Pebble Mill at One cameraman

PM@1 cameraman EJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Eurwyn Jones, no reproduction without permission.

This photo was taken during a Pebble Mill at One rehearsal, in the Foyer studio, circa 1980. Presenter Donny Macleod can just be seen in front of the camera.

The cameraman has been identified as Pete Edwards, with Bas Solanki visible above Pete’s arms. Pete left Pebble Mill to go to Granada circa 1980.

Thanks to Toby Horwood, Robin Sunderland and Annie Gumbley Williams for the identification.

Pebble Mill at One 1976

PM@1 Donny Macleod, Marian Foster, Bob Langley, Jan Leeming, David Seymour 7 Sept 1976

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

This photo of the Pebble Mill at One presenters was taken on the area just by the bridge at the front of the foyer studio, on September 7th 1976. Included, left to right are: Donny Macleod, Marian Foster, Bob Langley, Jan Leeming and David Seymour.

Thanks to Gary Jordan for sharing the photograph.

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

Robert Greaves: ‘What a great picture. Pebble Mill at One was always a good reason to miss first period of afternoon school! Marian was always the most professional yet homely – I often wonder what she did after Pebble Mill.’

Lynn Cullimore: ‘Such memories of those days and lovely Donny who died.’

Sue Westwood: ‘I loved Pebble Mill at One. My neighbour made the cake for the final programme.’

Steve Weddle: ‘That was the year I joined the production team as a researcher on PM at One. I was lucky to work with a really great line-up of presenters, and a brilliant editor called Terry Dobson, who virtually invented the daytime magazine show.’

 

EMI 2001 Camera – Keith Brook (aka Scouse)

photo by Robin Sunderland no reproduction without permission

photo by Robin Sunderland no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Photo shows a rehearsal of ‘Pebble Mill at One’, Donny MacLeod interviewing Harry Carpenter, FM Nick Patten, cameraman Brian Cave)

Ah, the EMI 2001, what a wonderful camera.

First, a digression.

In the black & white days, cameras had a single tube called an ‘Image Orthicon’. Basically a bloody big vacuum tube, or ‘valve’, with a flat end onto which the image was shone. Inside the tube, a beam was fired at that image, in the same raster scan as your TV set, which was reflected back stronger or weaker depending on the brighter or darker parts of the image. These tubes were huge, 4½” in diameter (a few were 3″), and almost the full length of the camera.

Four lenses were positioned on a ‘turret’ which was ‘swung’ either by manually rotating a handle at the rear or, in one case, by flicking a switch to electrically drive them in either direction. Focussing was done by a lever which moved the tube backwards and forwards. Thus, the lenses stayed still and you moved the tube to focus.

Now, introduce colour and it’s a whole new can of worms. It would be almost impossible to move three large tubes, Red, Green and Blue, complete with prism block to split the colours, and keep the whole lot registered. CBS had a go and the BBC experimented too, but they were attacking the problem from the wrong direction.

Perhaps keep the tubes still and move the lenses? Equally impractical with a bunch of them on a turret.

Eventually, two elements conspired to make the late 60’s, early 70’s, colour camera a reality.

Firstly, the invention of the ‘Plumbicon’ tube which reduced the size to about 1″ in diameter and 6″ in length.  This allowed a compact block and tube assembly.

Secondly, with a smaller image size on the tube front, reasonably sized zoom lenses became a practicality.

So far so good.

Unfortunately, cameras were designed by engineers who really didn’t consult cameramen. Thus, we were given a camera with a large body and a monster zoom lens, the same size again, nailed to the front.

This had a number of bad effects.

Firstly, to balance it, the whole weight would be shifted rearwards compared with a black & white camera. This made it very difficult to reach the steering ring on the Vinten peds. A larger ring was eventually fitted, but not before many cameramen had their backs ruined.

Secondly, the whole package, including the cameraman at the back and the minimum focussing distance at the front, was about 10ft. Not good, especially when crammed into the broom cupboards of Children’s TV in Pres A or ‘Old Grey Whistle Test’ in Pres B at Telly Centre.

Did I digress?

Oh yes, the EMI 2001.

