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James Vertigan3,217 posts since 2 Jun 2001
London London
A couple of spectacular film breakdowns from BBC1 here - firstly the 1978 film "Goin' South" falls off air completely before coming back with no sound and being taken off air again until it can be fixed...



Then this one where the Warren Beatty film "Heaven Can Wait" fails to make it to air and pres clearly either don't have a backup copy or are having problems with the backup as well as they give up on showing it altogether before going to the standby film "Timescape"

http://dai.ly/x43wwt7
Larry the Loafer5,564 posts since 2 Jul 2005
Granada North West Today
This one in a late shift in 1989, from Channel 4, is more memorable, for Jon Briggs, our announcer, trying to sound calm and know what's going on, when in fact he's a bit puzzled, and hasn't a clue what's going on!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dH4qc9yuRWA

I think he was trying to say something when there was nothing left to say!


The muffled sound of the clip probably has something to do with it, but that's a truly horrific noise at the start of that clip. Was it something overheating, as somebody mentions in the comments?
Last edited by Larry the Loafer on 29 April 2018 10:50pm
Si-Co2,143 posts since 2 Oct 2003
Tyne Tees Look North (North East)
This one still makes me smile, partly due to the (in)appropriate-ness of ad shown instead of the trailer, and partly due to how the announcer (Michael St John?) pads over the breakdown by describing the episode concerned even though he clearly has no further information about it!

Cut out the coupon in your TV Times!
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Rkolsen2,763 posts since 20 Jan 2014
BBC World News

The wobble is due to the satellite only carrying a finite amount of fuel for the engines which keep it in the right spot in the sky - eventually it starts to run out.

one broadcaster (naming no names) booked a big chunk of space for a major state occasion on a wobbly satellite, and were told with about a week to go that it had reached the end of its life, and the remaining fuel was going to send it off into junk orbit. That cheap space then became a very expensive gamble, as just about everything else had been booked...


I’m dying to know whether it was a UK broadcaster, American or European and when did this occur
Don’t let anyone treat you like you’re a VO/SOT when you’re a PKG.
Inspector Sands13,690 posts since 25 Aug 2004
A couple of spectacular film breakdowns from BBC1 here - firstly the 1978 film "Goin' South" falls off air completely before coming back with no sound and being taken off air again until it can be fixed...

Blimey, we think the reaction time is a bit slow when a breakdown happens these days, but that was an extraordinary amount of black before the slide appeared


Maybe the network director was in the loo*. 1997 was the era of the NTA with 1 director, 1 engineer, 1 operator and one announcer per channel. I seem to remember that if the director needed to leave the suite they'd ask the other one to watch out for them or get the one doing prep work to sit in


*this was also the transmission area that had the speakers in the loos so you could hear your network fall off air while sitting in the toilet Laughing



EDIT: just thought, maybe the slow reaction was because it was a film that was on multiple tapes and that was a failed changeover. Would explain that brief image just before the slide and the slow reaction of the director - they were busy trying to get the next bit working
Last edited by Inspector Sands on 30 April 2018 10:04am - 3 times in total
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Steve Williams2,747 posts since 1 Aug 2008
If memory serves, it was his first week in the job, if not his first day. I believe it was his first job in broadcasting too, so he was very new to it all.


We're confusing two Simons here, I think. Simon Potter had that breakdown on his first day where he had to fill for ages ("I think we're going to have our standby video... no, apparently we're not") although I don't think it was his first job on telly because the Radio Times would always announce people like him were already being watched by ten billion people around Europe on Music Box and Superchannel. Simon Parkin started at Christmas 1987 in the mornings. That might have been one of his first weeks in the Broom Cupboard, but probably not his first day. CBBC was his first TV gig, he'd been on the radio before that though.

Thanks Noggin, that was the one, the VE Day programme. Now you say it, of course it couldn't be a time of day thing, just marginal reception I guess.


This is the programme, it was actually for D-Day - http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/schedules/bbcone/london/1994-06-06#at-19.00

This was quite the talking point at the time, they announced at the start they weren't able to join it yet, played music for a few minutes and then announced they wouldn't be able to join it tonight and flung on Wildlife on One. As you say, seemingly there was an error made while booking the satellite and they couldn't transmit it. They recorded it and rescheduled it for a few days later.

One of the all time classics - a live Panorama and all of the VT and film packages were unavailable.

Turns up on clip shows now and again, but what happened next? Did they leave Dimbleby sitting twiddling his thumbs like a lemon or did pres do the slide and music routine?


"You mean we don't have film of either the IMF... or Rhodesia?!" So much to enjoy in that clip, not least David saying he can't tell us anything else about the Rhodesia film as it doesn't have any narration and he can't tell us anything else about the IMF film as it's "quite complicated". Clive James talks about that programme in one of his books of TV reviews, and points out that, to add insult to injury, they did get the Rhodesia film back and played that, cutting David off mid-introduction.

Happened with a famous one on BBC1, the film "Adams Woman". This was a widescreen film, and they were using the pan and scan technique. That alone had poor results, but the highlight of it was when they forgot the change the reel!


On one of the websites for old Beeb employees someone mentions they were just about to introduce a film when they heard in their earpiece the director shouting "What do you mean it says 'short version'?".

I mentioned this in another thread but when Thames were doing the Telethon in 1985, every other regions was showing the final part of a mini-series Thames had bought and edited for the network, which Thames were going to show another night, so Thames sent it to Central to play out to everyone else. But somewhere between London and Birmingham one of the reels went missing and it finished twenty minutes early. Here's the Glasgow Herald reporting it - https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=zcJAAAAAIBAJ&sjid=36UMAAAAIBAJ&pg=2584%2C8040098
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