2021-06-23 2 By David Taylor

The Colour Demonstration Unit
The ’70s with the silicon transistorised mixers
The BBC version of the Pye transistorised console of the 1970
Video excerpt one:
Smaller Pye desks were still to be found
The world still wants scanners, but they were soon not carrying Pye consoles
In 1976, Pye built two BBC CMCR Type 4s, but they didn’t get Pye audio mixers or cameras
One of the last of the Pye scanners…for Holland and full of Philips gear

Scanners get bigger – with separated Vision, Production and Sound

Still building for the International market, a vehicle for Korean TV, equipped with black and white cameras. The vehicles were getting bigger.
Photo: Richard Ellis
One of the Pye MkVII black and white cameras that equipped ATV’s OB6 and 7 in 1965. One of the scanners is parked in the background.
Photo: Pye TVT Faceboo

The MkVII was Pye’s first big transistorised camera and was the last to be designed by Pye TVT. In future, the colour cameras were of Philips designs.

ATV’s OB7, has the same external appearance to the MBC-TV vehicle. It was converted to colour in 1967 with LDK3 cameras.
Photo: Richard Ellis

ATV took delivery of two big new scanners OB6 and OB7, which appear to have been delivered in 1965, with the Pye MkVII black and white cameras. OB6’s cameras were destroyed in a fire at the Notts Forest football ground and both OB6 and OB7 soon got returned to the Pye factory for conversion to colour. Interestingly both OB6 and OB7 have 1967 vehicle registrations ending in the suffix ‘F’.

The shared monitor stack of ATV OB Unit 7.

This is the interior of ATV’s OB7 once it was converted to colour. ‘Production’ here looks onto the shared monitors used by the vision engineers, through a dividing glass screen that has been installed between them.
I’ll leave OB7 for now but will take a look at the extensive sound compartment in this vehicle later on in this article.

The Colour Demonstration Unit

Pye had decided to again market a ‘standard OB vehicle’, a colour vehicle and produced a demonstration unit, which they extensively toured seeking sales. This was a time when the design of the interior of scanners now changed in a dramatic way, as the plans below show:

‘A typical 4-camera OB vehicle’ it says, but the important thing is that each department; vision, production and sound, now have their own separate cubicles.
From the Pye brochure ‘Colour Scanners’.

Colour arriving was certainly a big influence in moving to the separation of the vision, production and sound within the vehicle. The increase in electronics and the requirement for vision ‘colour matching’ was best dealt with by a separate vision cubicle and the sound desks were getting much larger.

The Pye Colour Demonstration scanner in 1971.
Photo: Les Germany’s RTS article

This ‘Typical Four Camera Outside Broadcast vehicle’ depicted in the drawing above, was built in 1971 and used by Pye as a demonstrator, fitted with PC60 colour cameras. It even went to South Africa for the Grand Prix but eventually, it was sold to the BBC augmenting the new Type 2s and becoming CMCR13 in Cardiff. It lived a very long life in Wales, but in 1988 it was stripped and altered to become the BBC’s High Definition test and demo vehicle. (See [1] below for some interesting facts about making HD work in 1988.)

1| 1971/72- BBC CMCR13

Alas the photo is a bit under-exposed, so it’s hard to see the detail but this is the 24-channel Pye console in CMCR13.
Photo: TV OB History

The next generation of sound consoles built by Pye, were typified in this picture inside CMCR13 as it was in Wales circa 1979. It had a 24-channel version of the newer sound desk, now using silicon transistors.
The three faders on the upstand on the right would be the 3 dedicated Group faders, but since channel faders 13 and 14 in this photo have camera taped labels saying ‘Grp1 and Grp2’, it is very likely that users preferred to have their ‘group faders’ more easily accessible. Closer inspection shows that the upstand on the left is identical and both these sections each have PPMs and the 3 Main Output pots, so this is obviously two 12-Channel desks ‘cobbled’ together. I assume that limitations of space have put the EQ units in the rack above the upstand on the right there.

