Always on the scene

Meet the three action men of Scene at 6.30

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From the TVTimes for week commencing 19 December 1964

YOU could call them the ‘camera commandos’. But don’t call too loudly. The producer might hear and start getting ideas about sending them on a patrol in the Borneo jungle.

That’s how it is with Scene At 6.30. Three interviewers — Mike Scott, Mike Parkinson. Peter Eckersley — between them have had enough adventure in 18 months to make the Three Musketeers look like a trio of retired scoutmasters.

Take Mike Scott. Since the programme began he has faced fire and flood. He has balanced on a plank over a fast running river to interview a woman marooned in her bedroom. He has crouched behind steel plating on an artillery range with shells whizzing past him.

Last summer he took a barge down the Lincolnshire canals to the open sea. A week later he was perched up in a Hastings Bomber making a trip through an Atlantic storm.

A day later he sat astride an elephant telling it elephant jokes. And to cap it all, the next day he floated down less pleasantly odorous reaches of the River Irwell, Salford, in a gondola.

Stratford-upon-Avon and back in half a day to make a film about Shakespeare. Up a misty mountain in the Lake District to talk to a hermit.

A man sits on top of a barge
One of Mike Scott’s less hazardous jobs… taking a barge down the Lincolnshire canals to the open sea

It’s all in a day’s work in Scene At 6.30. And it’s all in a hurry. The task master (or is it slave driver?) is producer David Plowright. He’s also what they call an ‘ideas man’. Someone only has to pass his line of vision after having an ordinary short, back and sides, and David has Mike researching into hair styles.

While Mike Scott is facing up to his tasks, be assured that Mike Parkinson is no less busy earning a living in no less suicidal ways. He might be patiently waiting by a hole in a stall for a python to pop out, or tossing about in an open boat off Flamborough Head in rough weather talking about a giant crab.

Mike Parkinson is the man they send down coalmines, or put on a thunder-rock fortress in the North Sea, or haul up into the air on a giant crane. Earlier this year he faced loaded revolvers in the Zanzibar rebellion.

Some months later, he mixed with Isle of Man nationalists who boasted they would fight if ever Lancashire annexed the island.

As a reward for a job well done, producer Plowright made him a tinker and sent him trudging across the Emerald Isle with a caravan.

What the viewer never saw was the time when Mike was on horseback without the caravan and the rein snapped. The horse bolted and our hero galloped across County Kerry as if the ‘little people’ were chasing him.

About the time he was bringing his steed to a halt, Peter Eckersley was taking things peacefully, doing a spot of fishing—up to his neck in the treacherous Solway Firth, seeking a tussle with a 30lb. salmon and reciting Walter Scott for the camera.

Peter is the man who has to grab toothbrushes and catch planes. Last year he covered the late President Kennedy’s tour of Ireland. This year he flew the Atlantic with The Beatles. He likes the giddy heights. If a building is being demolished, where better to stand and describe it than on the huge ball which is knocking it down? What better view of Liverpool than the one obtained from the top girder of the Roman Catholic Cathedral?

His latest trip was the five mile voyage from Ramsey to Panama — that is, the Panama registered pirate radio ship Caroline.

In the night sea he had to climb a rung ladder from a tiny boat bobbing below, with a microphone between his teeth instead of a cutlass. Fortunately, he was recognized and didn’t have to walk the plank.

The people who work on Scene At 6.30 are trained to touch tigers. If there’s a phoenix up a gum tree, one of them will be sent to catch it. If there’s a geni [sic] in a bottle, somebody will crawl in and interview it.

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