During the Summer of 2015, I was presenting Crossroads Check-in at the weekend on Big Centre. I was also helping Chanelle Shea-Calvin with Postbag which was a nice little half hour programme which highlighted stuff on the station, and allowed people to get in touch with their thoughts. Between us, we had the idea that we could expand the programme from its half-hour slot, to a full one-hour magazine style programme. I put this to the bosses and they agreed! So it was that The Big Centre Magazine was born.
We planned the items, wrote the scripts, and I submitted an idea for the new opening titles along the lines of Chanelle and I buying a magazine from a kiosk and then we’d see all of our items inside it. Thoroughly groundbreaking stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree. However, if you watch the first few shows, you’ll notice that this isn’t quite the case. Instead, it shows Chanelle and I visiting the Post Office to collect all of our letters (in a bin bag!). These shots were supposed to be part of the magazine/kiosk titles, but we ran out of filming time. So until our graphic designer could spare the time to come filming with us again, I had to quickly fashion the version you see on these early shows.
Happily, we soon did the extra filming and completed the titles exactly how I’d wanted them. And I still have the prop magazine that we made for the titles, and which featured most weeks in the show.
At the same time as The Big Centre Magazine was going out, I had another programme running on Big Centre – Tiswas Pies Again. This compilation series (the first ever proper compilations of Tiswas to be shown on TV) was one of my own “UpAndHappy! Productions” but during the Magazine, I hit on the idea of running another special 5 minute ‘extra’ bit of Tiswas every week. I asked Peter Thomas from TiswasOnline (of which I am also a long-standing part) to make The A-Z of Tiswas. This irreverent anthology of Tiswas-related bits and pieces ran during each week that Tiswas Pies Again was on the air, and Peter also helped The Phantom Flan Flinger to make an appearance on the Magazine – and I got a pie in the face. Chanelle managed to escape that one!
Another Tiswas feature, was the time when the Tiswas Bunny Boy turned up. Matthew Butler had sung ‘Bright Eyes’ (from the film, ‘Watership Down’) on Tiswas in 1980/81 whilst wearing an all-covering rabbit suit… the song was released as a single and hit around No.121 in the charts! Matthew came onto the Magazine for a chat, still dressed in a full-size rabbit suit. It was almost as if it had grown with him over the following 35 years.
Like Crossroads Check-in, which I’d made before this, during the Summer of 2015, I was across all aspects of the production. Chanelle and I planned the show, wrote the scripts and arranged the interviews and features. We then went into the studio on a Friday morning and did the whole thing ‘as live’. Then as soon as we finished, I sat down at the editing computer and finely tuned (!) everything, adding graphics and whatever little ‘flourishes’ I was able to bring to the production. Then it was rendered and uploaded ready for it’s weekend transmission.
You can probably tell that The Big Centre Magazine was the most fun programme I was involved with at Big Centre (in addition to my time as a quiz host in 2016). We really cared about what were doing, I do hope you enjoy watching what we did.