Thoughts on leaving the BBC

Today I completed my final day as a BBC staff member, after more than 23 years of service. Of course there are mixed feelings in such a situation, but I’m very positive and optimistic about this new venture, and don’t have too many regrets regarding my time at the Corporation.

Since walking through the doors of the BBC training centre at Wood Norton on October 9th 1989 as a naive 21 year old, I’ve been privileged to work for one of the world’s foremost creative organisations. I’ve worked alongside, and learned from, the best in the business, and as time went on and I became one of the “old hands” I’ve tried to pass on some of that learning to new staff following in my footsteps.

A pick and mix collection of memories from the past quarter-century:

Exploring the Wood Norton premises to try and spot the locations where half the Doctor Who episodes from the 1970s were filmed…..

Training as a maintenance and project installation engineer, but soon discovering that sound operational work seemed more interesting…..

Being described live on Radio 1 by John Peel as a “callow youth lying at my feet” while I struggled to fix the monitoring amplifier under the console…..

A two week crash course in being a Studio Manager in preparation for an 8 month attachment to World Service, and the sheer terror of opening the faders on the first live broadcast under my control…..

Being left a half hour reel of quarter inch tape by a News producer with the instruction: “This is an interview with a robber. Please de-um it, but not so much that he doesn’t sound like a robber”…..

Hearing the news of Princess Diana’s death as I parked outside Broadcasting House in 1997, and spending 9 of the next 11 hours in live broadcasts…..

Walking into a dark studio where a guest for a news interview sat, being unaware of who he was, and asking if he would like me to put more light on. The guest, legendary Mime artist Marcel Marceau who was by that time blind, replied with a graceful smile and the words “Light is in my heart”…..

Being in Frankfurt for the International Food Fair with a documentary maker for Open University, and helping the Welsh Lamb marketing stand get their broken video player working again. Being rewarded with a prime leg of Lamb to bring home, and the look on the face of the armed airport guard as it showed up on the scanner…..

Being amazed by the breadth of talents among the Audio Team in Pebble Mill when I joined in 2000: these people did TV and Radio, news, features, documentaries, Drama AND Music, and did all of them well…..

Rolling around on an airbed in the guise of Ruth Archers’ favourite cow, which had fallen in the yard and was undergoing rehabilitation……

Travelling to Athens and spending three weeks working on the biggest show on Earth, the 2004 Olympics, loving every minute of it…..

Taking the lead technical role for Asian Network’s drama Silver Street, a huge learning curve but a fabulous challenge in the company of some wonderfully creative actors and Production staff…..

There are so many more moments I could relate, but now’s a time to look forward. Restructuring in the BBC has restricted the range of programmes now made in Birmingham, and therefore the scope and challenge of the Senior Audio Supervisor job. My new venture, Swift Professional Audio, will allow me to spread my wings again and find new areas in which to achieve my passion: providing top quality sound, with a friendly and calm work ethic. I’m very proud of many things I was able to be a part of at the BBC, but there’s a big world of sound out there and it’s time for me to explore it!


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