Thames goes into colour on 17 November 1969

At 11 a.m. on Monday, 17 November the new centre at Euston went on the air for the first time. The programme was ‘Seeing and Doing’. This transmission was preceded by 64 hours of feverish activity. Work began at the close down of transmission at Television House, Kingsway at 19.00 hours on Friday, 14 November. Most of the time in pouring rain, technical equipment and furniture was ferried up Tottenham Court Road to Euston, whilst in Master Control and Presentation great efforts were being made by all concerned to meet a full-scale test of the entire facilities required on Sunday at 1 p.m. Operational Engineering Staff arrived on Saturday only to find that there was not much they could do since the installation was incomplete. Consequently they were seconded willingly to assist the installation team.

Postage stamp sized sticker Thames put on outgoing mail in the run-up to C-Day

By Saturday night some order was beginning to appear out of apparent chaos. Operational crews reported early on Sunday morning and prepared for the full-scale dry run transmission in the afternoon. Concurrent with the activity in Master Control and Presentation similar scenes were taking place in Telecine, VTR and the mobile control room attached to Studio 5. Whilst Master Control Engineers were trying to locate all their pieces of equipment and set them up correctly they were also endeavouring to deal with such requests as, “Studio 5 – Master, can I have Telecine 7 please?” The usual reply was, “Yes, when I find Telecine 7.”

The fact that tempers did not reach boiling point, though they were sometimes slightly frayed, reflects considerable credit on the Canteen, which managed to cope with incessant demands for large quantities of coffee and tea.

The run-through started according to schedule and was going so smoothly that by 4.30 p.m. a secret decision was taken to create a breakdown since no serious problems were occurring as a result of the new installation. At 5 p.m. a mains failure “occurred” on the Presentation Mixer. We were “back on the air” in 33 seconds – under the circumstances a remarkable achievement. Included in the dry run was a ‘Today’ programme “live” from the Studio.

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At 6.30 p.m. everyone retired to the Canteen for a well-earned glass of beer with the Managing Director. At 7.00 p.m. a meeting between interested parties took place in Studio 5 and as a result, Installation Engineers worked yet another night to correct minor discrepancies which had arisen.

Now, one week later we are firmly on the air and our audience have not noticed the minor faults which have caused major headaches for Presentation and Technical Staff. Considerable credit is due to all Thames Staff who were involved in making everything operate successfully on Colour Day.

Categories: Studios

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