2013

February 19th Details of Terry's funeral from Bob Tolson
 

Terry’s wife Anne has just phoned me with the initial details of Terry’s funeral.
It will be held on Wednesday 27th February at 12 noon
at the Banbury Crematorium,
Hardwick Hill, Southam Road, Banbury, Oxfordshire OX16 1ST.

If anybody is planning to attend would they please email me at bob@rtolson.plus.com
or phone me on 01622 679494 or 07709 293737 and I will let Anne know.


February 18th terry watson RIP
  From Bob Tolson
 
It is with great sadness that I have to tell you my great pal Terry Watson passed away on Wednesday 13th February. He lost a battle with cancer having only been diagnosed with it towards the end of last year. As you probably know, after he retired from the BBC he moved to the Cotswolds with his wife Anne and it is with her that our thoughts are now.
  Funeral details will be posted here when we know them.

February 7th

Further to the piece on the gates to Wood Norton I posted on January 1st, I have received the following from Nigel Adams,(Head of Network Architecture) at BBC Wood Norton):-

Thought you might like to see this from Evesham Journal June 2012 – we hope they might come back one day…
  ETD Gates

February 5th From Ian Stubbs via Bernie Newnham:-
I was over at TVC today. TC6 has two weeks to go before it's stripped out. TC8 goes to the end of March. Tea bars etc. are closed already. There is, however, a grand plan for redevelopment and a web site to keep an eye on -www.television-centre.com/ It has a holding page as I write but will go live tomorrow, apparently, with future plans. There will be an exhibition in TVC reception tomorrow and Wednesday too.

January 7th Further information from Bob's sister via Neil Pittaway concerning the funeral arrangements for Bob Dinsmore
 
Dear Friends

I can now tell you Robert's funeral arrangements.
The Committal will be private, for family only.

There will be a Thanksgiving service at 12 noon on Thursday 31 January
2013 at the Church of the Holy Trinity, Abbots Leigh, to which everyone
is welcome. Please pass on these details to anyone who you think has
been left out of these circulars.
We should like to include in the service one or two brief contributions
by any of you who would particularly like to speak. If you feel moved to
offer something, please tell me, and we will do our best to include it.
I hope you will be able to come and join us on 31 January.

With love, Elizabeth.
 
  A map is available here
 
  Elizabeth Whitehouse, 1 Slate Cottages, Manor Lane, Abbots Leigh, BRISTOL BS8 3RX
elizabeth@dunstanburgh.net
01275 373137/ 07973 3
05239

January 3rd Bob Dinsmore RIP
 

From Neil Pittaway this morning:-

  Elizabeth, Bob's sister has let us know that Bob died peacefully in the early hours.
He had recently moved to a nursing home in Bristol close to his sister and Jeremy (Brown) and Jeff (Baker) have visited in the last few days. Funeral arrangements to follow.

January 1st A Happy New Year to everybody - rather a significant year for the "Class of 63" as it will be 50 years since we joined (September 9th) and 20 years since we left (March 31st) - where did the time go?
  A couple of pictures to start off 2013. The first is of a place you may recall - the Effects Workshop, with Robin Lobb (we believe) in the background.
  Video Effects Workshop
  And, a hang-over from last Autumn, taken on our way back from Telford - who nicked the gates to Wood Norton?
  ETD gates

2012

November 17th Last night was the final “Children in Need” transmission from Television Centre. Ten days earlier, Andy Barker marked the end of TV Centre by playing “The Last Post” on an old bugle. Here is a link to the Youtube version.

September 25th At the beginning of this year I received an email from Larry Odham in the US with an enquiry:-
"I have been trying to find a equipment manual to get a copy from for a Ampex 1012 universal colortec.
The 1012 was used on the Ampex VR-1200 and VR-2000 quad machines.
I have several Ampex VR 1200s here operational and I use them to transfer NTSC quad tapes for preservation. I want to make one of the machines here PAL-capable.
I was very happy to find a 1012 spec sheet on your website that I was able to print out.
Is there anyone on your site or e-mail list that may have access to a 1012 manual, or know where one might be found?
I read an interesting passage in one of the history tabs,might have been under the hardware tab?, about the first Ampex VR 2000 VTRs using a standard NTSC colortec that had been modified by the BBC fellows with a "box" in order to use for PAL. I sure would like to know more about how that worked.
thanks for any help, or suggestions, or leads."
Clive McCarthy took on the challenge and Larry has just sent me some photographs of his set-up and a brief description.
Clive McCarthy has been a real help at every turn, supplying me with important information about how the early Ampex quad VTRs did PAL before the 1012 colortec. I doubt I could have gotten very far at all without him, or you and the vtoldboys website! Thanks very much!
To bring you up on the project, What I built is exactly what Clive had written me about in his detailed circuitry analysis - and it works beautifully!
What I basically did was to place a rack next to the VR-1200 with the two NTSC 1011 colortecs to be PAL-modified. Then, added a patch bay with all the signals to and from the VR-1200 making it possible to patch the 1011 NTSC colortec out of the machine and patch a PAL modified 1011 colortec into its place. A Tektronix 1411 sync generator was added to supply the correct PAL syncs.
Larry Odham kit
 
The actual delaying, burst switching and error detecting circuitry is breadboarded on the small table in front of the rack. I was able to go one more step beyond and found a complete 1012 colortec manual at the Stanford University archive that they were willing to photocopy for me. That was more help in filling in some of the technical gaps.
  Circuitry
 

Well done Clive! Oldboys to the rescue. Mark you, I'm amazed he can still remember it all!
Larry has sent a link to his own website advertising his conversion business - some nostalgic pictures here(!):-

http://www.quadtapexfer.com/Home.php

And here is a link to the Tennesse Archive of Moving Image & S0und where it all started!

http://www.tamisarchive.org/TAMIS_Web/TAMIS_home.html


August 20th Bob Tolson has just sent details of Malcolm Robertson's funeral.
 
