ITV (work in progress)
When ITV received the go ahead to start transmission in 1955, the new companies scrambled to get the necessary equipment to fulfil their pledges to provide the programmes set out in their submissions to the Independent Television Authority. Marconi and Pye were already supplying OB units to the BBC as well as exporting units to the world market. Suddenly they had a new market in their home country and they rose to the occasion by supplying a total of some eighteen Mobile Control Rooms and ancilliary equipment to allow the fledgeling ITV companies to bring us live programmes from all over the UK. Unlike the bespoke units delivered to the BBC, many of the ITV OB units were of a standard design. In the first round of ITV franchise bids, fourteen regional companies were set up. covering Enland, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands. Through the next two rounds of franchise bids a further nine companies would be formed.
The FIrst Fourteen Regional Television Companies
ABC Television – 1956-1968
ABC’s main base was at a coverted cinema at Didsbury, Manchester. The original three Marconi 3 camera OB units were based here. A Videotape Unit was added later which also had 2 Marconi Mk III cameras. In 1965 the Company ordered 3 Marconi OB units from Marconi equipped with a total of 15 Mk V cameras.
Anglia Television – 1959-2006
ATV – 1955-1968
Channel Television – 1962-2011
In the 1990s Channel Television converted a caravan to be a mobile control room
Border Television – 1961-2002
In 1987 Border Television took deliver of a 3 camera OB Unit
Grampian Television – 1961-2006
Granada TV – 1956-2002
Rediffusion – 1956-1968
Rediffusion started with 2 three camera outside broadcast units. One was supplied by Pye and the other by Marconi. Each unit did not have a number but were called by a colour although their liveries were either blue or blue with a bare alloy body below the middle line. The Marconi Unit (green) covered the opening speeches at the Guildhall in London on the opening night of ITV in September 1955. The same evening, the Pye Unit (blue) covered a fashion show and the opening party of ITV at the Mayfair Hotel in Piccadilly. Another two Marconi Units (White and ?) joined the fleet soon afterwards and all were then equipped with 4 cameras.The Marconi Units were in use right up to the end of Rediffusion in 1968. In 1966 Rediffusion bought another unit from Marconi equipped with 5 Marconi Mk V cameras. This unit was used by the Marconi Hire Division before the sale. It subsequently was sold to LWT.
Scottish Television – 1957-
Scottish Television started with one 3 camera OB Unit. By 1967 a 2 camara unit had been added. Both these units were monochrome. Also in 1967 a 4 camera colour unit was ordered from Marconi equipped with Mk VII cameras.
Southern Television – 1958-1982
TWW – 1958-1968
TWW had a 4 camera OB unit with a separate VTR van
Tyne Tees Television – 1958-
Ulster Television – 1959-
The Ulster TV OB was built by Sony in 1979/80
The Ulster TV OB was built for them by Sony in 1979/80 and exhibited at IBC80 in Brighton before being delivered, with a tender vehicle, to Belfast. It featured on their local news programme with Gloria Hunniford the day it arrived. The unit is based on a Bedford TK chassis however the integral cab was constructed using Bedford TM parts so that spares, especially the windscreen, were readily available. In the back was a 15KVA Onan generator. Coachwork was done by Modern Vehicle Constructors in Reading.
Cameras were 4 x Sony BVP-330P complete with CCU-330P and OCP-300 panels
VTRs were 2 x Sony BVH-1100P 1-inch C-format complete with BVT-2000P Timebase Correctors
Vision Mixer was a Grass Valley 1600-1AP
Sound Desk was a Neve 5315
VDAs were Avitel
Talkback was Drake
Words and Pictures David Polgaze
Westward Television – 1959-
Westward Television took delivery of a 2 camera lightweight OB Unit just before it lost its franchise.
Westward Television took delivery of this unit in 1979. The original brief from David Dickinson, Technical Director, was for a small 2-camera self contained unit that could negotiate the narrow country lanes in Cornwall and Devon. For that reason the 6-wheeled Stonefield chassis was selected. The body was built by Modern Vehicle Constructors of Reading. To give it total independence there was an Onan 12Kw power generator in the back.
It was equipped with 2 x Sony BVP-300P cameras with CCU-300P, a BVH-1100P 1″ C-format VTR and a BVH-500PS portable 1″ VTR. Vision mixer was a Grass Valley and sound mixer was Audio Developments. Picture monitors by Barco and Cotron. SPG and waveform monitoring was System Video. Talkback by Philip Drake
Words and pictures David Polglaze