Presentation Studio A, on the fourth-and-a-half floor of Television Centre, was where the trailers were made, voiced and transmitted for many years. Many happy, though sometimes fraught evenings were spent with people like Ray Moore, John Braban and Alan Dedicoat, popping down the club now and then for a glass of Tantine (an evil red wine that Ray liked). It was also the home of the weather forecast.
Cameramen were, for most of this time, rotated up to Pres for three months at a time. If they ended up in Pres B, next door, they worked mostly on Late Night Line Up and its spin-offs, the most famous being The Old Grey Whistle Test. This could be great fun, noisy, and sometimes historic. Not many cameramen, let alone anyone else, can say they have worked in a room not much bigger than the average living room with Bob Marley, Joe Cocker or Jimi Hendrix at full blast.
Pres A was rather more peaceful, apart from the odd noise from next door interrupting live weather forecasts. Most of the work, until caption generators came along, consisted of helping to hang strips of caption paper on boards with magnetic strips. Each strip would have the name of a programme, and the cameramen would pan down from one to the next during the making of the trail. This boring activity did not entirely stretch the abilities of the average cameraman, so they filled in time doing other things - Pete Cleveley built an Acorn computer, Jeff Goodwin (in rather less time) invented LOPS, a device for remote-starting the (mechanical) VT clock consisting of a Long Operational Piece of String.
In the evenings the crew of three was generally reduced to one -"the late man" - who had the challenge of operating all three cameras one after the other on the late weather. It wasn't too difficult to keep up, but you had to shift around the studio in absolute silence. Pres A was the last place in the BBC to enjoy the dubious delights of the enormous Marconi Mk 7 cameras, which had been moved up there from TC7.
Personally, I can't complain much about working in Pres A, because as a person with no theatre or whatever experience, and no degree, it was the only area of production I could reasonably try to get in to. Eventually I did, and spent many years in the gallery of Pres A putting together trails of my own. (And many more hours in VT hacking the clips together - see www.oldboys.dabsol.co.uk) .
Some time in the late 80's I borrowed one of the new Hi8 cameras from news and walked around the Presentation department recording "the way it was". Recently I found a VHS copy of this (unique record etc) and lifted some stills and video. Sadly, not only are some of the people featured in the video now dead, but the whole area, including slightly historic Pres B, is now gone, converted into transmission areas which are themselves soon to be redundant.
There are very few records of the area, so I make no apology for the low quality of the pictures shot in semi-darkness.
|Pres A gallery
Assistant Producers Kate Ayers and Gay Maguire.
Adrian Bishop-Laggett is invisibly on sound at the far end, and PA Sandra Gelding's hand is in the foreground
|The Grass Valley mixer
This was the largest and most complex vision mixer in the world, and was the envy of the sports department, who were used to getting the best of everything, and couldn't do some of the things we could without hours of expensive editing
The weather person knew when to stop talking by someone putting their figure at a point on this clock "Weather out at the next 30" meant put your figure over the 6.
Crude? low-tech? Yes, but it worked - except once when I did it wrong - oh, embarrassment!
The Autocue showed not words, but the composite picture of weatherperson plus chroma-keyed map
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|A few well-remembered words
If you ever worked in Pres A, you've heard this a thousand times. Voices are Sandra Gelding and Gay Maguire.
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