Funeral service to held at All Saints Church, Mill Street, Maidstone, ME15 6YE
on Wednesday 29th August 2012 at 12.00 noon,
followed by a private cremation.
  Formal black attire is not expected. Family flowers only. If desired, donations made payable to “The Finchcocks Charity” and sent c/o Viner & Sons Ltd, 54 High Street, West Malling, ME19 6LU.

August 15th We now have the details of John Martin's funeral.The family would love to see any of you who can get along to it.
 

11.30 am on Wednesday 22nd August at
North East Surrey Crematorium
Lower Morden Lane
Morden, Surrey
SM4 4NU
020 8337 4835

  A map is available here
  and afterwards at the very nearby Morden Brook Pub (formerly “The Beverley”)
Lower Morden Lane, Morden
SM4 4SS
 
  This is right on the roundabout leading to the crematorium. Some parking is available at the pub and there is a Free Car Park opposite in Lower Morden Lane.
The 293 towards Epsom or 163 towards Wimbledon go from Morden Tube Stop F and the 163 bus from Raynes Park Railway Station Stop S towards Morden.
If you wish to attend the Pub please let us know for catering purposes, either by email to nick.martin00@googlemail.com or calling Audrey on 020 8337 3366.
If you wish to bring flowers a single stem would be nice, or donations to the Epsom Medical Equipment Fund. Full details at http://www.emef.org.uk/giving.htm. Donations can be sent to Alan Greenwood & Sons, 425 Kingston Road, Ewell, Surrey, KT19 0BT and cheques should be payable to “Epsom Medical Equipment Fund”

And finally, please no black. Dad always said funerals were hard enough!


August 11th John Martin RIP
  More sad news I'm afraid - this time from Dennis Collett.
John died yesterday (August 10th) at the age of 90. Many of us wil lremember with affection all the hard work he & Audrey put in over the years on the Christmas Lunches, initially at Motspur and more recently at Surbiton.
I'm sure all of the Oldboys thoughs will be with Audrey at this sad time.
Further details as we learn of them.

August 10th MALCOLM ROBERTSON RIP
  Bob Tolson has just contacted us:-
I’m sorry to be the bearer of sad news but Malcolm Robertson’s wife Cynthia has rung me to tell me that he died this morning at 4am. He had collapsed at home and was taken to hospital where at first he seemed to have recovered. He was taken for a scan as he had caught his head when he fell and during that his heart stopped beating. Although they were able to get it going it stopped again soon after and that was it. Due to the circumstances there will be a post mortem so that will delay the funeral arrangements.

July 26th Mike Elliott RIP
  John Sedgwick informs us that Mike passed away on Monday (July 23rd) after a short period in hospital, he had been receiving treatment for cancer for several years.

July 24th News concerning the fate of Television Centre (thanks to Bob Wilson & Roger Martin) :-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/statements/tvc-sale-completion.html

July 18th Bob Wilson has pointed out that his old boss at the BFI, Charles Fairall, who used to work on Breakfast at the Grove, asked if we could show a link to a job at the BFI Berkhamsted that may interest somebody.

http://www.bfi.org.uk/about-bfi/job-opportunities/current-vacancies/conservation-technology-manager

July 7th Neil Pittaway has just pointed out to me a feature on the BBC News website titled Goodbye Television Centre. Well worth a look!

May 9th Duncan Bragg has asked me to remind you all of "Tales of TV Centre".

I've only just left what now limps on as BBC Post Production.
As one of my first freelance jobs, I've just finished a 90 min doc about TVC called 'Tales of Television centre' for BBC4, airing on 17th May. It also gets a preview screening at a sell-out NFT1 on 15th.
Although some of the 'tales' are a little apocryphal and played for the sake of entertainment sometimes (it is a comedy commission after all..) it was made with love and fondness by a small team of TVC diehards, and also contains a far amount of TelRec/VT material, as well as Christmas Tapes! I was editing, the director was Richard Marson, late of Blue Peter editorship most recently.

There are a couple of links:-
http://www.bbc.co.uk/ariel/17868625
http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2012-05-08/tales-of-television-centre--the-inside-story

April 3rd I recently received an email from Simon Ellis who is involved in the disposal of TC contents(!).

"Currently undertaking mass disposal effort of redundant equipment currently languishing in tech stores throughout TVC. No real treasures -I have looked thoroughly! I have sent remaining 1”s to John Ireland and Mike Lambert at BFI Berkhamstead for spares/repair.
I intend to take more pics before destruction/part sale of TVC – need decent camera – not my phone this time!"

