Where are you from?
Beautiful north Lancashire, overlooking the mountains of the Lake District.
How did you get started in Broadcasting?
Joined ITV Central News in Birmingham after ten years as a newspaper reporter in various parts of Britain. Worked at Central TV and Carlton TV as a sub, producer, and bulletin reader before becoming a full-time reporter.
When was that?
Why News Broadcasting?
Prefer the day-to-day action and mad scramble, but I did once make a doco which took about a year.
Where else would have viewers seen or heard you before?
I was plucked from the world of printing ink and hot metal.
What is your Best on-air moment?
My best is yet to come, I hope. My personal favourite was when I climbed the Welsh hills to the source of the River Severn through torrential rain, howling gales, deep bogs and dense fog. It was to answer the question: where’s all the flood water coming from? It won me my tenth (I think) broadcasting award – the ITV Gold Award for “Piece to Camera of the Year“.
What is your Worst on-air moment?
I try hard to forget it. Years ago when robotic cameras were first being tried out, I was reading a live bulletin when the camera dived down to the studio floor, then repositioned itself on a close-up of my nose. Not a pretty sight. Also – I once “lost” a cat which had just been presented to a lovely old lady. Luckily, I organised a search party and we got it back safe and sound and in time for the programme, so there was a happy ending.
On another occasion, a cat pounced on my knee during filming and started to purr contentedly but loudly into the microphone. When the soundman lifted her away, the startled moggy dug her sharp claws into my flesh, drawing blood. The man we were interviewing broke the disconcerting news: “Oh dear, Mr Wilkinson, she’s got a nasty case of ring worm!”
When filming in the USSR in the 1980s, deep within a military compound, one of our minders said he wanted 20,000 dollars to allow us out. Having already spent most of my cash, I came very close to tears as I pondered our bleak future. He then laughed, slapped me on the back, and said in a loud voice: “Russian joke!”
What would you like to do before your career ends?
Sob wildly and beg to be reprieved.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Hill walking, travelling, reading – mostly about World War Two.
What advice would you give to anyone that would like to get into the broadcasting world?
Not a place for the half-hearted. The newspaper editor who gave me my first job told me: I’m only taking you on because I have never met anyone more desperate to become a reporter!
Begin young. I had my first front page by-lined splash in an evening paper – at the age of thirteen. It was a photograph I took of a fatal crash. I was paid 21 shillings. That’s where it all started.
A big thanks to Keith for taking part.