2| 1968-1970 BBC CMCR Type 2 Scanners

With the coming of colour TV, the BBC units were now called Colour Mobile Control Rooms. Having been preceded by three Type 1 CMCRs which the BBC built, but fitted with Pye-supplied PC60 cameras, the nine BBC Type 2 CMCR scanners were all completely Pye built, and started being delivered in March 1968. The first three had EMI 2001 cameras, the next three switched to the Philips PC80/LDK3s, but then they returned to having EMI 2001s for the last three scanners.

A BBC CMCR Type 2 leaving the Pye Royston factory in 1969. Note another BBC Type 2 behind with that Korean MBC scanner inside.
Photo: Pye TVT.

The first BBC-built Type 1 CMCRs still had vision, production and sound in one main section in the scanners and so the Pye-built Type 2s were the first BBC scanners to separate vision, production and sound. However, they did not follow the design shown in the drawing of the Pye demo vehicle, but had a layout with sideways facing ‘galleries’ that then became the ‘big scanner’ standard that was followed for years afterwards:

The BBC Type 2 scanner layout.
Drawing via the TV OB History website.

Like the earlier MCRs, these Type 2 CMCRs are already well documented. That is thanks to vision engineer Steve Harris for saving CMCR9, one of the three PC80/LDK3 equipped scanners. The vehicle started out in London as LO6 in 1969, going on to Birmingham in 1972 as CM1 and finally in 1980 in Manchester as North 3 [2].
Thanks to Steve, we can delve into the audio control room, and play with the Pye 23 channel console:

The sound cubicle in a Type 2 CMCR as originally supplied.
Photo: Pye TVT

Now with the separate cubicles, we finally have our own sound control room and can listen to whatever is required on our monitor loudspeaker…. as ‘Production’ were never going to enjoy ‘Sound’ soloing a single mic feed during the show, and we can now chat away to the sound crew more easily and hey…look there’s more space.
The disadvantage is the easy communication we had with the Director is now impaired. In the old layout for instance, you could see his hands working the vision mixer and knew ‘where he was going next’, which was good for a live ad-libbed show.

In the Type 2 sound cubicle, we have the window to Production on our left, our Transmission Picture Monitor and a selectable Preview Monitor in front, with the single sound Monitor Loudspeaker hanging above them. In the photo above you can see that dangling under the monitors is the same ‘Optical PPM’, that I detailed in the MCR vehicles, although it has disappeared in this ‘modern photo’. A Studer B62 twin-track tape desk is in a sliding drawer with power supplies above and the desk jackfields under the deck. The B62 had its electronics within the casing and didn’t come with any monitor VU meters, so you just had to have it ‘set up well’ before use. The BBC have fitted a cans socket though.

OB Sound Supervisor Doug Whittaker seen back in the renovated CMCR9. Doug worked in the vehicle when it was ‘LO6’ in London.
Photo via Adapt website

The slung LS3/4 Monitor Loudspeaker (with its two drive units) was newly developed by the BBC for the CMCRs because of criticism of colouration in previous sound monitors in scanners. [3]

BBC version of the Pye transistorised console of the 1970’s -Type 84-5718

Taking a closer look at that Pye 23 Channel console, it is based on the same transistor circuit as the standard Pye design pictured earlier in CMCR13, but this time the BBC have implemented many unique design changes, a very ‘custom console’ [4]:

Old scanners bare the scars of years of ‘hands on controls’, so once again I’ve used Photoshop to take away the years of hard labour carried out on this desk in ‘North 3’, as much as I could.
Photo: Steve Harris

The Type 2 scanners in Manchester, which finally numbered three, were regulars at doing ‘The Good Old Days’, in the Variety Theatre in Leeds…..which became the longest-running ‘entertainment show’ on British TV. Thanks, I think to Jerry Glegg, the desk here has been labelled up for this programme and we’ll take a separate look at the sound side of this show in the future. [5]

