Colin Pierpoint blog, part 13 – Pebble Mill at One pilot


CMCR9, photo from John Abbott, no reproduction without permission

CMCR9 (on Gardeners’ World), photo from John Abbott, no reproduction without permission












[Here is the thirteenth part of Colin Pierpoint’s blog about his BBC career]

I think the Pebble Mill at One programme needs no explanation to our readers, but I was asked by the  Deputy Manager Comms and Engineering Services, John Stark, to be the communications co-ordinator for the pilot programme, which was to try out the system. The mixing point or gallery was the Birmingham scanner CMCR6 or 9. This was parked in the garage area where there was a wallbox with tielines to the Communications Centre. I was rushing round from here to VT and Comms Centre trying to get circuits established. I don’t think everyone in Operations knew that I had actually been allocated to do this, perhaps I should have explained to those I came into contact with. The reason for using the scanner was that Studio A at Pebble Mill must have been in use. On other days the scanner was at Gosta Green to give colour facilities on a drive in basis. (Gosta Green studio was never converted to colour, and was eventually sold as a black and white studio).

Colin Pierpoint





CMCR6 photos by Howard Lewis

CMCR6  LO5  circa 1994    B CMCR6   LO5  circa 1994   A





















Here are a couple of rare photos of the former CMCR6, which was briefly the very first BBC Midland colour unit from 1969 to 1972. It had EMI cameras and a decision was made to standardize on EMI cameras in London, so CMCR6 was swapped with CMCR9 which had Pye cameras and C9, then became the Midland Unit in 1972. The photos were taken in this country in about 1994 by Howard Lewis. The American Circus is still touring here, but now they use big new Mack trucks.

Jerry Clegg


CMCR6 – Birmingham’s first colour scanner

Gosta Green Studios – cutting c/o Gail Herbert













The first colour scanner (CMCR) in Birmingham was CMCR 6 which was based at the OB base which was then at Carpenter Road, Edgbaston.

It was equipped with 5 EMI 2001 colour cameras which had the lens within the body of the camera. 4 of the cameras were used normally and the other was used as a spare and for parts to repair the others.

BBC Birmingham did not have a Colour TV studio before Pebble Mill opened in 1971.  The BBC had a studio at the Cinema in Gosta Green in Aston.  It was fitted out in the days of black & white and during the late 60s until Pebble Mill opened CMCR6 would be used part of the week to produce Dramas or Drama series in colour.

I think that CMCR6 was at Gosta Green on a Wednesday & Thursday each week and would then go and do a Match of the Day or other OBs returning on Tuesday for the rig for the drive in.

CMCR 6 was moved to Kendal Avenue in the 1970s and replaced in Birmingham with CMCR 9 which had Philips PC80 Cameras. This meant that the cameras in the Studios at Pebble Mill and the ones on the OB unit were different which caused problems with maintenance, spares etc.

John Duckmanton