AP mast (2K)

DIRECT TELEVISION from ALEXANDRA PALACE

by Arthur Dungate

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Lime Grove Studios

It was sometime in 1954 that television's Central Control moved from AP to Lime Grove in Shepherds Bush, London, where it became known as Presentation, - and was in the new Studio P (sometimes referred to as Studio "Pee-pee", but that's another story).

Lime Grove in the 1950s (11K)

The studios at Lime Grove, originally the Gainsborough Film Studios had been bought by the BBC in 1949 to be used as a "temporary" home for tv studios which needed to be much larger than the two tiny ones at AP. This was while the purpose-designed Television Centre near the former White City stadium in west London was being built. In the event, Lime Grove was in use for 41 years.

The studios were probably unique in that in order for construction to be contained within the tight confines of the site - between the street of Lime Grove and the Metropolitan railway, the sound stages had been built on top of each other. Thus the building was a rabbit warren of passages, stairs and corridors in which one could easily get lost, as there were so many different ways to get from one place to another.....

Lime Grove (9K)

The "rabbit warren" --

   
inside Lime Grove (5K) inside Lime Grove (4K) inside Lime Grove (6K)
inside Lime Grove (7K) inside Lime Grove (4K)
inside Lime Grove (4K) inside Lime Grove (4K) Lime Grove at night (3K)
Lime Grove (8K)

The houses next to the studios were used as offices. Not an unusual situation, the BBC had "offices" in many places in London.

After the move to Lime Grove, Presentation took over the Tuning Signals which then came from cards. On the left of the picture is the clock, known affectionately as "Little Ben", while next to it is the tuning signal card which had a real clockface so that even for unusual transmission starting times, the correct time could be shown. The camera on the right of the picture, could look at either as required.

Little Ben and Tuning Signal card (8K)

We in Central Telecine stayed on for a while at AP, sending film programmes down the line, until we, too, were moved to Lime Grove and the Cintel film scanners were dismantled and went back to Cinema-Television for refurbishment, and the addition of a third scanner before being re-installed in the new Cintel Telecine Suite at the Grove. At this time (19 March 1954) a programme went out called "Thankyou Ally Pally" to commemorate its close down. However, it was to "close down" several more times over the next few years!

EMI telecine room, Lime Grove (7K)

There were two EMI telecine machines at Lime Grove, they weren't as good as Cintel (although to say so could provoke heated arguments.....), and they looked as if they'd been built using kitchen cupboard and refrigerator doors..... and on these we ran the morning Demfilm for a period until a single Cintel machine was temporarily hired, just to run the Demfilm, thus freeing the EMI machines for other purposes, studio rehearsals for example.

Unlike the Cintels, which had both machines in the same room, as a single operational system, the EMI telecines were in separate, although adjacent rooms making individual use feasible.

Each comprised both a 35mm and a 16mm scanner, although only one film gauge could be used at any one time.
The 16mm scanner is on the left of the control desk, and the 35mm on the right. Although I, personally, preferred the Cintel telecine, the EMI did have the picture monitor screen at eye level!

EMI telecine at Lime Grove (6K)

The hired Cintel was multi-standard, and one day I switched it over to 625 lines, just to see, but since the Cintel 405 line system was so good, I didn't see any real increase in picture quality.

In the days when Central Control was at AP, each programme source had its own sync-pulse generator and so it wasn't possible to mix pictures from different sources.

But at Lime Grove all sources were synced from a master pulse generator. Except the multi-standard Cintel. And one day someone in Presentation forgot this and tried to fade from a studio picture to Cintel. What went out on the air was a lot of little unsynchronised Cintel pictures flying all over the screen....!

little pics (3K)

Since the Demfilm was now being run on only this one machine, it meant that when each 2,000ft reel had gone through, we had to stop. Then, while I was changing the reels, Presentation would show Test Card C from a Monoscope.

Hop Day (5K)

One day, though, I'd got over confident, and, just before 10 o'clock I buzzed up to Presentation that all was ready, and at 10 seconds to the hour, started the film. To my horror, instead of the expected Houses of Parliament opening and Big Ben, another sequence came up.....

So I hurriedly stopped it, changed to the correct reel, but then had to run it through the opening, since it was now well past 10 o clock..... This took many minutes, since in those days telecine scanners could not run "fast forward". Next day I was called before the EIC of Lime Grove (Engineer-in-Charge) and put on the carpet. So Big Headed Arthur wasn't infallable after all..... It took a while to live that one down.

dejected telecine operator (3K)

Western Approaches - before colour television
Since the flying spot telecine machines were designed to run only black & white film, when a colour feature film was to be shown, a lot of effort was spent in trying to get a special black & white print for the television showing. This was because the Cintel scanners had blue scanning tubes, and the EMI scanners green ones.

Main title of film (4K)

This problem was emphasized when the 1944 Crown Film Unit film "Western Approaches" was to be shown and a b&w print was not available. The introductory titles were red letters on a blue background, and were practically invisible on the telecine scanners.....

Crown Film Unit logo (3K)
Intro title pt 1 (5K)

So the beginning of the film had to be run beforehand in the Dubbing Theatre and the words of the titles noted down, to be spoken as a Voice Over on transmission. When, in the 1980s the film was shown on colour television, that problem no longer existed.

Intro title pt2 (5K)
J. Redmond and crew (5K)

Working in the BBC's Planning & Installation Dept was an engineer called James Redmond. During World War II he had been a radio operator in the Merchant Navy and had taken part in Western Approaches, as all the cast in the film were serving officers and men.

He got his leg pulled whenever the film was shown on television.

However, he later became the BBC's Director of Engineering. (see Wikipedia)

J. Redmond (5K)
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