  These are the photographs that Simon sent - a view that we never saw!
  B001 up!
  B001
  I suspect that the far corner is VT16, with VT14 & 12 nearest camera. Left hand wall is TX area 2. There's a potential clue in a closeup of the sign over the door centre frame. (see below)
  Closeup
  But I could be wrong.......

March 16th Back in November we posted a set of questions for an SRE (Senior Recording Engineer) Board at the end of May 1980. The idea was to produce the answers at yesterdays Oldboys Lunch at Chorleywood, but, despite Geoff Taylor finding them, I forgot to take them along! So, to put matters right, here are the questions again, with the answers below.
  SRE1980
  SRE answers

January 23rd Chris Williams RIP
  We have just heard the sad news from Russell Williams that his father Chris passed away last Friday, at his home. I understand his family were with him.  The funeral is to be this Thursday, 26th January at Marloes, Pembrokeshire at 3pm, Marloes Church.
For reference there is rail connection from London Paddington at 0745 (arriving 1223 at Haverfordwest) or possibly 0915 arriving 1407. That station is about twenty-five minutes by taxi from Marloes.  The postcode of very near to the church is SA62 3BE.
  (Click Here for a Map)

January 15th Phil Ashby has discovered a F.I.S. - Fortnightly Information Sheet - from September 1973 - which you can view here. Have a close look at the address sheet at the front - it should bring back quite a few memories, as will the description of the Hot Switch!

2011

November 25th Along with the VT Block Diagram (November 24th entry), Geoff also sent me another document concerning the'infamous' erasure of Handel's Messiah around the same time. Apparently the department thought that it had been electronically edited (producing a /ED), and that these were the masters. But it had been cut edited by Roger White and, although edited, they were all that there was.
To read the newspaper clipping with greater ease, click on it and you will pop up an enlargement.
Messiah release

November 24th Pete Christy has just sent me his copy of this 'document' from the 1970s, which prompted Geoff Higgs to rescan the original - below.
Shift register
You can download a pdf of the chart here

While we're at it, here is a little Christmas Quiz for you all to ponder over, supplied by Geoff Taylor:-
SRE1980
 

I will accept answers by email at xmasquiz@bbcvt.co.uk

The results will be available at the Oldboys Spring Lunch at Chorleywood in March and posted here afterwards.

November 7th Neil Pittaway has sent this link to YouTube - if you remember quad machines, you'll be hooked!

October 11th Adrian Bishop Leggat (Bish) writes:-
Most of you will be aware that David Croft died at the end of last month.
A memorial service will be held next February at a church in central London. I realise that this is four months away but, in order to book the right size of venue, the organisers are keen to get an idea of the number of people who might like to attend David's memorial service. Would you be kind enough to e-mail me *privately* with the subject 'David Croft' if you think that, all things being equal, you would like to attend the service next year.
It would be helpful if you could reply by 17 October
. Many thanks Bish

September 23rd

At yesterday's Oldboys Lunch, Dave Bancroft asked the following question:-

"I am engaged in a research project and I have a fundamental question:

When was the term "video" first coined or used? (and where, why and by whom?)

The small print is:

  1. I'm referring only to the use of the word to mean the electrical signal that combines picture (brightness, etc.) information with sync and blanking.  
  2. Since this is an historical investigation, I'm referring only to an analogue signal.
  3. To explain why I want to know the reason why the term came into being, I am particularly interested in its replacement for earlier or alternative terms such as: the "television signal," the "picture signal" or the "vision signal."
  4. I have my suspicions: I suspect the term of being American in origin, we Brits clinging on to "vision" for as long as we could, as in "vision mixer," and "vision control supervisor."
  5. The Wikipedia entry associates "video" exclusively with recording; I'm pretty sure that's wrong. For example, my Amos and Birkinshaw "Television Engineering," Vol. 1, defines the "video signal" on page 5; the book was first published in 1953, well before the video tape era.
  6. The OED apparently says the first usage appeared in 1951 in the New York Times, but Webster's dictionary says 1937 (So, were Zworykin, Blumlein, et al using "video" in the 1930's? Did Baird use the term before that, or did it not come into existence until electronic scanning displaced mechanical scanning?).
  7. The most convincing answers will be those that involve human folly, greed, impatience, or some other weakness!
  8. This is not a quiz! I really don't know the answer!

Thoughts, answers etc to Dave Bancroft


August 25th The Home page has been subtly (I hope!) altered to make sense of some of the items. The old Memories has been renamed Do You Remember, and Recollections has been moved to its own place below Obituaries and re-titled Remembrances. In the process the counter and the update date have moved to the bottom right of the page. I don't think anything got broken as a result of this! The Site Map now needs a refresh as well.

August 6th You may notice a small change to the Home page. The right hand column - Future Events etc - is now titled REFERENCE. This makes more sense than the original heading of Utitlites - thanks to Geoff Higgs for his suggestion which puts Obituaries under a more appropriate heading..

June 1st ROY VITTY RIP
  We have just learned from his wife, Betty, that Roy died last weekend.
 
  Unfortunately we have to let you know that Roy died at the weekend following a short battle with cancer.

