Graeme Aldous gets all nostalgic for the old Tyne Tees building
Back in the coal-fired past, I was introduced to the Royal Television Society's North East & The Border Centre — not exactly 405-line, but certainly analogue-only. The first meeting I went to was in the Tyne Tees Club at City Road.
Now, I'm proud of my sense of direction — but the route we took to get from Reception to the Club required guides who were a cross between Himalayan sherpas and London cabbies with the full 'Knowledge'. At one point we were cutting across one end of a vast echoing studio — my trail of breadcrumbs was swept away, probably by ravens. For someone more used to the BBC's broom-cupboard studio at New Bridge Street, this was a wonder.
But even more of a wonder was the crowd of people in the Club. Perhaps 'coal-fired' wasn't the right expression — this place was 'baccy-fired'. It seemed like a couple of hundred jovial telly people were packed in there, all waiting for the guest speaker to start the presentation, and puffing away meanwhile.
Well, in the digital 21st Century we can welcome the cleaner air, but not the lack of numbers. There were probably more people packed into the Club that night than work in broadcast TV in Newcastle today.
I know my way around the (lessened) City Road building a bit better now — when I went there last January to help Lesley Oakden with editing the show reel for the Awards Dinner, I actually managed to find the Edit Suite right first time! But nothing lasts for ever, and Simon Fell's 'Emerging Technologies' presentation was the last RTS event to be held at City Road (more recently in the Board Room!)
Graeme Thompson (NETB Centre Chair) introduces the presentation
Of course, I'm looking forward greatly to seeing the new ITV Tyne Tees premises at The Watermark (between the Metro Centre and the Tyne), but it's a shame to see City Road 'go dark' (in theatre parlance). As we climbed the stairs to the Board Room, we could see through the little window into Studio 5 — and there were thousands of video cassettes spread out on the floor for archiving. How many hours of creativity were there? How many stories (personal, as well as editorial)?
I understand that a little bit of 'souvenir gathering' has been going on amongst TTTV staff. I personally have always been fascinated by those little yellow notices over the washbasins which say 'BEWARE VERY HOT WATER COMING FROM THE TAP". It's not hot water from the tap that worries me — I'd be far more worried by Very Hot Water coming from the Light Switch, or the Soap Dispenser!
City Road is going to be a hard act to follow.
Members of the NETB Committee at the last City Road meeting
(l to r) Tony Edwards (Hon Sec), Garth Jeffery (Vice Chair), Darren Bean, Lesley Oakden, Graeme Aldous, Graeme Thompson (Chair), Olwyn Hocking, Garry Cosgrove, Annie Wood