The mixer above has, going from left to right, 10 channels on the left side bay, feeding the ‘A Green Group’, then the 3 Group Faders and the 3 ‘Independent’ channels. These are followed in the next panel by the other five B ‘Blue Group’ channels and the last set, the five C ‘Red Group’ channels.
Every channel now has EQ as well. Let’s have a closer look at one:

The EQ unit has at the top a ‘High Frequency’ control with a fixed frequency of 10K. For this, there are two positions of boost and two of cut, with ‘1’ being a slope of 6dB per octave and ‘2’ being 12dB per octave. The centre control for the HF is labelled with steps of gain (or cut) of ‘0/2/4/6/8 and 10 dB’.
The bottom ‘Low Frequency’ also works at a fixed frequency, probably 50Hz and has the same switched 6dB or 12dB slopes and similar 6 steps of boost or cut from ‘0’ to 10dB
The ‘Mid Frequency’ has 4 selectable frequencies of ‘1.4/2.8/4 and 5.6KHz’ and the boost and cut steps are the same of ‘0 to 10dB’.
Next down in the channel strip is an ‘Echo Send’ pot. The BBC had always specified an ‘echo mixture’ controls on their previous desks, which worked by attenuating the ‘direct’ signal as it increased the send to the ‘echo’. The design idea there was that when you added ‘echo’, the overall programme signal didn’t get any louder. However, I think this desk just has the standard send pot, like a normal ‘aux’ control.
Echo on this desk though isn’t just a single send. As there are three ‘Groups’, with sets of channel faders sending to their designated ‘fixed groups’….there are also three ‘Echos’. These are brought out onto three echo returns.
Time to look at a closer picture I think:

A closer view of the centre of the console with the 3 Group faders (Green/Blue/Red), the Main fader (White). Then come the 3 ‘Independent’ faders (Black).

In the centre section, above the Green A, Blue B and Red C Group Faders, there are three Echo Return Pots, one for each of the Echo Groups and a fourth labelled ‘Common Send’. So you could vary the amount of each Echo Groups Return going into that ‘Common Send’.
Looking back at a channel, we see an ‘Equalise’ button, for EQ in/out and then a ‘PA’ send pot. Of course…there are also three PA Groups, with master controls for these on the top left part of the upstand.
This is followed, just above the faders with a ‘Prefade’ button, plus an indicator light.

The faders and ‘coarse gain controls’ on these mixers.

The above photo shows the detail of the faders, from a desk with the same designed fader units.
The coarse gain switching is labelled from ‘Low’ running down to ‘High’ and the top button switches the input impedance for ‘low impedance’ mics. Although I think everyone was soon even putting their low impedance mics like the STC 4038 into a standard 1200-Ohm mic input.
In previous Pye desks ‘High’ referred to gain in the channel, ie ‘maximum amplification’, but in this case I’m going to guess that this desk ‘+20dB’ refers to the most mic gain, with next down ‘0dB’ gain and a ‘-20dB’ and finally ‘-40dB’, which I think is ‘padding’ the input down to the lowest of the ‘gain’ settings. There is however a ‘Balance’ control on a thumb-wheel, which would be capable of adding most probably +30dB of gain, so that, along with the ‘+20dB’ switch would give us +50dB overall.
However a max gain of +50dB doesn’t seem very high for a broadcast desk…’Lip’ mics needed more than that quite often, therefore the ‘0dB’ setting must have some standard gain I think.
I’ve personally never liked having switches and pots hidden between the faders as here, and it does look like you could ‘twiddle’ that thumb-wheel by accident.

“My only recollection is that the EQ units started catching fire! Something about 2 different voltages next to each other on the flimsy edge connector. Heat softened the connector which allowed contact” [6]

The three ‘Independent’ channels have an additional switch besides the ‘Equalise’ in button: it’s labelled ‘Pre MF’…..is ‘MF’ the Main Fader….so you could be sending a ‘commentary’ out on a clean feed sometimes. The other is beneath it…and I can’t read the label, but its possibly ‘Post’.

