The Man Behind The Camera

 

 

Stan Bréhaut

 

 

Jack and Stan at work

 

Stan Bréhaut worked as the off screen half of a two man unit, with Jack Hargreaves for over twenty years.   He filmed over 1,000 of Jack Hargreaves' Out of Town inserts, all of the Country Boy series inserts and all the Freewheeler series.  He was described by Jack as "The finest outdoor cameraman in England!".

 

His following recollections, that he has been kind enough to share with myself and Steve Keay, and has allowed me to share with you, give a fascinating insight to the early days of Southern TV and provide priceless information regarding Jack and his TV series'.

 

Once again, many, many thanks Stan.

 


 

"Hello Steve,

 

I was a cameraman with Southern Television from a couple of weeks after it started until after it was evicted, first as a contracted freelance then as a staff member. I filmed over 1,000 of Jack Hargreaves' Out of Town inserts, all of the Country Boy series inserts, all the Freewheeler series near Southampton and in Majorca, Sweden, Amsterdam, Herm in the Channel Islands, Wales and other locations.  

 

I still have the camera body of the clockwork camera that I used to shoot the early programs and my Arriflex 16mm film camera that shot the later material. Those were the days !!!  I retired in 1984 with a year and three months leave in lieu of unpaid overtime and chose not to do any more filming after that.  

 

The history of Jack in television goes like this.  Jack was in the army in the early days when the British Forces Network was set up.  I think he worked in 'Picture Post'? and became involved with the Farmers' Union.  They sent him to Southern Television to talk to Roy Rich? their top man, and from that the 'Farm in the South' series was started which I also worked upon.  In conversation Roy said to Jack that he heard he was a bit of a fisherman, and would he come down and catch a fish for them - live on air.  Jack agreed and they set up a large Outside Broadcast Unit and Jack duly obliged. From that came 'Gone Fishing', signature tune 'Gone Fishing' sung by Bing Crosby and Lewis Armstrong.  The film cameraman on that was George Pellet who moved to Kent and I was told he may now live abroad.  George Egan was the director.

 

'Out of Town' came next and I was brought in from the first programme to the last.  George Egan came out on the early filming but soon left it to Jack and I.  Even just we two were really two too many to be around when hoping to film wildlife.  Over the years we learned to cope.  Jack used my ignorance of the subjects to the programme's advantage.  He reckoned that I was Mr Average Viewer and if I failed to recognise anything then I should film it, because although he might find it commonplace, if it interested me then it was worth a place in the programme.  That saved a lot of movement and chat and we became a very quiet twosome.

 

I remember Jack being disgusted when I was talking to someone about 'those little furry things we filmed last week', which were in fact some of the rarest creatures in the country!

 

I have been in touch with the chap who directed the studio side of 'Country Boy' and was surprised to find that he remembers even less about the programme than I do - and he's a lot younger than me.

 

Country Boy did in fact have two boys. The first was a little cockney kid who only knew about football.  Much 'Out of Town' material was used and that's all I can remember for now.  The second boy came from just outside Newbury, which was where Jack was living (next door to actor Michael Hordern who was a fine angler).  I also can't remember his name at the moment, but I do remember he never got around calling Rhododendrons - Rhodedandelions.  I'll try to get more on this if you would like it.

 

When Southern Television was evicted, Jack left and made a series for Channel 4.  He asked me to go with him but by then I was building up my Company retirement pension and I didn't have that long to go.  Starting again as a freelance was not really an option, so he left and I stayed.  My wife, Marion and I used to call on Jack and Isobel on the rare occasions when we passed his house and after Jack died, we kept in close contact with Isobel for the rest of her days.

 

I have not heard of Southern Star, but 28 re-recordings were made by Jack for Prime Time Television (crediting many young strangers who filmed new 'shed' links - but not me until I fought them).  The reason that that is all that could be done is that everything I shot was on reversal film stock (transparencies in still camera terms).  For some reason they bought a type balanced for studio artificial light, so I was always looking through an orange filter.  This made blue skies black, not the best background to see a flying pigeon and leaving me virtually no margin for error on exposure.  

 

The stock I had to use was the only and the original copy, so after it had been cut up and edited, and perhaps that had been further cut for other inserts, then none of the original remained intact.  With negative stock, editing was done on a print and the original was kept intact.  When Southern Television closed, Jack bought all the film for one pound and then found that much of it had aged and was unusable.  Had it been shot on negative stock, colour print stock in ordinary camera terms, then not only would my job have easier, but the programs would probably have survived.  

 

One thing puzzles me.  Prime Time were the folk who sold the right to transmit the revamped Out of Town series of twenty odd programs twice only.  I know this because they were first transmitted with new 'shed' links shot by a number of people, none of whom had anything at all to do with Out of Town as we know it.

They all got credits on the closing titles but I was not mentioned. 

 

It took me a long time, supported by Isobel Hargreaves to get that put right and I was credited on later transmissions. I don't mind being ignored, but having my work hijacked is something else!!!  The other firm that you mention 'Southern Star' is a new name entirely to me.  Technicians, unlike actors, get no payments for repeat showings so we can't allow that sort of precedent. End of lecture.

 

I seem to remember Jack's widow telling me that Jack's nephew? had turned up with a large van and had taken out the contents of his shed, but I never ever heard of an auction of his other pieces.

 

I have a much larger shed than Jack had and I make and mend things from PCBs to garage doors. My family were blacksmiths and fishing folk in the Channel Islands, but I was born in Eastleigh.  I made my walking stick from holly cut out of a bush in the New Forest with a carved mahogany handle that I made from an offcut from Jack's banister rail.  I have also made myself a couple of classical guitars build from a blueprint of a top antique.

 

Incidentally, Chris McMaster of Freewheelers died a few years ago, as did Isobel, Jack Hargreaves' widow.  I still get up at 5am but go to bed early these days, so now I'll go for my next cup of coffee and then come and enjoy your site. 

 

Regards Stan Bréhaut,

(aka Stanley Brehaut - but I prefer Stan and the caption people at Southern could never manage my é)".

 

  With

  Jack Hargreaves

  Film Cameraman

  Stan Bréhaut

  Director

  George Egan