Fifty years of local television

It is 50 years since BBC television started broadcasting from studios in Plymouth.

Over the years the initial short bulletins of regional news were expanded and eventually became Spotlight Southwest in 1963.

At first a ten minute bulletin called News from the South West was read by Tom Salmon.

In under a year it had doubled in length and had been renamed as South West at Six, hosted by Sheila Tracy.

One of the earliest presenters was Hugh Scully.

He said: "It was tremendous. From a broadcasters point of view it represented one word - opportunity. In Devon and Cornwall it was much easier to get in and get the opportunity. The audience immediately loved it. The more local the news and features, the better it was."

One of the biggest stories covered in the early days was the Torrey Canyon disaster.

Image caption It is 50 years since the start of regional BBC news in the South West

On 18 March, 1967 the Torrey Canyon supertanker struck Pollard's Rock between the Scilly Isles and Land's End.

Around 31 million gallons of oil leaked and spread along the sea between England and France.

Mr Scully said: "One morning in March 1967 I was in the newsroom early and the phone went. It was a chap called Fuzz Grove.

"He asked me if I would look up a ship for him. I looked up the Torrey Canyon.

"I asked why we wanted to know. And he said it had just gone a-ground. I knew immediately it was going to become a very big story."

Mr Scully said he was pleased to have spent his days in the South West in the 1960s.

"Technology has moved on. When I started you did it all on film. We go to the location and spend the whole morning doing the film.

"The film was then processed and edited. You had an interval in the afternoon when you could sit and write a script. Now it's all different because it's all instant.

"We had the opportunity to think about what we were going to say and maybe write a crafted script. Now it's all so instant and therefore more difficult."

See more on BBC Spotlight on Wednesday 20 April at 6.30pm on BBC One.

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