Here’s a detail from the top left panel on the upstand:

The upper left of the console.

Here are the 3 Group main gain controls, with the 3 PA Groups under them plus a coarse gain for each labelled ‘-4 / 0 / +4 and +8’. On the right are the indicators for ‘Equipt On’, ‘No AC’ (ie. running on battery), ‘Reg PS- Norm’ and ‘Stand By’ and ‘Main Amp 1 and 2’. So like the MCR scanners, these CMCRs had two Power Supplies plus a battery system. BBC OB Sound Supervisor Alan Taylor explained:
“There were massive lead acid batteries on slide-out trays in lockers beneath the sound area and if power failed, the entire sound installation reverted to battery operation and could keep going for a few hours.  Of course, if somebody were using something like a favourite compressor as outboard equipment, it would be mains powered and you would lose any signal passing through it.  Therefore on Grade One events, such as Royal occasions you would do well to avoid using outboard gear. The ‘No AC’ indicator revealed that it had changed over to battery power (there were other subtle clues that the power had failed  – the monitors would have gone off, the director would be screaming and all the phone lines would start ringing!). [5]

The left side has a total of 6 sets of vertical selector buttons (we can only see 2 of them), plus three of the ‘-4/0/+4/+8’ gain switches. Alan Taylor again:
“The matrix of white buttons going out of shot top left was used to route groups to group outputs and main outputs.  Those buttons were a key aspect of splitting the desk so that a presenter could be a part of, or isolated from the main transmission and we would hit the ( crackly ) buttons on air during changeovers”. 
On either side of the two PPMs are the Pye 4060 Compressor/Limiters. The model fitted here has at the top ‘Threshold’ setting in 2dB steps from -24dB through unity to +16dB. Beneath it is a ‘Noise Gate Threshold’ control with dB attenuation markings from -50dB to -20db. The noise gate wasn’t fitted on many of the Pye Comp/Lims in BBC use, as pictures show them with just three control knobs, so this version is most probably a fairly late variation.
The control far right is the Decay Time setting of ‘100/200/400/800 m Secs plus 1.6/3.2 secs’. Besides that is the overall compression ratio settings, with ‘1:1 / 2:1 / 3:1 / 5:1 and Limit’ which was greater than 20:1.

This Pye 4060 compressor/limiter has become the most enduring product from the Pye audio design department run by Bob Barrass. For years after they were developed, many of us were always happy to have a couple in a rack; it was highly regarded by both broadcast and recording studio engineers. It used a very high-speed transistor switch, the so-called ‘pulse-width modulation’ technique. The sound of the 4060 has over time become ‘famous and desirable’ and I’ll discuss it in the next part on the Pye big studio desks.

Before we leave the Type 2s, we should have a look at one of them working. Here’s a great video of the London OB crews setting up and carrying out the 1975 broadcast of ‘Trooping The Colour’:

Video excerpt one:

VIDEO: PRESS ‘PLAY’ (possibly hidden in the bottom left corner)

Take a look at the effort put into an OB like this in 1975.
Video with thanks to Mike Jordan. [6]

ALAN TAYLOR (BBC TV OB Sound Supervisor):
“Trooping might well have been a two-scanner show, with one at Horseguards and the other at Canada Gate ( Buckingham Palace ). There only appeared to be one scanner at Horseguards, the other truck had a front more like a VT truck.  The voice-over mentions the size of the crew and its spot on for two scanners working apart because there were two EMs, you would only have one if both scanners were together.”
Alan then adds: “The sound supervisor was Brian Strugnell and the sound assistant checking the mics was me.  I must say we all had embarrassing hairstyles in those days! “.

