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Harris, Bimbi (1918-)

Camera, Director, Producer

Main image of Harris, Bimbi (1918-)

Born in London in 1918, Barbara 'Bimbi' Harris started her career at the BBC in 1939 as a trainee recording engineer, at a time when major industries were recruiting women in large numbers to fill vacancies caused by the war. In 1946, when television production recommenced, Harris applied to the Alexandra Palace studios and was hired as a vision mixer. She faced some resentment from peers, particularly returning servicemen, but she nonetheless applied for every opportunity to improve her skills.

In the 1950s she trained on the early camera systems Baird, Emitron and later Marconi, and is credited as the first woman to operate a television camera on live television, working alongside directors and producers like George More O'Ferrall and Rudolph Cartier.

In the early 1950s Harris moved to Lime Grove, where her career prospects improved somewhat. It was the era of colour experimentation. Harris was invited to design a vision-mixing panel which was still in use at Lime Grove by the late 1980s, affectionately known as the 'Bimbi' Box, an ingenious device designed to throw colour onto the screen.

In 1955, Harris left the BBC to work as a director for the new commercial television service Rediffusion. She directed numerous programmes in variety, panel games and drama such as Double Your Money (1955-68), Cool For Cats (1956-1961), The Brighter Sex (1959) and children's drama serial The Old Pull'n'Push (1960). After Rediffusion, Harris moved to LWT, where she produced and directed light entertainment shows through the 1970s and early 1980s .

Ann Ogidi

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Thumbnail image of Barbara Harris: BECTU Interview Part 1 (1989) Barbara Harris: BECTU Interview Part 1 (1989)

Memories of her time at BBC Alexandra Palace and Lime Grove

Thumbnail image of Barbara Harris: BECTU Interview Part 2 (1989) Barbara Harris: BECTU Interview Part 2 (1989)

Discusses her directorial work in commercial television at ITV

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