Alastair Yates on Midlands News

Alistair Yates 1979

Our tribute to Alistair Yates continues with a full BBC Midlands, News, Whats On and Closedown from 1979. All 9 minutes worth. RIP Alistair.

Posted by TVARK on Friday, 28 July 2017

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

A Midlands News broadcast, presented by Alastair Yates, from 1979. Alastair left Pebble Mill for Grampian in 1980. The broadcast had been recorded by Chris Howles on a Philips N1700 format tape, and donated to TVArk.

The prompter seems not to be working at the beginning of the broadcast, with Alastair doing a wonderful job of reading off the script, whilst looking up from time to time. The cartoon over the weather seems very odd, and then the prompter seems to be working properly after that. The news seems to consist of a litany of crime, followed by a list of what’s on in every single theatre in the region! This was one of the last ‘closedown’ broadcasts to be done from the Midlands, due to an economy drive! Nothing new about BBC cut-backs!

Thanks to Chris Howles for bringing the clip to my attention.

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

Bryan Sharpe: ‘Alastair gave me my first insight into radio.. when he used to be AL KAY at BBC Radio Derby… in 1974… I was 12ish and later went on to work at Radio Derby then onto work at Pebble Mill and eventually as senior director at BBC Nottingham… thanks AL!!’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘Haven’t I seen Alastair on BBC World?’

Jonathan Dick: ‘Alastair was indeed a presenter on BBC World, where I had the pleasure of directing him on many occasions.’

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Filming at the canal

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This photo probably dates from the mid 1960s, and shows filming at the canal with a Arriflex 16mm film camera.

The photo was originally posted on the Pebble Mill Engineers’ Facebook group.

Would this have been for news pictures, or a hobby film? Please post a comment if you can add more information.

Thanks to Stuart Gandy for allowing the photo to be shared.

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

Malcolm Hickman: ‘Looks like the Worcester Bar at Gas Street Basin. You can see Stanier House and the Town Hall in the distance. No Alpha tower or Central TV. Looks like he has a sound recorder over his shoulder, but I can’t see a mic. Probably professional.’

Jim Knights: ‘Hazard a guess at freelance cameraman from Midlands Today. Certainly a mute cameraman as Arri 16 has no sound box. Could be Ed Mullis? Mid 60’s when I arrived in Broad st news , he was one of 3… Charlie Moody.. Derek Johnston and Ed Mullis. I stand corrected if wrong!’

Keith Brook: ‘I think that’s the battery pack over his shoulder. Years before belt packs.’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘Weren’t those Arris clockwork?’

Steve Saunderson: ‘It’s an Arri ST and it is the battery strap over his shoulder. As Jim says, it’s a mute camera 100 foot loading ( 2mins 30secs at 25fps ) and you can see the battery lead going to the back of the camera.’

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University of Birmingham Film Reel 1978

Photos by Richard Airbright, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This can of 16mm film was bought in an auction lot. It is a positive colour print from Rank Film Laboratories, of some rushes of Birmingham University, Faculty of Science, care of BBC Pebble Mill. There are 1010 feet of rushes, and the note is dated 8/9/78.

Does anyone know what the rushes would have been shot for, and how might they have ended up in an auction lot?

Thanks to Richard Airbright for sharing the photos.

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

Malcolm Hickman: ‘When Producer choice started, I had to charge each unit according to the space they occupied. Film Unit had rooms of rushes in cans. I asked why they were kept after the film was finished and transmitted. They said that they wanted to keep them in case they wanted to recut the film. I eventually persuaded them to get rid of them and save the space. I’m not sure what Mike Aldridge would have done with them. Possibly just junked them. Not sure what this particular can was from.’

 

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Brian Johnson in the Comms Centre

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Brian Johnson in the Comms Centre at Pebble Mill, on an evening shift – not comedian Dave Allen on the television.

This photo was originally posted on the Pebble Mill Engineers’ Facebook page.

The following comments were posted on the Pebble Mill Facebook page, where I had asked what duties there would be in Comms Centre in the evening:

Malcolm Hickman: ‘At one time we knew what every button and switch did.’

