The BBC Field Producers’ Handbook

This is a serious blog but as a light-hearted interlude, some brilliant bits of the 1956 edition of ‘The BBC Field Producers’ Handbook’ and the chapter called ‘Getting the best from your correspondent

On arrival, you may shake a correspondent’s hand. But never address him by his Christian name. Over-familiarity makes for poor broadcasting

“If your correspondent stumbles or is hesitant on air, offer him some brandy from your ration. This is what it is for. It will aid fluency”.

“Field work may mean an overnight stay. Never use the correspondent’s hotel without his permission. There will be a boarding house nearby”

BBC correspondents are important figures. But sometimes forgetful. Always carry a spare shaving brush for his use. He will thank you for it.

“The Field Engineer will not have benefitted from your education. Use patience, but do not neglect a direct order to get the best from him.”

“On occasion you may be asked to work with a female correspondent. Only those who have completed the Advanced Field Certificate may do so.”

“Other than radio spares the Field Producer ought to carry: binoculars, shoelaces, a chocolate bar, a ball of string and a 10 Franc note”

Do not be afraid if your correspondent wishes to talk to you on a train journey. These topics may help. Literature, The Countryside, Cricket.

“Topics that your correspondent will NOT wish to hear of. Your Health, your Ambitions, your Family, Association Football.”

“In the Home Counties, ask permission before running broadcast cables across homeowners’ property. Elsewhere, this may not be necessary.”

Some of the specifics may have changed over the years but it seems the general attitude of presenters hasn’t…

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19 Responses to The BBC Field Producers’ Handbook

  1. johnyork says:

    Rather good find ASE.
    56 years on, all that is required to update the “Handbook” is to loose the word correspondent and replace it with Labour MP.


  2. Span Ows says:

    You can hear the pre-broadcast conversation now:

    Good morning, I’m the Field Producer
    Hello, I’m the Correspondent…but I should tell you, there’s an execution today.
    Have some brandy
    They’re going to stone her!
    Have a bit more brandy
    Honest, it’s awful…she did nothing! She was raped!!
    Have some more brandy
    They do weird stuff, they’re all barking mad.
    Please, finish the bottle
    I love here, the people are great
    Right, start the recorders…


  3. LondonCalling says:

    Mark Thompson looks badly in need of a Field Producers shaving brush. Clearly he wrongly associates stubble with arts creativity.

    The guide needs updating for how to interview a Conservative – contemptious sneer, frequent interruption, last word to their opponent, all the usual bBC tricks.


  4. Priceless! ROFL.


  5. Foxgoose says:

    Solid Labour line up on Marr now.

    Lab Peeress Helena Kennedy impartialliy discusses the terrible problems the evil Tories are having – with a Guardian hack & Red Andy.

    Remember when Labour were having a terrible time over Ed’s leadership election & we were told it was OK to have “all Labour” discussions on the Beeb – because it was “more relevant”?


    • Guest Who says:

      Meanwhile over at SKY, they had on to discuss matters of hypocrisy and ethical conduct in high office… one Diane Abbott. Bless.
      SKY is like the Conservatives. To curry a bit of favour, and maybe grab slightly more ratings, they keep offering ever more profile to very niche, noisy players, and then seem shocked when this is repaid by them getting well and truly bitten by the fleas they have bedded down with.
      I’d laugh if it were just them reaping what they sow, but by their antics they give the likes of a Galloway enough profile such that these pygmies of the political scene acquire a status they don’t deserve to become players in a system where people vote based on what the TV shows them the night before.


