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Mike W4,954 posts since 30 Apr 2006
London London
I believe this is one of the few occasions where Pebble Mill was fully staffed keeping a 'shadow' service running should Y2K interfere with the playout for 1/2 etc

Wasn't needed in the event but the old technology at the Mill was seen as less susceptible to date related issues.
Oh it's such a perfect day, I'm glad I spent it with you...
Inspector Sands14,093 posts since 25 Aug 2004
I believe this is one of the few occasions where Pebble Mill was fully staffed keeping a 'shadow' service running should Y2K interfere with the playout for 1/2 etc

Wasn't needed in the event but the old technology at the Mill was seen as less susceptible to date related issues.

It wasn't that the technology there was older - the VT machines would have been identical age/type at both, the edit suites and gallery might well have been newer than the NTA at TV Centre.


It was a case of just having a facility in a different location for resilience
Last edited by Inspector Sands on 31 December 2019 6:10pm
commseng320 posts since 8 Dec 2016
London London
I have some fairly grim memories of it all.
I was working for the BBC 1 programme and was looking after the radio links with a colleague who was so ill he could barely speak.
We were one of the main London hub sites, next to the new (and not yet working) London Eye.
The London Eye team were trying to blame our links for some of the cabins going upside down as the wheel went round.
We needed a 103 foot hoist to see the main hub site near Southwark, but only had a 100' hoist, so ours was on the maximum reach of its jacks.
The days were long, the kit was all pressed into service, including some of the less reliable stuff.
Watching the Prime Minister and the CEO of British Airways open the London Eye, on a very dodgy 5GHz link live to the nation and beyond with everything crossed.....
Colleagues and former colleagues, and anyone else we could employ who knew what a sync pulse was getting locked in and out of buildings.
Not leaving site for hours on end, and nothing to eat for 18 hours on the day itself.
Someone from production giving us a Mars bar which we cut in half and a small bag of Mini Cheddars, which we shared.....
The Scottish rigger producing a bottle of scotch that we drank on the roof of the nearby building having climbed a ladder that was about 2 feet shorter than it should have been.
The other rigger spotting someone in the crowd stealing some of our kit and boucing their head down the side of our Bedford links truck. Quite loudly.....
With no toilets anywhere on site, men were pissing everywhere, women were going underneath our hoist on its tippy toes.
Broken glass everywhere.
Leaving site to walk the mile to our digs through the crowds, finally getting there about 3am, with nothing to eat when we arrived.
Getting up again at 5am to go back to site.
The genny op not having any means of getting back to site, and the Unit Manager who was acting in the post, starting up the genny.
The electricity going off 20 minutes later, with a lot of shouting when the genny op arrived, and spotted the ventilation flaps weren't open and the genny was overheating.
Despite the technical crew being back on site, nobody else arriving for our breakfast commitments, no production or talent.
Eventually giving up and deriging in the broken glass and piss while slightly hungover, tired and very hungry.
Finally going home and ready for bed.
I have said, based on that, that I will never work another millennium ever again.
Last edited by commseng on 1 January 2020 12:40pm
32
commseng320 posts since 8 Dec 2016
London London
Just following up on the memories of the Millennium job I posted earlier.
I remember the excitment of the River of Fire, with the Queen due to head down the Thames to Greenwich with the fireworks exploding from beneath.
I think it was the Royal Security, who having managed to prevent the Queen from being exploded for the previous 50 years or so were not keen for her to have a whole river's worth of it buried beneath her, and it all got tamed down a bit.
The many technical difficulties of us getting so many radio links working all around central London and therefore having to reuse the same frequencies caused difficulties, despite all the tricks we did. Making sure the feed of the camera on Victoria Tower aimed at Big Ben (which was the one on air at the very point of the Millennium starting) I recall being tricky, and I think was one of the sites where a colleague either got locked in or out of the building. The other being the Fire Brigade building at Vauxhall, where another got locked on a roof. Not many folks were working that night for some reason, and it took a while to get him released.
I remember trying to establish and line up circuits with the main site at Southwark, and finding that our RT (radio telephone on 78MHz VHF) was being swamped out by every other site, including the one on a hill at Greenwich which romped in every time I tried to get through. Cell phones were also almost unusable. I almost cried when I finally managed to establish contact with my colleagues, it had been that frustrating.
I think (and I am quite happy to be proved wrong) that the hub of the operation was at TVC, and I think the gallery of TC5 (usually the Grandstand studio) was used for all the incoming feeds from all over the world, and those of us spread around the UK.
The memories of seeing the Queen doing an unfamiliar Auld Lang Syne hands thing at the Millennium Dome, and finding out the difficulties my colleagues were having down there with the levels of security.
I vaugly remember others stuck on a disused structure in the middle of the Thames, with nothing other than the cold to see the New Millennium in with.
The following morning when Production failed to show up on site is the only time in my entire working life when that happened.
It was the last time I saw some of my colleagues, some retired ones did their final show as freelancers that evening, and another was ill, and worked despite his problems. He didn't make it past April.
I don't know if the public really watched, or it was all a bit too much, and other than Auckland and London seeing in the midnight hours (first major city and then home) did anyone really care that yet another city was celebrating? Sorry Anchorage and San Francisco, we've already seen it......
Just my memories for any of you that are interested (well you did ask) and Happy New Year to all.
Last edited by commseng on 1 January 2020 12:41pm - 2 times in total
4
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commseng320 posts since 8 Dec 2016
London London
I believe this is one of the few occasions where Pebble Mill was fully staffed keeping a 'shadow' service running should Y2K interfere with the playout for 1/2 etc

Wasn't needed in the event but the old technology at the Mill was seen as less susceptible to date related issues.

I also remember that due to the possibility of the Milennium bug affecting broadcast critical kit, that a backup site, elsewhere in the Midlands was fully staffed for Radio, just incase BH had a wobble.
Some of my radio colleagues saw in the year 2000 deep underground, with nothing to do as radio continued above them.