Occupation Democrat – Tech Reqs

Occupation Democrat 1 Occupation Democrat 2 Occupation Democrat 3




















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

These Technical Requirements (Tech Reqs) documents are for a studio drama, called Occupation Democrat, recorded in July 1984. This was the working title of the drama, and it was changed before transmission to Murder of a Moderate Man.

The drama was set in an airport hostel, and a prison, and recording was also going to take place in the men’s toilets! It was being recorded on 1″ videotape, with VHS viewing copies being run off at the same time. Although the recording was taking place in Studio A at Pebble Mill, the Tech Run was taking place at Elstree, so presumably the rehearsals took place in London.

Robert Tronson was the director, John Bowen the producer, Jenny Brewer was the production associate, with William Hartley the production manager. Charles Bond was the designer, with Al Barnett the costume designer and Susie Bancroft the make-up designer. Dave Bushell was technical manager, with Annette Martin as vision mixer and Ivor Williams and Leigh Sinclair were the VT editors.


The Clothes Show

The Clothes Show, Jeff Banks, Selina Scott JR

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

Thanks to costume designer, Janice Rider, for sharing the photo.

The photos shows The Clothes Show presenters, Jeff Banks and Selina Scott. The item obviously had a 1950s rock and roll theme.

The Clothes Show was a fashion magazine show, which went out weekly on a Sunday between 1986-2000. It was devised and produced by Roger Casstles. The series became well known for its high production values and stylish inserts, which often used innovative DVE transitions, canted shots and contemporary chart music.

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

Annie Gumbley-Williams: ‘Ivor Williams, and Brian Watkiss plus other editors on the Clothes Show won a BAFTA for editing the Clothes Show, and were also nominated a second time. The BAFTA disappeared from Pebble Mill when it closed. Anyone know where it went?’

Jane Clement: ‘It was a rock n roll edition of The Clothes Show back in our era – I remember they had a local rock n roll club there dancing, who are probably the people in the background. Roger Casstles and Claire Stride producing, of course, and Janice Rider would have been on wardrobe – fun job for her. Can’t remember who else worked on it though.’

Claire Cotton: ‘Remember it well as one of BBC Birmingham’s big hits, with its spin off event Clothes Show Live still going. I loved working on it, with Jane Galpin running the London office and Colette Foster and Roger Casstles our Birmingham Office. I am still in touch with many ex Clothes Show people including James Strong (who went on to direct Dr Who and Downtown Abbey) and James Morgan who went on to do Springwatch, the Apprentice and won a BAFTA for Big Blue Live.’

Alternative Midlands Today Sig.Tune

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

This signature tune was an alternative ending for Midlands Today from around 1992, composed by David Lowe. It was almost certainly never used.

Thanks to Peter Poole for sharing this signature tune.

Photo of Pebble Mill Newsroom by Ivor Williams

Photo of Pebble Mill Newsroom by Ivor Williams

Studio Operations (Part 5) – Ray Lee


Studio A production gallery 1971, by Ivor Williams (including vision mixer)

Studio A production gallery 1971, by Ivor Williams (including vision mixer)


Photo by John Kimberley, Studio A colour matching desk

Photo by John Kimberley, Studio A colour matching desk























Other Equipment

Most of the rest of the signal chain equipment, Video amplifiers, colour coders, vision mixer etc. were BBC designs, from Designs Department, as the BBC had largely pioneered television equipment in the U.K. from the earliest days. Again to get the best out of it, much of the equipment needed regular adjustments to keep it within specification. The normal day to day drift due to voltage changes or temperature changes, was enough to require correction.

As the colour TV service had only started quite recently, the designs were first generation colour equipment, and basically pushing the limits of what was achievable. The vision mixer was basically a black and white vision mixer, with additional modules to allow it to work with colour signals. One quirk of this first generation vision mixer, was that it truly was a mixer. In the same way that sound mixers added all the signals, so did the vision mixer, so several picture sources could be added together to create several superimposed images. As there were 8 channels, in theory one could have had up to 8 images in the combined output. This required some quite special precautions to prevent the signal exceeding the maximum video level, as well as ensuring that the synchronising pulses and colour burst stayed constant so that the receiving equipment would correctly decode it. Such a requirement for multiple images was not really needed, and most of the time it would just be a transition from one source to another, either a cut, or a fade. I believe simple wipes were also possible, i.e. top to bottom, side to side or diagonal, but that was about as much as could be done at that time. I believe there was also a mode of selecting modulated line drive to one or more cameras in order to create a sort of wavy – dream like transition.

All subsequent commercial vision mixers, were more correctly called vision switchers, as they did not allow for more than two images to be simultaneously displayed, in a mix mode. However they came with a whole lot more transition effects, and it was quite noticeable at the time, particularly with L.E. programmes that the directors would try out all the latest transition effects on their programmes if they thought they could get away with it. They also tended to have more channels so that more picture sources could be permanently wired to particular channels. The old Designs Department mixer quickly ran out of channels if there were 5 cameras and several other sources, like VT, TK, slide scanner and O.B. feed. Some of these had to be preselected, and could not all be present at the same time.

Because all the first generation equipment needed careful tending and not infrequently became faulty, there was a need for a good number of engineers on hand throughout studio recordings and live transmissions. The equipment on outside broadcast units was also subject to vibration, cold and damp, and so needed even more regular intervention, but space was limited, so that meant having fewer more experienced engineers. It was not uncommon for engineers to be repairing equipment minutes before it was needed to be used.

Ray Lee


Dead Head

Dead Head DVD cover NR













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

The BBC Pebble Mill drama series Dead Head is released on DVD on 15 April 2013. The film was edited by John Rosser with the video edited by Ivor Williams.

Dead Head was a four part thriller, with Denis Lawson as a small time criminal who gets mixed up with a grizzly murder. It was originally transmitted on BBC2 from 15 Jan 1986- 5 Feb 1986. The four parts were, Episode 1: Why Me?, Episode 2: Anything for England, Episode 3: The War Room and Episode 4: The Patriot.

The team included: Rob Walker (director), Robin Midgley (producer), Howard Brenton (script), Dave Bushell (lighting), Gavin Davies (designer), Kathryn Ayerst (costume), Vivien Oldham (make-up), Richard Hartley (music).

Thanks to Neil Roberts for spotting the release.

The following comment was added by camerman David Short on the Pebble Mill Facebook group: ‘Remember working as a camera assistant on it. I think Keith Salmon was the Senior Cameraman. Possibly the last thing I worked on before moving to TV Centre.’