It's topical, controversial, bright and often breezy – it’s “ATV Today.” Yes, this month’s feature on a behind-the-scenes department is about the daily programme “ATV Today.”
Behind the scenes can hardly describe much of the activity of Lionel Hampden, Reg Harcourt, Barri Haynes, David Lloyd and John Swallow, who are the programme’s presenters by night and investigators by day. And behind these “front” men are programme editor Bob Gillman (assisted by John Swallow), directors Tony parker and John Sheppard. Donald Shingler is over-all producer.
“Our billing in TV World aptly describes what we try to present,” says Donald. “News, topics, sport, farming, theatre, cinema, pop world…in a diary-type programme such as this we aim to project the Midlands events, show what is going on in the Midlands, and show how national trends and events will affect the Midlands.
“We intersperse interviews and film reports with hints on cookery and gardening, advice on angling and farming, ‘Police Five’ every Monday –and a pop singer from time to time.”
There is no hard-and-fast rule on the build-up of the working day; no high-pressure conferences or detailed paper work =the day runs smoothly, without undue complications but with the target very much in mind. A 20-minute programme has to go on the air that night!
The day does start, however, with an informal get-together on content for that night’s programme. Some of it has already been recorded, most of it has got to be collated that day, assignments have to be arranged, people must be contacted…the build-up has begun.
Quietly arranging scripts and running orders are the team’s Pas –Barbara Atkins, Sue Haig and Pauline Neale. Jean Robertson is typing, ringing contacts, keeping an eye on the chart which spans the office wall. To an outsider the office could appear disturbingly chaotic, whereas it is quietly efficient.
But apart from that evening’s programme, work is going ahead on items which may not been seen for a week, even a month hence. Sometimes a whole “ATV Today” will be devoted to one specialised subject – recent examples include a programme on Africa and a complete edition from the Royal Show.
Then there are the special projects which occupy a nightly segment over a period. Such an exercise was recently undertaken by Lionel Hampden when he investigated and presented a 111-mile trip along the Thames in a motor cruiser, followed by a motor canoe, the Dunmara, crewed by apprentices from the Dunlop Rubber Company.
The “ATV Today” team, consisted of director John Sheppard, Barbara Atkins, PA, cameraman Gary Hughes, sound engineer, Paddy O’Connell and Hampden. During the five-day trip from Lechlade to Chertsey, film was shot en route, together with interviews on interesting aspects of the area.
Apart from regular “ATV Today” contributors, such as Leslie Thomas (farming), Jack Williams (angling) and Bob Price (gardening), Sir Alan Herbert was interviewed at Chertsay giving his views on the disputed source of the Thames.
As a result of this operation, the Thames story was shown in the programme every night for a week. Planned with almost military precision, this is but one example of what goes on behind the scenes every day for “ATV Today.”