The Archers’ sound effects – Sue Sweet

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Thanks to Sue Sweet for sharing this cutting from 1971, of her operating some sound effects for The Archers, in the BBC’s studios in Broad Street, Birmingham. Sue worked in the Sound Effects library at Broad Street, and would help out with effects when necessary.

Studio manager, Alastair Askham, sadly died in the early 1980s.

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Broad Street

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These photographs pre-date Pebble Mill. They show the studio and newsroom when the BBC regional news operation was in Broad Street, Birmingham.

Included in the top photo are: L to R – Cyril Wilkinson, Gwen Smith, Jock Gallgaher on the phone, ?, but on the extreme right with back to camera is Barney Bamford (I think). It is taken in the newsroom at Broad Street. (Thanks to Gillian Thompson for identifying almost everyone!)

It’s interesting to see the caption card with the Midlands Today title on the stand, and the monitor with ‘Nottingham’ on.

Thanks to Stuart Gandy for sharing the photographs, which were originally posted on the Pebble Mill Engineers’ Facebook group.

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

Steve Saunderson: ‘There was little studio in Derby Road, Nottingham above the Jaegar shop. I first worked for a crew that was based there. It had 2 black and white cameras which Terry used to operate remotely in a tiny studio which Les Dawson described as a “technological broom cupboard” when he came in to do an interview down the line to Pebble Mill. They later moved into the bigger “sound” studio and I think actually went to colour and then into their present home.’

Peter Greenhalgh: ‘I moved to the Nottm studio in 83 as an engineer, not long after Terry left. It was colour by then (EMI 2001 cameras). The next move was to York House in 1989 think. That was where Radio Nottingham was and has now been demolished. We are currently in the London Road studios, which opened for radio and TV in 1999.’

Colin Pierpoint: ‘Nottingham television studio was in Black and White at the Broad Street time. I don’t remember if it was an outside source to BM or did a separate opt out, but I do remember at that time I saw a fault on the Notts insert, so I rang the control line to query it and heard a “Tingaling” on the sound off air! The telephone communication was to a field telephone on the studio floor with no ringing mute on TX. The change to colour was while I was at Pebble Mill, so between 1970 and 1980. Malcolm and I were sent to Bardon Hill with a standby generator in case the mains failed.’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘The mains was OK, but the standby generator failed.’

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Asian Magazine

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Thanks to director Waseem Mahmood for sharing these images about Asian Magazine featured in the book Inside BBC Television.

The series was transmitted on BBC1 on Sunday mornings at 10am in the early to mid 1980s.

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

Dawn Trotman: ‘ I worked with Waseem as an acting editor on the Asian magazine show later to become Network East. I think I cut one of his very first items about a DJ in one of the portacabins in the car park ..happy memories.’

Jane Green: ‘I worked on many an Asian Magazine. Great fun. Bish Mehay was a lovely guy to work with. Loved the bands we squeezed into Studio B – loved learning what all the various instruments were. Sat in the corridor on one occasion waiting for the set to be finished – with Benazir Bhutto. Great programme.’

Colin Pierpoint: ‘Yes, I remember, but I also remember the start of radio and television from the Midlands for Asians. The first step was to separate AM and FM Radio 4 on a Sunday morning (I think the management was afraid of loosing listeners if it went out on both!) In 1965 AM did “Make yourself at Home”, a programme on which I worked in Studio 1 Broad Street several times. (FM had the previously scheduled programme). I also did a bit on the television programme from Broad Street studio 4, in black and white, although I may only have been on attachment. Presenters: Saleem and Mahendra, directed by Gerry (surname?)’

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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

 

Telecine Reconstruction with Jim Gregory

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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