Now, I’m not an engineer or a technician, but I’ve spent a lot of my career with my head buried inside these Emmys and we do have to know a little bit about them in order to help the engineers, especially on OBs where they can’t easily get to the camera. So, please forgive any ‘technical’ inaccuracies. I’m trying to explain the concept.

So, after you’ve chatted to cameramen, how do you make a camera that’s about the same size as a black & white one?

EMI’s approach was to find a lens that would fit inside a small-ish body and then figure out where to put the rest of the stuff.

Angenieux came up with a design that was compact enough to meet the size criterion including all the motors and electronics to drive the thing and throw in a 10:1 capability as well.

That still left the problem of the tubes and electronics to drive the camera. Fairly important.

The solution was very elegant.

Only have the tubes and prism inside the camera with the rest of the electronics at the other end of the cable, up in racks. Ok, you need some electronics but they were wrapped around the hole that the lens sat in.

Then, make a prism that allows the tubes to ‘fan out’ at almost 90deg to the light path from the lens. That way you can stuff them in the four corners of the box and only add about 6″ to the whole package.

Stick a few cameraman controls at the back and you’re good to go.

There’s another very clever element that EMI designed in. These tubes were horrifically expensive and to have three in each camera, four cameras in each studio, and so on, meant that the BBC bosses would have to have smaller bonuses.

There was a huge attrition rate in the manufacture of these smaller tubes with only a fraction passing the full broadcast test.

EMI’s engineers realised that the human eye is less sensitive to colour than to monochrome. That’s why, in the dark, really dark, we can’t see colours.

Their solution was to have four tubes. An expensive one that gave a full spec monochrome picture, and three much cheaper, lower quality, ones that were subtracted from the ‘white’ tube to give the colours. Brilliant!!

As it happens, that’s how the NTSC/PAL system works anyway, so it was an extremely elegant system.

So, you get a cameraman’s camera. You get great pictures for the time. And you get a device that enabled us to work on drama in a much more intimate way.

How that affected us is in Part 2.

Keith Brook (aka Scouse)

 

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

Dave Bushell: ‘EMI 2001 – the tinted monochrome camera – never a fan (but I was an engineer, not a cameraman).’

Matthew Skill: ‘Surely they can’t be described as tinted monochrome, almost the reverse in fact; colour with added luminance detail, a-la the original technicolour 4-strip before they ditched the fourth film ( mirrored decades later in the 2005 only having 3 tubes ). I was a TA, then novice engineer, when we had them too in Newcastle. Remember the 2001s for the BBC allegedly had a different matrix fitted to lower the overall saturation, as either the powers that be were apparently worried about being as ‘gaudy’ as ITV, or BBC engineering wanted to keep chroma content at a ‘safe’ level for the subsequent chain. Beautiful pictures seen ‘raw’ at the Grade 1 connected component/RGB to the CCU, all we see now is composite quad/1″ recordings so the comparison with modern cams isn’t fare based purely on those.’

Andy Walters: ‘There was an EMI 2001 with it’s rack on display in the foyer of Breedon Wing at Wood Norton last time I was there. They had them at ATV Broad Street too back in the day.’

Keith Brook: ‘I think almost all stations had them. I was lining up an Emmy up on the gantry at Wembley stadium because one of the engineers was flashing the cue lights. After a while I asked his name because I didn’r recognise his voice. That’s when I realised I was lining up an LWT camera!! We didn’t mind so I carried on. They all looked the same from the back!!’

Kenny Ball plays Saturday Night at the Mill


Copyright resides with the original holder

In 1977 Kenny Ball and his band were the house band for the entertainment show from Pebble Mill, ‘Saturday Night at the Mill’. The show was a spin off from ‘Pebble Mill at One’. Here is the title track of the band’s 1977 album, which was also the show’s title music.

Thanks to David Ackrill for sharing the link.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of Donny MacLeod and the Kenny Ball band by John Burkill, no reproduction without permission.

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

David Crozier: ‘I was the designer on a number of these shows. I remember them as being huge fun and with a very real sense of being live. It was working on Sarurday Night at The Mill which gave me the first yearnings for becoming a live programme, multi-camera TV director, which I later became. Great times!

