Colin Pierpoint blog 6 – Recording













(Here is part 6 of Colin Pierpoint’s blog about his career at the BBC):

At this time [mid 1960s] the duties as a Technical Operator in the Control Room included work in the Recording Channels. This was sound only, and is usually thought to be as exclusively for Radio, but in fact we also recorded and edited sound tapes to be used in television. At one time Johnathan Miller was in my editing channel M10 to edit sound for a television programme. I worked for quite a number of Producers, editing the Midland Light Orchestra (as it was then), not just cutting in retakes, but sometimes editing out an early entry by some musician, or split notes on the brass. I still have a reel of tape with a selection of my edits both before and after. I worked with Peter Craddy at first, then Ron Gardener. There was “On Your Farm” produced by Tony Parkin; and a Features Producer by the name of Ann (and I can’t recall her surname). One of her programmes was called “Jews in England”. Richard Butt produced the classical music and we regularity worked on editing orchestral recordings. I edited one recording made in Birmingham Town Hall with Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten.

I also worked with Charles Parker. He produced the Radio Ballads; later after his death to be acclaimed masterpieces of Radio. I remember recording a trailer for his latest programme, in the recording channel M4 at Broad Street. It had a small studio with a Marconi 5 channel desk. After he  finished the 1 minute trail, he asked me “What do you think?” Wanting to sound interested I said “It could be a bit more punchy”  so he said  “let’s do it again then” I wished I had kept my mouth shut! He did do his own tape editing, which I objected to because any faults would be thought to be mine! I think I told him that I don’t mind him doing the editing, if I can do the Producing. Editing was done at that time using splicing tape to join the two parts of quarter inch recording tape. Any imperfect sticky edits would cause the tape to bounce, and french chalk was put on the tape to remedy this. He was putting french chalk on all the edits on the reel, and getting it all over the tape machine, so I told him that he would have to clean it all us afterwards, which to his credit, he did.

Colin Pierpoint

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

Paul Hunt: ‘That looks like a BTR2 tape machine?’

Colin Pierpoint: ‘Correct. I did most of my editing on the BTR2, a lovely machine when you got to know it. When we changed to stereo I used Studer B62 at Pebble Mill, and A80s at Wood Norton, then B67s. Going back to using a BTR2 after the Studers made it feel like driving a tank! The BTR2 channel had interesting hidden facilities. The “Autofollow” button for two reel playback. Switching one machine to remote, would mute the other machine. And operating a toggle switch in the bottom of the linking console made one machine play and the other record if the red light was switched on. This was for copying. Of course, you had to be careful to put the original tape on the play machine and not the one destined to record!’

Top Gear Take 2


Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission













This is a titles grab from the series Top Gear Take 2, it was a compilation of repeated inserts. Here is the entry from Wikipedia, which provides some more information:

Top Gear Take 2

Top Gear Take 2 was a series of programmes broadcast by the BBC looking back on previous segments of Top Gear over the years. Each programme ran for 15 minutes on BBC Two, with repeats surfacing in 1997 on the then-new UK Horizons. Presenters included Quentin Willson, Steve Berry, Jeremy Clarkson and Tiff Needell. The show was broadcast between 1992 and 1999, with 56 episodes being produced.
Series Editions Start Date End Date
Series 1 5 23 July 1992 14 September 1992
Series 2 11 6 January 1993 22 September 1993
Series 3 6 8 January 1994 4 October 1994
Series 4 10 31 May 1995 8 September 1995
Series 5 4 17 January 1996 16 June 1996
Series 6 1 31 July 1997
Series 7 8 13 July 1998 17 August 1998
Series 8 11 1 February 1999 23 December 1999″

Thanks to Ian Collins for making the grab available.

CMCR9 Reconstruction

North 3 darts North 3 reconstruction























Photographs from John Ellis, copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

Here are some photos from the reconstruction last week (May 17-19th 2016) of the restored outside broadcast truck, CMCR9 (Pebble Mill’s original CM1, and later Manchester’s North3). The shoot was organised by Royal Holloway, University of London’s, ADAPT project. The project is staging reconstructions with different pieces of now defunct television production equipment. The outside broadcast is by far the most ambitious reconstruction yet. The recreation was of a darts match. There were obvious some technical issues to be tackled – but the broadcast was a success.

The OB truck was restored by enthusiast, Steve Harris.

The following comments were left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:

Keith Brook (Scouse): ‘Oh, great to see some of the old cameras. Worked on all of those. The Emmy was by far the best studio and OB camera in its time. But the Pye/Phillips LDK3 (if my memory serves me well) was great for golf because you could choose which colour to look at. White ball on dark sky. Oops, just given a secret away!’