Along with the commentary lip mics, the ‘lazy mic’ being checked by Alan and Brian, was the mic that the commentator would use for talkback to the director. It was later possible to switch the commentary lip mic away from the programme output for the same purpose.
Interesting shots of the camera crews rigging the big EMI 2001 cameras up the scaffold tower camera positions and also onto the ‘cherry picker’ platform, showing how heavy they were, even with the zoom lenses removed, and what a bashing they received on OBs.
The Director of
this ‘Trooping’ happens to be Philip Gilbert who did ‘The Old Man of Hoy’ OB that we saw, back in 1967.

Smaller Pye desks were still to be found

Pye were in financial trouble back in 1966 and a year later Philips prevailed in buying a 60% share, thus controlling the company. Pye TVT obviously carried on developing and making a large range of broadcast products, as we’ve seen, but they were now in direct competition with Philips in a number of areas. From the change to colour, Pye’s cameras were all by Philips and audio was one of the other conflicting areas and in 1974 Philips were advertising like this in the UK journal ‘Studio Sound’:

Philips themselves seemed to be the only users of their desks in the UK, such as at the Philips/ Phongram recording studio in Stanhope Place and on Philips classical recording sessions at places like Wembley Town Hall.
An Ex-BBC OB 12 Channel desk. It has the usual ‘reversed BBC faders’….so most of these have been incorrectly set ‘fully faded up’!
Photo via Reverb website

Above is a similar desk to that pictured earlier in CMCR13. This is the 12-channel version, built as a portable unit for BBC OBs and it’s still got the spare power supply, along with the battery capability. There are 3 Groups which are selectable to 3 Main outputs, each with a ‘pot’. The PPMs could be selected to different sources, which the LS could also follow and although the ‘upstand’ looks just like the CMCR13 one, the channel strip is slightly different. It has Echo and PA send pots on each channel, and it also includes a button labelled ‘Equalise’. However there are no EQ units in this desk, and perhaps like the CMCR13 desk, they were in a separate rack?

Desks certainly like this went into some of the many scanners that Pye were still building for ‘overseas’. Here’s another similar desk:

Getting the designations of Pye desks can be difficult, so I don’t know what this desk is but the EQ units here are Type 84-7020.
Photo via eBay

3| ATV’s Big Sound Requirements

ATV did a weekly Sunday Night at the London Palladium Show from September 1955 until February 1969. Coming back for a year in October 1973 and returned again in 2000 and a third time from 2014.[7] It frequently seemed to slightly change its title, but was basically the show that had in its prime in the ’60s:
“Gained average viewing figures of 14 million and top 10 placings almost every week, it is undoubtedly one of the main shows that helped establish commercial television in the UK”. [8]
The show was always heavy on sound requirements, as apart from the comedians and singers
each week, Val Parnell’s orchestra sometimes moved from their orchestra ‘pit’ completely onto the stage, and amazingly had to do it during a 4-minute commercial break! The rig was therefore too big to fit into any of the OB scanner sound desks, and required ATV to invest in a ‘Mobile Sound Control Unit’.

Parked in Ramilies Place, the ATV Outside Broadcast Sound Truck and a Tender whilst producing a Sunday Night at the London Palladium in 1966.
Photo: Nick Gilbey

I haven’t found out who built the first unit shown above in 1966, which would have been in use from sometime in the late ’50s I believe, but at the end of the ’60 ATV needed a replacement in a vehicle that could carry a very large sound console. Until recently I assumed that another ‘mobile sound vehicle’ had been built by Pye, because of the photo below from a document written by Pye engineer, Les Germany:

Taken from a 1971 publication, this shows the enormous 50 Channel Pye mixer installed in the ATV vehicle used on the “Sunday Night At The London Palladium” Shows.
Photo via Les Germany/Richard Ellis [9]

Alas, it’s a very poor photo reproduction, but we can see that this is a comprehensive TV sound desk, and has a main 26 Channel unit, with an additional 12-Channel ‘add-on’ on either end, making a 50-Channel console….and it does look like they are all ‘channel faders’. You can see the similarities with the desks I illustrated earlier.
However, Brian Summers has this photo showing the sound compartment in the ATV OB7 scanner which I mentioned much earlier:

This is the sound control cubicle in ATV’s OB7, showing it’s the same as in the photo above.
Photo: Brian Summers

That’s definitely the same ‘sound cubicle’ as the earlier photo, now deprived of its two ‘add-on’ 12-channel units. This must have taken up a very large section within the OB7 vehicle as TV scanners just didn’t normally have ‘sound cubicles’ this large. You can just discern that it’s the vision mixer visible through that clear section in the large front window, so the ‘sound area’ is located behind the Production/Vision compartments shown in an earlier image.[10]

Here’s a detail from the ‘Design Journal’, dated 1967, about the Pye Range 70 of modular systems, which is what they labelled all the camera and vision electronics, as well as these sound desks :

The Design Journal of 1967 shows the ATV scanners, fitted at that time with the Black and White Pye Mk7 cameras, already had these sound desks.
Design Journal via https://www.vads.ac.uk website

“It was imperative that this flagship programme should only be trusted in the hands of the top-of-the-tree staff. Soundwise, only Dennis Bassinger and Bill Nuttall were permitted to work it. In the beginning, the sound crew started very early in the morning with the rig. This involved forty or more, microphones and associated stands and cabling for the pit orchestra plus all the stage requirements. If the orchestra had to appear on stage, as often happened, the number of microphones, stands and cabling were virtually doubled.
After some years, it was decided to split the sound crew into two. Crew One would arrive at 6.30 am, get everything rigged for the 10.30 band call before handing over to the second crew who saw the show through and de-rigged.
A sound truck was parked alongside the production control room and other ATV vehicles in Ramillies Place at the rear of the Palladium by the stage door. It was a state-of-the-art truck with super mixing facilities.
When the band was required to be on stage for a singing star finale, it was usually chaotic, a four-minute commercial break was often the time allotted and there would still be much of the backstage noise as Bruce Forsyth introduced the top of the bill. The musicians would be struggling to get out of the pit and onto the stage clutching their instruments to safeguard them in the melee. Electricians would push and shove to get the music stand lights working while stagehands handled the actual music stands. You can imagine the scene with two sound guys jostling amidst all this before placing twenty or more microphone stands, everybody convinced their task was more important.”

Note that the desk is of the same Pye transistor design as shown in detail earlier, and both OB6 and OB7 were equipped with these 26-channel main desks, and at least one had the full complement of 50 channels with the sub-desks installed. OB6 amazingly ‘survives’…well sort of, as it’s a wreck in the British Film Institutes’ Beaconsfield grounds (March 2021)!

“In this example, the portable 12-channel units at each end may be removed and placed in a position where a pre-mix is required, sometimes remote from the vehicle.”

There are two central PPMs in the upstand, with one pair of Pye 4060 Comp/Lims in a rack to the left of them, and there is another pair of 4060’s a little further away to the right. Both these dual units are missing in the later photo.
The centre 8-fader bay has EQ modules, but not the other bays. The 2 outside ’12 channel add-on desks’ each have the 3 Group faders in their ‘upstands’, but similar Group faders do not appear to be visible for the ‘main desk’. The loudspeaker looks like a BBC-designed LS3/4, as used in the Pye-built BBC Type 2 scanners.
A Studer B62 tape deck is at the extreme left and on the right side, a phone handset is visible and it even has a phone dial there as well. There are a couple of TV monitors, down-lighters in cowls, as used in most control rooms and a large air-conditioning grill up high.

All in all, it’s a very comprehensive sound installation for a 1967 OB unit.

The world still wants scanners, but they were soon not carrying Pye consoles.

