No Maggie obit

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SgtPepper
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No Maggie obit

Post by SgtPepper »

I was a bit surprised on reading the forum today for the first time since our former leader passed away to find that there was nothing in the Ashes to Ashes Forum. Was this a policy decision not to have one because of the path it would be likely to take or is just that no one wanted to be the one to start it?

ayrshireman
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by ayrshireman »

Probably the latter.

The old forum definately leaned left, so one sadly would expect a Thatcher thread here to quickly end up a thread for rants and anger rather than a cool discussion of the pros and cons of her time in office. I am a conservative, and happy to go to bat for her so to speak, but I wonder if its best just to leave sleeping dogs lie.

Brock
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by Brock »

Also, she didn't make her career through television - she appeared on it a lot of course, but that's true of any prominent politician.

There's been more than enough discussion of her life elsewhere, anyway, and I'm not sure if a thread here would have contributed anything new.

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Bernie
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by Bernie »

People tend to put names in the Ashes to Ashes bit to draw attention to something others might have missed. Given that every news service, including CNN and Al Jazeera, went into wall to wall coverage for the rest of the day, I rather think that not too many people had missed it.

Personally, I don't lean to the left, I lean towards people who get things done that need to be done. She did.

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penfold
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by penfold »

Another 87-year old died this week, one who "Did what had to be done" but stopped at doing unnecessary damage, and instead brought joy to millions of families through his work. Unfortunately, I doubt he will get a £10 million funeral on the taxpayer. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-ca ... e-22091873

Peter Neill
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by Peter Neill »

I suppose that there could be a legitimate discussion on her effect on the broadcasting industry. Personally, I feel that the introduction of the indie quota was the beginning of the end for Television Centre.

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Roll ACR
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by Roll ACR »

I kept wondering if anything would appear in the "Ashes to ashes" area. Given her undoubted impact - rather like an Exocet amidships - upon British television there's certainly a discussion to be had. But like others I guess, it flickered through my mind for a nanosecond to start a thread and then common sense scotched the idea.

I was actually quite surprised at not feeling "happy" at the news. I'm afraid I do harbour grudges against her and the government of the day for certain things, in particular the 1990 Broadcasting Act but other things too. I'd even said in heated debates at work that we should have a party when it happened. But I have to say I felt nothing at the news, neither happy nor sad.

brigham
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Post by brigham »

Roll ACR wrote:... But I have to say I felt nothing at the news, neither happy nor sad.
Not an 'Old Labour' man, then? We have an old Party stalwart 'down the club' who was delighted to point out that 'Thatcher's a vegetable now' at any opportunity. I imagine he's arranging a street party!

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Bernie
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by Bernie »

Peter Neill wrote: Personally, I feel that the introduction of the indie quota was the beginning of the end for Television Centre.
I didn't find the indie quota necessarily a bad thing. The BBC had had indies "on the inside" for a long time. I remember Mickey Dolenz standing in the corridor saying "we have a positive go" for a 30 minute theatre he wanted to produce. He was an independent just there for his show, and there were numbers of them coming and going on the fifth floor. Some LE shows had elements of independence as well.

What I though was pretty stupid was the way the BBC implemented it, basically giving away peak time, instead of the middle of the night.

I don't know how true the story of the 14 man ITV crew at No 10 is, but the time was certainly very ripe for sorting out the ITV union and its mad practices.

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Roll ACR
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by Roll ACR »

I doubt very much that the 14 man story is totally true. Besides, even now if a layman - for that is all any politician is - who doesn't understand how television is made, were to turn up to the studios or a location shoot and see a few sparks loitering, the B camera operator twiddling his thumbs and the stage manager sipping a cup of tea etc. They would, in their IGNORANCE think to themselves WTF are all these people paid for? Indeed, my parents have come to see shows or I've taken them to see a shoot and they've remarked "do you really need so many people?"

Just because the workload is sporadic through the day, doesn't mean that a casual observer who happens to witness some "downtime" can deem such workers to be anything other than a necessary part of the production process.

Whatever her initial motivation for tilting at the TV industry (and I totally agree that reform and some change was needed) she went much too far without enough knowledge or foresight. Yes the pendulum had perhaps swung too far toward the ACTT and the Duopoly was perhaps a little too cosy but she gave the pendulum such a mighty and disproportionate shove in the opposite direction that the bloody thing fell off.

It was pernicious "bee in your bonnet" politics for my money.

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Bernie
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by Bernie »

Agreed with all that. I never worked for ITV, but some amazing stories came our way. A BBC VT editor went to LWT and became the first editor to earn £100,000 py. He was patching together ad breaks in the middle of the night on Golden Time.

