BBC Telephone Directory 1995/6

BBC Telephone directory 1995:6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

This is a page from the BBC Telephone Directory of 1995/6. It promotes the Resources Department of the Midlands and East Region. This would have been after the vertical split imposed by John Birt, when Resources had to become more commercial and take paying work from Independent Production Companies. The page is lists prominent productions serviced by Pebble Mill’s Resources Department, which included design, graphics, editing, crewing – both radio and television.

Thanks to Peter Poole for making this page available.

Videotape in the 70s (part 3) – Ray Lee


Photo by Tim Savage, no reproduction without permission

VT Expansion

Around 1975/6 VTC was created. A pair of AmpexVR1200 were installed into the new area, but because there were only sufficient lines on the Comms router at that time for one more VT they shared a single source and destination route, and one control line. When working with a studio or outside destination, they only saw whichever machine was switched to line, which meant that for programmes like Midlands Today, one machine could be cuing the next item, while one was playing, but normally it would need a brief return to another source so that the machine to line could be switched prior to playing the next item. I had a fairly extended period working in VT after VTC was created, and even did some training of others including Tim Savage. At that time Angela Ripon was the main presenter on “Top Gear” which was frequently edited in VTC.

Soon after that the IVC 9000 Slant track machine was installed in the former Telecine viewing room. More and more programmes were using VT and so any viewing of film material took place either in the viewing theatre run by Stan Treasurer, or in the Telecine cubicles themselves. The IVC 9000 used 2inch wide tape like the Quad machines, but recorded the tracks diagonally across the tape. The tape also ran at half the speed that the Quad machines used, so could accommodate longer continuous recordings.

It was slightly less noisy than the Quad machines and had a much quicker start up mode. (I believe it could be synchronous in 3 seconds instead of 10). This machine was used extensively by Pebble Mill at One, but because there was only ever one machine, it still required a Quad machine to do edits, and also any material that was on slant track format tapes, could only be played on that machine, which rather limited its usefulness. The idea of obtaining a second machine for an edit pair never materialised, as by this stage the Ampex VPR2 machines were starting to be installed in London, and subsequently at Pebble Mill, and these had the advantage of seeing pictures in still frame and shuttle mode, which enormously improved the location of edit points.

Ray Lee

Ray added this additional information on the Pebble Mill Facebook page: ‘VTC was equiped with VR1200s which Paul (Vanezis) is quite correct were older machines (than the VR2000s). Pebble Mill had them 2nd Hand I think ex London when they were just starting to install VPR2’s at TVC as far as I recall.’

John Kimberley blog

OB Scanner CM1 (1980s)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I joined Pebble Mill in 1974 and was a staff Studio and O.B. engineer until we lost the O.B. fleet in 1992, after which I became a freelance engineer. I did do some contract work at the Mill afterwards until 1997, then I became a full freelancer working for Sky, BBC and ITV via various O.B. facilities companies. I retired this year, but if offered an O.B. which appeals to me, I guess I’ll take up the offer! Regional Engineers, as we were known were expected to work in Telecine and Videotape as well and we were trained to work in Communications (‘Comms Centre’ and Radio Links) if required.

During my first few years at the Mill, Studio A was usually working 6 days a week, with 2 sets of 2 day dramas and 2 days of Pebble Mill at One; during the latter there would be a complete scenery and lighting reset for the following production. I worked on the last series of Poldark, various series of All Creatures Great and Small, Angels, Juliet Bravo and countless Plays for Today. Amongst memorable Studio A productions were a series of live dramas for BBC 2 around 1980. We were using the very first colour cameras, EMI 2001s, and the first incarnation of the studio technical facilities. Despite the age of the equipment, all the plays went out without a hitch, and much alcohol was consumed afterwards as we all came down from the adrenaline ‘high’. A great breakthrough came with the inclusion of Light Entertainment programmes in the late ’70s, a welcome change from a constant diet of drama productions. I thoroughly enjoyed the specials with Showaddywaddy, Elky Brookes and Don McLean and have very fond memories of doing Basil Brush shows on Saturdays. Oh, and I nearly forgot Saturday Night at the Mill! In the 80s, drama became a single camera operation, usually on location rather than in the studio. However, the studio seemed to be just as busy doing many other productions like Telly Addicts, The Adventure Game and Young Scientist of the Year. When London decided to kill off Pebble Mill at One, there were many spin off daytime programmes involving D.I.Y., fashion (The Clothes Show), and cooking, mainly done using Gallery C. A house was built in the back quadrangle for some productions! Studio B shouldn’t be remembered as only doing Midlands Today – I worked regularly in there on Farming Today and various programmes for Asian immigrants. There were often innovative ideas for the regional opt-out programmes, some of which went on to be networked – Top Gear being a good example. We even did a rock music show in there, and on one occasion, the sound travelled through the building and was picked up on the microphones in Studio A which was doing a Play For Today at the time.

I worked briefly with CMCR9 during my first ever O.B. stint in 1980, but it was moved to Manchester to become ‘North 3’ during that time, and we had CMCR10 for a few months until our new scanner, CM1 arrived. An O.B. stint then was very varied in programme type. It would include football, rugby, swimming, cycling, snooker, horse racing, cricket, party political conferences, inserts to Pebble Mill at One or to drama productions. After I went freelance, all I seemed to do was football!

I have so many lovely memories of my life at Pebble Mill, and it’s great to see that everyone else remembers it fondly and that we are all keeping in touch. I remember that when I left in 1992 I felt like I had suffered a divorce and a bereavement at the same time and it took a long time for me to come to terms with the fact that I no longer worked there. I must say that I don’t feel that way about retiring now as the industry has changed so much and has completely different principles from those with which I’m familiar. I completely agree with the idea that we saw the Golden Age of Television in the 70s and 80s!

John Kimberley

Regional Top Gear – Jim Knight’s photos

Photos by Jim Knights, no reproduction without permission.

These photos date from the early days of a regional Top Gear programme.  It was a film shoot somewhere in Europe.  The director is Derek Smith, the PA is Claire (surname not remembered), Jim Knights is the camerman.

It looks like a good time was had by all – and the crew was certainly well fed and watered, even if the crew car wasn’t very impressive!

crew trying it on with the PA

P.A. Course – Gail Herbert’s photos

 

Photos from Gail Herbert, no reproduction without permission.

These photos are of the Production Assistant Course from 1988.  Included in the photos are: Stephanie Ash (CE), Martine Crogan (M/C), Corinne Davies (M/C) , Patti Evans (PM), Gail Herbert (PM), Julia Hickman S&C, Helen Jackson (M/C), Yvonne James (Cardiff), Rebecca Martin (Schools), Deborah Moore (CE), Jennifer Slatter (Plymouth), Lorna Taschini (OU).

Patti Evans worked on many gardening programmes from Pebble Mill, as did Gail, although she also worked on ‘Top Gear’, in John King’s department, and on ‘Points of View’.  Helen Jackson moved down to Pebble Mill from Manchester, and worked on ‘Gardeners’ World’, and other gardening output, before moving south and giving up TV.

© What Was Pebble Mill?