Copyright © Stuart McAlister. All rights reserved.
As a teenager, Stuart joined the Prince Edward Theatre’s lighting crew. Not bad for your first job when the show happened to be “Evita!”. He spent a couple of years commuting to London's West End but returned to his native Surrey where he joined the small and intimate ranks of a Surbiton-based film and TV lighting company. There, he rigged and operated lighting equipment for use by the film industry. His favourite job being 2 weeks on “Monty Python’s Meaning of Life” at Elstree.
He then got the taste for bigger and better toys and moved to Link Electronics in Andover, Hampshire. Apart from being the UK's last remaining TV studio camera manufacturer, Link had a sideline department which operated "serious" video projectors. These were incorporated into the sets of TV shows such as “Wogan”, “The Late Late Breakfast Show” and “This Is Your Life” - all of which Stuart worked on at one time or another.
A rival company appeared on the horizon who supplied giant 22 tonne outdoor mobile TV screens. Along with the rest of Link's video display department, Stuart was poached from leafy Hampshire and jumped ship. One memorable highlight was “Queen - Live Magic” at Wembley. Google it.
After teaching himself to edit on a VHS suite, Stuart got the bug and joined an independent production facility in Teddington. He sat in the dark, editing VTs for all sorts of people and across a wide variety of topics.
Stuart’s next move was to broadcast television news in Westminster. Here, he shot and edited a colourful range of political subjects for STV, RTE and LWT. He also shot for Central TV’s now legendary "Cook Report”.
A couple of years later and another move, this time over to Sky News in Isleworth, where Stuart covered the Bosnian conflict and the landmark 1994 South African Elections.
Shortly after Mandela was sworn in, Stuart was offered a management role at a brand new television agency in London’s EC4: The Associated Press Television News (APTV as was). Here he cast a scrutineer's eye over the agency’s output and taught reams of producers and journalists the finer points of camera operation and editing techniques.
Two years later, in 1996, The AP offered Stuart a freelance contract in Paris. He was there the fateful night at the Pont d’Alma, saw the French lift the Football World Cup and looked into the carnage of the Concorde tragedy. The AP ran out of money and Stuart was released from his contract. Rather than run home with his tail between his legs, he stuck it out, working for the BBC and CNN.
In an effort to diversify, he picked up a stills camera and built close working relationships with The Daily Express, Scotland on Sunday, The Telegraph, The Paris International Airshow, The FFG (French Helicopter Association) and umpteen corporate clients.
Finally, 18 years later, Stuart returned to the UK.