My First Job: Michael Bond, writer and creator of Paddington Bear

'I was amazed that, at 15, I knew Ohm's law'

"Wanted: someone interested in radio." I was 15 when I saw the ad in the Berkshire Chronicle. I was very keen on making amplifiers and radio sets, so I applied; I received a letter on BBC paper and went for an interview.

The engineer-in-charge was so amazed that I had heard of Ohm's law – "E over I = R, E over R = I, and E = IR" – that I got the job. In 1941, the BBC was setting up local, low-powered transmitters that were switched off if there was an air raid so they couldn't be used by German planes to navigate. As a "youth in training", my job was to switch the transmitter on in the mornings and off at night, and to check that it, and the feeder land lines, were working.

After the war, I went to the BBC monitoring service in Caversham, a suburb of Reading. It was a big aerial system to listen to radio programmes all over the world. In 1956, they asked for volunteers to transfer to other BBC departments. I said I wanted to go into television, and I was in the Lime Grove studios the next day.

It was very exciting, a wonderful job. Television was all live – there was no recording. In those days, the cameras were heavy and you had to drag the cable behind them and get the other cables out of the way. It wasn't long before I was a senior cameraman. You had to pan the camera from side to side with the left hand, and focus with the right hand. Somebody else was "driving" the motorised dolly. If things hadn't gone well on the Sunday play, say, you dreaded when the play was going to be repeated – again, live – on Thursday. The other crew members used to watch the back of your neck, to see if it was going red.

I was in on the first edition of Blue Peter, and of The Sky at Night, when the producer came down to ruffle Patrick Moore's hair: "It would be better if you look slightly wild." I was behind the camera for a children's programme presented by Huw Wheldon [later presenter of the arts series Monitor] when he did an interview about pets with a boy who brought along his mouse and his eagle. Wheldon remarked how interesting it was that these two, mortal enemies in the wild, were getting on like a house on fire. At which point, the eagle ate the mouse.

Wheldon also once interviewed a small boy who had built a full-sized working harpsichord entirely out of matchsticks. Wheldon asked him, "What are you going to make next?". He then placed one hand rather heavily on the instrument and there was an ominous crunching noise. "Another harpsichord," came the sad reply.



'Paddington Here and Now' by Michael Bond (HarperCollins, £10.99) is out now

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you a recent graduate loo...

Guru Careers: Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant

£16 - 20k: Guru Careers: A Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant is needed to ...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor