After a lifetime painting scenery in fairgrounds, music balls, repertory theatres, circuses, cinema studios—as well as acting when required—wgs joined bbc tv as a scenic artist. Welcoming the security offered by the all-embracing corporation—and the £1,800 a year salary—he regrets the loss of an adventuresome past when there was no tv centre to make life relatively easy.
Every evening when our favourite tv show comes to an end, a ribbon of credits makes a rapid exit at the bottom of the opaque square of glass. It hardly seems worth the time spent, for surely these names cannot interest anyone but the people concerned.
The name of the scenic artist, who does quite an important job in tv, never appears on this fleeting ribbon. In some cases there is a reason for this omission, often there have been four or five artists engaged on the one production; nevertheless, the scenic artist thinks he should be included if he does a job of a special nature, e.g. portraits, tapestry, wall painting or murals; this sort of work calls for individual talent and skill.
I am the oldest member of a staff of 15 scenic artists, and have been employed by the bbc for just over 10 years, during which time I have been very happy. My praise for the bbc is genuine and not because I am still employed by them; if I felt any other way about the Corporation I would not write this article. They are considerate and human should misfortune assail one, and the working conditions are unusually good.
Arriving at the paintroom at bbc tv Centre one morning, I see a new cloth has been nailed and stretched on one of the frames which hold the scenery to be painted. These frames slide up and down in iron grooves in the one-foot gap separating the suspended floor from the walls. I think this new cloth is for me, for I see the senior scenic artist, who is known to one and all as Bunny, making towards me with a designer’s plan and some photographs in his hand; he is grinning away and greets me.
‘Bill,’ he says, ‘I have a job for you and it is right up your street—trees. It is to be painted on this cloth’, and he waves his hand to the new cloth which measures roughly 40 feet by 11 feet high.