Marty Johnston: ‘Keith, you’re absolutely right about the LDK and how we had the output of the ‘red’ tube fed to the ext. V/F. That was a well kept secret until now! Also, I fully agree that the 2001 was the best all-round camera. It was often described as a ‘cameraman’s camera’. The only time I didn’t like the EMIs was when we had to carry them!’

Keith Brook: ‘Marty, you’ve just admitted another secret. If the Emmy was too heavy, it’s because you carried it with the lens still inside!! Tut, tut. However, we all did it to save time on the derig and get to the pub/club!!’

Colin Pierpoint blog 5 – Birmingham Broad Street

BBC Gosta Green Studios

BBC Gosta Green Studios

BBC offices in Carpenter Rd, Edgbaston, where I think Donnellan would have worked whilst producing 'The Colony'

BBC offices in Carpenter Rd, Edgbaston























Birmingham Broad Street

When I arrived in Birmingham I found that the regional centre was split into three, mainly for historical reasons. The main television studio was at Gosta Green, which had been so quickly installed in an old cinema at the start of Independent Television, that radiators were still fixed to the walls at varying heights where the audience seating used to be. I worked at Broad Street in the Sound Control Room, where there was also a television studio (Studio 1 later the larger Studio 4) for regional opt out; and teleciné. The drama studio was Studio 2. The managers were all at Carpenter Road, some distance from either operational centre, which was an excellent arrangement because you never saw them! The building was a blind school before the BBC took over, and some said it had never changed. The Midland Light Orchestra used Studio 6 at Carpenter Road, recording their music on tape machines a mile away at Broad Street, actually in the Control Room (Only the BBC could do it this way!)

I have mentioned my inability to get out of bed in the morning, and while working at Broad Street, I’m afraid I was late for work several times, especially on the 6-30 am shift. At my next annual interview I expected this to be on my report, so it was vital that I was not late for the interview. I decided to take no risks, start early and not use public transport so I wasn’t late due to the traffic. I therefore walked from my flat in Edgbaston to Carpenter Road where my Engineer in Charge (EiC) has his office.

As I went along the Hagley Road, and saw a madman attacking a nun, I knew that I was going to be  late! He had her by the arm and was dragging her along the pavement. She even asked for my help as I went past trying not to notice. The phrase “I can’t stop now, I have got my annual interview this morning” seemed to be inadequate. So I asked the man, politely, if he would mind telling me what was going on. He said “I am arresting this woman because she is a prostitute”!  Mm I see. Keep him talking I thought. As I did so I asked a passer-by to call the police from the nearby phone box on the corner of Portland Road. The man heard this, but thought it was to get the woman arrested. He said to me, “That’s right, call 99 999 99  9 99”. He’s nuts I thought. Unfortunately, the passer-by called for an ambulance, but they told me that a police car would follow. And quite quickly, a Panda car arrived. I told the officer what the man had said, and he was locked in the back of the police car, still thinking that he was to give evidence against this woman at the police station.

The officer asked other people what had happened, and at this point several brave young men now came forward to claim that they were the first to intercept and rescue the nun! She was quite distraught by now, and a woman took her to the Convent which was nearby.

So, nun back into safety, madman in police hands, I could now continue to Carpenter Road and my annual interview. There was only one problem, the interview was in five minutes, and I was still a mile away. So I went to the phone box and rang (Midland 8444 as I remember). I said that I am going to be late for my annual interview because on the way in I met a madman attacking a nun.

There was a silence from the other end. Then “ er – OK. I will tell the EiC” said with a hint of disbelief in her voice. When I arrived, something like half an hour late, my EiC just said “Congratulations on the best excuse I have ever heard”! Being late for work was never mentioned.

I must add that I received not a word of thanks from the Police, nor the Convent. It was however reassuring when I later spoke to some members of BBC staff who has seen something going on from the top of a bus in the Hagley Road. Perhaps you were one of them.

Colin Pierpoint


Sybil Jenazian

Photo of Sybil Jenazian by Julia Macklin, no reproduction without permission











Sybil Jenazian passed away on Tuesday, 17th May 2016, after a short illness.

For many years Sybil was PA to John McGonagle on Match of the Day. Before joining outside broadcasts at Pebble Mill in 1971, she had worked as a PA in Light Entertainment.

Thanks to Jim Dumighan and Louise Willcox for sharing this sad news.