcements between programmes were all in English, and John just managed to pass the microphone test, so he was able to make some of these announcements himself.
John realised that he wanted to get into television, and he also wanted to get out of London.
He then transferred to a similar job in Manchester, but the Regional Centre offered more variety, and included television sound on programmes such as Top of the Pops. John then became involved in vision mixing on children’s puppet shows such as ‘Sooty’, ‘Pinky and Perky’ and ‘Titch and Quackers’. He then worked as assistant sound mixer on an outside broadcast for the Leeds International Piano Competition. However, it was soon apparent that John could follow the musical score, whilst the sound mixer could not, so John did all of the musical sound mixing. This subsequently led to him becoming an Assistant Producer.
John now worked on a number of quiz shows, such as ‘Sixth Sense’, ‘Screen Test’ and the adult version, ‘Movie Quiz’ with team captains Sylvia Sims and Michael Parkinson. He also covered all of the political party conferences in the area. He had a major involvement in the outside broadcast for the 1969 election in Northern Ireland, and worked with David Dimbleby on the UK General Election in the spring of 1970.
John’s production work then started to use a lot of filming on location for programmes such as ‘Look Stranger: Moving House’ and ‘It Takes a Stranger’. This required a production team of three to four people and a film crew of four. A thirty-minute programme required ten to twelve days of filming, which then had to be edited on a Steinbeck editing machine – a process which took up to five weeks. Consequently, it was only possible to produce about six programmes a year.
The BBC’s premises in Manchester had been spread around the city in thirteen different locations. This all changed in 1975, when the BBC’s New Broadcasting House opened in Oxford Road. The main areas of production were current affairs, entertainment, sport and children’s programmes. David Frost made a new series of programmes entitled ‘We British’. It was similar to today’s ’Question Time’, but included sketches as well. The programme was recorded as if it were a live programme, and then edited for fine tuning. John produced the programme, but it was very time consuming – demanding seven days a week for six months. Other programmes John produced were an outside broadcast from Chequers at Christmas time, Michael Wood’s ‘Story of China’ and a series of programmes originally entitled ‘The English Difference’, which looked at family traditions going back generations. The programme ran for two six-part series under the title ‘Roots of England’.
John left Manchester for a while and worked at Television Centre in London at the TV Training Department. He taught Directors Courses, and some of his students had very successful careers in television production.
John concluded his talk with a programme made about Tim Severin, an adventurer who had decided to recreate the journey of Jason and the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece. The original journey was made in about 1300 BC, and the only description they had was written about a thousand years after the event, so its accuracy was somewhat suspect.
John described in great detail how he reconnoitred the route, selected camera points and covered the journey, which started in Southern Greece, went on to the Black Sea and ended up in what is now Georgia, which was still part of the USSR at the time. The journey was 1500 miles long, took three months, and John had just ten days to sort out filming and scripts. In spite of many difficulties, Tim Severin made a successful trip to the village of Vani in Georgia. In years gone by, villagers would put sheep’s fleeces in the shallows of the river to trap small gold nuggets that were washed down with the stream during the winter. This was the origin of Jason’s ‘golden fleece’. The programme was finished in 1985, broadcast in October and sold to over 40 countries.
Finally, Manchester’s New Broadcasting House remained the centre of operations for BBC Manchester until 2012, when the BBC moved to new studios at Media City UK in Salford. The premises at Oxford Road were then demolished.
John then took questions from an appreciative audience.
26th May 2021 – Bowling – Knutsford Rex Probus v Macclesfield 2 Probus
On a pleasant afternoon Rex welcomed Macclesfield 2 Probus to their Knutsford Bowling Club green. The match from a Knutsford point of view was going to be interesting as the first game a week ago ended up with a defeat by quite a large margin. So on the home green the Knutsford bowlers were hoping for a more encouraging result. Most of the 8 games were very competitive but Knutsford in most cases came out on top. In the end is was pleasing to hear the result of 108-88 in favour of Rex. The game as usual was played in a very sporting manner with the visitors thanking their hosts for a pleasant afternoon of bowls.
20th May 2021 – Walk – Dunham Massey
The walk starting at the Axe and Cleaver pub in the village of Dunham Massey. Six walkers took part and the weather stayed dry until they passed Dunham Massey and reached the golf course, when it started to rain heavily. The walk took the group round the course twice to find the right exit, before finishing the walk at the Axe and Cleaver, where they had a good lunch.
19th May 2021 – Bowling – Lymm Probus v Knutsford Rex Probus
For the first competitive match of the 2021 season away to Lymm Probus at the challenging Oughtrington green was always to be a baptism of fire especially after a 18 month layoff due to the coronavirus pandemic. The afternoon was very pleasant weather wise but the final score of 129-87 in favour of the home side was a disappointment. In fairness Knutsford had returns of a good number of victorious pairs but by not sufficient margins to create an impression on the Lymm points tally.
Knutsford’s next game is at home to Macclesfield Probus 2 on Wednesday 26th May at 2pm.
Thursday 13th May 2021 – Club Meeting – Speaker, Mr Robert Watson , who gave a talk entitled ‘Bowel Cancer Awareness’.
Robert stated that he was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2014 but after a course of chemotherapy he was now clear. The experience encouraged him to be a voluntary speaker on behalf of Bowel Cancer UK.
Bowel cancer is the 4th largest diagnosed (after breast, prostate and lung) but is the 2nd biggest killer (after lung). However, it is treatable and curable if diagnosed early. The 5 year survival rate is 92% if diagnosed at stage 1, 84% at stage 2, 65% at stage 3 but 10% at stage 4.
The symptoms are a) bleeding from bottom, b) unexplained change in bowel habit, c) unexplained weight loss, d) extreme tiredness, e) pain or lump in tummy.
The risk factors are a) not eating enough fibre, b) eating too much red meat, c) overweight, d) smoker, e) alcohol.
There is no doubt that the bowel cancer screening service saves lives. Every 2 years all between 60 and 74 years are sent a screening test kit. People aged 75+ can request a kit by telephoning 0800 707 6060. However, only 6 out of 10 people respond by sending in the completed test for analysis. The Speaker stressed that we should all encourage friends and family to take the test.
The Speaker and Mr Ross Lamb then took questions from an appreciative audience.