Christina Hamilton

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Christina Hamilton

I began working at the BBC in 1977, my final year at the BBC was 2007.


I left school and went to the College of Commerce in Hull for 2 years and completed a Medical Secretary Diploma. Much later (30 years!) l attended the University of Hull where I completed a 6 year part-time BA (Honours) Arts and Humanities Degree Course and graduated in 2010 with a First

Previous Jobs

I worked in the NHS at an out-patient clinic as a secretary to a Consultant Gynaecologist for 2 years

How I joined the BBC

I saw an advertisement in the national Daily Mail for secretaries and wrote for an application form. I was invited to attend for interview in London and on the same day was sent to Television Centre to be interviewed for a job with a Personnel Officer in Television News and was offered the position.

My first impressions of the BBC

It all felt a bit unreal, I was a young girl from Hull working at Television Centre in Television News and seeing Angela Rippon and Richard Baker in the News Tea Bar. It was exciting and I felt my mental and physical world expanding. I had come from a formal atmosphere in the NHS, and it was difficult to get used to calling my boss Liz and everyone else by their first name. Walking through the newsroom was exhilarating as it was so noisy with manual typewriters, copy machines and men shouting.

Broad BBC career

I worked in Personnel TV News for about 2 years then joined the Production Panel as a Producer's Assistant. After working in various TV production departments I got a permanent job in Music and Arts for the next 5 years. I left the BBC for 2 years and was a freelance Production Manager, Researcher and Director. I rejoined in 1990 as Unit Manager, The Late Show, in Music and Arts for a year. I moved to Bristol and joined the Natural History Unit as Unit Manager, The Natural World. I stayed in Bristol for the next 12 years eventually becoming a Production Executive. I took voluntary redundancy in 2003 but part of this deal was going back to Hull to work on a Digital Media Project which was part of the Learning Department. I worked for Learning on this project for 4 years and left the BBC in 2007.

My training at the BBC

Producer's Assistant Course - 6 weeks Wanted to go on Studio Director's Course and gained a couple of recommendations from colleagues but was refused as was told that Producer's Assistants did not go on that course - so I left the BBC. Various Leadership and Management courses during my time in the NHU

Periods at the BBC

1977 until 1979

I was on a Permanent staff contract. We were based at Television Centre. Secretary to Television News Personnel Officer and attachment as News Transmission Assistant.

Main memories of the period

Noise of the newsroom with journalists shouting and noise of the typewriters and teleprinters. Adrenaline of my first live News programme as an NTA and relief when it was over

1979 until 1982

I was a Producer's Assistant on a Permanent staff contract. We were based at Various in the TV Production Panel department. Training and working as a Producer's Assistant for the Production Panel working in lots of different departments but not drama. Learnt the range of production skills; filming, gallery, OB, live.

Main memories of the period

Excitement and trepidation when given new assignment which could last from 6 weeks to 6 months. Huge 'on the job' learning and long hours.

1982 until 1987

I was a Producer's Assistant/Researcher on a Permanent staff contract. We were based at Kensington House in the Music and Arts department. Working on variety of Music and Arts programmes (mainly Arts).

Main memories of the period

For first two years working with Tom Gutteridge on Russell Harty, twice weekly live programme from the Greenwood Theatre. Also working on Hot Shoe Show with Wayne Sleep and Arlene Phillips. Lots of hard work but lots of laughter but at one point didn't have a day off for 2 months. Met some inspiring people and interesting programmes. Spent 2 days in Connecticut with Arthur Miller, Alan Yentob and Kevin Loader interviewing him about his life and work and then researching archive footage. Met David Hockney at Sir Stephen Spender's house and he drew an explanation of 'inverse perspective' and my friend Stephanie still has the page of her shorthand book that he drew on - sadly not signed. Spent 3 weeks in New York at Merce Cunningham studios and then a week in TC1 recording his first television contemporary dance commission.

1990 until 1991

I was an Unit Manager on a Temporary contract. We were based at Lime Grove in the Music and Arts department., at that time run by Leslie Megahey. Working on live 5 nights a week late night Arts programme. We were heavily resourced with 4 permanent film crews and 3 edit suites and a dedicated graphics team. Approximately 50 production staff.

Main memories of the period

As Unit Manager I was responsible for ensuring resources were used efficiently. Constant demands from Producers, being rung at home to sort out editing conflicts at the weekends. Constant shifting priorities. The day Margaret Thatcher resigned at 4.00 in the afternoon and we had to scrap the running order and start from scratch. On that day rushing carrying two heavy 2" tapes from Lime Grove Film Despatch to the Edit Suite. Working at Lime Grove and finding my way around the labyrinth of that building

1991 until 2003

I was an Unit Manager on a Temporary/Permanent contract. , at that time run by Alastair Fothergill. Working on The Natural World series - long running natural history series. Eventually was responsible for the Production Management of all BBC-2 Natural History series.

Main memories of the period

Learning curve of how natural history programmes were made and different approach required to budget and resources. Fantastic location travel and privilege of unique access to animals in the wild. Camping in the bush in Botswana and waking before dawn to travel to location to film wild dogs returning to their den to feed pups. A group of wild elephants walking towards the production car and then parting either side in Amboseli. Masses of changes and challenges - Producer Choice. It felt like we were on shifting sands all the time - different idea and way of doing things every week. Bureaucracy gone mad and increasing pressure on budgets and staff

2003 until 2007

I was a Project Adviser on a Permanent/Temporary contract. We were based at BBC Hull in the Learning department. LearnXpress was a Children's Education Pilot Project in Hull, East Riding, N.Lincs and N.E.Lincs. I worked with a Project Manager in delivery of the offer of free video-rich content to help inspire and enhance teaching and learning in the digital age..

Main memories of the period

Totally new experience working with Learning in London. Some teachers not happy about using technology and vociferous in their dislike. Working with young children teaching them how to use a camera and their infectious enthusiasm. Working with local councils and voluntary organisations- having to 'sell' the BBC. Creating and delivering marketing and events. Lots of different things which were outside my comfort zone but were a great addition to my skill set