Not Buster's Best Look

Unless you've worked in a TV or Radio station, you may be unaware of Christmas tradition which, by my reckoning, will be happening this week, the last working week before the Christmas break.

I got my first job in broadcasting in 1984. We were recording on tape then and I became aware that there was "special tape". A collection of golden nuggets which would never be broadcast but would be carefully kept aside for another day. That day would be the staff Christmas Lunch. The contents of the tape were out takes, unintentional double entendres, unexpected interview responses and reactions to unforeseen incidents. Of course this sort of thing gave Denis Norden seasons of network TV shows in the "It'll Be Alright On The Night". However my first experience of "The Christmas Tape" was purely for internal use - to give us all a laugh when the mince pies came round. The content, which naturally contained a lot of profanity, was lovingly curated throughout the year by whoever was in control of the tape machine at that moment. I've been recording the voice over to a commercial, fluffed my lines spectacularly, to then look at the Producer through the glass as he mentally noted 'That's one for the Christmas Tape". I once did an on camera audition at Grampian TV in Aberdeen. The Autocue was going a bit fast for me and I duffed up the line. By this point in my career, I was no stranger to the concept of The Christmas Tape and I had an immediate vision of the entire staff watching my out take on a big screen at their Christmas lunch as they helped themselves to more brandy sauce.

What makes The Christmas Tape so special for me however is the way they were put together. Clever Producers and Technical Operators would use the same creative skill they were employed for 51 weeks of the year to make some magic in the last week of the year. Songs which were broadcast in earnest to the public could take on a biting wit when mixed with our own exposed pre recorded shortcomings.

I stepped out of daily broadcasting a few years ago so I don't know if the tradition continues. Perhaps it's frowned upon these days. I do know that it generated tremendous good feeling amongst everyone involved - especially those whose job was nowhere near the studios. Team building without the raft building?

Nowadays I shoot mostly Corporate Video and TV Commercials so out takes are definitely not for broadcast. But I can share one with you. For a TV commercial this summer we set up a scene with a dog bowl to get a shot of a dog taking water. Buster the Pug was the talent and we had avoided taking him past the bowl earlier so that he would be ready for a drink when we needed the shot. However dogs just don't care about camera angles. Let's just say, he didn't give us his best look. The out take follows the end of the final edit shown on this page. Just click to play it.

Gerry Burke TV produces broadcast TV Commercials, Corporate Video and Social Media content. Contact us to find out more.

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