The funeral details are as follows:

Wednesday 8th June 1.00pm
Chilterns Crematorium
Whielden Lane
Amersham
Bucks
HP7 0ND
(click here for a map)

Instead of flowers we are accepting donations to both Iain Rennie Hospice at Home and Sue Ryder who were both a great help to Roy during his illness. Donations can be sent to the funeral director at:

Arnold Funeral Service
891 London Road
Loudwater
High Wycombe
Bucks
HP10 9TB

If you are in contact with any other BBC colleagues who you think would like to be made aware then please feel free to pass on this information.
Best Wishes,
Betty, David and Andrew
.

April 21st Details of Dave's funeral have just come in from his son Martin. (click here for a map)
  It will be on Tuesday 3rd May at 1230 at the Breakspear Crematorium, Breakspear Road, Ruislip HA4 7SJ
Martin says if anyone would like to say any words about Dave at the funeral, they are most welcome to do so. Please let Martin know in advance - tel 07878 622633.
There will be refreshments after the funeral at the family home:
239 The Fairway
Eastcote
Ruislip, HA4 0SN

April 19th DAVE JONES RIP
  We have just learned, from his son, Martin, the sad news that Dave passed away earlier today after a short illness. More information in due course as we get it.

April 14th Further to April 9th's note, I have begun to change the videos to 720x576 - see Latest Updates for news of which ones I have done so far. They also have had play/spool etc pop-up controls added.

April 9th Two pieces of good news today for a change. Firstly, vtoldboys.com has got bigger - a lot bigger. Our webspace, hosted by 1and1.co.uk has now become unlimited...... So, look out for larger videos and higher resolution pictures in future, as well as even more reminiscences!!
Secondly - this one for the, hermm, older Oldboys, there has been contact from the legendary Tony Makepeace (see the Guest Book).
Sadly though, my return email to him bounced, so, if you read this Tony, please contact me directly!

April 8th MARTIN WEBSTER RIP
. Martin Webster passed away in London on 27 March after a long battle with motor neuron disease. He was 56. I have added Stuart Storey's obituary on the Sports Journalists Association website to The Credits, Obituaries.

January 23rd

Bill TuckerSome month's ago, following Bob Oakley's "Story of Film Recording", I threw down the challenge to some of the ex Telecine Oldboys to produce a similar thing.
Bill Tucker has now come up with two excellent pieces, "Bill Tucker at the BBC, and Life as a TK Operator, both of which you will find in The 1960s.
(Additional detail supplied by John Crane, Lawford Thomas and Jim Tucker)

Bill, pictured right driving TK1 at Lime Grove, covers the years from 1951 to 1988, and the story overlaps nicely with Arthur Dungate's Direct Television from Alexandra Palace, which you can find in the 1950s.

 

 

   
January 20th Following Ray Johnson's funeral today, I have now added his Obituary to Memories, Recollections. An edited version (for duration) should hopefully appear in the March edition of Prospero.

  NORMAN TAYLOR RIP
January 19th

Latest news of Norman's cremation:-

Norman's Cremation Service will be at Woking Crematorium, Hermitage Road, St. Johns, Woking. GU21 8TJ
on Wednesday 26th January at 3.30pm, 2 miles from the centre of Woking.

(Click Here for a Map)

January 14th More sad news, I'm afraid. I heard last night from Mike Bunting, via Brian Woodfield, that Norman Taylor died yesterday (January 13th) of a heart attack at Southampton Station.

January 7th I am now adding all thoughts about Ray to a new page in Memories, Recollections as they come in.

January 6th RAY JOHNSON RIP

January 1st VTDave Devlin was watching the "Two Ronnies, the studio recordings" just before Christmas and spotted some shots of VT and TK in the titles. The material was shot around the late 70s, and I have grabbed a few stills.

An edited version of the title sequence can be found in VT on TV just below the Dudley Moore and Peter Cook titles.

Can anyone out there remember being part of the show? Or, recognise this VT operator?

  TKWere you the TK operator?
  SoundAnyone recognise the Sound Supervisor?
  GalleryAnd, finally, any familiar faces in the gallery?
 
  Along with the DVD of the programme, Dave sent this C Course exam paper he sat in June 1970 - apologies for the missing corner, but it is over 40 years old!!!
 
C Course
 
C Course

2010

December 19th The two remembrances of Dan George and Rob Deacon are now available in Memories, Recollections.

December 10th More sad news in recent days.
 
  DAN GEORGE RIP
 
  ROB DEACON RIP

December 4th Along with pictures of the Surbiton Lunch, Rod Green has sent me the photograph below of the new Salford Quays development - thanks very much, Rod.
 
Salford Quays

November 6th Bob Oakley has dug out this job advertisement from 1970, some 8½ years prior to Ian Williams' editor's advert on October 5th.
Engineers job advert

October 16th Gary Critcher has just sent me this picture of ..... Tape Servicing. Although for many of us this bears no relationship to our experience of Tape Servicing in the early days, it has prompted me to add a new section explaining the development of servicing tape which will most likely appear shortly as on offshoot of Hardware. The photo, featuring Gary and a load of kit(!) was taken in the Tape Servicing area in the Basement next door to VT Despatch. Gary reckons the date is around 1985.
As my experience of servicing was twenty years earlier(!) any additional information and pictures from over the years would be greatly appreciated - especially any technical notes about the machinery used, and locations for the area.
Tape Servicing 1985

October 9th This is from Roger Allen after discussion with Richard (Roger's brother):
Friends and former colleagues are welcome to attend. As I said, I made the arrangements when it looked as if no-one could make it.  It'll still be very simple: watch the coffin go into the flames. Unless someone feels like speechifying......
(Date, time & location - see below)

October 8th Information about Roger Harvey's funeral has just come in from John Llewellyn.
"Roger's funeral is on Friday 15th October, 09.40 at Kingston Crematorium. At the moment the plans are family only; no flowers. This might change. Cause of death was heart-failure. Please pass this information on and I will send further e-mails if I hear of any developments."
John has a failry vast distribution list and we wlll try and keep you up to date here as well.

