Last 6.55 Special

Photo by Paul Scholes, no reproduction without permission

Photo by Paul Scholes, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This photo was almost certainly taken after the last episode of the 6.55 Special  on 19 August 1983, outside the front of the building. The 6.55 Special was an entertainment show, which involved live music and celebrity guests.

Included left to right are:  Chris Glover (moved down south and opened a Chandlery shop); Leigh Sinclair, VT editor (2nd from left); John Burkill, VT engineer; Elaine Baldwin; Ivor Williams, VT editor; Paul Wheeldon, Communications Supervisor. It was Elaine Baldwin’s last day at Pebble Mill before leaving and working at Central.

Thanks to Jane Mclean, Ann Gumbley-Williams and Steve Dellow for identifying everyone!

 

Videotape in the 70s (part 7) – Ray Lee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Paul Scholes. Included are Brian Watkiss (blue T-shirt), Leigh Sinclair (shirt and tie), and Mike Bloore (far right)

VT Staff Changes

As I recollect, Tony Rayner was the first to leave becoming a director, and Mike Bloore to join VT as a junior. Steve Critchlow then became a VT editor alongside John Lannin. There was a period of stability until John Lannin became Operations organiser, and Steve Critchlow went I think to Planning. John Burkill, and Mike Bloore then became VT editors, and subsequently with VTC expansion Ian Collins became a VT editor. With the expansion  and promotions VT was quite short staffed, which is when I had a longer spell working in VT, and training others in the operation of Quad Machines. I don’t remember details but Tim Savage, Brian Watkiss and Ivor Williams all arrived around that time. Peter Wood-Fisher was in VT later but not at any time I was working in VT. I think Steve May and Martin Dowell came later, possibly when the VPR2’s first arrived. After that I lost touch with staff movements in VT, as I spent more time in the Studio end of operations, and from 1984 in Engineering Services.

Ray Lee

Videotape in the 70s (part 6) Ray Lee

Balcony of the 2nd floor bar: Ivor Williams, Nigel Evans, Mike Bloore, John Burkill
Photo by Tim Savage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VT Office

When Pebble Mill was first built, the BBC Club was on the second floor, and became known affectionately by some as the VT Office. It was true that most of the VT staff could be found there at lunch time, and that many conversations with programme staff, producers, and directors took place there over a pint. That in a sense was the cauldron of ideas, that quite often led to innovative programme ideas that came to distinguish Pebble Mill. Departments were small enough, and the bar just about big enough that representatives from all disciplines could come together socially and exchange ideas.

I was only an occasional user, usually having ventured there to collect a Radio Times, but for some it was their regular lunchtime activity. It was there that the problem lay, in that it was just a bit too convenient on the 2nd floor, and more than one of my colleagues was recognised as having a drink problem, and sent on a “drying out” course by the BBC management. As space became more of a premium, the new Club building was built and the second floor returned to office space. I don’t remember the details of the changeover but the net result was that a more deliberate decision was needed to go to the club, rather than just falling out of the lift at the second floor.

Ray Lee

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

Jane Clement: ‘Ah, the second floor bar – home of my first Pebble Mill job (barmaid) and the scene of many an interesting night (and lunchtime). The tales I could tell from both sides of the bar as a barmaid then a researcher, then an AP…The new Club that replaced it was never quite the same.’

Lynn Cullimore: ‘Ooh yes, some people I could mention did use it as their office but you are right, I am sure many programme ideas were thought up there. The new bar was never quite the same! I remember my first rum punch day (the first of many) – or rather there were parts of it that I forgot!’

Marvin’s Credits

Photo by Tim Savage. Marvin is on the far right!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvin’s credit on Track One. Grab from Keith Brook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VT editors are a singular breed, and sometimes curiously attached to inanimate objects! The VPR2 machine in VTC was affectionately known as ‘Marvin’. Presumably after ‘Marvin the paranoid android’ in ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. Not only was ‘Marvin’ the machine, named, but he was also credited – on at least one, and possibly on more programmes, for his creative efforts.  ‘Marvin’ is the machine on the extreme right of top photo – not a very good shot of him!

‘Marvin’s’ credit was on ‘Track One’ a regional programme for the discerning younger audience. The credits for VT read: ‘Marvin – Mike Bloore – Ivor the Engine’ in that order. So Marvin got top billing as well!!  Keith was the director of that episode, produced by Keith Haley, with executive producer, Mike Fitzgerald. (Thanks to Keith Brook for this information, and the grab!).

‘Marvin’ may also have enjoyed other credits – possibly on ‘Look! Hear!’

Cutting Reversal Film for News – Paul Freeman

Paul Freeman, Julia Gray, Anne Williams. Newsroom photo by Ivor Williams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During my time in the newsroom all material – except for a few ‘features’ was shot on reversal commag stock. The main problem with commag stock was, of course, the separation of the gate and the recording head, meaning that cutting the picture in the right place was wrong for the sound and vice-versa, hence the need to transfer the sound to sepmag stock (16mm magnetic tape, but it was perforated like 16mm.). If time didn’t allow for the transfer, then the cut mismatch had to be accommodated by either inserting a noddy (or the next actual reporter’s question preceeded by a pontifical (leading) noddy, or any one of a number of other technical fudges!). Or else it needed dubbing in studio 9 where we covered the bumps with suitable audio (commentary, SFX, music etc.) recorded onto sepmag stock in the TK machine, or occasionally dubbing it live if a last-minute network insert run live from London (more adrenaline than on a battle-field!). Not forgetting – as occasionally happened – to gently remind the TK operator to ‘pull it up 3 frames’ before TX.

I don’t believe edited sepmag was ever laid back to the commag – apart from anything else, the resultant audio would have ‘bumped’ over the edits. Why would you bother when the commag track was about a 10th the size of the sepmag? 
Having had the opportunity to see other regional news mags, and how they coped with commag and all its attendant problems (usually live reporter v/o in the studio + live grams) I think studio 9 was an elegant and efficient solution, no matter how much some of the ‘proper’ dubbing mixers looked down their collective noses at us! 
The features, and the opt-outs were usually shot on either reversal (with the commag track not used, or used as either a guide track or occasionally a wild track) with sound on 1/4″ recorded on a Nagra or mute colour neg + 1/4″.
 What a faffy world it was before video/u-matic/Beta/digibeta, but I count dubbing shifts in studio 9 as some of my happiest times in Pebble Mill.

Paul Freeman

Peter Poole, left the following comment on the Pebble Mill Facebook Group: ‘Hi Paul, thanks for an interesting blog. I probably complained about Studio 9. You had limited facilities and time pressure. And looking back on it I think you did a good job. I remember station assistants playing sound effects discs live in Studio B to cover mute film. Norwich still did live commentary even when U-matic tape was in use.’