CMCR9 Reconstruction

North 3 darts North 3 reconstruction























Photographs from John Ellis, copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

Here are some photos from the reconstruction last week (May 17-19th 2016) of the restored outside broadcast truck, CMCR9 (Pebble Mill’s original CM1, and later Manchester’s North3). The shoot was organised by Royal Holloway, University of London’s, ADAPT project. The project is staging reconstructions with different pieces of now defunct television production equipment. The outside broadcast is by far the most ambitious reconstruction yet. The recreation was of a darts match. There were obvious some technical issues to be tackled – but the broadcast was a success.

The OB truck was restored by enthusiast, Steve Harris.

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

Keith Brook (Scouse): ‘Oh, great to see some of the old cameras. Worked on all of those. The Emmy was by far the best studio and OB camera in its time. But the Pye/Phillips LDK3 (if my memory serves me well) was great for golf because you could choose which colour to look at. White ball on dark sky. Oops, just given a secret away!’

Marty Johnston: ‘Keith, you’re absolutely right about the LDK and how we had the output of the ‘red’ tube fed to the ext. V/F. That was a well kept secret until now! Also, I fully agree that the 2001 was the best all-round camera. It was often described as a ‘cameraman’s camera’. The only time I didn’t like the EMIs was when we had to carry them!’

Keith Brook: ‘Marty, you’ve just admitted another secret. If the Emmy was too heavy, it’s because you carried it with the lens still inside!! Tut, tut. However, we all did it to save time on the derig and get to the pub/club!!’

North 3 Outside Broadcast – press release

Photo by Steve Harris, no reproduction without permission

Photo by Steve Harris, no reproduction without permission













(Here is a press release about the reconstruction of a recording by the OB truck North 3, which was Pebble Mill’s original CM1)


A team of television historians will travel back in time as they bring a vintage BBC outside broadcast truck back to life in North Wales.

Working with Flintshire-based broadcasting history enthusiast Steve Harris, the team from Royal Holloway University of London will reunite veteran cameramen, directors and engineers with North 3, a restored colour mobile control room.

North 3 travelled the length and breadth of the country during the 1970s, relaying live footage of Royal Ascot, The Open from St Andrews and the Royal Variety Performance from the London Palladium.

It ended its life with the BBC in the early 1980s, and spent several decades decaying at an airfield in Devon, before being rescued and restored by Hawarden-based television historian Steve Harris.

Now researchers from Royal Holloway are about to embark on a hugely ambitious “hands on” history event during which a full outside broadcast crew will be re-united with the restored vehicle to recreate a 1970s sports television production.

The experiment, which will take place next week (May 17, 18, 19) will be the first time that anyone has attempted to see the restored North 3 operational and staffed by its original crew. The vehicle, an analogue ancestor of today’s digital satellite outside broadcast trucks, is the only survivor of its type in working order.

Working with Steve Harris, the team from Royal Holloway have located a full team of former outside broadcast camera operators and engineers. For first time in several decades, they will be reunited with North 3 and re-live the experiences of their earlier careers.

Using restored 1970s television technology, the team will record a darts match and conduct interviews with former television production personnel. The exercise will help the Royal Holloway team, led by Prof John Ellis of the college’s Media Arts department, to learn more about how television was made in the 1970s and 1980s.

Prof Ellis said: “Television has seen vast technological changes since the 1960s, and some of the greatest changes have taken place in outside broadcasts. Our work with North 3 will help to document technologies and ways of working from the heroic age of television, which are now at risk of being forgotten.”

Digital producer Amanda Murphy, who is organising and directing the event, said: “When we met with Steve Harris last November and decided to take on the challenge of getting North 3 operational with as full a crew as possible, neither of us could have quite imagined quite the enormity of the task. The phone rings daily with old technicians asking: ‘Are we serious? Are we mad?’”

The complexity of the event means that it will not be open to the public, but footage and interviews from the event will be uploaded to YouTube during the week.

Prof John Ellis


Here is the link to a blog about the project, from producer Amanda Murphy:

The following comment was left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:

Nigel Sizer: ‘One interesting fact about OB trucks of this vintage is that many carried a steel tray about 4ft square on runners at the rear. Once parked up, the tray was slid out and put underneath the catch any oil drips! …’

Malcolm Elliott: ‘It would be nice to get my hands on a PC80 again after so many years… sadly am the other side of the world so would need a very long panning handle! Good luck with the event and would be interested to see who’s on the camera crew.’

Jim Gregory describes Telecine

Jim Gregory talks about telecine from pebblemill on Vimeo.

Specially recorded video of Jim Gregory describing the operation of telecine, both in terms of studio dramas, and the broadcasting of film in the 1960s-80s.

This film was recorded as part of Royal Holloway’s ADAPT project, led by John Ellis. The project is staging various ‘reconstructions’ of former television production stages and equipment. In this element, Pebble Mill’s Jim Gregory was introduced to his Television Centre counterpart, Tim Emblem-English, at BBC Post Production’s Ruislip centre, which still houses an operational Rank Cintel Mark 3 telecine. Jim is seen grading a piece of 1965 black and white footage of Birmingham, on the control desk.

Dave Schoolden & Jim Gregory 1976 in TK

Dave Schoolden & Jim Gregory 1976 in TK


Macbeth on the Estate – TX card

Macbeth TX card Macbeth TX Card JR























Thanks to costume designer, Janice Rider, for making this transmission card available.

Macbeth on the Estate was recorded on the Ladywood Estate, in Birmingham. The modern day adaptation of Shakespeare’s play went out on BBC 2 in 1997. The film was adapted and directed by Penny Woolcock, produced by Alison Gilby, with executive producer, Julian Murphy. Graham Smith did the photography; John Dinwoodie, the editing; with music by David Wilson. John Ellis was the production designer.

The film starred: James Frain, Susan Vidler, David Harewood, Andrew Tiernan, Jo Dow, and Ray Winstone.


Macbeth on the Estate – Janice Rider

Specially shot interview with costume designer, Janice Rider, about the 1997 BBC Pebble Mill drama, ‘Macbeth on the Estate’.  This was a contemporary telling of the Shakespearian tragedy, set on a modern housing estate.  The drama was shot on the Ladywood estate in Birmingham. Penny Woolcock was the writer and director, Simon Curtis and Julian Murphy the executive producers, and Alison Gilby the producer. John Ellis was the production designer.

James Frain played Macbeth; Susan Vidler, Lady Macbeth; Ray Winstone, Duncan; and David Harewood, Macduff.