Wrong Geoff! I've just received an email from Geoff Taylor (Shift 1 boss at the time) :-
"I was never one for keeping a detailed diary, but often jotted down the highlights of GMcDonough’s message from the day before, as relayed on audio cassette. For what it’s worth, on 31 October 1978, I find the entry  “Editor:KP”.  So the money’s on Ken Pimenta getting the job, unless someone knows better!" Over to you Ken!!!

October 5th After the sad news of the past couple of months, Ian Williams has cheered me up a bit with this job advertisement from 1978 - I'm looking for a permanent home for it, most likely in Editing.
However, before that, does anyone out remember applying for that job? It closed on September 5th 1978.
As a memory jogger, this was shortly after the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Alberta - perhaps Geoff Higgs can recall the board - he was a boss then!.
Editors job

The two remembrances of RDH and Henry are now available in Memories, Recollections, along with further recollections of colleagues who are no longer with us.

September 22nd Roger Harvey (RDH) RIP

August 11th Grahame (Henry) Gibson RIP

2009

December 4th You may notice a change in the appearance of the Visitor's Counter on the main page/s. Mid afternoon today I had just finished uploading the pictures from yesterdays excellent Christmas Lunch at Surbiton, when I noticed that instead of the counter there was an error message. Further investigation that two counters had in fact died - both old cgi scripts. In the end I just replaced them, but we've lost the official visitor count, which was in the mid 66,000s. I have guessed at 66500 for the restart!!!

October 18th I've spent a few days checking for inconsistencies in our pages that cause problem in Internet Explorer 8. The search arose from a problem with Nick Martin's 40s & 50s Reunion website - do visit it if you haven't yet for details of the Tel Rec & Friends Christmas Lunch at Surbiton on December 3rd. When I uploaded the latest version, none of the menus appeared(!) in IE8 which was, to say the least, a problem. Research revealed a tag to force IE8 into IE7 compatability mode and that was fixed, but, in the process, I discovered that several of the Oldboys pages didn't work as expected either.
So, I have been through every page and, hopefully, sorted out the problem - I only hope nothing else was broken in the process. If anyone discovers anything amiss, please send me an email (I know my regular 'monitors' do this anyway).

October 16th The latest addition is a Scroll of Honour collected by Denis Wyatt following the great leaving in June 2009. I've also added emails to the Contacts where provided. It would be nice to see some of the newly enrolled "Oldboys" (or girls) at one of the Lunches throughout the year. Our next is at Guildford on November 5th so that might be the ideal opportunity to come along and meet a lot of old friends.

September 18th CBI've just added the latest set of photographs from yesterday's A40 Faction Oldboys Lunch at Chorleywood. A really super turnout with excellent food and service at "The Stag" - if you haven't been before, do come along somewhen. You can find full details in Future Events.
During the final 'accounting' phase, Stan Pow took this photograph of me with a pile of money on the table in front of me - I'm not sure if my look of surprise comes from the cash or the fact that John Paroussi is actually handing out money! And he was on time as well!! Don't forget that the next Oldboys Lunch will be at Guildford on Thursday, November 5th (should go with a bang!), and that the Tel Rec & Friends Christmas Lunch will be at Surbiton on Thursday, December 3rd. As ever, details can be found in Future Events.

June 24th

Bob AbrahamsI've just added Bob Abraham's Obituary to the website. A sad item to read, as are all obituaries, but it does bring back memories of the Moscow Olympics in 1980. The security was very tight - VT had a mini rebellion over cameras (film) being x-rayed every time we entered or left a building, but Bob spent the entire games with a photograph of a gorilla on his Olympic ID. The VT movie, "Bob AbrahamsCarry on Cosmos" captured the moment when Bob gives the IOC President, Lord Killanin, with a BBC pin (left).


 


And, although the material has a chequered history, Ikegami > VPR20 > VPR2 > VHS > DVD you can just about see the gorilla in the circled area of the second picture on the right.!


May 16th Just got in from holiday in Devon and received this handy tip for all you VT gardeners:- Hello all,
 Father-in-law was a very keen gardener and, like me, recycler. He must have been the only man to tie up his tomatoes with 2" videotape stretched lengthways to make it into a very strong cord!
Regards Ant, Audio Unit Pebble Mill So, if any of you have other uses for quad tape (apart from recording on!) drop me an email! (Chris B)

May 3rd VERA lives!! I've just received this from Tony Carter.

