Film ID:
NEFA 20734



Visitor Tabs


South Shields-born animator Sheila Graber takes a humorous look at the frantic daily work schedule of the regional BBC Look North news team in Newcastle upon Tyne, from the copy desk to the producer, filming and editing to airing, building from a slow pace in the early morning to manic speed before the live studio transmission. The animation stars presenter Mike Neville. This was commissioned by BBC Look North, screened in 1977 and subsequently sold around the world.

The animation starts with an art deco style pattern logo. The stoical face of presenter Mike Neville is gradually revealed on a box television. Mike Neville breaks into a grin. His suit vanishes and he's in a string vest. A star is tatooed on his arm.

Title: Inside Look North

Mike Neville blushes deeply. The doors to BBC Newcastle appear. Two women from the news team slide open the doors and beckon us inside. People are at work on several floors and spaces, including studios, film editing suite and kitchens.

Credit: Animated by Sheila Graber [over picture of BBC studios]

Credit: With invaluable help from all at BBC N.E. studios [over picture of BBC studios]

A journalist appears from behind a pile of reading material at the copy desk: the Daily Telegraph, Daily Horror, Daily Wail, and a comic. He is dressed in striped pyjamas and seated at his BBC desk with headphones on. It's 6 in the morning and his desk is piled high with news, news and more news. He yawns.

Another news journalist with long hair and a beard stirs his black coffee whilst on the phone, his schedule listing "News from Police, Fire, Hospitals". He absent mindedly spoons coffee onto his schedule.

A woman on the news team is underlining 'important event' scheduled at 11am in her diary.

The producer, Ronnie Burns, is relaxing with his feet up on his desk, taking a nap. One eye opens moodily as someone dumps a pile of news sugestions and schedules on his desk. He crushes them down to one sheet, which he holds up to camera. It is the schedule for BBC Look North reporters for the news today: a reporting job for Fiona, news, weather and good night for presenter Mike Neville, and a report for Stuart Prebble.

It is 10 in the morning and the producer points to Fiona as he reads through the schedule for the day at the daily news meeting. Two of the guys are playing cards as he dishes out their orders. He throws the pile of news jobs for the day at them and orders them out. They are gone in an instant. He settles down with his feet on the empty table.

Reporter Fiona is in her car furiously scribbling down her script, a cameraman and sound engineer in her wake.

In the newsroom, a couple of production assistants are on the phone, answering calls from the public and reporters, or typing up PasBs whilst drinking from disposable cups. A few cigarette butts lay in an ashtray.

Out in the field, Fiona is about to interview an alien climbing down a ladder from his spaceship, her cameraman and sound recordist set up and ready beside her.

Back at the newsroom, work is hotting up for the two production assistants, one speaking into two phones at the same time, the other slurping BBC coffee through a straw as she takes notes by phone, the styrofoam cups building up and the ashtray filling with cigarette ends. The in-tray is piled high, almost engulfing one of the production assistants.

Stuart Prebble is on a boat on rough seas with his cameraman and sound recordist, attempting to interview a fisherman in a souwester as he is pulled into the sea and eaten by a shark. He continues the interview as the fisherman peers out from the shark's mouth.

Back on the news desk, the production assistants are looking frazzled, one typing with her foot as she juggles calls. The in-tray is sky high with PasBs and contracts. The ashtray is overflowing.

Back at sea, reporter Stuart persuades the shark to pose for the cameras and the fisherman is spewed out onto the boat as the star-struck shark performs for the camera.

In the BBC film lab, a man prepares his film processing chemicals and a sound engineer listens to the radio with his headphones on. Suddenly reels of picture and sound in cans are rushed to the two. Film is swiftly run through the developing machine. The magnetic sound track is processed simultaneously.

It is now two in the afternoon and Fiona hands over her report to the producer, the alien waving at him from her shoulder. 

The film picture and sound track are ready and are taken from the machines.

Reporter Stuart races in with his piece, a fish leaping from the inside of his striped jacket. The producer's schedule for the regional Look North programme for that night is filling up.

The editor peers from his door and receives the film and sound track. He carries the running order for the news in his mouth. He starts the editing process at his Steenbeck, synching sound, selecting and splicing lengths of film and joining the film strips together. He throws away unwanted rushes, clutching his finished cutting copies and script in hand, glances at the clock. It is 5pm. He calmly hands over the reels. Last minute changes, and the film reels are immediately handed back for a re-edit. Amid a tangle of film strips, he frantically redoes the edit spinning the reels back to the director in the studio control room for telecine. The director gives him a thumbs up as the image of the jovial, chatty alien appears on screen.

Over to the studio news desk, Mike Neville sits in the glare of studio lights, waiting, with a pint of Newcastle Brown Ale beside him. Suddenly he is bathed in light and colour by a studio engineer. Now on camera, he begins to perform as the charming, in control presenter of BBC Look North, Newcastle.

The TV director at the controls speaks into his microphone, consulting his running order, whilst his assistant checks her stopwatch. The cameraman is doing the football pools as Mike Neville runs through some spiel on camera. The director points to his stopwatch. It's five to six. The studio manager counts down with his fingers. A studio assistant cues in camera 2 in the control room as Mike Neville hands over to Stuart Prebble. The broadcast cuts between the two presenters (with one slight mix up). The mixer blushes. Mike Neville downs a pint of beer on one screen as footage of the alien interview is broadcast from another. A brief intro off screen by Neville and the shark footage is broadcast next. There's some interference on screen and the director is angry, yelling into his microphone. Mike Neville shrugs and, on camera, apologises to viewers for technical problems. He starts to round up the news as a studio cameraman motions with his finger to speed up. Mike Neville runs through his 'good night' as fast as he can, his face turning purple with the effort. The cameraman turns off Camera 2.