Category Archives: BBC

Going, going…

Thursday was almost certainly my last day on camera for the BBC. I have one more day on shift, next Wednesday, but that’s going to be taken up with handing back my camera kit, editing laptop, phone, ID and other stuff. Unless various kinds of gooey stuff hit the fan in a big way between now and then I won’t be expected to film anything.

Yes; curiously, some of us still casually use “film” as the verb despite the fact that it’s been thirty years since we switched to tape and I’ve never shot a frame of film in my career. We’ve been through three different cassette formats and now shoot on solid state memory cards but the terminology seems dug in. It’s less common to hear the edit suites called “cutting rooms” but it has happened.

If I’d thought I was going to get an easy ride, a gentle, relaxed day at the end of a career I was sadly mistaken. Just as I was going home the night before I was handed the call sheet for a six o’clock start: a two camera interview in the NBH building with the outgoing CEO of energy company Centrica.

It wasn’t anything particularly challenging, but I could have done without needing to get up at half past four. Especially when I actually had to get up at half past three, unable to sleep. Still, it meant I was unlikely to be late.

The job went off painlessly enough and I was a bit chuffed that John Moylan, the correspondent took a minute to wish me all the best for the future.

Another quick job in the building followed and then, after a couple of large coffees, came the call. Could I please set up on the Piazza at the front of the building for an interview at midday?

Of course I could.

That, it seemed to me, was liable to be IT. My last job. Ever. My crack of dawn start meant I was supposed to be back in West London at half past three and allowing for travelling I didn’t see time for any more shoots.

My last job. Better get it right then.

Don’t panic, I got it right. I did keep obsessively checking that I was turning over; (See what I mean about the terminology? Memory cards don’t turn) it would have been mortifying to make that classic mistake at the finish. (I did do it once, in about 1995, and when the pain has faded in ten or twenty more years I might write about it)

I got the producer to take a couple of photos for posterity.


Perhaps I could have tucked my shirt in but then again it’s how most people will remember me.


The guest is a James DeWaal from Chatham House, the international affairs think tank and he’s talking to correspondent Nick Childs about NATO’s response to Russian aggression.



And the camera’s eye view.  I can’t post a video due to filesize restrictions so here’s a grab


Admire how I threw the background out of focus.

And that was it. Unless  a truly major story–and it would have to be Senior Royal Death major I think– breaks in the next three days that is probably  the last thing I’ll ever shoot for the BBC.

I have to say It didn’t feel that momentous.  The sky didn’t darken and lightning didn’t flash. There was no portentous synthesiser accompaniment swelling in the background. I handed over the card, wrapped up and took the kit back to the car.

And apart from the very nice lunch the desk took me out for, thank you all, that was the end of the day. One more to go and I’m as free as a bird.




So why am I retiring from what quite possibly could seem to be one of the best jobs there is? I mean we get to swan around the world at someone else’s expense, stay in four star  hotels and get front row seats at the best events, don’t we?

Well not really, no. And over time I may explain the reality of this peculiar line of work.  But it’s very far from the worst job in the world either. Looking back it’s probably one of the  the best and most interesting jobs I could reasonably expect to have had had given my qualifications, experience and aptitudes. I was lucky to fall into it. And I did fall but again, that may be another story for another post.

None of which explains why I’m retiring. I think the most succinct answer is, “Because I can.”

Six months ago I got a letter from the BBC’s pension fund. Six months hence my pension would, for want of a better term, mature. I would be sixty years old and have forty  years worth of contributions (the maximum) in the scheme. (I chose to pay slightly increased contributions from the word go in 1980)

For old gits like me that means  a full, index linked final salary pension which, I have been reliably informed by previously retired staff, is plenty.

(I’ll insert here the standard apology to my younger colleagues who’ve had their pension entitlements hacked back. Sorry, guys, but there’s not a great deal I can do about it. )


At the same time I was noticing that the job–at least for me– was becoming increasingly routine and even, on occasions a bit tedious.  That was partly my fault I suppose for not keeping up with the technology and learning laptop editing or one man satellite truck operation and a handful of other new skills but there you go.

The Old Bailey has a certain charm occasionally but getting up at 04:30 on a cold February morning to go and stand there for several hours in the rain is not inspiring.

And I was going to be sixty. The job was getting increasingly physically harder with more to carry . (Many colleagues have spinal issues. Something I have, thankfully been spared, but for how long?) In short, I was getting tired. Why not go while was I’m still healthy and with–I sincerely hope–many more years to find something else interesting to do?

So I talked it over with Karen, the other ‘arf, and in April, after a morning standing in Downing Street for little apparent purpose, I told by manager I was off on my next birthday.

I don’t think it came as much of a surprise. He probably knew I’d turned down a trip to Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games on the grounds that I might be retired before they ended. It didn’t actually work out like that but it would have meant being terribly busy at a time when I’ve been making strenuous efforts to wind down.

That’s all there is to it. I can’t do it for ever, so I chose to stop when wanted rather than go on a bit too long and have someone whisper in my ear that I really ought to stand aside.

If you want to try to talk me out of it–although it’s a bit late–comments are open.