This might be a long read. Apologies if I posted some or all of this before, but now we're at page 142 of the thread I simply don't have time to go back and read it all. But I am reasonably confident that i haven't posted in this thread before... Breakdowns are the raison d'etre of an announcer's existence. Intros and idents can be recorded but breakdowns simply can't always be covered with some bland apology. So here are two from my chequered past. #1 is Christmas Eve 1984 (if you know the story spool down to #2). "The Way We Were" is playing out from Thames. STV has a commercial break (just 1'40") and a slide (12") into the Watchnight Service from the Quarrier's Homes, Bridge of Weir with guest star Moira Anderson. I am in the continuity studio (Studio D) smoking cigars, jacket and tie off, and in a good place. I love Barbra Streisand and it's a lovely film. The end credits begin to roll (about two and a half minutes of these) when Jack McKinlay Brown, the legendary Transmission Controller, opens talkback. "Nae service son, putting you up in vision." 110 seconds to decide whether I have time for makeup or putting my bowtie on. I manage both. I waffle. Endlessly. And all the time wondering why they don't just put up a slide, play music or go to some goody from from the Standby Cupboard? I don't have an earpiece so we rely on a trimphone on the desk for communication. But it doesn't ring. After about 12 minutes of nonsense, I say "I'm sorry about this - I shall be back when we have better news, but in the meantime here is some music." Fade to back. Terry Cardwell (the Assistant Transmission Controller) kicks open the studio door. "Grams is f**k**, phone's f**k**, carry on son." I am back in vision. I sing Christmas Carols. Tell jokes. Read practically every word in the Xmas TV Times. Then after about 25 minutes, Terry slithers through the door and under my feet hands me a note. 'Got sound. Go to that.'. I do, and we see a still slide of a stained glass church window. Then Jack comes in. "Microwave dish blew off beam on the tower [above the studios] and the riggers nearly got killed trying to sort it. Here's the script. Apologise in the second verse of every hymn for the lack of moving pictures."
I do that. Jack reappears. "Sorry, son, but the Shop Steward insists the crew get their end credits. Read these at the end - there'll be an organ voluntary."
I read them. Vision Mixer. Makeup. Lighting. I go through all this utter nonsense and at the end get my revenge by saying. "That was a Scottish Television Network Outside Broadcast. Copyright MCMLXXXIV.". Then I'm back on again for another six minutes to explain about the riggers nearly meeting their doom. Eventually off home. Next morning David Johnstone (Programme Controller) rings cheerily. "Thought you'd like to know the overnights. [viewing figures]. Three times what we expected. Apparently everyone was phoning their friends to get them to turn on STV. Of course I don't know about the network." Network????? "Oh, did nobody tell you? We were networking this and CTA just plugged your studio into the feed. I believe most stations just took you." Gee, thanks, David. My reward? 25 years working Christmas - on STV and the BBC.
2) BBC Choice Scotland. A digital channel which opted out of BBC Choice for much of the evening for some very brilliant local programmes, at least one of which I hosted. 11.30pm. We have "The Beat Room". Then back to network at midnight. I introduce it and run the VT
remotely. It plays the end credits. I know what's happened. To check end credits you change the in time of the programme. I'd forgotten to change it back to 10:00:00 I hastily apologise, throw up the breakdown caption (not slides any more as everything has to move otherwise the freeze frame detector rings both here and at Sky's satellite uplink.) and play music from CD. It stutters and starts to repeat. I apologise. I play the minidisk we use for Pages from CEEFAX. It fails to play. I apologise. I take the disk
out and put another one in. It plays.
I peer at the playout screen. Right, just reacquire the programme. It's dark and I have to type in the production number which is 11 digits long. I get it wrong and it berates me....suddenly I am aware that pictures are moving on the screen. I forgot to pause playout so it's gone to the overnight Barker reel but with CEEFAX music. I cut back to apology slide and apologise. I get the programme number right. I run the tape. Up it comes and I introduce it. It's last night's programme. I go back to the apology slide and music. I yell over talkback to Janet in VT. Can she spool on to the next programme? She does. It sits on a 15" VT clock. I introduce it. Nothing happens. On air I urge Janet to "roll VT, Janet!!". She does and gets an on air namecheck in the process. We get the right programme and it over runs by 15 minutes which neatly allows me to join Network for the next scheduled programme. My boss almost dies of laughter next day watching the playback.....
I shall gloss over the night on BBC ONE when I introduced "Still Game" with the voiceover opening credits "I'd love to know what the Hell happened there." as I don't think it was all that exciting....