Only one of these stories relates to Comms Department, but they are all regional comms stories, and should raise a smile!

BBC ALES:

In the mid 1970's, before I joined Comms Department, I was working in the old Cardiff Switching Centre. I used to like to fix bits of kit when I wasn't busy. I was asked to see if I could get an old BBC-designed caption generator/inserter to work. It was used to insert a 'BBC WALES' caption onto our test card. (We used the test card for 'trade test' transmissions in Wales on certain afternoons when the schedule called for certain Network programmes not to be broadcast in Wales). Whilst fixing this item, I discovered that certain plug-in cards generated particular characters, and in particular, which card generated the 'W' of 'BBC WALES'. If the card was uplugged, the 'W' disappeared. I think I was bold enough once, to treat viewers in Wales to a few seconds of the 'BBC ALES' test card, and also it caused some interest when I sent it to London Switching Centre on the CF-BS+BS-LO contribution circuit. Doug Malone was on duty in London, and offered it on to CAR.


Naughty Videos:

Up until sometime probably in the '80s, there was a tradition of unofficial use of the Eurovision network at Christmas to distribute recorded out-takes and porn videos between broadcasting organisations. (I am not sure, but it maybe that the 'plug was pulled' on this quaint tradition when something naughty was accidentally transmitted). Of course such unofficial material tended to be copied by VT people, including those in the old Cardiff TV studios. One quiet evening in Cardiff Switching Centre in the mid 1970s, one of the monitors happened to be selected to a source which was a time-coded feed from a VT machine upstairs. I was facinated to see two very naughty videos which definitely didn't leave anything to the imagination! The second video was run twice in quick succession for some reason. After the screen went blank, I 'phoned the lone VT man and asked if he had any more of those. I can't remember exactly what he said, but he seemed extremely embarrased. Apparently he had carefully pulled out the 'U' links on his main output, but had forgotten about the time-coded output!


Cardiff BH to Cardiff Broadway Feeds:

In the early to mid 1970's part of Cardiff's TV operations, including the Switching Centre, were in an old church building the other side of the city from Cardiff BH. Of course there were many video, sound, and comms circuits between the two sites. I remember a friend of mine telling me that someone had commented that the hot water in the wash basins took a long time to run hot when the tap was turned on. He claimed that he managed to convince this gullible person that the hot water was piped through from BH!


Chris Dale
22-10-03

(See also Tony Hosking's Cardiff Switching Centre stories)

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