Working with Tim Ball was a genuine pleasure, though some assignments were decidedly challenging. One in particular had me going to a remote spot in the Pennines to take a brief – from a company that manufactured wooden pallets.

There is nothing – absolutely nothing – exciting about wooden pallets. Or is there…?

I remember taking detailed notes for nearly two hours as I talked with the owner. He was describing the timber they sourced for their pallets – a cut above what’s normally used – and the details of their manufacture. But one key point in that interview stayed with me. A very simple one.

Because they used better timber the risk of a pallet breaking up on a production line was hugely reduced…

This was one of the early shows I scripted for Tim, and you need to bear the date in mind – early 1980s. The first computer games were just taking off on pioneering machines like the Commodore 64 and the Sinclair Spectrum – and as a Spectrum owner I’d even played a couple myself. Our treatment would be delivered as a slide show using multiple projectors, similar to A Thames Calendar but obviously on a smaller scale. So a degree of animation was possible…

Suddenly a clear image came into my mind. A computer game called something like Factory, with a production line running and components – all on pallets – moving along it.

Until one of them shatters. And it’s ‘Game Over’…

So that’s what I wrote (and what Tim delivered). It was just one example of looking for that ‘one thing’ that would make a good hook for a show – something you could use as a basis for the sales pitch.

Gradually – and inevitably – our chosen medium shifted from slide-tape to video. As I had predicted, video quickly became the dominant medium for corporate presentation, and we were right there and ready to use it. But I knew I needed more work in this huge and growing area. And I needed the right help to get it…