Studio Operations (part 3) – Ray Lee

'All Creatures Great and Small' set in Studio A. Photo by Tim Savage

‘All Creatures Great and Small’ set in Studio A. Photo by Tim Savage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Studio and camera usage

Studio A was the main drama studio, and at least initially had network drama bookings most of the time. The main drama booking days were Sun/Mon and Wed/Thurs  for usually Rehearse day 1 and Record day 2, allowing for set and light on Tuesday and Saturday and sometimes a quick booking on a Friday. Studio B was used every weekday evening for Midlands Today, and briefly on a Saturday for the sport report, and on a Sunday for either Farming (the forerunner of Countryfile) and/or the Asian network programme “New Life”. Farming went out at lunchtime on a Sunday, and “New Life” was recorded on a Sunday afternoon/early evening.

Pebble Mill at One used the cameras from Studio B on  Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, as normally Studio A was in use for Drama. Studio A cameras were used on Tuesdays and Fridays when there were not normally drama bookings. If there were gaps in the bookings Studio A cameras were used in preference, as there was then an extra camera available. At that time Studio A had a complement of 4 cameras and a hot spare, whereas Studio B had just 3 cameras. In the earliest days the camera control unit (CCU) for one of the cameras was shared between Studio B and Studio A, which involved major re-cabling after Pebble Mill at One. By the time I moved to Studio ops, an additional CCU had been acquired, so this chore was no longer necessary. There was one additional camera and CCU in the back room of TAR, this was the “maintenance channel” and was used to repair faulty modules, and circuit boards. It was rare for it to be fully functional, and occasionally it was a case of checking whether the module or circuit board that had gone faulty in one of the studio cameras was better or worse than the one in the maintenance channel, or which might be quicker to repair! The cameras needed constant cosseting to get the best out of them, but when working well produced pictures that even against today’s cameras were very good.

Later on a further camera was obtained for Studio B which was permanently rigged in the presentation annex, meaning that there were always 3 cameras available in the studio area, and the practise of wheeling one into presentation for the end of Midlands Today was no longer needed.

Ray Lee

 

Midlands RTS Awards 2008

Photos from BBC Birmingham post production, no reproduction without permission.

The photos were taken at the 2008 Midlands Royal Television Society Awards held at the ICC in Birmingham.  Amongst the winners were ‘Countryfile’ and the documentary series ‘Family Wanted’.

I’ve added most of the names, but please add a comment with any that I’ve left out.

Save BBC Birmingham Campaign


Staff of BBC Birmingham were protesting this lunchtime on the steps of the Mailbox against the closure of factual television and radio network production.  Flagship series like ‘Gardeners’ World’, ‘Coast’ and ‘Countryfile’, are scheduled to move from BBC Birmingham to Bristol from August 2012.  Production staff face redundancy or relocation, whilst post production staff look likely to be made redundant, as BBC Bristol does not have its own post production facilities.

The number of staff and programmes made at BBC Birmingham has been being run down since the move from BBC Pebble Mill in 2005, and the commissioning guarantee from London has been quietly forgotten, eroding the production base.

When Pebble Mill was at its height there were around 1,500 staff.  The number now at BBC Birmingham is only a couple of hundred.

 

Countryfile goes primetime


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

This photo was taken at the press launch of ‘Countryfile’s’ first mid-week primetime transmission.

The photo includes, left to right: Michael Collie (reporter), Caroline Jones (producer), Alan Miller (director), John Craven (presenter), Tim Manning, Ann Chancellor-Davies, Chris Bates (press officer), ?.

Thanks to Tim Manning for making the photo available.

Radio Birmingham trip on the river – photo by Annie Gumbley

Photograph by Annie Gumbley, no reproduction without permission.

The photo shows a Radio Birmingham trip on the river Severn at Worcester, featuring Geoff Meade and Andrew Thorman. Geoff Meade now works for Sky News, and Andrew Thorman is executive producer of ‘Countryfile’ and the farming output on Radio 4.