1/4″ audiotape – Charles White

quarter inch recorded on location, transferred to 16mm mag, then cut to bits. CW













Copyright, Charles White, no reproduction without permission.

A stack of 1/4″ audiotapes recorded on location, transferred to 16mm magnetic tape, and then cut to bits in the edit. The items here include Top Gear inserts, and Pebble Mill at One inserts on midwifery.

These were the master 1/4″ tape recordings from location, made from progs about 1986. The sound recordist locked sync on a Nagra using Crystal sync, and they matched the 16mm film, when it was transferred back in Sound transfer, by messrs Poole, Peissel, et al. We as assistant editors then locked the Mag and film on a 6-way Acmade using the Clapper board frame to synchronise. This could be done using the ‘front’ or ‘end’ board.

Thanks to editor Charles White for sharing the photo, adding the information – and for keeping the audio!

Sharon Pemberton using the Acmade. Photo by Peter Poole

Sharon Pemberton using the Acmade. Photo by Peter Poole













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

Peter Poole: ‘The transfer suite often worked 12 hour days, 7 days a week at busy times. Not the most exciting job but very good overtime!’

Alan Miller: ‘In Scotland we synced up using a device known as a Pic Sync, Does that mean it was probably actually an Acmade?’

Dawn Trotman: ‘We called them pic syncs too.. goodness that takes me back to chinagraphs keeping your hair up and splicers with your initials carved on them .. people also tried to steal a good one … Happy days when you had time to think!’




Photo by Stuart Blacklock of the BBC EMI TR 90, with trolley

Photo by Stuart Blacklock of the BBC EMI TR 90, with trolley
























Photos by Stuart Blacklock of  http://www.vintagerecorders.co.uk/VR_View_Page.asp?IDS=131  no reproduction without permission.

The EMI TR90 was the standard audio tape machine for radio and TV studio and OB use. They usually lived on green trolleys as they were very heavy and were built like battleships. However they were the backbone of all BBC audio recording, editing and replay for many years from the late 1950s up until the 70s when they were beginning to wear out! Most of us learned our trade on these.The wheel like structures at the top of the photo are the tape reel adapters for  using on the big 10 inch reels of tape. Without these gizmos the ordinary 7 inch reels would fit onto the machine.

Pete Simpkin

The following comment was posted on the Pebble Mill Facebook group:

Alan Miller: ‘Certainly takes me back to BBC Glasgow in the 70’s when TR90’s were everywhere. Seem to remember that if the tension arm was not in the correct position that they would fail to play. This could be a bit of an issue in radio continuity where they were operated by remote!’

‘A’ Course at Wood Norton – 1970

A Course No 1 Photo A Course No 1 Names



















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

The photo is of ‘A’ Course trainees at Wood Norton in July 1970. Note in the front row Pebble Mill’s Mark Kershaw, and Keith Brook (5th and 6th from the left). Mark worked at Pebble Mill as a cameraman, multi-camera director, series producer and deputy editor until the early 2000s. Keith left Pebble Mill in the early 1980s, and worked as a cameraman, vision mixer and director.

Thanks to Keith Brook (Scouse) for sharing the photo.

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

Stuart Gandy: ‘The engineers A course was the introduction to the BBC for all those engineers that started without having first gone to university. It was split into two parts each 6 weeks long. The first part was basic electronics needed to prepare us for broadcast engineering. The second part was operational and much more interesting. It was effectively the first time we had chance to get our hands on the equipment. Depending on which section you were destined for, you would probably be grouped off to a more specific area of training, such as TV ops, or radio etc. Most of the A course students would have stayed in the ubiquitous D block, back when I started back in 1979. An experience not to be forgotten!’

Alan Miller: ‘For what it’s worth on the second row from the left John Lunn went to Belfast , Richard Elkin to Glasgow from where he recently retired from the audio department and Rob Hastie also went to Glasgow but became a radio sports producer in London.’

Marconi vidicon camera

Marconi showing inbuilt racks PS











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

The photo is of Pete Simpkin at the controls of a Marconi vidicon camera, with inbuilt racks controls, at BBC Southampton.

For more information see:


The following comments were added on the Pebble Mill Facebook group:

Mike Skipper:  ‘I don’t think Vidicon cameras would have been used for very long for broadcast – Vidicon tubes had an appalling low light performance (very laggy) and I believe gave a barely acceptable performance when scenes were well lit. I don’t know the times involved but the Plumbicon tube certainly outperformed the Vidicon when it became available… ‘

Pete Simpkin: ‘I agree, but remember these were the days of 405 lines and the whole system was pretty low definition. Also most of the studio shots were static with not too much in vision movement. However we achieved very good pictures in a small studio news environment.Our studio was on air for most of the 60s until 625 arrived.’

Alan Miller: ‘We used EMI 201 Vidicon 625 line cameras in Glasgow Studio B in the 1970’s and they were truly awful. They smeared all over the place especially if you were stupid enough to use a crawling caption across the screen.’

Pete Simpkin: ‘I agree Alan about the picture quality the 201s were never as good as the Marconis actually but they had quieter lens change!’

EMI 201 Vidicon Camera

EMI 201 vidicon PS

Photo from Pete Simpkin, no reproduction without permission.

The photo is of a cameraman operating the EMI 201 Vidicon Camera, a smaller, earlier, black and white version of the EMI 2001. These cameras were used at some of the regional newsrooms. Pete used one whilst at Southampton. They came in production at the end of the 1950s, and lasted until the early 1970s.

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

Alan Miller: ‘We had them in Studio B Glasgow when I first started.’

Dave Bushell: ‘And in Studio B Bristol – pretty universal.’