Diana Edwards-Jones obituary


The pioneering tv director Diana Edwards-Jones, who has died aged 91, helped ITN set up its repute for producing a well-liked, authoritative information service on ITV – and was famend amongst colleagues for her vibrant language within the gallery. She directed Information at Ten, Britain’s first half-hour each day information programme, from its launch in 1967 till her retirement 22 years later – and was instrumental in making the “bongs” part of its opening headlines. The published additionally featured two newscasters presenting alongside each other for the primary time within the UK.

Throughout rehearsals for the title sequence, Andrew Gardner, partnering Alastair Burnet, was delivering the headlines when a sound mixer inadvertently introduced up the tones of Huge Ben hanging the hour. When Edwards-Jones realised {that a} brief headline might be fitted between the bongs to nice impact, earlier than Johnny Pearson’s stirring title music, The Awakening, the approach turned an indelible Information at Ten trademark.

Filling a half-hour information programme proved shaky at first, however the ITN conflict correspondent Alan Hart’s dramatic report on the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders retaking the Crater district from the rebels in Aden, screened on the third night time, helped to make it a winner with viewers – and a daily in TV’s weekly Prime 20 viewers rankings.

Edwards-Jones continued on Information at Ten till 1989. In addition to turning into ITN’s head of programme administrators, she was the primary lady to direct a stay election night time outcomes present, within the scorching seat for each 1974 polls.

She was meticulous in her preparation and organisation, after which skilful at coordinating scores of outdoor broadcast cameras in constituencies and on the political events’ headquarters, together with graphics and studio discussions and interviews. Her brilliance at recognizing probably the most important motion and attending to declarations earlier than the BBC throughout that 12 months’s first election gained Edwards-Jones the Royal Tv Society’s 1975 silver medal for “excellent artistic achievement behind the digicam”.

Colleagues recalled her message to the ITV “troops” up and down the land and within the studio through the hours earlier than happening air: “Hear right here, it is a rehearsal, not a fucking tea celebration!” Additionally they remembered the purple Llanelli rugby sock she wore to function the chilly metallic foot pedal that activated the gear, permitting her to talk to exterior broadcast administrators round Britain. Edwards-Jones made the job her personal, persevering with for an additional three elections, the final in 1987.

David Nicholas, the primary producer of Information at Ten and later ITN’s editor, as soon as in contrast her with Britain’s first feminine prime minister. “When Diana’s in cost, she’s in cost,” he stated in 1989. “Mrs Thatcher can be like a shrinking violet compared to Diana.”

Born in Swansea, Diana was the daughter of Nancy (nee Davies) and Cyril Edwards-Jones, a GP. On leaving Battle Abbey faculty, East Sussex, in 1950, she educated at Cardiff (now Royal Welsh) Faculty of Music and Drama. She gained expertise as an assistant stage supervisor with the Maudie Edwards Gamers on the Palace theatre, Swansea, earlier than performing on the Theatre Royal, Bristol, and with Terence Dudley’s firm on the Grand theatre, Swansea.

In 1955, as ITV was making ready its launch in London, she utilized for a job as a ground supervisor at Related-Rediffusion, one of many new industrial corporations. She stated it turned her down as a result of she was a lady, however urged she apply for the same job at ITN, then primarily based in the identical constructing. She handed the interview, exaggerating her expertise in stage managing – greater than 100 theatre performs, she informed them – and mendacity that she may sort.

“However I did know a bit about timing from the theatre,” Edwards-Jones informed Richard Lindley, creator of And Lastly…? The Information from ITN (2005). “If you go to a matinee, they all the time converse quicker to allow them to have a little bit of a relaxation afterwards earlier than the following efficiency.”

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Edwards-Jones within the ITN management room in 1971. {Photograph}: Night Customary/Hulton Archive

Alongside typing scripts and arranging stills pictures from companies and newspapers, she made her debut as ground supervisor at 10pm on ITV’s opening night time, 22 September 1955, with a sweep of her arm signalling to the newscaster Christopher Chataway that he ought to begin.

For the primary time, the BBC had a rival in tv information. ITN injected persona, in addition to authority, into its programmes and pioneered new strategies – filming with light-weight 16mm cameras and stay sound, and adopting a extra incisive, reasonably than deferential, fashion of interviewing.

Edwards-Jones moved into the high-pressure world of programme directing in 1961 and was chargeable for introducing earpieces for newscasters, to permit direct communication with them. Coaching manufacturing assistants and different administrators quickly turned a part of her job, and lots of credited her tongue-lashings as being an necessary factor within the “masterclass”.

Throughout her 34 years working for ITN, Edwards-Jones additionally directed information specials resembling D-day commemorations in 1984, and royal documentaries, together with The Prince and Princess of Wales Speaking Personally with Alastair Burnet (1985) and Queen Elizabeth II – 60 Superb Years (1986).

She constructed up a detailed relationship – skilled and private – with Burnet, ITN’s senior newscaster on ITV, and in 1979 they and Information at Ten’s affiliate editor, Barrie Gross sales, introduced in regards to the sacking of Reginald Bosanquet, the flamboyant newscaster who was liked by viewers however more and more turning into a legal responsibility as his alcohol consumption elevated. Following the nightly programme, the trio would typically go for a drink and bacon-and-eggs meal at a close-by resort. After a very furry Information at Ten that Bosanquet solely simply made it by means of, they determined he should go. The following day, ITN’s editor, David Nicholas, had a tearful assembly with Bosanquet – who, like Edwards-Jones, had been with the corporate from the beginning – and so they agreed he would go away instantly.

Following Burnet’s loss of life in 2012, he left £100,000 in his will to Edwards-Jones. She had been one of many few who continued to go to him throughout his ultimate years, when he suffered dementia, and his spouse, Maureen, described Edwards-Jones as “a really pricey buddy” of herself and her husband.

Edwards-Jones was made OBE in 1987. She is survived by a cousin, Philip Geen.


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