The photograph is in grainy black and white. It shows a TV reporter with a neat Beatles haircut sitting in a boat in a flooded York street, apparently speaking into a microphone.

The reporter was David Seymour, the year was 1968, and the photograph is a still from the main item on the first-ever broadcast from Leeds of the BBC's regional news programme Look North, on March 25, 50 years ago.

It was, says Keith Massey, David's first ever 'piece to camera' - and you can see a little of that in the intent, nervous expression on his face.

Keith, who went on to become a distinguished TV cameraman and chairman of the Guild of Television Camera Professionals, was in those days a young stringer working for the John Pick news agency in York.

The lead film cameraman for that report was David Brierley, who filmed David Seymour's exploits in the boat and his interviews with flood victims.

But Keith, too, contributed to that first ever broadcast, filming background scenes of the floods on his trusty wind-up Bolex camera.

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A young Keith Massey with his Bolex camera

"I was despatched to go filming in Marygate, where it was all kicking off," he recalls.

"The police were trying to get people out of windows, and then I saw this milkman calmly walking along doing his deliveries, putting his crate down in the flood waters then picking it up again to move on!" Now there's Yorkshire grit for you.

All the last week, Look North presenters Harry Gration and Amy Garcia, together with weatherman Paul Hudson, have been displaying a bit of Yorkshire grit of their own, pulling, pushing and dragging their famous presenters' sofa to 50 locations around Yorkshire in just eight days as their way of marking the programme's 50th anniversary.

"The sofa is synonymous with Look North," said Harry, who made it to York with his fellow presenters on Friday last week near the start of the eight day marathon. "And I always enjoy getting out and about to meet our viewers!"

Pulling the sofa around 50 places in Yorkshire was the perfect way to celebrate Look North's 50th anniversary, added Amy. "Though the sofa is a lot heavier than we thought!"

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SOFA SO GOOD: The Look North team reach York with their sofa

But why did the BBC suddenly decide, 50 years ago, that it needed to give Yorkshire its own regional news programme?

Before that, regional programming for the north of England had been transmitted from Manchester.

But there was a growing demand for local and regional news. And then the BBC got wind of the fact that ITV was planning to launch its own Yorkshire news programme, Calendar.

"I think the BBC was determined to pre-empt them!" says Keith.

Whatever the reason, it was a good move, Keith says. Yorkshire is an area with the population of Scotland, and a distinct identity all of its own, he points out.

It needed its own regional news programme to reflect that. And it was a great patch, Keith says. "It was one of the biggest in the country in terms of geography, stretching from Skipton to Whitby to King's Lynn. And it provided some great stories. I have known nights when there have been three stories from this region that made the national news."

The biggest of all, he says - and OK, it's a Lincolnshire story - was the Flixborough chemical plant explosion near Scunthorpe in 1974, the country's biggest peacetime explosion. "All the roads were blocked so I asked for a helicopter," Keith says. "A new reporter, Jeremy Thompson (recently retired as anchor for Sky News) and sound recordist Mike Murray flew out there. It looked like a nuclear bomb. Filming over the site we had an urgent message to move the helicopter immediately as an explosion was imminent that would have blown the rotor blades off."

They landed and set to work filming. It was a grim task - there were bodies and body parts among the wreckage. But the resulting news film won Keith and the rest of the crew a Royal Television Society cameraman of the year award.

Other big news stories Keith covered for Look North down the years were very much Yorkshire based.

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Cameraman Keith Massey in a helicopter

There was the 1984 Miners' strike, for a start. "I was at Arthur Scargill’s HQ in Barnsley all the time," Keith says. "I remember going to do an interview at a colliery in South Yorkshire with him and he asked to get in my car a mile from the colliery as he didn’t want to be seen in his Jaguar!"

Another time he was chased by 300 miners across fields during one of the strikes and ended up being interviewed on Radio 4's The World At One.

He covered the restoration of York Minster between 1967 and 1971 - a restoration necessitated by the discovery that the cathedral's foundations were dodgy and the great building could collapse. He covered the Yorkshire Ripper story; and the departure for the Gulf War of Tornadoes from RAF Leeming.

And of course, in 1984, he covered the York Minster fire. The embers were still burning when he arrived. "I can still smell them, and remember the shock of seeing the sky through the smoke from inside," he says. But out of devastation something miraculous eventually emerged, he says. "I spent several years filming the craftsmen and women putting it all back to perfection. They were under the wing of Peter Gibson and Bob Littlewood, and they had scaffolding up to the ceiling enabling painting of the newly installed bosses that had been designed by children for the BBC's Blue Peter programme."

Fifty years on from the first broadcast the technology has changed. The first Look North programme was broadcast from a draughty church hall - All Souls in Leeds' Blackman Lane. "If there was thunder and lightning you could hear it, because the building wasn't fully soundproofed!" Keith says.

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The 'Gallery' at Woodhouse Lane, the Leeds studio which look North moved into in 1974

He filmed in black and white 16mm on his clockwork Bolex. You could only film 22 seconds at a time, he recalls. Once, when he was sent to Doncaster to film the St Leger, he had to time the speed at which horses completed a couple of earlier races to ensure that he didn't start filming too early for the big one, and miss the finish.

Even getting the film to the editing suite in Leeds was a challenge. The BBC couldn't afford a helicopter, and there were huge distances to travel.

Once there, the film had to be developed, then edited by hand. Keith has never forgotten one editor frantically scrabbling through film on the cutting room floor, desperately looking for a segment which he had inadvertently cut out.

Today, everything is digital, transmitted instantly, and available to watch not just on the nightly television news, but online, on social media and on the BBC iPlayer too.

"But our aim remains the same - to report on local issues which matter to communities across Yorkshire," says Tim Smith, the acting head of BBC Yorkshire.

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Anchor Harry Gration in the modern Look North studio

To Keith, quality local TV remains as important today as it was 50 years ago - especially with increased powers gradually being devolved to regional and local government.

"There's something about regional TV," he says. "It's like a family. There's a warmth and a closeness to it that national TV cannot really touch. You get to know the area, you get to know the people, and the viewers trust you. You become part of a region's identity."

50 years of Look North

Harry Gration will present a special documentary, 50 Years of Look North, on BBC One at 4pm on Sunday, the exact anniversary of the first broadcast 50 years ago.

In the programme he delves into the archives to reflect on the major news stories that Look North has covered over the last 50 years, including footage of the Flixborough chemical disaster and of the 2007 floods in South Yorkshire when a number of people were rescued by the RAF.

The programme will include interviews with previous presenters such as Sophie Raworth and Judith Stamper; with Peter Levy who now presents Look North in East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire; and with regular contributors to the programme including former paratrooper Ben Parkinson from Doncaster and North Yorkshire’s Sally Slater, who underwent a heart transplant operation when she was a child.

The first ever Look North

The first ever edition of Look North broadcast from Leeds was a mixture of news and longer 'magazine' items. The running order was:

• York floods - David Seymour reporting on a boat from the York floods

• Robin Hood's and Little John's monuments

• Television City - a historical piece by James Hogg on Leeds the TV City

• An item on the Tinsley Viaduct

• Racehorse training - Eddie Waring reporting from Middleham

• Feature on Barden Tower and Bolton Abbey

• Feature on Castle Howard