Nik Crosina (camera 2 & lighting) and Robert Alexander

Nik Crosina (camera 2 & lighting)
with author and producer
Robert Alexander during the
filming session with
Bernard Greenhead in July 2000
.

 

Virginie Bonvalet (Camera 1)

Virginie Bonvalet setting up the two digital cameras used during the
filming sessions.

 

Sir Bernard Lovell

Sir Bernard Lovell recalling the memories of 58 years ago during filming in August 2000.

 

The Making Of:

The Forgotten Genius:

The Alan Dower Blumlein Story

A Documentary For Television

*Information now updated to April 2012

During the spring of 2000, the foundations were laid for the production and filming of footage which would eventually be used to create a documentary programme (or series of programmes) designed for television broadcast.

Following the success of the world's first biography of Alan Dower Blumlein, there has been a huge increase in interest in the work of this man again. This, in turn, has led to the concept of a mass media production which will hopefully enlighten a much larger audience who might not perhaps read a book of a technical nature such as this.

In May 2000, author, Robert Charles Alexander assembled a production team which comprised of a film and sound recording unit: Virginie Bonvalet (camera 1), Nik Crosina (camera 2 & lighting), Jayson Chase (sound), Veronyka Bodnarec (a professional documentary maker) and Janie Rayne (some of whose excellent stills photographs are shown here).

Once the elements of a production team were in place, priority was given to the filming of the principal characters in the Blumlein story, namely the now very elderly gentlemen who had known Alan Blumlein, worked with him and played such an important part in this fascinating story.

Throughout July, August and September 2000, filming sessions were arranged with Maurice Harker, Eric White, Felix Trott, Bernard Greenhead, Simon Blumlein, William Sleigh, Derek Moseley and Sir Bernard Lovell. This meant travelling the length and breadth of Britain however, the quality of the interviews and the footage captured fully justified the effort involved.

As Robert Alexander comments, "Though I interviewed these gentlemen at length during the research for my book, nothing could have prepared me for the additional effort that was made by them during the filming sessions which took place this summer. In almost every case, the filmed interviews proved to be a revelation. Knowledge, which had previously been conveyed only on the page, now sprang out and 'came to life' in the recollections of these amazing people.

I feel that in making this documentary we will, finally, bring Alan Blumlein, his work, and the extraordinary people who worked with him, to the attention of the public which this story so richly deserves".

 

Because of the age of the principal characters, the filming that has taken place has had to be carried out predominantly in their own homes. It was inconceivable for gentlemen of this age to travel to a television or production studio. Therefore the entire crew, cameras, sound equipment and all, had to be transported literally all over the country.

Of course travelling with a film crew has its drawbacks when you are invading somebody's house, and we are most grateful to all those who took part for their patience during the set-up and pull-down process. Bernard Greenhead was filmed in Birmingham in late July, with Eric White filmed in Iver, Buckinghamshire a day later. On 30 July 2000, Maurice Harker was filmed at his home in Pinner, Middlesex with Felix Trott filmed similarly the following weekend on 5 August.

It was decided to film William Sleigh and Derek Moseley at Goodrich Castle in Herefordshire on a glorious and very hot day in mid-August. As the castle is the location of the Radar Memorial Window, it was originally planned to film inside the Chapel. However, lighting problems meant that filming had to take place outside.

This led to several problems we had not envisaged as Goodrich Castle is quite popular and busy during the summer months and we had chosen a particularly
warm day. Though English Heritage, who run and maintain the Castle, had given us permission to film there, it was only with the co-operation of an interested, and patient public (who needed to remain totally quiet while filming took place) that the days events went as well as they did.

Finally, we filmed Sir Bernard Lovell at the house of a friend of his, in Worcestershire, in early September. Sir Bernard had written the forward for Robert Alexander's book, and though he had only known Alan Blumlein for a short time during the development of H2S, Blumlein had a considerable influence upon him.

It was a glorious summers day again when the crew arrived for the filming session with Sir Bernard, and it was decided to film in the extensive gardens of the house. Though extremely busy with his work for the Millennium Astronomical Convention at Jodrell Bank, Sir Bernard, even at 87, is full of energy and has a very sharp recall of events from six decades ago.