VERA 2009Hi Chris - you might remember that some months ago I emailed you to tell you that the name of VERA lives on at BBC Westminster. I took a couple of pictures of it last night for you to see and although it's not terribly spectacular, it is at least good to know that it's always referred to as VERA and appears as such on the touchscreen routing panels.
Basically, it constantly records a special feed of News 24 (now called News Channel)  at Westminster.  It's recording the TVC studio output with Astons but minus the embedded onscreen clock, so that if News Channel ever have to do an emergency evacuation, the last hour of the News Channel is available to maintain channel output.
There are two recorders, one in Millbank TX and the other in the Millbank Record Bank, hence TX VERA and RB VERA on the router buttons.
The machines VERA on router buttonsthemselves are both Packard Bell EHR 2080 Hard Drive recorders, and incredibly, even though they record 24/7 with the hard drive thrashing away constantly, they just seem to keep going!
No men in white coats painstakingly adjusting things on VERA 2009 alas, it just sits there unattended year in year out, but on the couple of occasions it has been used in anger, it did keep News24 running until they could recover!


April 24th I'm currently updating our movies from Windows Media to Flash. They seem (to me) to play better and load quicker as well. An additional bonus is that the aspect ratio seems to be handled better and they are a larger picture. If anyone has any problems/comments, please let me know!

March 21st While doing a regular check of the Links page recently, I noticed that the Museum of Editing, Jack Calaway's site, had disappeared. This was a fascinating site describing some of the 'devices' that were used in the early days of editing. As well as Datatron, CMX and Convergence (the ECS103 -"beep ... VTRs not in sync" - unforgettable if you experienced it!) there is a fascinating page on the editing of "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-in". Thanks once more to the Internet Wayback Machine I have recovered 99% of it and restored the item on the Links page. Sadly Jack died eighteen months or so ago, and I have been trying to contact names of collaborators mentioned on the site, but to no avail. So, as a tribute to Jack Calaway who many of you may well have met, it is restored to its original state.

January 9th A belated Happy New Year to everyone! Regular readers will recall the discovery of the majority of the lost Direct TV from Alexandra Palace website in the Internet Archive in September last year (September 9th's entry is the start of the tale). Subsequently I managed to fill in some of the missing pieces (December 14th entry) and thought that was the best I could do.
Just before Christmas I received a letter from Arthur and, after contacting him, received a CD-ROM with the last complete vesion of the whole site. This has now been uploaded with its original format and navigation, so go and explore!

2008

December 24th DougFirst of all, to all those of you of a 'certain' age...... MERRY CHRISTMAS VT! and, to everyone who doesn't know the phrase, Happy Christmas and the very best for 2009! The picture opposite is from the "Blue Peter Book of Television". It is part of a photograph of the Blue Peter presenters queuing for a cuppa in the Tea Bar outside TC3 (Red?). However, the face in the back of the queue is also very familiar - it's Doug (Parsons). Quite a surprise and rather nice to have a shot of him - even if it is a bit grainy. The only other picture of him is a blurred frame in Alan Edgington's 8mm film of the area.

December 14th Thanks to Patrick Collins and Nigel Finnis, I think I should be able to fill in the missing bits of Arthur Dungate's AP website that was salvaged in September. Also I hope to add more Lime Grove pictures in the new year.

November 10th At the recent Oldboys Lunch at Guildford, Dennis Collett gave me a CD-Rom of photographs he took in Munich in 1972 (That's 36 years ago!). Whilst the main section in Trips desccribes the area and machines, these other pictures bring back many memories to those who actually went there. Additionally I have just got to grips with Photoshop's Web Gallery Automation, and so I have added a Munich Gallery and a Brisbane Gallery. I shall be going through the rest of the vast collection of photographs I have received and add more Galleries over the Winter.

October 1st Aubrey Singer and Ron BowmanThe picture on the right was sent to me by Bernie (Newnham) who has it posted on the Tech Ops site (you can find a link in Links).
He asked us if we could identify the VT person on the left of the picture.
After an exchange of emails, Ron Bowman confesses to being that man! I quote:-
I cannot tell a lie - it's me with hair! The occasion was the review of an early episode of Your Life in Their Hands. It looks like we are having a matey chat but he barely spoke to me. At a guess I'd say it was VT7.

September 18th Excellent lunch at The Stag today with a very good turnout. I'm afraid pictures will not be available for another week. The date for the next Lunch, at Guildford, will be Thursday, November 6th - details are in Future Events.

September 13th Direct Television from Alexandra Palace is now as complete as it can be at the moment. Navigation should now work properly and we have managed to recover some more pictures. Do visit the Internet Archive which is a fascinating project and has enabled us to recover these valuable memories.

September 12th The Direct Television from Alexandra Palace web site that I mentioned below has now been relocated to its own domain. I managed to get www.bbctv-ap.co.uk which mimics fairly well its original home with Freeserve. I have tidied up the formatting and navigation and found a few of the missing pictures from our own archives. I have already received offers of more information and, possibly, some of the pictures that are missing. The link from here is as before in Links, but I have renamed it to Direct Television from Alexandra Palace. There are a lot of familiar names (and experiences) that VT Oldboys will recall.