Pye carried on building Outside Broadcast units for many countries, who of course also now wanted them to be colour units, and the first LDK3 equipped vehicles, began to be replaced with ‘triax’ cabled LDK5 ones.
Scanners went to Zanzibar; to Korea and to China. Two with twin front axles to carry more weight went to ABC in Australia; and another in Australia to TCN9. Also Oman, Abu Dhabi and a variety of big and small units to Denmark. Nigeria, Zambia, Hong Kong and Indonesia, Holland and Switzerland got Pye scanners, which could now be found all around the globe. [12]

Some vehicles and the complete studio installations that Pye were fitting out, didn’t require lavish sound desks and Pye developed this one in the mid-’70’s:

A 12-Channel Pye SM8

“Towards the end of the 1970s the audio product range was virtually non-existent. W.H.Jones (Taffy) who I first met when he was the head of test at York Street, was the audio project manager and he produced a concept for a simple eight-channel mixer. The SM8 was finally produced …and went into several projects, but now it was not big enough and Taffy wanted a 12-channel mixer. The only way this could be done was to use modules from a new range of compact mixers that were being developed in Eindhoven (Philips). We now had two mixers in the range, SM8 and SM12 to support systems designs.”

So the SM8 was a completely Pye design but the SM12 used different modules that came from Philips, hence their totally different appearance.

Another ‘Studio Sound’ ad from 1976, that shows a Pye-built scanner, with a confusing mixture of Philips and Pye logos.

Philips had by now taken over in a more dominant way and Pye sound console manufacture dropped to being a ‘sub-species’ of those designed by Philips.

Here though is a ‘reworked’ SM8 I came across, with rather more than the usual 8 channels:

A ‘custom’ console containing 16 mono and 2 stereo modules, into a stereo output, using Pye 1970’s SM8 mic modules.
Photo: Funky Junk

Almost certainly not a Pye ‘original build’ desk, this may be a later-day conversion as a portable ‘location’ desk. 14 channels have EQ modules, which are absent on the 2 stereo channels. The two groups however, turn out to be stereo groups each with a recessed stereo PPM and there are additional PPMs for ‘PFL’ and ‘Monitor’, plus at the end ‘Mix 1 and Mix 2’. The use of the small SM8 modules would make this a moderately light location mixer for its facilities.
The use of PPMs definitely implies ‘broadcasting’ and it came with a stage box labelled ‘to TV Truck’.

Here’s the SM8 mic channel:

SM8 mic channel with EQ

The Pye SM8 was equivalent to small mixers being produced by an increasing number of manufacturers in the UK, like Alice, Audix, Chilton and others, all of which must have fragmented Pye’s sales.
Here we see that each of the ‘treble’, ‘presence’ and ‘bass‘ controls has a choice of three frequencies with no Hi or Lo pass filters. Stereo has ‘arrived’ though with a switchable pan-pot, and there’s a choice of 2 mic inputs, M1 and M2, plus a Line in. The switch labelled ‘N/R’ was for phase reverse.

In 1976, Pye built two BBC CMCR Type 4’s, but they didn’t get Pye audio mixers or cameras.

In 1976 the BBC ordered two new CMCR Type 4 vehicles, which were to be made by Pye, and equipped with the current flavour of cameras at that time, made by Link. However, the audio world now wanted the new Neves in their high-tech scanners. The Type 4’s got 24 channel Neves in a new narrow module version, with all the usual BBC-specific requirements of sub-groups, multiple Main and Clean-Feed outputs etc. I think the Type 4’s were the first to get the great idea of a big new ‘talkback routing matrix’, which appeared in the sound area. These allowed you to just use a pin-board to sort out your talkback routing headaches!

One of the last of the Pye scanners…for Holland and full of Philips gear

Here’s one of the last trucks to be built by Pye, for NOS, in 1984.
Photo: Pye TVT

Scanners kept getting bigger and ‘expanding sides’ became the new thing. The truck in the photo above, for the Dutch state broadcaster NOS was one of the last built by Pye and the rather difficult relationship between the two broadcast equipment manufacturers, which had started back in the late ’60’s was to finally cause the closure of Pye TVT in the ’80s.
So the NOS scanner here was built by Pye in Cambridge, with Philips cameras and sound desk….. of course.