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Roll ACR
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by Roll ACR »

I like to think that in those days, when ITV was making massive amounts of money, it was just a fair distribution of the wealth - rather like the John Lewis Partnership ;-)

Besides which if you are working overnight it has various social and indeed health implications, therefore a proper enhancement for the employee/penalty for the employer is perfectly fair. Only the other day I walked into a studio that had been turned around overnight. I said to my mate the scenic supervisor that surely him and the boys had been on at least time and a half and I was quickly corrected that they were only on standard money.....Madness!!

I still charge 1.5T between 00:00 and 06:00 and for hours over 12, if the company isn't prepared to pay then they can shove the job where the sun don't shine.

A lot of those eye watering rates that people mention from the "good old days" only happened in extreme circumstances. The whole point of penalty rates is that they are a deterrent. But that in the event of it being unavoidable the staff aren't having their goodwill abused.

I had this argument with a Production Manager on a very well known programme not long ago. He was trying to impose a buyout on the cam ops and promising that the production would only ever shoot 10 hour days.....yeah right! Another programme I won't work on any more ;-)

Whilst the old system had it's flaws, much of the modern industry operates under a massive Rogue's charter. There was something to be said for closed shops.

Clive
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by Clive »

Roll ACR wrote:
Besides which if you are working overnight it has various social and indeed health implications, therefore a proper enhancement for the employee/penalty for the employer is perfectly fair. Only the other day I walked into a studio that had been turned around overnight. I said to my mate the scenic supervisor that surely him and the boys had been on at least time and a half and I was quickly corrected that they were only on standard money.....Madness!!
That's fair enough if the work can only be done outside of normal hours. I have worked in places where no work gets done in normal hours but as soon as double-bubble kicks in, suddenly the place is a hive of activity. Over the past 10-15 years the amount of contracts which allowed time and a half and double time seem to have been reduced. I was bought out of my old contract which allowed overtime which I was not too bothered about as I am at the age where spending all night working, even for more money is not something I need anymore.

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Roll ACR
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by Roll ACR »

Clive wrote:
Roll ACR wrote:
Besides which if you are working overnight it has various social and indeed health implications, therefore a proper enhancement for the employee/penalty for the employer is perfectly fair. Only the other day I walked into a studio that had been turned around overnight. I said to my mate the scenic supervisor that surely him and the boys had been on at least time and a half and I was quickly corrected that they were only on standard money.....Madness!!
That's fair enough if the work can only be done outside of normal hours. I have worked in places where no work gets done in normal hours but as soon as double-bubble kicks in, suddenly the place is a hive of activity. Over the past 10-15 years the amount of contracts which allowed time and a half and double time seem to have been reduced. I was bought out of my old contract which allowed overtime which I was not too bothered about as I am at the age where spending all night working, even for more money is not something I need anymore.
That may be the case in some other industries but Television is an industry of ticking clocks and looming deadlines. It's like a military operation, there's no room for slackers.

TK-JaKe
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by TK-JaKe »

Peter Neill wrote:Personally, I feel that the introduction of the indie quota was the beginning of the end for Television Centre.
No doubt about it! Odd that she managed to hang on until it was gone!

Other than that I have nothing to say to mark the passing of MT;
maybe I should confess that I once transmitted "The Wizard of Oz" direct from film -

Ding! Dong!

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Bernie
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Post by Bernie »

TK-JaKe wrote: maybe I should confess that I once transmitted "The Wizard of Oz" direct from film -
I made the trails - which turned out to be much more tricky than I expected.

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Bernie
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by Bernie »

Roll ACR wrote: Besides which if you are working overnight it has various social and indeed health implications, therefore a proper enhancement for the employee/penalty for the employer is perfectly fair. Only the other day I walked into a studio that had been turned around overnight. I said to my mate the scenic supervisor that surely him and the boys had been on at least time and a half and I was quickly corrected that they were only on standard money.....Madness!!
After I moved to production, I gained a different perspective on that stuff. As an assistant producer I was paid more than a camera supervisor - a big deal at the time as I'd been number five on crew 14. The trade off was that I worked when I had to work, and no overtime. We did get paid for extra days if we couldn't take leave, but they bought that out later (good in the end for the pension).

When strikes happened we still had to catch up whether we were out or not. I remember Orwyn Evans and I having a huge amount of TK transfer to do after a strike, and with no-one else in TK we had the run of the place for hour after hour. A very long day for no extra money.

I'm reminded of a moment on Morning Surgery, the first BBC programme that used production operated VX1000 cameras. Jack Webber and I pitched a story about a doctor who was about to work the weekend nightshift. Our boss, used to the old ways, was worrying about costs, but as Jack and I pointed out - we didn't get overtime, we wanted to do the film, and we didn't have anything else to do stuck in Alnwick 300 miles from home. A number of other members of the team were eager to join in, and we made an excellent film that we couldn't otherwise have made.

