EMI 2001 Camera (Part 3) – Keith Brook (Scouse)














‘Very Low Angle Dolly’ with EMI 2005, image copyright Vinten, no reproduction without permission.

EMI 2001 Part 3

Earlier I spoke about how the compact size of the Emmy enabled cameramen to be closer and more involved in the action when shooting drama.

This also applied to other programmes such as ‘Pebble Mill at One’, and one day we nearly got way too close and personal.

Somebody, either Bill Vinten or Telly Centre’s fabulous Mechanical Workshop, had built a VLAD. Very Low Angle Dolly. And they could only build it because the Emmy was small enough to fit.

This device was rather like a miniature go-cart. It had four tiny wheels, a short arm to mount the camera and a seat for the idiot manning this device. The base, and the idiot’s seat, was about an inch off the floor and was used, as the name implies, for really, really, low angle shots.

It was so low that the camera could easily go under the cantilevered part of the reception desk in the foyer.

The trick with camerawork is to use foregrounds to give a three dimensional sense in a two dimensional world. Thus, using the reception desk on the top of the shot would give an even greater sense of movement.

So, this particular day, Tony Wolfe was directing and he’d ordered the VLAD up from London. Muggins here was given the job of operating this bijou beastette and we rehearsed loads of items with a new angle that, frankly, was rather nice.

Then it came to rehearse the music.

Lovely perspective changes, over the 8 bars intro, as we slide serenely under the reception desk, and our eyes are drawn to the man in the distance.

As we break cover, the man in the distance sees me, sees the camera and, more specifically, sees just how low the camera is.

And I didn’t like the look on his face.

At that point, the full horror of what Wolfy had in his evil mind, struck me.

Those of you who can remember the 70s, and were occasionally there during rare moments of clarity, will know that Demis Roussos was, how can I tactfully put it, a tad abdominous.

Not to put too fine a point on it, he had more chins than the Hong Kong phone book and a stomach that, any larger, would require landing lights.

We, and I say ‘we’ because my brave tracker and I were a team, a team united in a looming catastrophe, were getting closer and closer and nervously waiting for the moment when Mr Roussos would throw a complete wobbler and storm off in disgust as we drew attention to his ample rotundity.

Now, you can imagine that, with the lens only two feet off the floor, the rather generous bits that surrounded his belly button would, eventually, ever so slightly, dominate the shot.

The music continues, and so do we, until eventually we reach the point of no return, where the poor man was almost bending forward to find the lens.

The look of amazement on his face gradually disappeared, replaced by a little smile which, in turn was replaced by hysterical laughter.

You can’t believe how relieved I was that he saw fit to see the funny side of what we were doing.

And yes, we did the shot on transmission. Twice.

That Emmy has a lot to answer for.

Keith Brook (Scouse)


Children in Need – Cliff Richard

Marie Phillips_0035 Marie Phillips_0036 Marie Phillips_0037































Copyright Marie Phillips, no reproduction without permission.

The photos show Cliff Richard at a Children in Need charity publicity event in 1991. The charity concerned is PHAB, an organisation which promotes people of all abilities coming together on equal terms; it is completely inclusive.

Cliff Richard is pictured with Midlands Children in Need co-ordinator, Marie Phillips.

Thanks to Marie for making the photos available.

Here is Marie’s memory of the day:

‘Being Cliff’s No.1 fan this was a great day for me !! PHAB – Physically Handicapped and Abled Bodied – were given a grant to continue with providing holidays and activities integrating handicapped and able bodied children. Cliff was recording a “Special” and I had previously asked him, via his Secretary, if he would present the cheque on our behalf. He readily agreed as he was President of PHAB then. I invited PHAB to come in during the lunch break but they did not know who was presenting the cheque as Cliff wanted no publicity. I was to wait outside the Studio for him – rehearsals ran late and he sent his lovely assistant, Roger Bruce, to apologise and wait with me – what a gent ! Cliff gave his entire lunch break to hand over the cheque and chat with the group and pose for photos. Their faces when he appeared is something I will always remember. I have to add that whenever Cliff came to Pebble Mill he always willingly, did something for CIN and visited and opened several projects for me.’

Pebble Mill Letterhead

pebblemill letterhead PP







Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

Thanks to Peter Poole for making this BBC Pebble Mill letterhead available.

This design of the BBC logo dates from 1988, although this letterhead is later than the very similar one shared by Giles Herbert a few days ago, which is without the Pebble Mill fax number.  The letterhead pre-dates the 1995 change in the Birmingham code, from ‘021’ to ‘0121’.


Children in Need, Confession – Giles Herbert

copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission















If any of the readers ever wondered what we were doing in the back foyer by the lifts, this was a crucial part.  With aerials strung from the roof, members of the Ariel Radio Group would talk to the world (and Selly Oak) with the intention of involving others in the event.

Within Amateur Radio, special events can be commemorated by unique and short term individual Call Signs and GB0CIN was one such.  The picture is the front of a commemorative post card called a QSL Card.  These provided the person contacted with a connection to the event and were very popular!

If anyone involved in “On the House” can remember back that far, several years running the security lights added to the structure as part of the D.I.Y. second series mysteriously failed on over a weekend in late autumn:  I can now reveal that it was my fault!  Morse transmissions made via an overhead temporary aerial were the reason and I heard a rumour at the time, that the manufacturers came and could never trace the reason why a relay should have welded itself up in the on position!  We had removed the aerials over the weekend and when the investigation took place, no evidence of cause remained.

Giles Herbert

The following comments were posted on the Pebble Mill Facebook Group:

Peter Poole: ‘I was introduced to the joys of amateur radio by one of the Technical Managers. I think it was Bob , can’t remember his surname. Anyone remember him?’

Giles Herbert: ‘Bob Stacey no relation to Gavin I hazard to guess! It could have been George too as both are licensed.’

Pebble Mill Magazine

Pebble Mill mag page 1












Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

Thanks to Pete Simpkin for keeping this cutting safe, and for sharing it on the site.

The cutting is from the BBC Pebble Mill in-house magazine which used to be circulated internally from time to time.

Pete has managed to date the article from the WM car sticker in the Mayor of Solihull’s car. It was the car used by one Councillor Miriam Harris who did some items for WM on Care for the Elderly and she was Mayor in the spring of 1984!