Don Kershaw
Acknowledged videotape expert
Don Kershaw died on May 22 following an operation to correct a severe aneurism. He was 76.
His funeral, shared with his family and by so many who worked with him in and around Television Recording was a tribute to the respect and fondness we all feel for a superb craftsman who did so much to make videotape in the BBC and around the world a success.
His lifelong drive to continually move videotape forward was very much a two way process. He loved his work and those he worked with loved him.
Following a stint in the army, Don started his career in Post Office Telephones, moving to the BBC in 1955.
Videotape machines were still in embryonic form and Don joined a recording department in the old Lime Grove studios that only used film. In 1958 when that first Ampex videotape machine arrived, Don was amongst a small group asked if they would like to work with it.
He decided there and then that there was a lifetime of challenging work to be had with these machines. I doubt he realised how much but in that lifetime he developed a unique expertise and a very wide respect that achieved so much, helping to turn various grey boxes into superb production tools, for us and for the world.
How did Don achieve this? In the early 60s he became the beloved leader of one of the videotape shifts in Television Centre's basement. This gave him wonderful opportunities.
As ever he looked, he listened, he learned, he tried things and he imagined what might be. He got the respect and trust of engineers, operational staff and most important, programme producers. Don was a team player. He never sought credit or accolades and gave his engineering specialists space to develop their own expertise; they too have become renowned world-wide.
As editors we were insatiable, snapping at his heels for more and more... and he loved it. Apart from his own brilliant thoughts, he took on board our ideas and made them real, always giving credit back to the source.
Don quickly gained the respect of broadcasters and manufacturers around the world.
There was an ironic down side. His hugely successful work gave us golden opportunities to flourish..........and we did. Videotape post production became truly a part of nearly all programme areas. There simply wasn't enough to go round.
By the late 80s, the director general, (now Sir) Michael Checkland had persuaded the Board of Governors to let us build a complete new Post Production Centre, Stage 5. Don couldn't believe it; a lifetime dream had come true.
Sadly a crucial phase was to coincide with the loss of his wife, Julie. However Don gave it his all, even delaying retirement to see it through.
Then came the accolade he simply couldn't avoid. In 1991 Don received the Royal Television Society's Technology Award for Operational Systems. The award cited his work on Stage 5 and this truly reflected the lifetime work of an outstanding craftsman.
Don's contribution to our lives, our work and the work of others around the world is immeasurable. His foresight, his skills, his friendship and his wonderful compassion will always be with us and he is sorely missed by his family, Joe, Christian, Julian, Naomi, Sam and all his grandchildren and friends, particularly Sue.

Neil Pittaway