Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Regional Voices May Be Switched off; IN MY VIEW

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Regional Voices May Be Switched off; IN MY VIEW

Article excerpt

Byline: TOM GUTTERIDGE

I FIND conferences a pain in the neck. Literally. Once I walk into a room with people wearing name badges, for some reason I turn into an insecure wreck. I convince myself I've forgotten the names of people I've spent my whole career working with and consequently look down at every single name.

Or, if I do recognize someone, I'm fearful that some catastrophe has befallen them since we last met. So instead of asking "How's business?" I study their badge to check they haven't been sacked.

It's quite a knack greeting someone who knows you well whilst surreptitiously gazing at their chest. Especially when they're female. And as I've now reached the age when I can't read with my normal glasses on, I have to bend my neck even further in order to peer over the frames.

So imagine how thrilled I was last week to discover I'd signed up for two conferences. One was on the future of television in the regions and the other was on training needs of the media industry in the North. Now those of you who survived the last sentence and aren't currently in the middle of page 12, will be reassured to know that these subjects aren't quite as tedious as they sound.

Last week Mike Neville emailed me to say he looks forward to my column (finally, fan mail), and when I emailed back to say I was off to a conference about regional production, he said "It's going to be a pretty short conference, then".

Mike and I come from a tradition of regional television: not only programmes made for the North-East, but also network television made here for the rest of the country. We first worked together when I was a trainee on Look North. I was only allowed on camera once, reporting on the 1974 sugar shortage. Mike introduced my piece by saying: "Now Mrs Gutteridge in Tynemouth, you must be very proud. Here's your son on television. …

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