Rigger / Driver
Bob Parry joined the BBC in 1957 in the days before colour television. After a brief hiatus, Bob rejoined the BBC in the late 1960s and started work as a Rigger on Outside Broadcasts. Working alongside his brother, the Parry twins became a well known pair within the OB community. As a rigger, also known as a ‘cable basher’, the first aspect of Bob’s work was to drive the North 3 scanner, from base or often from its last broadcast location, to the location of the next production. Being a 16 tonne truck, North 3 was a “brute of a beast’ to drive, and so noisy that it was impossible to even listen to the radio.
Once at the location, it was Bob and the rigging team’s responsibility to install all the cabling necessary for the upcoming OB. Working from a plan devised by the Engineering Manager and the Rigger Supervisor, Bob and his team implemented the installation of the heavy and unwieldy cables for all the cameras, sound, and communications. Depending on the programme, this could be many miles of cable, all of which had to be rigged so that they were protected from both the elements and the public. This was a particular challenge when rigging golf as many spectators wore spiked shoes.
The worst of these cables by far was the G101 camera cable. An inch and a half thick, with 101 connectors and up in lengths of up to 200 feet, it was seriously heavy and cumbersome to lift. As a result, G101 made rigging rooftops, walls and just about anything extremely hard work.
Bob remembers: “It was very physical job. I remember being at the top of the stands dropping cable 50ft down. I wasn’t a big man but I got pretty strong.”
Much to the relief of OB riggers, G101 was eventually replaced with triax cable which was roughly a centimetre in diameter and much easier to pull around.
One of Bob’s personal favourites was covering the Formula One racing at Silverstone. This was a considerable job, as covering the whole of the 3.2 mile racetrack meant deploying two scanners each equipped with five cameras, all of which of course required rigging. Positioning these cameras around the track required the riggers to lay miles of cables in complex configurations. Golf was another challenge, often employing up to three scanners and requiring mile upon mile of heavy G101 cable. In addition to the hard physical work, such coverage often saw riggers, and the wider OB crew, away from home for weeks at a time.
Throughout his time on OBs, Bob would go on to rig a wide range of programmes, including light entertainment like It’s a Knockout and sporting events such as the Open at St Andrews.