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Sunday, 17 July 2011

Searching for Jack's old broadcasts

Jack & me
By the sea with Jack around 1952
I grew up with Jack Hargreaves as my stepfather, though he and my mother never married. I've taken his imprint as a wonderfully fortuitous given, not needing souvenirs of the indelible. It was a result of others asking after Jack's work that I began, a couple of years ago, to try sorting out the legal and technical issues involved in re-issuing of some of Jack's many many broadcasts of Out of Town and Old Country between the 60s and 80s. It'd be good to  have such rich material 'in the family', but also, given the many expressions of interest I've received and observed, particularly since contributing to Paul Peacock's  biography of Jack, I'd like to make his programmes available, for free and possibly as something people might pay to see. I've streamed a few somewhat pixelated clips - episodes sent me by viewers who recorded broadcasts at home.
But finding original material - whole programmes rather than locations shots and other extracts - of original quality has proved more complicated than I'd expected. Despite my ownership of JH's films and writing there are others who may make a claim on rights to republish original material.
Chris Perry of Kaleidoscope
Yesterday afternoon I was invited to a BBQ at Chris Perry's home, a few minutes walk from our house in Handsworth, to learn about the possibility he might help me obtain mastertapes of Out of Town broadcasts. Later I wrote to Tony Herbert and Ian Wegg of the JH Committee:
Dear Tony and Ian. Well well. I met Kaleidoscope people yesterday afternoon - especially Chris Perry and Simon Coward. It was a pleasant afternoon. Basically Chris is very willing to help me access the tapes - 2" Quad he thinks - at the ITV archive in Leeds. He tells me they came to that place via Meridian. Neither they nor I understand why or how, but it does seem that these are old Out of Town tapes (unless Meridian somehow got possession of a set of the tapes being used by Contender/Endemol for the commercial DVD version of OoT). This could mean that we have some mastertapes on Quad at Leeds and some master tapes on Beta at Plymouth. Both these suppositions have to be confirmed, but the situation sounds promising. Were the tapes that Meridian had somehow left over from the material we thought Jack had bought for £1 from the Southern offices after the end of the franchise. He took 16mm film and reel-to-reel tapes. Might he have missed out on some undamaged mastertapes? You'll recall that David Knowles who was at Southern before starting Lacewing an producing Old Country for Channel 4 had told me a few months ago that all the Out of Town mastertapes at Southern had degraded and were unusable. Curiouser and curiouser! ... I'm waiting for another meeting with Chris and will also pursue Jennie Constable at SWFTA re the beta tapes they hold - which I suspect more and more may be Old Country mastertapes that David Knowles told me Jack had obtained after Lacewing went into administration and Old Country was being made by 'The Production Team'. Many thanks for your continuing interest. Best wishes, Simon
Ian replied: Hi Simon. Thanks for the report ... I hope the meal wasn't too soggy, it was pretty wet down here in the south. Some responses to your questions: 1. "He tells me they came to that place via Meridian...Neither they nor I understand why or how..." I have heard two stories concerning Southern master tapes. A) Earlier this year Simon Coward from KAL forwarded me the list of OoT master tapes that had been held in the archive called "Global" - the former tape depository of London Weekend Television. As LWT is no more the tapes they held should have been sent to the ITV archive in Leeds. In one of his emails Chris Perry said that Leeds told him that there is ...'nothing on the computer, they could be here somewhere, feel free to come and have a look'    B) In my conversation with Mike Womersley he told me that there was a huge amount of Southern material stored in an old fire station in Bitterne under the care of a certain Fred Tucker. This facility was closed and Mike says he recalls seeing a pallet of master tapes and thought they were going to Leeds. This may, however, have been news material rather than OoT.....There is one other consideration and that is that the term "master" is slightly misleading when applied to video tapes. In the TV world they tend it to mean a broadcast tape (rather than as you might think the definitive version from which copies are made) - i.e. there can be multiple masters. If LWT broadcast the programme in their region then they would have been sent a "master" tape - but certainly not the only one. Is it possible, I wonder, that the list is actually tapes sent to LWT, and thence to Leeds? In which case, has another set been sitting on a shelf somewhere else for the last thirty years? Catalogued and unnoticed! All of which is interesting speculation but of course the only sensible course of action is to physically go to Leeds and take a look at the shelves...2. 'Were the tapes that Meridian had somehow left over from the material we thought Jack had bought for £1 from the Southern offices after the end of the franchise. He took 16mm film and reel-to-reel tapes. Might he have missed out on some undamaged mastertapes?' I understood that Jack only bought the 16mm films. The master tapes held in SWFTA are all Beta masters of the Commercial releases and (possibly) Old Country. So yes I agree he missed out on the master tapes but I suspect he wasn't offered them. I don't know the provenance of the audio tapes, other than they might have been made by Graham Hurley, and I don't know how they came to be with the films...3.'all the Out of Town mastertapes at Southern had degraded and were unusable.' That would be a great blow but certainly needs to be considered. Again, getting them out of Leeds and having a look would answer that. If they were degraded in 1983 they won't have improved any in the meantime, however restoration techniques might have done. Fingers crossed. Kind regards, Ian.
A year ago someone who worked for Jack at Southern Television, now a very successful writer wrote to me about him:
Simon. Truth and lying? Fact and fiction? Jack was a past-master at blurring the distinction, most necessarily in the service of entertainment, and my guess is that novelists do something pretty similar. As a reader, any book that I stick with has to pass the does-this-feel-real test, something you judge on your nerve ends, and the tiniest hint of a false note can can lead to an early divorce (book binned). This is something I suspect I unconsciously learned from your step-father....
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About 10 plotholders have been sent warning notices asking them to do more to cultivate their plots, while three gardeners have been given notice to quit, their plots to be re-let after Mohamed, the council's allotments officer, did an inspection tour with our treasurer. The VJA already has a healthy waiting list. I agreed to mow the fallow plots in readiness for their new tenants - my voluntary contribution to the site. The gentle drizzle helped the scythe work better, the blade making the most satisfying noise as it sliced through waist high stands of nettle, thistle, broom, couch, bramble and the wild flowers in between. Once home I had to beat out a couple of chips in the blade which is beginning to get an uneven edge as a result. I decided to see how well I could mow our lawn - an altogether different challenge. I'd been told by a retired officer from the city council's parks department - now long integrated or partially submerged within Leisure Services - that he'd watched a skilled groundsman use a scythe to shave a lawn to the smoothness most now assume is impossible without a motor mower. Using my longer blade I set to on our front lawn and was quite pleased with the result, trimming some edges with one-hand shears:

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Earlier in the week Lin, Denise and I had a meeting at our house with Rachel Chiu to explore the possibility that Central Handsworth Practical Care Project might join up with Trident Reach to provide a handyman service in our area of the city. I took unoffocial notes on the discussion so that we could explain what would be involved in setting up and managing such a partnership to Edmund and other members of the committee at our next Advisory Group meeting on Thursday.
Rachel, Denise and Linda
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We had a note from Corfu about repairs to 208 Democracy Street:
Hello Lin and Simon. Further to our chat, the scope of work covered for the quote covers; 1] Moving of aircon box to make door access free, 2] The large hole in the wall of your house to be filled in, together with all other holes and significant blemishes. Remove mould and vegetation. Some areas need re-plastering, 3] We will check and see what can be done with the protruding beam you partially sawed off, 4] Strip off flaking paint, rubbing down and painting in this area. We will probably paint the whole wall, 5] Put a new section on out-pipe to stove. Your previous blockage was almost certainly exacerbated by burning poor wood.  ...  Please let me know whether we should get cracking. Love. Lula & Paul xx
We'd heard at the same time that Lionel, Paul and Lula's neighbour and old friend, and our friend too, has been very sick, went into hospital for emergency surgery. It was apparently touch and go, Lionel being frail these days - into his eighties - but the latest is that he's home and slowly recovering.
On Friday I gave a talk and led a discussion on 'The Politics of the New Order' to officers participating in a four day Summer School at the University. I spoke of what could be discerned and what could not, what might be certain and what might be a matter for speculation, developing my talk around the challenges of working in that space where politics, management and professionalism converged and overlapped. What of localism and the vision of devolved power? Is there a real willingness to place trust in the judgement of the demos; a serious pursuit of democracy - one that would dispense with Plato's guardians - the oligarchy essential to his ideal democracy? Should we be more sceptical, regarding democracy as just another form of government whose machinery requires constant maintenance by experts. This would be Maine's contention, with his convincing scepticism towards 'popular government'. Can't popular government be a root to tyranny, the return of the folkish? I used the idea of a temporal gestalt to describe the difficulty of being sure what was happening. How many words do you have to hear before you know the phrase? "To" I said. People looked expectant and puzzled; "to be..." I said, and everyone instantly recognised Hamlet's soliloquy"Never..." I said with lisping rhetoric and all knew I referred to Churchill's praise for 'The Few'. We inevitably struggle to recognise the form and direction of what is spoken of as 'localism'.  What gestalten - wholes - might be conjectured? Are these the culmination of an existing and recognised development in government? What might be something new evolving - unrecognised - inside the camouflage of the familiar? I spoke of paradigms, especially those competing for and against the idea of diffused power; how alien this was to a population historically steeped in hierarchy, unfamiliar with and distrustful of equality even though sentimentally attracted to the idea. At the end I slipped in a mention of Elinor Ostrom's Governing the Commons - and her idea that since neither states nor the market have been uniformly successful in solving 'common pool resource' problems, there might be other ways to govern public goods.
Fred Emery: Policy - Appearance & Reality 1993

From Ian Briggs, Summer School convenor:
Simon. As always –  a true star. Although the audience was limited in number your contribution drew a unanimous thumbs up and I found a lot of what you were saying engaging in the extreme. So many thanks for the session it was really appreciated. First opportunity to buy you a pint and will at the bar in a flash! Have a great summer, Ian
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Chris Perry emailed me: I'm up at ITV first Monday of the holidays, I will see what paperwork they hold on the stuff up there and let you know. c
Simon Winters also in Kaleidoscope wrote too: Hi there. Sorry I missed you on saturday. I got there 2 minutes after you left. I'm sure we will meet again. Having had a chat with the chap you spoke to, Simon (Coward) on saturday evening, it would seem that the first thing for you to do is to get introduced to the archivist at ITV Leeds who can provide you with an inventory of what they hold and the physical state it's in. Do ask Chris or Simon to help you set up a phone call or email contact with Leeds. Should only take a day or two to set up. Look forward to hearing what comes of that. Cheers for now, Simon (Winters)

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