September 9th Ed Wooden has just reminded me that, for several of us, today marks the 45th Anniversary of joining the BBC at Wood Norton......
Also, I have just posted a new link in Links - doesn't sound that exciting, but it marks the successful conclusion of a search that has taken Howard and I a couple of years or so! Visitors may remember that we had a link to a fascinating site by Arthur Dungate which chronicled his BBC career at AP and Lime Grove in TK and Film Dubbing. Some time ago I received emails reporting the link to his site as broken and, after emails and much searching, realised it had disappeared and all those memories with it.
A week ago John Dickenson passed onto Neil Pittaway the URL of an organisation who have been "archiving the internet". A search there discovered the majority of Arthur's website which I have downloaded and re-assembled as best I can.
Visit the link Memories of Alexandra Palace and have a look. Apologies for missing images, broken links and random formatting, but I felt the site was too valuable not to publish as it is. I shall return to tidying it up later on ...... honest, Geoff....:-)

August 29th
Neil & I have spent the last couple of weeks sorting through Don Kershaw's collection of books, manuals, memos, brochures and machine records. Don was always planning to write the definitive history of the department, but, sadly, never managed it. Mark you, seeing the vast amount of raw material he kept, it would have been a herculean task! Brochures marks the start of publishing this material and, today, while going through another box, we found this at the head of a list of machine acquisitions.
BBC week

An innocuous document which recalls the fact that BBC week numbers did not match normal week numbers!!!

August 4th Obituaries section added to The Credits. As well as the Bryan Cowgill obituaries below, I have placed Neil's appreciation of Don Kershaw and two old obituaries of Ian Macnaughton and Dennis Main Wilson.

July 23rd Neil Pittaway has found two more Bryan Cowgill obituaries at the Times online and the Independent. I have also (hopefully) grabbed the pages for posterity as Bryan's BBC career was so closely intertwined with VT.

July 22nd Ian Williams has just pointed out to me this page in the online Guardian recording the passing of Bryan Cowgill.

July 14th I have finally added the real TA19 photograph to ETD, thanks to Dave Baldwin who sent me a copy which had the original typed list of names on it. So, perhaps, our old TA19 really was C52 Part 1?

June 1st Dave Rixon has found the missing page of his cartoon "Computer Catastrophes". Afficianodos of Dave's work can now see JV339 (John Vigar) utter the imortal phrase "Christ I'm screwed" (I have that in Russian somewhere!) and visit Chad's Caravan Sales (sorry Chad). For those who haven't looked at the cartoons, do so for they are not only funny but an inspired piece of social history (honest!).

May 30th A wonderful turnout of Oldboys attended Don's funeral today at Hemel Hempstead. Although the circumstances were very sad it was good to see so many 'old' faces.
I have now moved Neil's appreciation of Don to a permanent place in Thoughts attached to his "History of Tel Rec".

May 23rd A sad day for the VT Oldboys with the death of Don Kershaw who many of us knew and respected all our working lives and into the days of retirement. Neil Pittaway has written an appreciation which you can find from the main menu pages. Rest in peace Don.

May 16th A major update with the first 50 (or so) of the course photos from the Wood Norton DVD. This has also meant a major rejig of the ETD section with separate sections for TA Course, C Courses etc. I have also removed the jump menus which became totally unmanageable.

May 1st Finally the DVD from Wood Norton has arrived - thanks to John Paroussi and Royal Mail! Just to give a taster of the course photos, here is C Part 2 Course 125 Group C - no dates, but at least two familiar faces for VT Oldboys..............
C Part 2 Course 125

Over the next month, or so, the ETD section will therefore be expanding ........... quite a bit!!


April 30th

AP Reunion 2008 If you saw the article in Prospero and then emailed Norman Taylor, you will have discovered that the address is printed incorrectly.
So..... There will be a reunion for all ex-Alexandra Palace staff at AP on Wednesday June 4th 2008. The cost of lunch will be £25. If you need more details please email Norman at the correct address - normantaylor2@aol.com


April 22nd Technicians WeekHaving forgotten to wish VERA a Happy Anniversary on Monday 14th (the 50th Anniversary of the Panorama Transmission), I have since applied myself to catching up with the photos I have been recently sent, and trying to tidy up some of the errors that have come to light on various pages - I must thank Howard once more for his input here. I have added a News section to the 1960s and more course photos to ETD. Chris Dymond has sent me the picture here - it might well bring a few smiles and remind Shift 1 VT folk of Edgie's "Detweak" tests.....! Click the poster for a bigger picture. I have also added a new page to Programmes, VT on TV, featuring stills and an excerpt (1'53") from a film made by Peter Bruce about Match of the Day. I must apologise about the quality as it come to me via a devious route. If anyone has a good quality version, please let me know.


March 24th Our document archive is increasing by the day. I've just added Dave Braithwaite's notes on the HS-100 from 1968. Like all paperwork in those days, it was produced in foolscap format, so the 'modern' version doesn't look quite the same, as the original wouldn't fit fully in my scanner! These old instructions and memos do provide a valuable historical record of the developments in the department, but I will not be scanning the Intersync manual by the way.

March 22nd I mentioned documents of interest a few days ago on this page and, today, I have added what is probably the definitive document on the art of videotape editing. It was written in May 1966 by Alan Watkins and marked the beginning of the departments editing service and the appointment of Engineers (Editing). It's in Downloads and is entitled Principles & Practice of Video Tape Editing.

March 21st The Martin family(!), who organise the annual Christmas Lunch at Surbiton and other events for Radio, now have a dedicated website at www.40sand50sreunion.co.uk which has contact details and information on forthcoming events. Do pop over and have a look as their contribution to the continuing contact between 'us oldies' (and the newer retirees) is enormous. Do come to an event - you never know who you might meet!

