The Ted Harris column


An attempt to get a publicity shot of Alpha’s new frontage proves a minor disaster

From ABC TV News, the house magazine of ABC Television & Iris Production – No 11, April 1962

If the Editor of ABC-TV NEWS should ever come to Birmingham, may I advise her to bring a large tin of ‘soothing syrup’. She will need it if she is to calm the fevered brow of upwards of half a dozen television executives, 4 lighting technicians, 1 Chief Inspector of Police, 1 Inspector, 1 Sergeant and 3 Police Constables, 1 Station Superintendent and 5 Leading Firemen, and countless bus and lorry drivers, private motorists and pedestrians.

Why? Well it all started so simply. The Editor has asked us to provide her with as much news as we can about our regional activities. We are rather proud of our new-look frontage at Aston and so we thought we would take a picture of it. Better still – let’s floodlight the building for better effect. And that’s how the trouble started.

A very co-operative Studio General Manager in the person of FRANK BEALE provided us with about a dozen assorted lights varying from pups to 5 kW and we lined them up on the pavement just outside the studio.

Splendid – now for the picture.

SNAGS . . .

But it was here where we struck snag number one. The audience and fans who clamour round our studios every Sunday evening for ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ began to get tangled up in the lighting cables and stands. So, we moved all the lighting equipment to the opposite side of the road.

Splendid – now for the picture.

But what about the cable bringing the power to the lights? Won’t that get damaged by the stream of traffic running over it? And that’s where the Fire Brigade was called in – they brought with them the wooden ramps which they use to safeguard their hoses.

Splendid – now for the picture.

With camera poised, our photographer WILLOUGHBY GULLACHSEN was just about to operate his shutter when the traffic began to pile up and his view was blocked completely by a street of double-decker buses.

Out went an emergency call and soon our friends from the local Police Station came along to sort out the traffic chaos.

Well, we got our picture – and here it is below.

Alpha Studios at night

Mark you, our troubles didn’t end with us getting the picture. You see, the wooden ramp which the Fire Brigade brought with them was far too wide for our slim power cable, and as no natural bridge was formed, cars and lorries bumped and bounced over the ramp, losing a succession of sump covers, exhaust pipes, number plates and goodness knows what else in the process.

So, Miss Davy, don’t forget that large tin of soothing syrup when you come to see us. Oh, and by the way, will you bring a new exhaust pipe and silencer for a 1961 Vauxhall Cresta with you? You see, I too, went over the ramp a mite too quickly.

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