Pioneering director died in December
21 February ~ The passing of Bob Gardam on December 30 aged 81 went all but unnoticed. Yet you could argue his innovative work over more than two decades at ITV shaped the way we see football coverage to this day more than anyone else. Brian Moore, in his autobiography The Final Score, described Gardam as the best director he ever worked with, possessing "a good eye for the dramatic and, visually, always on the lookout for a fresh angle". His stature among colleagues is such that the trench housing a lower camera position in front of the Wembley dugouts is known as "Gardam's Pit", after the man who pioneered its digging and use.
Having been an RAF radar operator and cameraman on Muffin The Mule, Gardam moved to Anglia TV in the early 1960s to work on live events, from news bulletins to outside broadcasts. In September 1962 Anglia became the second region, three weeks after Tyne Tees, to launch a localised weekend football highlights show, Match Of The Week, covering the region's four League clubs. Gardam became its producer and director, bringing into football the news technique of regular videotape recording of highlights rather than reportage fed on film.
Another of his new initiatives upon the still developing nature of club football coverage would be just as influential. A 1963 feature in TV Times excitedly reveals "Match Of The Week has made a name for itself because of the new ground it has broken. For the first time on television, tactical moves on the field are analysed". This was achieved by Gardam and Anglia's commentator John Camkin using the time made available by the programme's Sunday evening slot to study the recording of the week's featured match in detail using Anglia's closed circuit television system and then record an explanation of how each goal had come about over the footage. Camkin explained he'd like to think it was "helping people to appreciate the subtleties of the game, showing them on the TV screen what are good and bad tactics".
Such was Match Of The Week's reputation for the detail of its coverage that in early 1966 Coventry manager Jimmy Hill was reputed to have taken his players to Norwich one Sunday in January just to watch Swindon, who City were facing in the FA Cup the following weekend, play Peterborough in Anglia TV highlights form. It helped that Camkin was a fellow director of Coventry and co-wrote the Sky Blue Song with Hill, but when Hill was made head of sport at London Weekend Television in summer 1967, a year ahead of the franchise's on-air launch, he was given the freedom to put together the best possible team for what would become The Big Match. His first major appointment was Gardam, who had already worked on the ITV network's 1966 World Cup coverage.
With Hill, Moore and John Bromley to work with his ideas were given fairly free reign, Bromley crediting him with developing the art of the reaction shot close-up. With his visual flair and awareness of what looked good on screen he was as key a contributor as the intelligence of the onscreen talent towards making The Big Match a big step forward for how highlights shows were presented. Gardam's best work is often cited as the end of the 1973 FA Cup final, where having warned Moore in advance to keep an eye on Sunderland's Bob Stokoe at the final whistle he was first to spot the manager's joyous run towards goalkeeper Jim Montgomery. Keeping Stokoe in shot throughout his gallop, he got the now iconic shots the BBC missed (below, from 21.00).
Gardam also seems to have been good with new talent. A young journalist called Martin Tyler joined LWT in 1972, having been ghostwriter of Hill's Times column, and while working as an editor and researcher would seek advice and feedback on his commentary samples. Gardam eventually helped him get the stand-in work with Southern Television from the end of 1974 onwards that would launch his career properly. Another Gardam and Hill protege, Mike Murphy, would follow Jimmy to the BBC in that same year and eventually become an inventive editor of Match Of The Day and Grandstand.
Gardam continued directing live games for ITV into the mid-1980s and became new southern franchise TVS's first head of outside broadcasts in 1982, before moving to Channel 4 Racing. He also moonlighted for ABC at the 1984 Olympics and worked for Al-Jazeera before retiring in the mid-1990s. In 2008 he made the news himself when he revealed to be the owner of the Wembley goal-line Geoff Hurst's second World Cup final goal bounced on, having been granted it in 1969 just before the turf was relaid. That alone suggests a man held in the greatest of esteem within the game. Simon Tyers