Having joined videotape in its embryonic days Roger was one of a small band who pioneered the art of turning a bland piece of videotape machinery, designed as a broadcasting time delay device, into a very sophisticated production tool.
Roger was, and always will be, the crowned master of videotape editing, a craft that he helped develop with passion and belief. For him there were no boundaries, no rules just a plain belief in what was possible, even if in himself he was often unsure.
He developed Roger trade marks…the ‘tut, tut’…the shrug…the irritated foot stamp…but most of all he developed a persona that said ‘Believe in me, Trust me, I know what I’m doing’. It was the latter that gave him such respect right up to the day he retired and will continue to give him respect as long as we recall our memories of him.
I suppose many saw Roger as very reserved away from the moments when he wielded a razor blade. For him a quiet moment was tucked inside a VT cubicle with the Guardian crossword and a packet of cigarettes, maybe hoping that the next glass of Löwenbrau or appointment with his beloved Mozart wasn’t too far off.
Well that was maybe the way it looked but he was always using quiet moments to develop thoughts and ideas…ready to pounce on Don Kershaw if he happened to come close! Whatever tools could be put at his disposal, Roger would want to be one of the first to master them.
Possibly unequalled ….maybe awesome… to some in Sport, with his mastery of the razor blade, he developed the same professional respect with production teams in the use of two machine dub editing and period drama, then again moving onto be the first to master the EECO time code system on the massive drama “War and Peace”. None of this stopped him working with equal zest on light entertainment.
Going back to the ‘awesome’ line, I can always recall the words of Stewart Morris who took Roger to Germany to work on the Rolf Harris show. I asked how it went…Stewart replied… “magnificent, Roger put the fear of God up them!” We know what he meant, they simply had seen nothing like it or possibly not even be aware of what their own machinery was capable of.
When “East Enders” was proposed the producer, Julia Smith, asked me if I had someone who could develop the quick turn round that was required. I shouldn’t have asked Roger or suggested him but both parties jumped at the chance, the rest is history except to say that Roger asked to delay his retirement until he had mastered the new D3 digital format that was introduced to “East Enders”…a perfect exit…a master craftsman…a legend in his own lifetime and someone we can all be proud to have worked with, to have learned from and to have seen held in such high respect by so many.
We have so many stories and recollections of RDH and each of us will have a different recollection except in one respect…he was unique.
Along with Robin Clark and Arnie Brown, we had been on an "off duty day" visit to Austria in Dave Jones' Ford Zodiac.
The date was September 5th...........
We had no idea of the tragic events underway in Munich until we reached the German border. There was a discrepancy with our insurance and, in a terrifying confrontation, pistols were drawn by the border guard - who didn't speak a word of English!
Roger, who was in the back, tried to help ...... which would have been good, except he had been sampling his beloved Löwenbrau!
"Bloody foreigners" would have been a mild interpretation of his comments! Eventually common sense reigned and the guard's boss, who spoke English, sorted it all out.
But RDH had the last word, as I accelerated as fast as I could away from the border, by hanging out the window and haranguing the guard who was now disappearing in a cloud of smoke from the car!
|Having shown an interest in editing, before we had editing posts, I found Roger was always ready to help and pass on tips.His prowess was legendary when most of us were pleased to make a black-level join without dropout.
His early (razor blade) cutting together of two separate versions, from Top of The Pops, of Cilla Black singing "Anyone Who Had a Heart" was so slick that some of us just watched it and didn't realize her dress kept changing! All those perfect music edits when he had to work his way around the recorded vision mixer cuts in the two versions! He must have studied it for a long time before starting. Then, perhaps being Roger, perhaps he didn't.
Being a new boy I was only given the "ordinary" stuff to edit while the experienced chaps worked on the prestigious programmes. One day I drew a "Juke Box Jury" where they had started the music and super'd the wrong caption. They did some sort of retake but not really the correct way and I was asked to sort it out with my razor blade and sticky tape. I couldn't see how to do it. I called in Roger's help and he played the material over and over. "Mmm", he said, "that is pretty tricky." Eventually he gave me instructions, with TR90 involved, (all a bit frightening for a beginner) and went off and left me to it. With hindsight, I realized that was the right thing to do, but at the time I thought, "Where has the ** gone"
In my early days, there being a shortage of the "top drawer editors", I was given a Theatre 625 production of Turgenev's "A Month In The Country" with Vivian Merchant, directed by Chris Morahan. This was prestigious stuff and, on allocation, I was asked if I was happy and felt up to it etc. It was beautifully shot, in large chunks, edits were perfectly planned and the retakes copybook examples of how to do it. It was a doddle, finished and reviewed inside the booked time. When I told Roger, he said, "I know, they never seem to understand that the everyday dross can be hell to sort out and the good stuff is often a pleasure to do."
Once having spent a couple of days (a long time then) editing a complex 50' " Z-Cars" or "Softly Softly" (with OB material in it), the transmission was discussed at lunch as to how well written, directed, acted etc. it had been. I mentioned that I had edited it and Roger said, "Didn't look as if you had much to do." I took that as one of the greatest compliments that I ever received.
I think that the most important thing that many of us learned from Roger's example was that, to do it right, you had to combine both the craft and the art of editing.
|Very sorry to hear this news, it has brought memories of Munich when Roger was concerned that Johnnie (Watherston) and Paul (Lang) would edit the memorial service like a football match. Roger made sure they didn't of course. The passing of a legend.|