Random Memory #5 – Hello Possum!

Written by Jonathan Pagden

April 24, 2023

I wouldn’t normally do another Random Memory so soon after the last one, but this has been prompted by the weekend’s sad news, it’s another from my radio days (best part of forty years ago 🤔 ).

The place: Broadcasting House, Leeds
The time: a weekday morning.
The station: BBC Radio Leeds – in the days when local radio stations had resources, imagination, and the studios and staff to do things like this.

Studio 2 was then known as ‘The Big Studio’ – guess why?? Two stories high with a balcony along one side. We used to do regular live audience shows from there, with all sorts of guests and a huge variety of live music.

In BBC terminology ‘Studio’ meant where the microphones were, and the ‘Cubicle’ was the control room. Slightly confused by some Studios having two Cubicles, but let’s not go into that now…

So my location was in Cubicle 2 and I could be looking through the triple-glazing at pretty much anything: brass bands, cabinet ministers, American evangelists, Bhundu Boys, singing firemen, Pudsey Bear, an endless stream of local people – and all of it absolutely ‘live’.

The Cubicle was also where the guests would wait on their way in to the Studio – we didn’t stretch to a Green Room – so I never knew who might be sitting behind me. Memorable “Oh, hello” moments included porn star Fiona Richmond and a certain Housewife Superstar: I don’t recall if she said “Hello Possum” but it’s quite possible… This is, of course, why I find myself dredging up these memories today.

Another time in there we recorded a radio play written by a local prize-winner, for which Alan Ayckbourn returned to his old place of work to direct. His former Studio Manager was now one of our producers so he was on the ‘Panel’ (more BBC terminology) and I was tape op. And I mean tape: quarter inch open reel, huge recorders with cast iron frames, made in England by Leevers-Rich. (Photo courtesy of The Science Museum – yes, my former work tools are in a museum)

So I can claim to have been directed by Alan Ayckbourn, even if his only words to me would have been something like “Roll tape!”.