May 14, 2008
am delighted to find your excellent site about Ron. I am a former
Sound Supervisor from BBC tv in London and I worked with Ron often
in the early 60s on Maigret, Comedy Playhouse, Dr Who, That was
the Week..., Not so much a programme... and even the odd Fanny Craddock,
and then much later I occasionally worked on Paul Temple.
Ron was a delight to work with. I worked with many excellent composers
at the BBC but Ron was outstanding in a number of ways. Many composers
are able to work quickly and accurately and Ron could certainly
do that. (In the film business they are inclined to say "Don't make
it good, make it Friday".) Ron could make it good and still make
it by Friday! But what really set him apart was that he could achieve
a new and interesting sound with a comparatively small orchestra.
This was largely due to his collection of odd instruments and his
ingenious orchestration. This was important because television drama
has always been rather expensive to produce and often there was
not much money left for the music after paying for all the artists
etc, but Ron could always produce an interesting sound.
most vivid memories are from the Maigret days. My job at that time
was to record the music, edit the tapes and play the music in live
as the actors performed. A difficulty with this was that as the
actors developmed their performance during rehearsals they would
change the speed of the action, so that a piece of carefully crafted
music became either too short or too long. This meant that I was
busy adjusting lengths all day right up the the 'live recording'
in the evening.
Ron understood this very well and was able to write music which
was eminently cuttable and still sounded right at the end.
In the music recording studio, he was super efficient. He would
call the ident by cue number, page number, duration, what the cue
line was and where the music was meant to end. He would then start
Some of those cues had to synch to pieces of film but we never
ran the film in the sound recording studio, and with the aid of
only a stop watch he would check the duration as he went and also
check any 'synch points' where the music had to change to match
the action. Occasionally you would hear him say something like "No
we have to do that again. We were two fifths of a second late on
the second synch point". Most things were OK in one or two takes
I remember Ron's departure for Portugal. He told me that he could
have moved to Cornwall for the light but he could get back to London
from Portugal just as quickly. I did sense though that Portugal
had a rather stronger pull!
Years later I met Ron by chance in a BBC studio after his return.
He had changed so much in appearance that I didn't recognise him
at first, but his voice was unmistakeable. Sadly I never worked
with Ron again but I have some very happy memories of recording
sessions with him and also an LP of the Maigret music which he signed
and gave to me.