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Inspiration for Blue Pencil

Our interest in the creative industries derives significantly from our father, Douglas, who after serving as a Morse code operator during Second World War developed his career in the TV and film industry as a sound engineer. He worked for the BBC fledgling TV news service at Lime Grove. He and some of his colleagues formed Transfilms supplying sound effects to film and TV including a formative ITV.

However Douglas’s real passion was working on the big sound for film and as such worked for RCA and then Cubby R. Brocolli’s and Irving Allen’s Warwick Films including films such as Killers of Kilimanjaro and Trials of Oscar Wilde. It was hard work, but fun such as when our mother, Ada, and Douglas took Irving Allen one evening to an English pub in the Surrey countryside, culminating in drinks all round and Allen playing the pub piano. Regrettably, Warwick Films began to untangle and Broccoli went onto develop the Bond franchise. The British Film Industry future was precarious so Douglas joined ITN in 1960 as a crew sound recordist.

The work and lifestyle was a far cry from the camaraderie of the film studios with him travelling the world covering stories such Algiers, Congo, Biafra, Czech uprising, Northern Ireland (Douglas’s solid build led to various dangerous encounters with the IRA who thought he was Special Branch), Arab Israeli war, as well as assignments for ITN’s Roving Report. Ironically, Douglas declined an offer before joining ITN to work for Disney in USA as he did not want to be too far from his parents!

In news coverage you never know what will happen next and a good example was when Douglas and fellow camera man John Corbett covered the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. This should have been a cushy assignment, but it culminated with them filming the tragic siege including the iconic balcony shots of the terrorists. Douglas and John managed to get very close to the terrorists, and Douglas is convinced that had they been working with the immediacy of ENG instead of 16mm film they would have been at risk of being shot.

Very unsocial hours and a regular exposure to danger led Douglas to seek a change, and in 1975 joined the management of ITN and became the main liaison with Downing Street and Buckingham Palace. Douglas was responsible for the 1981 Royal Wedding coverage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. Terrorist sieges seem to be Douglas milieu as he was instrumental in the use of ENG cameras at the rear of the Iranian Embassy siege in 1980 for which ITN won a BAFTA for their coverage. Douglas retired in 1988.

The launch of Blue Pencil Media Limited is dedicated to the memory of our mother Ada Florence Wilkins 1927-2001.

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