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BBC 1 Regional Continuity Announcements

Posted: Thu Sep 15, 2016 7:36 am
by Focus II
I was reminded of this in the "Star Trek" thread. The peak time English regional continuity started I think in 1974. In the North East the standard blue/black globe was used with "Colour" replaced by "North East".

In 1975 when the blue and yellow globe was introduced they retained the old style with the blue area becoming brown. This lasted for a short time before it changed to yellow and blue with "North East" below the large BBC 1 lettering.

All too often the main London globe would appear with an abrupt cut in of the NE version with Tom Kilgour announcing, "This is BBC 1 for the North East and Cumbria". In all its forms the mechanical globe always ran faster than the London version.

I wonder why they went as far as to use regional continuity at peak times? It did cause many problems such as the "Star Trek" intro cross fade previously mentioned. By the early '80s this was abandoned in favour of London continuity except for local news as it is today.

Re: BBC 1 Regional Continuity Announcements

Posted: Thu Sep 15, 2016 4:41 pm
by Bob Richardson
BBC regional continuity opts were in theory fully automated. The feed from London incorporated a pulse known technically as ICE (Insertion Communication Equipment). The regional continuity desk could be run in two modes: Auto or Manual. When Tom Kilgour (lovely man, much missed) had his desk in Auto, the cut from a VT trail, AV caption etc in London would automatically trigger his regional symbol without a flash frame of the London version. In reality, ICE was a bit temperamental, so a FDU (fade down and up) or mix would not trigger the regional globe until the vision signal had reached a certain level, hence a gallimaufry of flash frames across the UK from London - UNLESS the regional desk was in manual mode, which allowed Tom, George House or my old pal the late John Kyle to "ride" the mix or do a manual cut at black-level to pre-empt the appearance of the London symbol.

Most BBC regional announcers were utterly brilliant, speaking AND vision/sound mixing simultaneously (David Stephens in Birmingham springs to mind) although very occasionally it could look as if they were playing the piano out of vision.

If London did a quick mix (4 secs max) into the starfield at the beginning of the Star Trek titles there was still about 3-4 secs of clean starfield before the Enterprise appeared in frame, giving the regions time to do their own. It could work beautifully and I've sat next to John Kyle in the old Newcastle BH continuity area and watched him do it. A London Star Trek mix was popular because it looked so good, but there were a few network directors who occasionally dawdled, messing things up for the regions.

The in-vision continuity area in Newcastle was an interesting set-up. It was alongside the main "Look North" studio, and a rectangular hole had been cut in the wall. When "Look North" came off air a cameraman would trundle his camera across the floor and poke the lens through the hole where the duty announcer sat, locking it off. The camera crew all went home after "Look North" (or joined Mike Neville in the BBC Club around the corner) and a duty engineer remained with the announcer until close-down.

Re: BBC 1 Regional Continuity Announcements

Posted: Thu Sep 15, 2016 6:26 pm
by Focus II
Fascinating recollections there, many thanks for sharing them with us.
I liked Tom Kilgour, a North East legend and very much missed.

Re: BBC 1 Regional Continuity Announcements

Posted: Thu Sep 15, 2016 7:27 pm
by TonyCurrie
Bob Richardson wrote:
Most BBC regional announcers were utterly brilliant, speaking AND vision/sound mixing simultaneously (David Stephens in Birmingham springs to mind) although very occasionally it could look as if they were playing the piano out of vision.
And of course I and my colleagues here in Glasgow and in Belfast and Cardiff still speak, sound mix, vision cut, check subtitles, check 5:1 surround sound, check AD, sort aspect ratios, make up graphics AND run servers - ahem - simultaneously....

Re: BBC 1 Regional Continuity Announcements

Posted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 6:20 am
by Duncan
David Stephens, that's a name from my youth :)

It wasn't David, but I recall another BBC Midlands announcer doing the link for a repeat of Destiny of The Daleks and pronouncing Dalek as Day-lek. Even at the age of 9 I remember thinking "how can he not know how to say Dalek!"

Re: BBC 1 Regional Continuity Announcements

Posted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 9:43 am
by Bob Richardson
I've recently sold a copy of the "Famous Monsters" Dr Who special (1975). For the benefit of American readers the editor helpfully advises that Dalek should be pronounced "Doll-X".