Stuart Gandy: ‘It certainly was a fun programme to work on and like so many programmes we did, put Birmingham on the broadcasting map, something it sadly no longer seems to be.’

Julian Hitchcock: ‘I was Floor Assistant / AFM on any number if these and recall it all vividly. As David says, “great fun”.’

Kevin Lakin: ‘I remember Bruce Forsyth taking a very dim view of trays of beer being bought down from the bar on the 2nd floor during rehearsals . . . . pillock’

Janice Rider: ‘I earned the nickname Strobe Rider from Rob Hinds after the Hollywood movie star Joseph Cotten threatened to walk off the programme if he couldn’t wear his very inappropriate black & white dogtooth jacket which flared dreadfully during his interview !’

Julian Hitchcock: ‘Now this is interesting. I remember going on the studio directors’ course and wanting, in my final project piece, to show a scene in a cinema (it was an adaptation if Graham Greene’s short story, “A Place off the Edgware Road”. Cinemas are, of course, dark. However, the technical manager was adamant that if the scene was dark, no one would be able to see anything,- as if this could not possibly have been intended. I pathetically agreed, with the consequence that the cinema was entirely visible. On this basis, what would be wrong with a person appearing with a “strobing” jacket? When, having left TV, I found myself having to be interviewed in the foyer, I deliberately put on a check jacket because I wanted to strobe…’

Jane Mclean: ‘I did autocue. Maggie Walne (Kidger) was PA. Yes, a beautifully alcoholic programme to work on. And afterwards we always went to The Strathallan on Hagley Rd to wind down. Remember Roy Norton directing the early morning traffic! He directed with Roy Ronnie (I think I’m right).’

Julian Hitchcock: ‘I can never remember Roy Ronnie directing, but it’s possible. They were each great fun in different ways. Norton was wonderfully nervy. I well recall him ordering us ( the floor crew) to “make them laugh”. And thereon hangs another tail.’

Kevin Lakin: ‘Does anyone remember the ” The James Last Orchestra ” fiasco . . . the 50 piece Orchestra were going to be performing in the courtyard, then at 7 o clock we were told they would coming into the foyer, at 7.30 the whole Orchestra went back outside, and that’s when the two Roys went and hid on the 5th floor.’

Julian Hitchcock: ‘I do! Better with hindsight than at the time. I was the guy who had to tell Herr Last. I think this was one if the things that lead to the building of the quadrangle roof.’

Carol Churchill: ‘Oh l loved working on it , l remember making Kate Bush up on her first TV appearance .’

Tim Dann: ‘I did twelve of these beauties!!…& it certainly was off to the Srathallan afterwards!!…tho I don’t remember ‘winding down!!!’…The milkman beat me home every time!!!!…After the ‘credits’ Roy Norton the director, who was always in a state of high excitement…used to leap to his feet sending his chair crashing into the gallery window & screamed “Take me Pres, take me Pres!!!”….I can only imagine ‘Presentations’ enjoyment & envy of what fun we, in the Midlands were having!!…Designed the ‘Kate Bush’ prog too…which morphed into ‘Dave Brubeck’ & then we took the set to Glasgow for an ‘Andy Williams Special.’…. Thwarted tho by Production A’s/managers/managers industrial action!!…Roy Ronnie produced & Roy Norton directed them all.’

Kevin Lakin: ‘Andy Williams was cursed then, I worked on an Andy Williams Special from Warwick University which was thwarted by the Musicians Union, all the orchestra walked out 2hrs before the show started, and fair play to Andy Williams he did the whole show to just a piano accompaniment, it was recorded, but never went out. I think the two Roys were behind it, Mary Spencer was the Designer.’

Rod Hull and Emu on Pebble Mill at One

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

The stills show Rod Hull and Emu appearing on Pebble Mill at One, and attacking presenter, Donny MacLeod!

The stills are probably from different appearances, due to the different outfits being worn!  Emu seems equally badly behaved on each occasion!

The crew in the second still are probably Barry Chatfield on camera, and Paul Woolston on the left (thanks to Scouse for identifying them).