The Thoughts of a Sea Poodle
the late Terry Nicholas (who sadly died on Boxing Day, 2002) gives his account of life aboard the Yeoman Rose and the nickname that was to stay with him for the rest of his life

How did I get involved in the first place?
Ray just sort of dropped into a conversation the idea he and some of his friends had of reviving Big L for a 30th anniversary event. That was enough to set me going! Being a PR man (some unkindly call me a spin-doctor) my head was immediately full of ideas for the publicity angle on a national scale... so I volunteered to help out on that score. As time went on, talk turned more and more to the news needs of Big L. I had been out of radio since 1990, and thought I had got it out of my system, but the bug was still there so I could not resist saying to Ray that I would help out on the news side on ship. "OK," said Ray, "You are News Director!" (Will I ever learn not to volunteer?) Most important to me was having the opportunity to blackmail Ray into letting me have PSA (Public Service Announcement) slots for charity use. Ultimately the station supported SANE (the Mental Health Charity) and the Epilepsy Foundation, along with the RNLI, amongst others. Big L did them all proud, and thanks are due to Stephen Kendall-Lane (Sound Communications Group) and Paul Graham (Big L) who expertly voiced the PSAs to good effect.

On the PR side things were not easy. Certain daily newspapers said, "No interest. It is all too long ago and everyone has forgotten Big L." Worst of all were young editors, even in radio and TV, who proudly claimed never to have heard of Big L. All Radio London meant to them was the defunct BBC Radio London. There were more enlightened people who restored my faith in journalism. Peter Birkett, a freelance now but formerly Foreign News Editor of the Daily Mail, was most enthusiastic to write about the project. In fact, his material led to items in the Daily Express and the Times. John Cookson from Sky News was more than enthusiastic and gave moral support from the start. His interest culminated in a splendid report on Sky News (more of which later). A mention must also be made of Jim Miller from CNN Atlanta's office. He was enthused from the word go and kept in close touch with the project via e-mail throughout.

(Picture - News Hound, The Sea Poodle)

Frinton here we come

I arrived at EAP's studios in Frinton and started to wonder if this was really such a good idea! I had abandoned a plush office in Mayfair (ironically only yards from 17 Curzon Street, Radio London's original building), left a comfortable home with a new 500-gallon fish pond just finished on the patio, two dogs, one cat, several sons and of course, my wife. What the hell was I doing here? A fleeting thought only... One word from Ray, a smile from Caroline (later renamed "Galaxy" by some of us) and a bevvy with Chris Baird, whose enthusiasm knows no bounds, and I was ready to take on the news world.

'Yo Ho Ho' and off we go..
So, on to Big L's tender, the Lady Gwen, and heading for the open sea. Being Cornish I had no fear of the sea and had never been seasick in my life. However, I failed to heed the warning of my good friend George Saunders, (a 1960s engineer on the Mi Amigo) that there is a big difference between a ship under power and a ship at anchor. HE WAS RIGHT. One hour on the Yeoman Rose and I found out the true misery of sea sickness. This was graphically reported on Meridian TV news who filmed our first day on-air, and made more than some mention of the sea sick news department, with pictures. I have yet to live it down in my home area.
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