Mr. Val Parnell is very pleased to announce that Brian Tester, one of television’s top producers, will join the staff of Associated TeleVision…
So ran the official announcement of the switch of Brian Tesler from producing BBC shows to those of ITV.
Tesler who joined ATV this month is 27. He is dark and good-looking, and you might think his place is in front of the cameras instead of behind them. He specialises in variety and musical shows. His office walls at Lime Grove were covered with signed photographs of artists he has worked with.
He is unmarried — “Girl friends resent having to wait until I finish work, which is not usually before nine p.m.”
He gained a First in English Literature and an M.A. at Oxford.
There he began to dabble in show business. He wrote songs and plugged them and took part in the formation of the Oxford Jazz Club. In the Services, with the Forces radio in Trieste, he gained his first experience of broadcasting. “I used to sing,” he said, “do boxing commentaries, produce shows and write songs. It was good experience.”
Does he still write songs? “When I get time.” Any hits? “One — The Girl Next Door was recorded by Ted Heath.”
At the end of 1952 he joined the BBC and early in 1953 produced his first show. He says: “I didn’t know what cameras were for the first three shows. But I learned.
“At that time Ernest Maxin and I were looking for the music for duets. He came to me one day and said he’d found enough for his show and he thought this one might do for mine. I thought it looked familiar. I turned to the name of the man who wrote it — Brian Tesler!”
Soon after this a request programme was suggested and Wilfred Pickles agreed to do it. Tesler was given the job of producing.
He says: “It started as a straight request programme without an audience, but as soon as I saw the kind of requests I realised the possibilities of the gimmicks. We brought in an audience and it went like a bomb.”
Tesler has originated and produced many BBC panel games. He worked out Guess My Story from a viewer’s postcard. He has been connected with The Name’s the Same, Find the Link, Tall Story Club and, more recently, worked on the camera plans for Twenty Questions.
Says Tesler: “I like people, so I fitted into the panel games. There isn’t a panel game on the light entertainment side that I haven’t worked on.
“Thinking quickly came in handy once when a panellist — who shall be nameless — was only just cut off in time. What viewers would have heard him say was, ‘should have guessed all the challengers if I hadn’t had an attack of worms.’ There was worse to come, but we stopped in time.”
Brian Tesler has worked, too, on many big variety shows.
He told me: “In the Ask Pickles programme a woman asked to cuddle a lion. We thought we were getting a lion cub but it turned out to be a monster and refused to move from the warmth of the studio lights at rehearsal. I was worried about the woman cuddling it, as it looked ferocious. In the show the woman rushed towards it with open arms — and the lion ran away. The audience never saw it.”
I asked him for his most embarrassing moment. “I had never been to an audition for dancing girls for a new show until someone persuaded me to go. It was embarrassing. I defy anyone to say that they have clapped and said ‘Bring on the dancing girls’ — and 200 have appeared!”
Tesler will bring his experience to the production of some big variety and spectacular shows in 1957.