Alan Marsden celebrates the life of the ITV senior cameraman who died on 26 November
In 1958, in the earliest days of ITV, 500 men applied to ABC TV at the Capitol Cinema Studios Didsbury, Manchester for employment as technical operators. Gerry and just 3 others became camera operators.
Over the next 11 years, Gerry operated cameras on the whole gamut of ABC TV productions, from Armchair Theatre Plays to live Oh Boy pop shows and Opportunity Knocks. He was a cameraman on Underground, the notorious live drama during which the actor Gareth Jones had a fatal heart attack. Director Ted Kotcheff re-worked the script with the cast whilst PA Verity Lambert took over directing the production.
The list of big entertainment shows he worked on is exhaustive, from Big Night Out with Mike and Bernie Winters to the regional Comedy Bandbox/Saturday Bandbox strand, in which both Les Dawson and Jimmy Tarbuck made their first TV appearances. Studio 1, Didsbury was also the venue for Les Dawson’s triumph on Opportunity Knocks, on 20 May 1967.
The list of drama and light entertainment producers and directors he worked with in those very early days is a veritable Who’s Who of ITV glitterati, but for a man who rubbed shoulders with all the greats on a daily basis, Gerry maintained his characteristic humility throughout his long career.
He was the first choice as a cameraman for many of the leading drama and light entertainment directors of the time. Far too many to list here.
Directors sought him out because he had a gift for turning a workmanlike shot into a memorable image that embellished whatever initial idea a director presented.
His easy manner and ready-wit lightened the most fraught moments and helped many a beleaguered director to realise that it was all going to turn out fine.
In 1968, ABC wound down operations in the North and shifted to London. Gerry transferred to Yorkshire TV which had won the local franchise operating from new studios in Leeds and became the highly-regarded leader, and for a time, head of a camera department of 28 cameramen and one woman. Gerry then spent the next 21 years working in every genre of TV. These were the golden years of Regional ITV in the North with an output unmatched anywhere.
Gerry and his crew lived on a diet of great sitcoms from Rising Damp to The New Statesman and Only When I Laugh. Single plays and drama series by first rank playwrights such as; Stan Barstow, Harold Pinter, David Mercer, Alan Aykbourn, Jack Rosenthal, and Alan Plater.
And of course quiz shows like Countdown and Winner Takes All and light entertainment such as the The George Martin Show, which was the first colour LE show.
To those fortunate enough to be chosen to work on his crew, Gerry was a mentor and role model. He had a way of gently but firmly putting everything into perspective. A way of turning a wry phrase to clarify what was happening and what needed to happen to get the best visuals out of any studio or location scenario.
In his time as a senior cameraman at YTV, Gerry honed his crew into a skilled and tight knit unit. He achieved this with understanding and empathy for the stresses and strains placed upon his young team. They in return responded with their loyalty and admiration.
As well as being a highly skilled technician, Gerry was a natural story teller. He was always at the centre of any convivial group offering an hilarious stream of anecdotes from his amazingly prolific career.
Gerry retired from Yorkshire Television in 1989 and was a freelance cameraman for a number of years. He was also a passionate amateur mechanical engineer and spent many hours in the construction of model aircraft and railways with his precision metal lathe.
Though latter years were increasingly marred by infirmity, Gerry and Christine organised regular reunions of ex-YTV technicians and they were always jolly affairs lightened by shared reminiscence and banter.
He is survived by his partner of 44 years, Christine Foley, his first wife Dian and their sons Stuart and Andrew.
Gerry Lord, senior television cameraman (1936 - 2013)
Alan Marsden is a former director of shows including Coronation Street and Brookside