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Post by GarethR »

Bernie wrote: After I moved to production, I gained a different perspective on that stuff. As an assistant producer I was paid more than a camera supervisor - a big deal at the time as I'd been number five on crew 14. The trade off was that I worked when I had to work, and no overtime. We did get paid for extra days if we couldn't take leave, but they bought that out later (good in the end for the pension)
I've always been in production, not operations (even though in radio I was regularly driving the desk for taped shows or OBs), and so I've never been paid overtime and any extra time worked has only ever been given back as TOILs. Shouldn't complain I suppose, but inevitably there can be a grass-is-greener effect when you see operational staff who work a 7-day fortnight and also get overtime.

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Jezza
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by Jezza »

Will all future transmissions of "The Wizard of Oz" have the Ding Dong song edited out now?

Whatever your views on Maggie, she has divded the country...even in death!

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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by GarethR »

Jezza wrote:Will all future transmissions of "The Wizard of Oz" have the Ding Dong song edited out now?
No.

andrew baker
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by andrew baker »

One odd thing that strikes me -

These people who are being rather unpleasant about it. Do they use mobile phones? Commercial networks?

What could be more Thatcherite. Before her time we had one nationalised phone service. There was nothing else. Opening it up to lots of networks all building masts everwhere - and only two broadcasters.

But what would have happened if we hadn't have done this?

People take for granted major changes that were a product of her period.

But most of them (not all) were historically inevitable,

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David Boothroyd
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by David Boothroyd »

andrew baker wrote:One odd thing that strikes me -

These people who are being rather unpleasant about it. Do they use mobile phones? Commercial networks?
If you use a motorway are you disbarred from being unpleasant about Hitler?

(Sorry about the accidental Godwinism)

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Bernie
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Post by Bernie »

Harold Wilson closed the most pits. The British Leyland unions did for British Leyland. Dominic Lawson wrote a good piece in the Sunday Times about what Thatcher really did and didn't do. I'd link to it, but the Thatcherite Murdoch papers make you pay for their material - terrible.

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Clive
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by Clive »

andrew baker wrote:One odd thing that strikes me -

These people who are being rather unpleasant about it. Do they use mobile phones? Commercial networks?

What could be more Thatcherite. Before her time we had one nationalised phone service. There was nothing else. Opening it up to lots of networks all building masts everwhere - and only two broadcasters.

But what would have happened if we hadn't have done this?

People take for granted major changes that were a product of her period.

But most of them (not all) were historically inevitable,
Exactly, the 80's were a time of change all over Europe and alot of what happened during the Thatcher era would have happened anyway. Although a lot of countries did take their cue from what was happening in the UK. Sweden is a good example where throughout the 60's and 70's it was almost a socialist society and only had one national broadcaster, most infrastructure providers were state owned and in fact still are, although run in public-private partnerships. What Sweden managed to avoid was the Thatcher excesses such as the closing down of coal mines and steel works et al. Many of these industries continue and thrive in Sweden and I am always surprised that a small nation of 10 million can produce so much, has an economy which has grown over the past 5 years.

The excesses of the 80's and opening up of the banking sector caused the Swedish economy to crash in 1993, the government put strict controls in place to ensure it never happened again and touch wood, it hasn't.

Evolution is inevitable, but that is where I always believe that the Government has the responsibility to keep things under control.

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Bernie
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by Bernie »

I went to a mine museum where a man told me that there's 300 years at least of coal under our feet in the UK. I imagine if someone thought they could make money out of it, they'd be digging away.

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Clive
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by Clive »

Ironically, last time I was in Northern Germany where there are lots of open cast pits, a German pointed out to me that they had all been closed in the 80's as it was cheaper to import coal from China. They are now starting to open them again as China now needs all the energy sources it can get and it is now profitable to export coal back to China.

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Bob Richardson
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Post by Bob Richardson »

Bernie wrote:I went to a mine museum where a man told me that there's 300 years at least of coal under our feet in the UK. I imagine if someone thought they could make money out of it, they'd be digging away.

B
A geologist interviewed in the north-east during one of Portillo's railway programme confirmed that there are billions of tons of prime coal still waiting to be mined and the seams run for several miles under the north sea. We now have the technology to extract it but it's unlikely to happen until the oil runs out. I come from a mining community in County Durham, so you'll forgive me if I can't even bring myself to damn Thatcher with faint praise.

On a visit to TVC after she was elected (to do a Panorama interview I think) we tarted up Main Reception with a few floral displays to brighten the place - well, she was a VIP guest after all. She commented that it was an extravagant use of the licence fee. Perhaps you might agree, but we did it to make her feel welcome, so it didn't go down very well with the house management team.
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Cooper S
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by Cooper S »

Peter Neill wrote:I suppose that there could be a legitimate discussion on her effect on the broadcasting industry. Personally, I feel that the introduction of the indie quota was the beginning of the end for Television Centre.
I'm surprised there's been no mention of one of the major broadcasting decisions made under her leadership (although not implemented until after her departure)- and one of the few decisions I believe she publicly admitted was wrong - to instigate the sale of ITV franchises by auction. In terms of content and quality this arguably reduced ITV to a creatively and financially risk-free organisation.

RobinCarmody
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by RobinCarmody »

Not seen this thread until today, now that the dust has settled a bit.

To keep it strictly on topic, where broadcasting is concerned I do not think she remotely understood the full implications of what she was doing, or how much the broadcasters she was waving through would eat away at her own provincial / small-town values, the way she had been brought up to believe in thrift and deferred gratification (much the same applies to her emphasis on instant consumerism, of course, but I am concentrating on broadcasting for the purpose of this forum). Her antipathy towards the BBC and the IBA was essentially because they symbolised the post-war state she and her co-thinkers thought had weeded aspiration and enterprise out of Britain, and she didn't really love the new ways with anything like the passion with which she hated the old ones. Anything that rolled back the frontiers of the state - with Alasdair Milne and Lord Thomson of Monifieth being the embodiments of that constricting status quo - had to be encouraged. What it actually was in itself was a secondary factor. Even if it stood for everything she had been brought up to despise and distrust, it had to be supported, not for what it was, but for what it wasn't. She had no great feeling for Sky in itself, but it had to win through because it could be set against residual post-war liberalism and social democracy.

The people who did understand what the new broadcasting ways actually meant - and loved them precisely for what they were, in a way that Thatcher and her co-thinkers were too wedded to thrift and deferred gratification to embrace on a personal rather than theoretical level - were the Blairites. Disorientated former Marxists, they had come to believe - as Marx himself did - in capitalism as the true revolutionary force, and embraced that Old Labour (and to an extent, pace Pilkington, even Old Tory) bete noire, deregulated broadcasting, as the surest way of undermining the quasi-feudal structure of British society which many Old Labourites had viewed with comparative affection. The success of New Labour was in part because, led by people raised on pop culture (and often alienated from Old Labour by the Marine Offences Act), it could support deregulated broadcasting convincingly - that is to say, appearing socially and culturally at ease not only with its theory, but with its full practical implications - in a way that the Tories had not been able to do. Blair's genius of "standing outside the Labour Party and looking at it" was essentially his - or, perhaps more accurately, his co-thinkers, his Keith Josephs - imagining themselves as broadly depoliticised, broadly post-proletarian early Sky adopters wondering why one party supported social justice and equality for them and another party supported their right to watch what they want when they wanted, but no party supported both. It was a staggering electoral success, and represented former New Leftists reclaiming for themselves an anti-state, anti-elitist broadcasting revolution which they had in fact suggested themselves, in the late 1960s and 1970s, before the Tories had even dreamt of it. In many ways, the Blairites - if we consider them in the context of their New Left origins - were not stealing the idea of deregulated broadcasting from the Tories, they were bringing it back home.

What happens now is anyone's guess, of course, but it is worth mentioning that the next wave of counter-revolutionaries (or, perhaps, counter-counter-revolutionaries) - the likes of David Lindsay, who are trying to bring together Old Tory and Old Labour in the same way Blairism brought together the New Left and the New Right - often have a strong and openly-expressed sympathy with the old broadcasting structure, and with a paternalistic restriction in the number of fields and areas of culture covered within public broadcasting. In the case of David Lindsay, his view that the BBC should be funded by subscription - and that Radio 1 and 1Xtra should no longer be part of it - is ironically similar to the "Himalayan Option" the Murdoch press have never quite got over not imposing on the BBC twenty years ago, but the reasons why he holds the view come from a different and older place.

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Cooper S
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Re: No Maggie obit

Post by Cooper S »

I think I'd agree that New Labour encouraged the 'free market' approach to broadcasting, much as they supported free market economics in other sectors of industry (I don't think a Tory government would have let Austin Rover collapse with quite the 'not bothered' attitude that Labour showed, for example). And certainly the Tories didn't seem to have a progressive attitude towards broadcasting - they didn't seem keen on the kind of commercial and technological freedom that Europe was developing. In many ways Blair was much more of a Thatcherite than Thatcher was.

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