Colin Pierpoint: ‘We did a number of duties on evening shift. for each Midland opt out of BBC1 we extended opt out control to the Pres Desk. There was usually one at every programme junction. Contribution circuits for television were routed through BM Comms Centre from Manchester, carrying Scotland and Northern Ireland contributions, and from Norwich. There were two vision contribution channels from Manchester and two to London Switching Centre, although we could hire extra circuits from BT if necessary. Each of these extra circuits had to be tested. Sound circuits were 669, 297 and 148 from Manchester, and 136 or 276 going north. 289 from Norwich. Sound circuits to London were 549, 296, 271, 698 and 339+689 via Daventry. From London 114 and 270. All these are music circuits, which mean broadcast quality for either speech or music. All were regularily tested. Routing tests tended to be in the evening when they were less used. They were switched according to the SB chart which was issued daily by Circuit Allocation Unit in BH London. Later changes and additions came on a teleprinter in Comms Centre. Control lines associated with these bookings could carry talkback and cue programme. Control Lines into BM from London were 007 and LO-BM 30 and 31, similar to Manchester. So if there was any contribution from the regions in the evening going to London it would be routed through BM Comms. There were sometimes region to region contributions, not ending in London, and contributions from London to the regions, particularily for Scotland and Wales. At the time I worked there distribution passed through here and we were responsible for testing and maintaining circuit quality and rectifying faults. Birmingham fed Towyn transmittion station with Radio networks (R1 and R2 I think), as well as all the Midland transmitters and feeds north. We also routed circuits within the building from Studios A and B to VTR. Outside Broadcasts coming into Birmingham on radiolinks had to be tested and routed. These could be in the evening. Radio News contributions looked after themselves most of the time on the NCA network, but we dealt with any faults. However, other sound circuits could be booked for Radio, for example if there was a stereo OB from the Town Hall (later Symphony Hall) of an orchestral concert on radio 3, the lines would be tested to BM comms and then routed to London. We also took calls from listeners and viewers on technical and programme queries.’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘As he is wearing a tie, I suspect he was the shift supervisor. The shift was the B shift – 15:30 until BBC 1 closedown. He would have an engineer on the same shift with him and a second engineer doing the D shift that finished at 22:00 hours. When David Stevens was on form, the Presentation show could extend the closedown by 30 mins.’

Colin Pierpoint: ‘..and once went out in Northern Ireland because their opt out had already closed down and the transmitter automatic switch (TLS failure) switched over to the Midlands RBS (Rebroadcast standby)’

Steve Dellow: ‘When I was on B shift (particularly on a Sunday) I’d be ringing the Club to see whether a certain supervisor was in a state to get back to the Comms Centre so I could go home! Other times on a quiet evening I’d practice coding something with SIS (?) on the bays as if it needed feeding to LO (say). Or practice commoning up some audio circuits to the single speaker in the desk, which was useful to hear all the footy commentators starting to plug up their COOBE’s on a Saturday.’

Jane Partridge: ‘The breakfast shift was more fun… I was working in Contracts & Finance at the time, so Phil and I travelled in together and the aim was to have just had a full cooked breakfast (so there was the lingering smell of bacon) just before the A shift got in. The Comms Centre had its own kitchen, so that early and late shifts could have a hot meal.’

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Ron Lane with CM1

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The photo is of rigger driver, Ron Lane, with OB scanner, CMCR9, which was his pride and joy. Apparently he used to regularly black the wheels, and keep the truck looking its best. The truck was built in 1969 and was BBC Birmingham’s original CM1. The scanner is probably stationed at the Royal Show, Stoneleigh.

It is this scanner that has been restored by Steve Harris and his team, and now tours round different exhibitions each year.

This photo was originally shared on the Pebble Mill Engineers Facebook group. Thanks to Stuart Gandy for making it available.

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

Malcolm Hickman: ‘Ron was a great guy. Always had a tin of tyre black gloss in the cab.’

Louis Robinson: ‘The Royal Show is my best guess too. The OB team from Birmingham did a great job for us (Michael Coley, John Miller and me) with the Exhibitions Unit. Then the BBC (London) decided to go with Manchester… mistake.’

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