February 2002

Robert Alexander had set up his own production company, Dora Media Productions, specifically to work on the project in early 2000. During 2001, much of the basic scripting work was done alongside preliminary editing of the main footage. Additional footage was filmed in summer 2001, and by January 2002, most of the principle characters required for the documentary had been in front of the camera. The remainder are scheduled to do so at some point in 2002.

Dora Media Productions - www.doramusic.com

By the end of 2001, a considerable capital sum had been invested in state-of-the-art computer-based digital video editing technology, that will be used to produce in-house DVD promotional items. The first of these is expected in mid-2002. This computer video system will also be used to compile the main body of the final documentary. While broadcast dates loom on the horizon, a firm offer from a broadcast company is still required, though several now show continued interest.

It had been originally hoped that 'The Forgotten Genius: The Alan Dower Blumlein Story' would be completed and ready for broadcast in time for June 2003, the 100th anniversary of Alan Blumlein's birth. Sadly, this proved an impossible deadline to meet.

 

Felix Trott

Felix Trott who worked with Alan Blumlein on Stereo, Television and Radar.

 

Eric White

Eric White is the most senior member of the EMI team still alive. Now 91, his recall is as
sharp today as it was sixty-five years ago.

 

Maurice Harker

We were all captivated by the charm and
sense of humour of Maurice Harker's stories.

 

Bernard Greenhead

Bernard Greenhead, whose timely kick saved
the transmission of the Coronation of
King George VI on 12 May 1937.

 

Derek Moseley (left) and William Sleigh

Derek Moseley (left), who was the last person to see
Alan Blumlein alive when he fixed the faulty generator in
Halifax V9977 just before the fateful flight
on 7 June 1942. And William Sleigh, whose voluminous
crash investigation work in 1984 shed light on the
events and causes that led to the crash of Halifax V9977.

Jayson Chase (sound) Robert Alexander

Jayson Chase (left) whose mastery of sound in difficult situations made the excellent recording sessions that much better.

Author and producer of the television series, Robert Charles Alexander (right) explaining the days filming session.

Part of the title sequence from the forthcoming television documentary about the life and works of Alan Dower Blumlein

Still image from the title sequence of the television documentary.

 

July 2004 - April 2012

Despite the best efforts of the team behind the documentary, the June 2003 deadline was an impossible deadline to uphold. This has been due to several factors, most of which were beyond the control of the production team, but the primary factor still remains money. Producing a highly polished product such as this takes a great deal of money and when it is not in place, this delays the process considerably.

Production was partly-completed is late 2003, which meant that any possible broadcast date was now into 2005 or 2006 at the earliest. Nothing has been more frustrating that to have the efforts of all those in the team working to get this production finish go unrewarded so far. In the interests of the many people who have contacted me regarding the programme, I shall be releasing some production stills in August 2004. This cannot make up for the lack of a finished programme, but I want to thank the many hundreds who have e-mailed me in the past few months enquiring about the progress of the documentary.

With the production continuing as funds become available, once again a new date will have to be found and set. This is most likely to be the end of 2012 unless substantial money if forthcoming. Since filming began, five of the main characters have sadly died. We owe it to them and their memory, if nothing else, to complete this project, and in due course we shall.

Please take the time to read through the elements of this website and judge for yourself how poorer we would all be without Stereo, Television, Radar and the many other things that Alan Blumlein turned his talent to.

To contact Robert Charles Alexander, the author of 'The Inventor of Stereo: The Life and Works of Alan Dower Blumlein', by direct e-mail:

rob@doramusic.com

Details of how to obtain this book from the publishers Focal Press, of through Amazon can be found on the 'Purchase Book' page of this website.

Robert C Alexander Lincolnshire, April 2012

All material ęDMP2000 ęDMP2001 ęDMP2002 ęDMP2003 ęDMP2004 ęDMP2005 ęDMP2006 ©DMP2007 ©DMP2008 ©DMP2009 ©DMP2010 ©DMP2011 ©DMP2012

Photographic Material ęJane Rayne 2000


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