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Broadcast Clocks

Origins and examples

BR
Brekkie Wales Wales Today
This probably should be TV Forum 101, but C4 reviving theirs today prompts a couple of thoughts and an opportunity to share examples.

Firstly, was their use mandated in the early days of British TV? As far as I'm aware all ITV regions had them, certainly through to the eighties. Did C4 still have one in the circle era - I remember they used a circular clock for showing programme times initially, but was there also a regular clock, though perhaps rarely used. I assume C5 never had one.

Secondly, were they there from the start on BBC TV? Earliest example I can find is from 1953, with further examples from 1963 and 1964.

And finally other than the abstract C4 version and BBC Scotland digital clock are any in use on British TV today, and if not what was the last one.
Here's to the next 20 ye.....

Oh!
NJ
Neil Jones Founding member Central (West) Midlands Today
I don't believe they were mandated, it may be that in the early days of TV when they were trying to figure out how this new-fangled TV thing should be presented, it was an idea that happened to stick.

A lot of presentation has moved to digital clocks, although I believe they may still be present on at least one French breakfast TV show. Last I saw was a nice tidy looking clock that didn't take up bucketloads of space on screen.

TV-am was probably the last broadcaster to use an analogue clock, as I think the BBC's service equivalent dropped it into the 1990s. GMTV had a digital clock which eventually morphed into a graphic that was probably bigger than the TV-am equivalent, though it did slim down after a while.
TI
tightrope78 UTV Newsline

TV-am was probably the last broadcaster to use an analogue clock, as I think the BBC's service equivalent dropped it into the 1990s. GMTV had a digital clock which eventually morphed into a graphic that was probably bigger than the TV-am equivalent, though it did slim down after a while.


This was discussed before. BBC Breakfast News kept its analogue clock through the virtual era and only changed to digital when they broke away from the corporate look in mid 1997.

Video from January 1997



September 1997

Last edited by tightrope78 on 22 January 2021 8:47pm
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SP
Steve in Pudsey Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
We need to be careful on nomenclature here, as analogue clock could mean "has hands" or "not generated electronically". Until the 80s clocks were literally a camera pointing at a physical clock rather than it being generated electronically.

TV-AM's clock was a physical one - it broke one day and was replaced with a "digital" flip model. Breakfast time had an electronic one - Richard Russell's BAT - Breakfast Analogue Time which was likely closely related to the network ones he designed.

Clocks were a handy thing in ITV regional presentation because they were generated by a camera. Most of the material in junctions except ads and trailers came from cameras (or slide scanners, which were glorified cameras) for good reason.

Network programmes came into ITV regions from a variety of sources, and before synchronisers were widespread it was necessary to genlock the station to the incoming source to be able to get a clean transition. Trying to do this while VT or Telecine was on air was a recipe for disaster but cameras didn't object to having the sync pulses gently tweaked (by adding or dropping a few lines from each frame) to nudge it in sync with the incoming programme, so in vision continuity announcers, slides and clocks were used to give a buffer between the ads and the programme for that operation to take place.

Beyond that, I think it was just established convention that the news was introduced off a clock, I don't think it was a rule as such.
Write that down in your copybook now.
TE
Technologist London London
Remember that Invision clocks run say 1/2 second fast so you see it hit the top of the hour
and then CUT at hh:00:00:00
Read about RTRs work on BBC electronically generated clocks
http://www.bbceng.info/Designs/designs_reminiscences/Richard_Russell/rtrdd.html
and https://www.bbceng.info/Designs/designs_reminiscences/richard_russell_part2/rtrbbc.html
SC
Si-Co Tyne Tees Look North (North East)
As an aside, I notice the mention of OWL (electronic rotating world - which for some reason isn’t an acronym). Was this the 1991-97 BBC One symbol? I know it had some sort of name.
CEEFAX SUBTITLES BEGIN SHORTLY
MK
Mr Kite Granada North West Today
I was looking through old BBC pres on TV Ark a week or two ago and noticed that during the 1986-91 BBC "TWO" era, the station had its own clock design separate from BBC One. Previously, they used the same clock as BBC One, albeit with a different colour scheme and then went back to sharing again from '91.

Nothing special, was just something I noticed that was unique about that era.
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MW
Mike W London London
Remember that Invision clocks run say 1/2 second fast so you see it hit the top of the hour
and then CUT at hh:00:00:00
Read about RTRs work on BBC electronically generated clocks
http://www.bbceng.info/Designs/designs_reminiscences/Richard_Russell/rtrdd.html
and https://www.bbceng.info/Designs/designs_reminiscences/richard_russell_part2/rtrbbc.html

http://www.bbceng.info/EDI%20Sheets/10591.pdf
RW
Robert Williams Founding member London London
BBC Television actually used a digital clock from 1960, which is shown about halfway down this page:

http://www.meldrum.co.uk/mhp/identzone/bbc_tv/index.html

I have the Radio Times for 8-14 October 1960 with a picture of this clock which states that it would be introduced at 6.30 on Saturday evening (8th October). There is a theory that this clock may have been used exclusively for a while instead of a channel ident, and indeed the programme it would have been introducing at 6.30 was Dixon of Dock Green https://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/schedules/bbctv/1960-10-08 which in later years is not the type of programme that would be introduced by a clock rather than a symbol - the clock would only be used to link into the news and other live programming such as Grandstand or even Blue Peter.
SP
Steve in Pudsey Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
I was looking through old BBC pres on TV Ark a week or two ago and noticed that during the 1986-91 BBC "TWO" era, the station had its own clock design separate from BBC One. Previously, they used the same clock as BBC One, albeit with a different colour scheme and then went back to sharing again from '91.

Nothing special, was just something I noticed that was unique about that era.

There was a discussion in the Twitter Gold thread about that a few months ago, BBC Wales (iirc) didn't have the facility to generate that so adapted the BBC1 clock.
Write that down in your copybook now.
SP
Steve in Pudsey Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
Si-Co posted:
As an aside, I notice the mention of OWL (electronic rotating world - which for some reason isn’t an acronym). Was this the 1991-97 BBC One symbol? I know it had some sort of name.

One World Logo, an alternative name for the more common COW

http://www.bbcbasic.co.uk/owl/
Write that down in your copybook now.
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MA
Markymark Meridian (Thames Valley) South Today
Remember that Invision clocks run say 1/2 second fast so you see it hit the top of the hour
and then CUT at hh:00:00:00
Read about RTRs work on BBC electronically generated clocks
http://www.bbceng.info/Designs/designs_reminiscences/Richard_Russell/rtrdd.html
and https://www.bbceng.info/Designs/designs_reminiscences/richard_russell_part2/rtrbbc.html


That BBC design was licensed out to GEC McMichael in Slough for commercial manufacture. I remember seeing the crate in C4's equipment bays in 1985. However I think the first non BBC user was TSW, who used theirs from their day 1, Jan 82

McMicheal become Vistek, and today after lots of mergers is part of the Belden Grass Valley group
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