Jim Gregory describes Telecine

Jim Gregory talks about telecine from pebblemill on Vimeo.

Specially recorded video of Jim Gregory describing the operation of telecine, both in terms of studio dramas, and the broadcasting of film in the 1960s-80s.

This film was recorded as part of Royal Holloway’s ADAPT project, led by John Ellis. The project is staging various ‘reconstructions’ of former television production stages and equipment. In this element, Pebble Mill’s Jim Gregory was introduced to his Television Centre counterpart, Tim Emblem-English, at BBC Post Production’s Ruislip centre, which still houses an operational Rank Cintel Mark 3 telecine. Jim is seen grading a piece of 1965 black and white footage of Birmingham, on the control desk.

Dave Schoolden & Jim Gregory 1976 in TK

Dave Schoolden & Jim Gregory 1976 in TK


Wake Up With Waddo Mug

Wake up with Waddo mug TW












Photo from Tony Wadsworth, no reproduction without permission.

This ‘Wake Up With Waddo’ mug promoted the BBC WM Breakfast Show, presented by Tony Wadsworth, circa 1994.


Telecine Reconstruction with Jim Gregory

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

Tim Emblem-English with Jim Gregory. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

Rank Cintel Mark 3, with Jim and Tim. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

























Last Friday I was part of the team reconstructing how telecine operated in the 1960-80s. The shoot was organised by the Royal Holloway, University of London, ADAPT project, which aims to reconstruct now defunct television production techniques, and record them for posterity. The idea was to reunite the hugely experienced telecine operator, Jim Gregory, with a Rank Cintel Mark 3 machine dating from the late 1980s: a machine he hadn’t used for many years. We also wanted Pebble Mill’s Jim Gregory, to discuss telecine practices with his Television Centre conterpart, Tim Emblem-English – who still operates the Mark 3 on a daily basis.

We had hoped to find a working example of the Rank Cintel Mark 2, but unfortunately one does not seem to still exist. The Mark 3 is at the BBC Post Production centre in Ruislip, and is involved in film restoration work for the BBC and external clients. It is linked up to a control desk, monitors and a bank of different format recorders. Unfortunately the Post Production centre at Ruislip is due to close down next year, and it is unclear yet what is going to happen to all the equipment, although it is likely to be sold off, so it was important to get the filming completed.

The Rank Cintel Mark 2 was more important certainly in the televisual history of Pebble Mill, than the Mark 3, and was used to play film inserts into live television shows, and studio dramas. Jim worked on the Mark 2 machines for many years, but only used the Mark 3 briefly in the 1990s.

Jim had brought an old can of film down with him: black and white footage from the mid 1960s. The film shows the newsroom at the BBC Broad Street studio, as well as behind the scenes in the Gosta Green drama studio, and even drinking in the Gosta Green Club! It also shows street shots around Birmingham. The footage provides a fascinating social history of the time. The joints kept breaking – but then the tape holding them together was 50 years old! Jim was able to grade the pictures through the desk without any trouble. When he was asked what it felt like to be reunited with the Mark 3, he replied that it just felt totally normal, like riding a bike, and that you had to rely on your muscle memory rather than thinking about what you were doing. Tim and Jim could have swapped stories of close shaves in telecine during live transmissions for many hours: of occasions when rolls of film rolled away across the floor, of the challenges of trying to fix a problem whilst having Pres shouting down the phone to you, and of grading shots live as they went out.

Although Jim no longer operates telecine machines, he is still employed as a regular freelance grader at the BBC Drama Village in Birmingham, working on a Da Vinci, or Avid Symphony, on shows like Father Brown.

Vanessa Jackson

Screening of The Colony & The Fortress

Philip Donnellan, copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

Philip Donnellan, copyright resides with the original holder








On Wednesday 28 October 2015, there will be a screening of two of Philip Donnellan’s films: The Colony and The Fortress. The films will be introduced by Professor Paul Long, from Birmingham City University.

While working within the BBC, the passionate and provocative Donnellan used his anti-establishment sensibilities to tell the stories of marginalised individuals and communities.

In The Colony, West Indian immigrants in Birmingham describe how their expectations have been tempered by experience.

Current affairs series, Landmarks, portrayed stages of life from birth to old age; The Fortress shows how it felt to live on a Sheffield estate.

The Colony
BBC 1964
Directed by Philip Donnellan
58 min

Landmarks: The Fortress
BBC 1965
Directed by Philip Donnellan
30 min
The screening is at 18:10, on 28th October 2015, at NFT3, BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XT

Cafe 21

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Café 21 mug from series in 1998, courtesy of Dharmesh Rajput

Below is a excerpt from a briefing document about Café 21, which was used in providing press information

Café 21 has its first series running from mid-November 1997 to the end of January 1998, at 11.20 am on Saturday mornings, BBC 2. A part of the Asia 2 slot, which also includes Network East and Q Asia, the show heralded the arrival of young British Asians being able to talk about themselves on national television. A milestone in Asian programming.

Café 21’s ethos is to give young British Asians a voice. Across 9 shows last year, including a 1 hour special on Sexuality, the show became a talking point in its own right. Tackling issues like Asian identity, families and mixed race relationships head on, put the show on the map. Myths were exploded and stereotypes challenged, while the Café guests put paid to the, ‘corner-shops and curry’ image it could be argued still exists with regard to the British Asian population.

Café 21 balanced hard-hitting opinions and personal stories to create what could be described as a ‘chat-show soap’.

Series 2

Café 21 wants to continue in this spirit to find fascinating people for Series 2. Due to the success of the first series, the show will have a longer run and a higher profile slot. As well as maintaining the Saturday morning slot, the first airing of each week’s topic will now be late on Friday night on BBC 2.

This late night slot means that this series will be even more revealing, controversial and risky than the first.

We need to appeal to young Asians, between the ages of 16 and 29, to apply to be on the show. Potential contributors don’t need to be experts – we need real people with real life experiences, not accomplished television professionals. That is not what Café 21 is about.

We are particularly keen to ensure that all regional areas of the British Asian community are represented on the show this year. We need to hear from people outside of the Midlands and Greater London. We want varied accents and backgrounds on air to reflect that the Asian population is significant nationwide!

The new series will start on Friday 2nd October and will run for 11 weeks. During this series we will tackle such diverse topics as the question of whether Asians can laugh at themselves and Boypower, Taboos and Brothers – A girl’s best friend or her worst enemy?

We are conducting auditions now, and will be travelling around the country to meet with people.

Thanks to Dharmesh Rajput for this information.

(The mugs were used by guests on the show. The show was recorded in the Crush Bar cafe on the first floor outside Studio A).