Midlands Today newsroom

Photo from Jonathan Dick, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Midlands Today newsroom at Pebble Mill from the early nineties.

Cathy Houghton in the foreground and David Davies in the background, at BBC Pebble Mill, Birmingham. The computer system was BASYS, which Cathy apparently excelled at!

Thanks to Jonathan Dick for sharing the photo.

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

Malcolm Hickman: ‘As a Comms engineer, we sometimes had to see Gwen Smith when there had been a problem with the Saturday results feed. Her bark was always greater than her bite. When you got it wrong, she gave you a tongue lashing, when it went right, she sent out a hero gram. A lovely lady.’

Jane Partridge: ‘I remember when Phil was doing a Saturday Comms shift and I was away (possibly at Guide Camp in those days) he took our eldest daughter into work with him, she was 5 at the time (so 1989-90) and he was heavilly involved in setting up the BAYSIS system. She was used to using the BBC Model B computer we had at home, so going into the newsroom with him, she perched on a stool and was happily occupied tapping away on a keyboard…. the report I got was that there was a newsroom of open-mouthed journalists nervously attempting what this 5 year old didn’t bat an eyelid at.’

Diane Kemp: ‘I remember when BASYS came in. There were some ‘super users’ who taught the rest of us. Jane Green was one, I think??’

Christmas show in Studio A

Photo by Malcolm Hickman, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can anyone identify this Christmas entertainment show in Studio A?

Thanks to Malcolm Hickman for sharing the photo.

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

Malcolm Hickman: ‘I have a vague recollection that it was a L.E. Show featuring 5th Dimension, but as it was over 40 years ago, I might be mistaken.’

Andy Frizzell: ‘Not that long ago Malcolm. I think it might have been an ‘Ebony’ spin off. I remember working on it and I only joined the Beeb in 1980. I remember it being a pig to light inside that tent though.’

James French: ‘Yes definitely an ethnic minority programme. I would say about 1985.’

Comms fast response Land Rover

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the Comms fast response Land Rover, just leaving the Pebble Mill car park. I presume it would have been used on news.

Thanks to Stuart Gandy for sharing this photo, which was originally posted on the Pebble Mill Engineers Facebook group.

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

Malcolm Hickman: ‘As the name suggests, it didn’t require much setting up. The pump up mast had a microwave transmitter that could inject programmes into the receiver up the mast at Sutton Coldfield or another mid point, then by line to the Comms Centre for recording or passing on to London. One person operated, just plug the camera feed into it and go.’

Jackie Cross: ‘I loved the FRV as the shortest member of the department (until the arrival of Charlotte) I was the only one who could sit comfortably in it. It was two ‘man’ operated for a long period, so as the trainee I drove the land rover while the engineer arrived on site in their car, the looks I used to get as a 5’4″ 21 year old with long blonde hair, knocked a few stereotypes!’

Andrew Willetts: ‘In the mid 90’s it became BBC East Midlands first OB vehicle, was based at York House, Mansfield Road and fired 7GHz microwave signals into the Bardon Hill receive site (now decommissioned) near Loughborough. A great introduction to Links vehicles for me. It did 70mph… just and the MPG was always in single figures, gotta love a Land Rover V8.’

Simon Calkin: ‘It was a pig to get the gearbox to do the necessary once you were on site, and by 1994 the stabs were horribly corroded and difficult to get out then back in again. That said, used for many a Midlands Today (sic) News O.B. I did squillions but the FRV one that sticks in my mind for no good reason is the one I did at Rolls Royce in Derby with Mike Barratt.’

Andy Marriott: ‘Is it roughly the same design as the ‘FART’ that Northwest Tonight had in Manchester? Or were they dreamt up separately?’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘I don’t think there was a standard design. We did build one in a Renault Civic van though.’

Andy Marriott: ‘I only ever saw pictures of the one in Manchester. But it seemed to be of a very similar design and they were both around at the same time.

The FART has since earned a reputation as a bit of a ‘widow maker’ as some of Manchester comms engineers that worked on it have subsequently died from various cancers and the like.’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘I just remembered, the land rovers were built by a firm in Birmingham to a design by TCPID.’

Studio A Lighting Grid

Photo by Malcolm Hickman, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This photo shows the lighting grid for Studio A at Pebble Mill. It probably dates from the 1970s.

Thanks to Malcolm Hickman for sharing the photo.

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

Andy Frizzell: ‘The Lighting ‘barrels’ were on hoists that lowered to the studio floor, there were generally 2 ‘twisters’ per bar. Twisters were dual source lights ‘hard’ fresnel at one end soft ‘fill’ at the other. There were three 5Kw channels on each bar. 10Kw channels were available from the grid above.
On the barrels each lamp had additional ‘pantographs’ to fine tune the height above sets etc.
Towards the end we added DMX moving light connectivity. If memory serves, this was considered a ‘saturation’ rig studio as opposed to the monopole system preferred by the itv companies. No doubt Dave Bushell can elaborate/correct me on the details as he was my NVQ tutor/examiner.’

Dave Bushell: ‘You have given a very succinct description. I worked with monopole systems after leaving the Mill and I can’t say I liked the lack of flexibility they gave. I suppose it’s what you got used to.’

Outside Broadcast – with waders

Photo from Brian Johnson, no reproduction without permission

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This outside broadcast was obviously going to be a wet one, necessitating waders!

The man in the photo is Radio Links Supervisor, Billy Horne. The van is either 15 or 126, both Bedford Links Vans. According to Brian, who took the photo, Billy had just bought the waders and was persuaded to try them on.

The photograph was originally shared on the Pebble Mill Engineers Facebook group.

Thanks to Malcolm Hickman for adding information about the photograph.

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