  6. Merlin says:

    Off topic: did anyone watch the hilarious ‘Big’ (left wing) Questions this morning with Cocky Campbell and his soppy left wing troupe of liberal fascists? Emotional incontinence aplenty folks! The first debate centered on capital punishment and whether it should be reinstated. Zealous, dripping wet, ignorant and aggressive lefties were frothing at the mouth but one audience member’s answer to a question from Nicky concerning why more blacks are on death row than whites, was met with the hilariously simple (and probably correct) answer from a Christian member, ‘because they perhaps commit more murders??’ which was met by pathetic and auto-cued hisses of incredulity by sanctimonious audience members. We now have a situation in MSM where no one can criticize or tell the truth in relation to Black people-it’s simply taboo.
    Funnily, the lefties were VERY silent when the Islamic Party of Britain Spokesperson recommended the reinstating of the death sentence, and Nicky all of a sudden was amicably agreeing with the Muslim (whereas when Peter Hitchens was singing from the same hymn sheet, he was heckled aggressively). Yet another example of awful left wing craven bias where the imported audience simply won’t let other viewpoints be heard.


  7. chrisH says:

    Thanks for watching Merlin and Foxgoose.
    None of us need watch any of it now, so that frees up time for me. May well scoot to the bits where Hitchens makes his stand…a frontline hero eh?
    We field correspondents of the BBC output( fields being monocultured lavender and rape seed -poppy and landfills of science and academic integrity)…do earn our brandy don`t we?
    I myself was on the watchtower for BH…bloody Mary Beard again, and some RSC huckster reviewing the papers for us all.
    But Paddy DID give one game away, when he said that Murdoch blamed the BBC for the death of print media and the fact that there won`t be any in 20 years.
    And it`s true-Leveson Thursday morning 12.35-45 covers it and it is powerful and prophetic. The BBC has targetted local news with its online services, and is on a mission to be the only outlet of news in the country-using our license fee to strangle the likes of Murdoch and independent radio etc.
    Yet apparently the BBC not only never mentioned stuff like this (Brown was “unbalanced” as he railed at Rupert over the phone) -but , when asked to reply said that…get this…”it would not comment whilst the Leveson Inquiry was still ongoing”.
    So then-no more bitching about Rupert and the opposition to the BBCs monobrow intentions from now on?
    Ruperts one crime at the BBC is to pit Blair against Brown yet again…and to prevent the BBC from strangling all nascent (or even grown) opponents of the New World/Common Purpose agenda…and that`s all you`ll need to know I think.
    The BBC have GOT to go…and pronto!


    • Foxgoose says:

      I imagine the Beard woman as being like Peter Simple’s (showing my age) Lady Dutt-Paulker of Marxmount Mansion, Hampstead – sending her butler to prepare placards for the afternoon’s demo.


  8. chrisH says:

    No …sorry…I`d like to let it go, but I just can`t!
    How come a BBC trustie like Mary Beard gets to suggest we join the SWP to smite the likes of Petra Eccleston or Wallis Simpson?
    Are these not members of the sisterhood?…are they not entitled to the same solidarity as , say Ann Coulter or Sarah Palin then Mary?
    I jest of course, but would someone tell me how much Beardy-Weirdy gets for being “wickedly subversive”(her TLS blog says so!) in recommending the SWP…when the BNP is another option, say?
    And all from the commanding heights of Newnham College Cambridge…what a weekend rebel eh?…and exactly the kind of liberal spittoon so beloved by the BBC Trustafarian Scheduling Commissars!
    As Weller said
    “What a catalyst you turned out to be…load up the guns then you run off home for your tea”.
    There speaks a man who WOULD send his kids to Newnham-but at least has earned the right to be a hypocrite, unlike Prof Beard


    • Pah says:

      BNP or SWP what’s the difference?

      The body count will be the same.


      • Phobic-ist says:

        Indeed. I have a pal who works in HMRC who reliably informs me that several of his senior colleagues are active members of the SWP. What hope have we got!


        • Pah says:

          Are the toilets constantly blocked in the office? Last time I worked with that type their ‘rebellion’ was to cause discontent in the workers by sabotaging the facilities – by using too much toilet paper. I kid you not!

          Pathetic fools


          • Reed says:

            Did you work with Trenton Oldfield’s mates?


            • Pah says:


              Another trick was to remove light bulbs from stair wells in the hope that someone would get injured and sue.

              All for the Greater Good of course.


  9. David Preiser (USA) says:

    Over-familiarity makes for poor broadcasting

    They need this for Today presenters as well.