The Continuity Booth
Tony Currie - one the UK's best known continuity announcers - talks to The TV Room Plus about his background and his broadcasting career which has included time with Scottish Television, BBC Scotland and the launch of Tara Television. Tony is also a keen broadcast historian and a leading member of the Test Card Circle.
Above: Tony Currie in the 1980s during his days at Scottish TV.
Where were you born and brought up?
I was born and brought up in Ardrossan, a small town on the Ayrshire coast.
What's your happiest childhood memory?
Christmas mornings - pressies, tree and decorations.
Tell us briefly about your education?
Ardrossan Academy. Primary 1 to Secondary 6th year. That's it.
What are your hobbies?
Broadcasting history - in particular collecting Radio Times and other listings magazines and writing books on the subject. Also, I run my own Internet radio station http://www.radiosix.com which is something I enjoy. I'm involved in various radio and television societies and have just retired as chairman of the Royal Television Society in Scotland.
What makes you happy?
Being on the air and chocolate - in that order. And cooking.
What do you most look forward to in life?
The next big event - whatever it might be.
Your favourite holiday destination?
Light Vessel 18 - anchored off Harwich. It's used for the re-creation of pirate radio stations in the summer. I broadcast and cook. Bliss!
What are your favourite TV programmes?
Hill Street Blues, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, The One O'Clock Gang, EastEnders.
When did you first decide that you'd like to be an announcer?
When I was five.
What did you do before going into announcing?
I was a radio presenter.
Why did you go into announcing?
STV persuaded me that doubling my current salary was a good idea! I joined Scottish TV in April 1976.
What sort of training did you get and what were your initial duties?
A month of sitting in with existing announcers after which I worked the same rota as everyone else - that included a mix of day and evening shifts, lots of in-vision continuity (I had a five-minute spot on my very first day) and short live seven seconds voice-over slide commercials.
Give us a brief outline of your announcing career - who you have worked for and when?
Radio KPFK Los Angeles (1972 - 1973); Radio Clyde, Glasgow (1973 - 1976); Scottish Television (1976 - 1987); then several years in management; BBC Scotland (1997 to present).
What are you most proud of career-wise?
Creating and launching TARA Television in Dublin and being its first Director of Programmes. And - incidentally - I was one of its announcers as well!
You've worked for both ITV (Scottish Television) and the BBC - what are the main differences?
At STV all I did was speak. Sometimes in-vision, often out-of-vision. At BBC Scotland we are responsible for the entire output, both technically and editorially. We operate a plethora of complex pieces of electronics.
What advice would you give to wannabe announcers today?
Get to know the technology and have a genuine love of television programmes - otherwise you won't find the job fulfilling.
What is your view of the centralisation of continuity on ITV and the gradual erosion of regional station identities?
Sad. Regionality was ITV's usp. Why didn't they realise it?
Looking into your crystal ball for a minute, how do you think television presentation will change over the next decade?
Live continuity as such will probably vanish. Links will be pre-recorded, but although you can automate the presentation aspect it will always require a supervisor just to make sure the machines don't misbehave.
Do you have any more books, or other broadcasting-related projects, in the pipeline?
Yes, two currently: one on the early days of ITV, mainly dealing with year one of each station from Associated-Rediffusion to Wales (West and North) Television.