Night shift blues

Night shifts can be extremely boring: even more so in the old BBC Control Room at Bush House. One night in the 1960s a colleague of mine - let's call him Fred - was in the Voice of America Suite, just sitting there playing out tape after tape in obscure languages for hours on end.

At three in the morning a police detective and two constables came up to Control Room and approached the Technical Operations Manager. 'Right, where's the gun?' said the detective... general puzzlement...

It turned out that Fred, bored out of his skull, had been leaning out of the window with a catapult, firing BBC sugar lumps and steel ball bearings at the windows of the Inland Revenue across the narrow gap between the buildings, and he'd broken one. He was made to pay for the window and told not to do it again.

There are other hazards, too. One of the newsreaders was reading an early morning bulletin live from a small unattended studio (i.e. just him, no Studio Manager) when a cleaning lady, ignoring the red light over the door, barged in with a vacuum cleaner going full belt. He hurriedly closed the microphone and said 'Get out, woman', or words to that effect. 'Don't worry, dear', she said, 'I'll only be a minute'...

The canteen could be counted as a hazard. One cook had the habit of estimating how much toast she would require for the night and doing that number on one side. When you ordered she toasted the other side, with predictable results. One morning she boiled announcer Peter King's breakfast egg in kipper-water. He threw it at her - it hit the pillar behind the cash register.

I don't do night shifts now, but I assume they're quieter these days.

Posted: Tue - January 9, 2007 at 08:52 AM by Roger Wilmut          



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Published On: Mar 11, 2016 05:00 PM