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MCR21 was the third of a fleet of ten modern outside broadcast vans, designed in the early 1960s to be the flagships of the BBC’s outside broadcast fleet. It started life at the, then, new outside broadcast base in Kendal Avenue, Acton. It was given the local number LO21, LO for London and had the fleet identity number C388.

During its BBC life it would have done the whole alphabet of programmes, from Athletics, the Boat race, golf,  through to Wimbledon.

Vehicle data:

  • Registration No 388EXH first licensed on 12 Nov 1963
  • Commer Chassis C76Z with a six cylinder 4.9lt. petrol engine.
  • Coachbuilt by Marshalls of Cambridge
  • Technical installation by Pye.
  • BBC MCR21

Principal original equipment installed:

  • 4 Pye Mk6 Image Orthicon Cameras
  • Pye 20 channel sound mixer
  • BBC 10  channel vision mixer type MX…..
  • 6 Pye 14 inch picture monitors
  • 1 Pye 17 inch transmission monitor
  • Tektronix 5xx oscilloscope
  • Production desk
  • Engineering managers desk.

When it arrived there was little equipment left in it, the main item being the correct vision mixer but I was fortunate in being able to obtain the correct sound mixer for it. So over half of the equipment was of the correct original specification.

MCR21 and the Future

My view on the future of MCR21 is now preservation and restoration to as near its original condition as is possible. It is some 63 years old now and some arrangement needs to be made to secure it’s next 60 years, long past when I have gone.

I am fortunate to have a number of photographs, taken by Pye of MCR28, the last of the line but substantially the same as MCR21 along with some original construction drawings and the original technical handbooks, so a lot of information is available.

The rear half of MCR21 in more or less original, needing only refurbishment work. The middle of MCR21 has some original fittings and could be rebuilt to look as original.

Brian Summers

Interior of BBC MCR 21

Interior of BBC MCR 21

BBC MCR 21 at the Boat Race in 1967

MCR 21 at The Boat Race, under Chiswick Bridge – 1967

BBC MCR 19, sister unit, at Trooping the Colour 1967

Sister Unit – MCR 19 – 1967 Trooping The Colour

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