March 18th We seem to be getting quite a few documents of interest. I have just added a pdf of a handout by Jeremy Brown on the AVR2 Time Base Corrector which is in the Downloads section. Also I have added a link (in Links) to a website that features vintage tape recorders including our much loved TR90. More documentation to follow in the next few days.

March 13th Excellent A40 Faction lunch at Chorleywood today with a very good turnout. Pictures available soon.

February 12th Howard Dell has discovered a fascinating website, from the University of Hull, which has very detailed information about the "Play for Today". Many of the (erm) older visitors will find this very interesting indeed.

February 5th
From Cliff White via John Vigar comes this picture of PTA1 - it's their 50th Anniversary this year. PTA1

Back Row,  Left to Right

Osborne J.F.V.P., James F.A.F., Lock R.C.,  Pulford R.C., Howse D.J., Cranefield D.H., Williams M.B.,  Brindley A.J.,     Bird P.

Middle Row,  Left to Right

Dunmall D.R., Mount D.J.,  Hiscox R.E.,  Lewis R., Lawson J.L.,  Bartlett M.J., Wynne J.W.,  Vigar A.J.  Palmer J.A
Front Row,  Left to Right

Thomas D.P.,  Tristem D.J.,  Gittins R.W., Hussey A.G., White C.J., Mead P.E.J.

I am attaching a photograph of a group of young men who joined the BBC back in 1958. We were among the first ever school-leavers in this country who did not have to do National Service.
Until then, the BBC always took on engineering staff who had a Services or University background, so we were the very first eighteen-year-olds to be employed by BBC Television.

This happened on Monday 13th October 1958, when what became known as “Junior PTA Course Number One” were given a weeks introductory tour of all the engineering departments in London, then dispersed to London and the Regions to become pioneers (and guinea-pigs!) in the task of educating youngsters to the highest levels of BBC Engineering standards.

Half a century later, of course, a very special anniversary is looming, and some of us were wondering if the BBC itself would be interested in helping us to celebrate this momentous occasion by organising a grand reunion. We would obviously need a lot of assistance from the BBC and the BBC Pensioners Association to track down the whereabouts of all the (surviving) members of
this very first intake, and perhaps a little bit of sponsorship in arranging a date and a venue would be nice, too!

In the first instance I would be grateful if you could publish this letter and photo in Ariel, Prospero, and on the Heritage website and then, depending on the response we get, we will take the project up to the next level.

 
Cliff White cliffwhite27@hotmail.co.uk
  And, of course, one name in the middle row is very familiar to VT staff of a certain age!!

January 28th Tony Vincent (Shift 2 1981 to 1986) would love to hear from anyone who remembers him - email address in Contacts

January 22nd Ed Wooden is after a Technical Instruction (or circuit) for an MNA/3 or PTM/9 valve driven PPM and test box. Details and a contact are in Wanted.

January 14th Keith Graham (see entry for December 16th) has sent me a couple of pictures of the Ampex sign from ground level. You can find a link to them from Beginnings, Ampex, and click on AMPEX sign at the bottom of the page, or go direct from here!

January 1st Happy New Year to All! Remember that 2008 marks the 50th Anniversary of VERA's first transmission in April 1958.

2007

December 20th May I wish all Oldboys and visitors a very "Merry Christmas, VT!", and put on record my thanks to Howard Dell & Geoff Higgs for their stirling work in checking (and finding) errors and typos on the website. Also, a big thanks to all of you, worldwide, who have sent me stories, pictures, clips and reminiscences - without you there would be no oldboys website.

Those of you who are already members of the BBC Pensioners Association may have seen the reference to this website in the latest Newsletter. Nick Whines, who is the Association's Secretary, has asked if I can point out the advantages of being a member, and to this end I have added a link to their website on the Links page.

December 16th Apologies to any visitor getting strange Search results (see also December 14th). The deletion of the old website files didn't totally solve this problem, but I think/hope that it has now been fixed. The odd results appear to have also been caused by the failure of the search facility to erase old cached data. I've had a serious word with it and things should be improved - but it may take a few days to sort itself out.

Ampex signIn the Guest Book, Keith Graham mentioned the original Ampex factory in Redwood City and the sign. I have asked Keith to get a ground level photo of it in the New Year for the record, but, for the time being, here it is courtesy of Microsoft Virtual Earth. Its actual location is at 1228 Douglas, Redwood City, California.

December 14th
Today marks the end of the link to the original Oldboys website, and all its files have been removed from the server. This has been causing problems with our search engine and producing rather weird results.
The old link button had been renamed Happenings, and I hope to provide a, sort of, diary here recording the odd contacts and information that has no specific place on the website. So do check in regularly! New information will be added at the top so there shouldn't be too much scrolling. Everything will be kept.

Syd LotterbyHoward (Dell) reports that, on Thursday, he had a very good lunch with, amongst others, Syd Lotterby (right)
On the subject of lunches, the next A40 Faction lunch has been set for Thursday, March 13th 2008 at the usual venue, The Stag at Chorleywood. You can find full details in Future Events.

At the recent Christmas Lunch at Surbiton, John Martin asked me to promote the next 40s & 50s (and others!) lunch at Glenmore House on May 22nd 2008. More details when we get them. Nick Martin is hoping to produce some pages for this website detailing future events.


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