CMCR6 – Birmingham’s first colour scanner

Gosta Green Studios – cutting c/o Gail Herbert













The first colour scanner (CMCR) in Birmingham was CMCR 6 which was based at the OB base which was then at Carpenter Road, Edgbaston.

It was equipped with 5 EMI 2001 colour cameras which had the lens within the body of the camera. 4 of the cameras were used normally and the other was used as a spare and for parts to repair the others.

BBC Birmingham did not have a Colour TV studio before Pebble Mill opened in 1971.  The BBC had a studio at the Cinema in Gosta Green in Aston.  It was fitted out in the days of black & white and during the late 60s until Pebble Mill opened CMCR6 would be used part of the week to produce Dramas or Drama series in colour.

I think that CMCR6 was at Gosta Green on a Wednesday & Thursday each week and would then go and do a Match of the Day or other OBs returning on Tuesday for the rig for the drive in.

CMCR 6 was moved to Kendal Avenue in the 1970s and replaced in Birmingham with CMCR 9 which had Philips PC80 Cameras. This meant that the cameras in the Studios at Pebble Mill and the ones on the OB unit were different which caused problems with maintenance, spares etc.

John Duckmanton

OB in the back of a van











Photo by John Burkill, no reproduction without permission.

The photo takes from October 1980.  It looks like part of an outside broadcast set up.

The portable 2″ quad recorder, in the briefcase on the side is an Ampex VR 3000. It was a specialist piece of kit designed for field recording, when it wasn’t possible to take a full 2″ machine.  Even so, it was pretty heavy to carry around – weighing 55 pounds!  It was capable of high or low band recordings, used 20 minute reels, and could be powered by battery or on AC.  Visit this link for more information:

The men in the photo are John Smith (multi camera director), Peter Hodges (sitting down) and Derek Price (engineering manager).

The shoot was almost certainly for a ‘Pebble Mill at One’ programme, since John Smith was one of the principal directors on the show.

Paul Vanezis added on the Facebook page that the ‘Pebble Mill at One’ titles, with the fisheye look, were in fact recorded on an Ampex VR 3000, as were some of the opening titles of ‘Look! Hear!’.

Please add a comment if you can add any information.