Re: BBC 1 Regional Continuity Announcements

Posted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 10:20 am
by Michael Hoskin
Bob Richardson wrote:Most BBC regional announcers were utterly brilliant, speaking AND vision/sound mixing simultaneously
Yes, and I can remember the regional (BBC South) globe appearing accompanied by the sound of the buttons being pressed by the announcer (as the sound fader was clearly on in preparation for the announcer to speak), which didn't happen with the national announcements.

Similarly, the regional news segments in the early years of Breakfast Time had the regional newsreader pressing a button on their desk to enable the opt-out to happen, and you could just see their hand come away from the switches as they appeared in vision. Some regional newsreaders were quicker than others, not waiting until the national Breakfast Time excerpt of the theme had totally finished, which resulted in a jarring effect.

Re: BBC 1 Regional Continuity Announcements

Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:00 am
by Focus II
Yes, I remember the sound of buttons being pressed.
In the BBC West region the announcer appeared in vision when introducing the episode of "Dallas" which revealed who shot JR!

I was in Scotland during Christmas 1985. BBC Scotland had their own Christmas caption, a rotating parcel I recall.

Re: BBC 1 Regional Continuity Announcements

Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 11:26 am
by Brock
Focus II wrote: I wonder why they went as far as to use regional continuity at peak times?
I've often wondered about that as well. I'm guessing that it was an attempt to rival the popularity of ITV's regional continuity operation. But since (at least in my region) ITV had in-vision announcers and the BBC didn't, it didn't really work because the announcers never became household names.

Re: BBC 1 Regional Continuity Announcements

Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 12:26 pm
by Clive
I am not sure if BBC Wales/Cymru still do this, but at least until the mid-90's then they would always throw up the BBC Wales globe at junctions.

It always looked very amateurish and they would always manage to catch a few frames or even a few seconds of the national globe. I've got a few examples on tape of an English accent announcing "and now on BBC 1..." before taking on a Welsh accent and announcing "and now on BBC 1...." They often managed to crash into programmes.

Re: BBC 1 Regional Continuity Announcements

Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2016 10:12 am
by Scary
Clive wrote:I am not sure if BBC Wales/Cymru still do this, but at least until the mid-90's then they would always throw up the BBC Wales globe at junctions.

It always looked very amateurish and they would always manage to catch a few frames or even a few seconds of the national globe. I've got a few examples on tape of an English accent announcing "and now on BBC 1..." before taking on a Welsh accent and announcing "and now on BBC 1...." They often managed to crash into programmes.
Wales (as well as Scotland and Northern Ireland) still have their own versions of BBC1 and 2 but it's much more polished these days - they get the programmes 'clean' to add their own continuity to.

You still occasionally get the odd fraction of a second of network slip through when some regions opt out

Re: BBC 1 Regional Continuity Announcements

Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:35 pm
by Paul Hayes
My former colleague David Clayton is / was convinced that he announced the first episode of EastEnders on BBC One, for the BBC East region, but I can't understand how that could possibly be the case, as surely regional continuity was long gone by 1985?

The only thing I can think of is that, given EastEnders started off at 7pm, it would have been straight after Look East, but I still can't see why they'd have done a local announcement for it.

Of course, there are the very occasional one-off instances of regional continuity - in 2009, after Sir Bobby Robson died, BBC One East put a special tribute programme into a non-opt slot (after the 10 o'clock news the following Monday, I think) and timeshifted the remaining BBC One output for the night back by half an hour, with regional announcements recorded locally in Norwich by David Whiteley.

Re: BBC 1 Regional Continuity Announcements

Posted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 7:51 pm
by Brock
Paul Hayes wrote:My former colleague David Clayton is / was convinced that he announced the first episode of EastEnders on BBC One, for the BBC East region, but I can't understand how that could possibly be the case, as surely regional continuity was long gone by 1985?

The only thing I can think of is that, given EastEnders started off at 7pm, it would have been straight after Look East, but I still can't see why they'd have done a local announcement for it.
I think that was fairly standard practice if the region broadcast a local trail after the regional news magazine - they'd hand back to the regional continuity announcer, who would introduce the next networked programme. Probably easier than trying to time things to run up to the network continuity announcement.

Re: BBC 1 Regional Continuity Announcements

Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 9:46 am
by Paul Hayes
Brock wrote:I think that was fairly standard practice if the region broadcast a local trail after the regional news magazine - they'd hand back to the regional continuity announcer, who would introduce the next networked programme. Probably easier than trying to time things to run up to the network continuity announcement.
Ah, interesting - I didn't know that, thank you. It does make sense!