About 30 OB vehicles, along with many sound-only trucks were built between 1977 and 1987, and just as Philips did pull the plug on PyeTVT, the company was working on the biggest-ever order. It was for OB scanners and other equipment for the 1986 Mexican World Cup and included 11 OB vehicles of which 6 were large OB scanners. The enormous camera order was for 121 LDK6’s and 65 LDK14s, but afterwards Pye TVT was incorporated into what became a Philips, Bosch and Fernseh joint venture called BTS.
The Pye TVT era was over.


Credits and References:

See also Credits and References in Part One.
[1] To record High Definition in 1988 in this HD truck, four D1 digital VTs were joined together: “Four Dl digital video recorders have been arranged with a cleverly conceived multiplexing system to record and replay together under the control of a specially programmed edit controller. Because only one set of four such recorders is available, editing is carried out using just two machines at a time, then working through the four sets of tapes repetitively. Further, the recorders operate within very fine mechanical tolerances and special arrangements have been made for them to travel separately, in a vehicle with soft suspension, and to be carefully loaded into the operating racks at each site.” So the old Pye Colour Demonstration scanner MLD800L, built in 1971, lived again in a demonstration role for the newest technology in the late ’80s.
[2] Steve Harris has his own website detailing his considerable efforts to save and refurbish the North 3 vehicle:

Steve says he’s going to update his website regarding all his OB vehicle interests. Good luck with all your projects Steve!
There is also a lot of documentation and further photos concerning CMCR9/North 3 on Nick Gilbey’s great website that I’ve already mentioned in Part One (and where I’ve pilfered photos and drawings from).

If you read these two websites you’ll know a great deal about CMCR9. Thanks so much to both of you!
[3] From: BBC R&D Dept Monograph No78-Aspects of High-quality Monitoring Loudspeakers-LS5-6.pdf
[4] As is pointed out by Richard Ellis: “…brought into focus the dilemma facing equipment manufacturers at the time. BBC specifications were so parochial and special that the resulting products were rarely marketable elsewhere. Was it sensible to design one-offs for the BBC where the development costs were not usually recovered? Balancing this was the belief that selling to the BBC, with their high technical specifications, was a stamp of approval which would ensure that export customers would buy one’s products.”
[5] Jerry Clegg from Manchester OB’s worked on a great many ‘The Good Old Days’ and it would be good to write up the sound side of the show in the future.
[6] I get lots of assistance from the Tech-Ops forum, so thanks to Ex-BBC Sound Supervisor Alan Taylor for constant help with BBC OB details, to John Nottage for his memory of the Type 2 desks and to Mike Jordan for his ‘Trooping’ video.
[7] From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonight_at_the_London_Palladium
[8] Network have issued a 2-set of DVD copies of ‘Sunday Night at the London Palladium’ from 1966: https://networkonair.com/all-products/1455-sunday-night-at-the-london-palladium-volumes-1-and-2
[9] From Les Germany’s Article-Royal Television Society Journal Vol13, No12, Nov/Dec 1971
[10] In early 2021 ATV’s OB 6 scanner was spotted rotting away in the grounds of the British Film Institute in Berkhampstead. Unfortunately, it contains little of the original vision and sound equipment in restorable condition. It was used last by Carlton TV and was once exhibited at the Museum of The Moving Image….probably its last ever ‘event’.
[11] From Ted Scott’s book: “Cue Tape, Please Ted” – available in both print and Kindle editions from Amazon and Lulu.com. Do also see Ted’s website (now still maintained after Ted’s death in 2019) at www.tedscott.co.uk
[12] The scanner summary that Richard Ellis put into his book “The Pye TVT Story” has even more details and photos of the many scanners Pye built for its international customers.
Much of the information and photographs have kindly come from Richard Ellis who edited and wrote much of the book “The Pye TVT Story”.
Richard may still have a source for obtaining copies of this book. If you use my ‘contact’ page, I will be pleased to forward his contact details.


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