Former TVS news presenter Khalid Aziz talks to Kate Thompson...

LOOKING back on his first day at TVS, you would be forgiven for wondering just how Khalid Aziz made it through.

There was no time for nerves as he firstly had to contend with a bad case of food poisoning - and the fact that he and his colleagues couldn't get into the building.

"Nobody was more surprised to lose the franchise than Southern and nobody was more surprised to win it than TVS - and having won it they had a year and three days to prepare.

"I was the first face on TVS with a programme on January 1 1982 called Bring in the New.

"That first day was particularly difficult for me. We had been out the night before for a celebratory meal at a restaurant in Southampton and I was struck down with a violent case of food poisoning.

"We turned up at 7am and we couldn't get into the building because we didn't have the keys and so had to break in.

"The first programme featured me, Fred Dinenage and Toni Arthur.

"I was feeling like death and I was expected to mix a hangover cure for Fred that included a raw egg, tomato juice and Worcester sauce.

"I had to present the first Coast to Coast that afternoon too - but somehow I kept going through the day," he recalled.

Khalid, 51, had been working for the BBC on their Look North regional magazine programme when he was approached to be the new face of TVS.

He leapt at the chance to be a major player in commercial broadcasting on the south coast - and took the setbacks on the chin.

Well-known for his suave good looks, Khalid soon attracted female fan mail.

"I wanted to be admired for being a young, thrusting journalist. But they wrote about the colour of my tie rather than the quality of my stories," he said.

And then there was the problem with his name. Being the first Asian reporter to grace our screens in the south, viewers had a few problems getting it right.

"I've been called all sorts of things over the years - there was Cardiff Assizes, Carlo D'Azziz and even Carnal Disease!" he joked.

On a more serious note there were a minority of viewers who did not take too kindly to seeing a black face presenting the news and they sent racist hate mail.

But characteristically Khalid decided to tackle the problem head on.

"The bosses were very worried because we did receive letters from people saying things like 'Can't you find any white people to present the show?'

"They asked me what I wanted to do about it, so one night on Coast to Coast, I read out one of the letters sent from someone in West Wittering.

"And then I looked into the camera and said 'And if you're not careful I will come and move in next door to you.'

"On a lighter note, they used to joke that they needed at least one Indian with all the chiefs they had employed to run the station," he said.

Khalid was particularly well known for his interest in reporting on local businesses. His name became synonymous with the Enterprise South programme and their annual awards when local companies were recognised.

The high standard of his work was recognised when he became TV Industrial Journalist of the Year but Khalid can still recall getting into hot water over an off-the-cuff remark he made.

"We used to get a lot of inventors turn up at Northam with a box of tricks for us to look at.

"I got into a lot of trouble over a chap who had invented a tin opener. We did a piece about it on the show and opened a can using his invention.

"The top of the can was really jagged and I said something like 'There will be slashed wrists all over the region now.'

"The inventor was really unhappy about what I said and threatened to sue.

"But when they showed the tape of the show to his lawyers, they said they could see what I meant," he said.

On another occasion a man turned up at the studios with a perpetual motion machine.

"I went down to see the man and his machine. He tried to make it work and nothing happened so I told him to come back when he had got it going.

"Three weeks later he came back.

"I went down to see him again and once again nothing happened - and then he said to me 'Wait a minute, I've got to plug it in.'

The Daily Echo has helped to create a special 132-page book commemorating independent television in Southampton, looking at the Southern Television, TVS and Meridian years.

Filled with interviews, personality pieces, behind-the-scene pictures and many previously unseen images of all your favourite local TV faces over the years, The Dream Factory has been published to coincide with Meridian's move to their new state-of-the-art studios in Whiteley.

Buy your copy of The Dream Factory - costing £10 - from selected local newsagents, head office and branch offices of the Southern Daily Echo. Or contact Val Morgan at the Southern Daily Echo on 023 8042 4707.