I produced an entire series of ‘colourslide cassettes’ for Woodmansterne, but one was especially memorable – because it had to be written, recorded, duplicated, packed and distributed to a massively tight deadline…

Each new show was a new challenge. Each required a new approach, exactly on the lines of the Jim Blish formula that had guided my writing work since university. Something attention-grabbing at the start. A good, strong storyline. And a flourish at the end.

Two of those shows stand out in my memory. The first was our programme about Lincoln Cathedral, which was voiced by the actor Richard Todd, a man I greatly admired. It was a delight to work with him in studio, and to talk with him over a meal afterwards.

The second was my programme about the city of York. I did extensive research for it in the company of our photographer, Jeremy Marks – a very special man with whom I’m still in touch. (I recently built a website for him at www.postcourage.net). I spent considerable time in the York Minster archives, and also had the pleasure of meeting – and recording – a man called Harry Martindale. I began the show with the Minster bells – and a commentary remarking that not far away lay the mortal remains of a pagan Roman emperor, Septimius Severus. The show ended with Harry’s account of his encounter with the ghosts of a squad of Roman legionaries, in the cellars of the Treasurer’s House.

Around that time I’d forged a friendship with a local radio presenter called Sim Harris, and it was again a delight to work with him on probably my most exciting project. A colourslide cassette about the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.

For obvious reasons the finished show had to be out for sale as quickly as possible. The music, at least, was known in advance so I struck a deal with Decca for their recordings of the principal pieces. (The actual live sounds would not, of course, be available to us.) Thanks to our close relationship with St Paul’s Cathedral we had camera positions in superb locations, both on the route and inside the building. So I had no doubt we’d get all the images we needed. But the script had to be written and signed off within hours of the event.

To achieve that I ran two video recorders simultaneously in my flat, one picking up the BBC coverage and the other tuned to ITV. I then played back both recordings and took copious notes, ready to match up to the final selection of images as soon as that was available.

Fortunately for me, that part of the job was done quickly – so I was able to complete the script overnight, and get a draft to Buckingham Palace the next morning. With admirable courtesy they responded almost at once, asking for a single correction. That meant I could finalise the timings for effects and music straight away, and head out to Livingston Studios in Wood Green to make the master.

Once there it quickly became obvious that our crowd effect just wasn’t loud enough. I’m not sure anyone had expected the numbers along the procession route, or the amount of noise they’d make, but in that pre-digital age we had only one option. I looked at the engineer and shook my head, ‘It’s just no good. We’ll have to multitrack it.’

So we setup up the crowd effect on a continuous loop, wrapping the tape around three or four microphone stands, and recording it onto the master tape for the full 15 minutes of the show. Then we repeated the exercise, ensuring the second recording was out of phase with the first. As we set up for the third time I looked at my engineer and grinned. ‘Fancy a drink?’ I said. And off to the pub we went – for ten minutes. And again the next time. And the next…

I’m not sure I was entirely compos mentis when we came to do the final mix, but luckily I was in good hands, and the run went perfectly. We faded up the multi-track crowd effect as and when we needed it – it was effectively there all the time – and finished the master that night. The next morning it was signed off by my boss, and off it went for express duplication.

Unsurprisingly the show was our all-time best seller, and there were accolades all round. But by now I’d been with Woodmansterne for eight years – and I was already seeing a future where colourslides would be replaced by the up and coming medium of video. Nor was I really comfortable in my work. I knew there was much more I could do – and I was already taking on freelance work on the side.

In the end, the decision was made for me. Because it wasn’t long after the release of the Royal Wedding show that I was called into the directors’ office.

And told that they were making me redundant…