Memories Of Telly Centre Part 3 – 2010-2012

As explained in Part 2, my return to TVC as a freelance Engineer first occurred in April 2010 when I turned up as part of the team to rig the huge show in TC1 for the General Election programme in May. We started from this:

TC1 Floor

TC1 Floor

Progressed to this:

Lighting Rig Overlooking The Set

Lighting Rig Overlooking The Set

And went back to this – all in a few weeks:

Flight Cases

Flight Cases

You can see the full set of pictures I made during the rig here:

Almost a year on, and I got another call – would I like to go back to help out with the much smaller Local Election show in May 2011? Well I’d had fun the year before, so why not? Here is a mugshot close to transmission of most of the tech rigging team involved (plus a couple of other faces you may recognise):

Vote 2011 Crew

Vote 2011 Crew

Sure enough, another 12 months flew by and before I knew it I was back a third time for the Vote 2012 show, again from News studio N9 rather than the cavernous TC1:

N9 Studio Floor On Air

N9 Studio Floor On Air

I got roped in to be official photographer for the whole production and technical team this time!

Vote 2012 Crew

Vote 2012 Crew

I also had time during transmission to take a walkabout and make some more behind-the-scenes shots:

I spent June, July and August of 2012 working at New Broadcasting House with some old friends – helping with the studio acceptance testing for BBC News’ move to their new home in W1. Then I went to Japan for nearly a month to recover! But by October 2012 I’d been asked back for what I thought was the final time at TVC to help out with the US Election Special in early November. There was no studio in London this time – it was in the US. But there were still plenty of technical backup areas which needed rigging.

MCX OB Hub SCAR Desk

MCX OB Hub SCAR Desk

In Case Of Emergency

In Case Of Emergency

It was rather sad to see parts of TVC already being decommissioned – including some of the bits we were trying to use! Still, the programme got made and I took a wander during TX to record the event:

So, on 9th November 2012, I left TVC for what I thought would be the last time. Remember that old adage? – Never Say Never

But that story is for Part 4…

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Memories Of Telly Centre Part 2 – 2000-2009

BBC TVC Christmas 1999/NY 2000

BBC TVC Christmas 1999/NY 2000

Following on from Part 1… As the New Millennium turned, I was still working as an Engineer for BBC News. My last big Special programme rig was for their 2000 Today Millennium live broadcast – a 28-hour show co-ordinated from Telly Centre but incorporating OB’s from around the globe. Here’s the motley crew which helped to rig it all up:

B.Eng Rigging Team, TVC Basement Hub

B.Eng Rigging Team, TVC Basement Hub

LtoR: Me (looking young, ha ha), Malcolm Sanders, Adam Baxter, Giles, Carol, Dave and Helena. I feel bad that I’ve forgotten some of their surnames, but Malcolm and Adam are the only two I’ve since kept in touch with.

We had to provide monitoring and switching facilities for all foreign broadcasters who were using TVC as their base for the show (which was re-broadcast by many other countries) – often dubbing commentary in their own languages over our pictures. Some of our spaghetti looked like this:

Europe/Overseas Hub Temporary Monitor Stack, TVC TC4

Europe/Overseas Hub Monitor Stack, TVC TC4

Comms Central, B140, TVC Basement

Comms Central, B140, TVC Basement

Malcolm's Corner, TVC Basement

Malcolm’s Corner, TVC Basement

Southern UK Hub, TVC Basement

Southern UK Hub, TVC Basement

The show was the one and only time I’ve ever worked on my Birthday – which was 1st Jan 2000. Ever-prepared, I had a cake in the shape of the Millennium Dome and some fizz on hand for a little celebration just after Midnight GMT!

Auntie Beeb Throws Me A Party!

Auntie Beeb Throws Me A Party!

Here are the rest of my archive images from the event:

After we had packed it all up again a few days later, I started my new job looking after the News Engineering intranet site full time – something which I had already been doing in conjunction with my Supervisor’s role for a few months.

Eventually in late 2001 I got a different job in Web Development with another BBC department and moved out of TVC altogether, to a soul-less office near Great Portland Street. I was sad to leave the old place, but went back a few times to see friends. But I pretty much thought my working life in Telly Centre was done and dusted at that point. Even more so, when I took Voluntary Redundancy in April 2007 and embarked on a full-time freelance web development career.

However, never say never…

Back At The Beeb - But Just For Lunch

Back At The Beeb – But Just For Lunch

In November 2009, (on Day #689 of my continuing Photo-A-Day project), I went back to TVC to meet up with Malcolm and some other friends I’d not seen in years. We had an enjoyable lunch, during which Malcolm asked if I’d be interested in doing some Freelance Engineering for the General Election show in May 2010! They were really short-staffed and could do with another pair of hands who knew what was involved with such a big programme. I was rather taken aback, but thought about it for about 5 seconds before saying “yes”. However, that’s another tale for Part 3.

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Memories Of Telly Centre Part 1 – 1988-1999

Devastating things are afoot at BBC Television Centre. The icon of Auntie for more than 50 years is finally shutting up shop so that refurbishment and redevelopment can take place. There have been lots of memories evoked from an evening celebrating the building on BBC4. Since Alistair has written a few thoughts about his experiences there, I thought I would dredge my personal archives for a few piccies to show you, which I have taken over the years. I first set foot in Television Centre in early 1986 when I had an interview for Sponsorship at University by BBC News & Current Affairs (as it was then). I was lucky – I got it. Which meant I spent 3 years at Sheffield Uni with a modest bursary and a holiday job most teenagers would die for…

My first six week stint as a Vacation Trainee in 1987 was actually spent at BBC Norwich. But the summer of 1988 was my first time in Television Centre as a paid “employee”. Our six-week shift pattern had us covering news bulletins from the old Lime Grove studios down the road, Newsnight from TC2 at TVC and Breakfast Time – my first taste of Night Shifts. These four pictures are the only ones I took during that summer – in the days when film was expensive, cameras were quite bulky, and I generally regarded photography as something you did when you saw “pretty things” – not the inside of the world’s leading broadcaster.

TC2 VAR Monitoring & Routing Bays

TC2 VAR Monitoring & Routing Bays

TC2 VAR CCUs And Vision Monitoring

TC2 VAR CCUs And Vision Monitoring

TC2 Production Gallery

TC2 Production Gallery

TC2 Studio Floor With Ancient Newsnight Set

TC2 Studio Floor With Ancient Newsnight Set

In 1989 I went back for another 6 weeks, and upon graduating, I started my training as a Broadcast Engineer in September 1990 at the BBC’s dedicated training centre in Evesham. Through the 90’s I worked my way up through the ranks as an Engineer, Senior Engineer and finally Supervisory Engineer with the News department. Managers came and went, but a core of the staff remained throughout that time. We were still working a 6-week shift pattern and the News began its 24-hour broadcasting in the latter half of the decade. Malcom, my shift supervisor through much of the time, was also involved in rigging the extra facilities required for special programmes such as the Budget, Locals and General Elections – and I often got involved in that too. It would stand me in good stead… but that’s for Part 2.

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FitBit Review – January ’13

Feeling Flabby

A Posse Of Geeks, Geocaching

A Posse Of Geeks, Geocaching

On New Year’s Day I spent some time with geek friends in Sussex doing some geocaching. We didn’t walk very far, but there was rather a steep hill involved. By the time I’d waked down the road and climbed back up it, I was knackered and out of breath. It was then that I decided something needed to be done.

Fitbit & Activity

Coincidentally, I got a FitBit One for my birthday and have been using it to monitor my activity ever since. It’s recommended each of us walks at least 10,000 steps per day. That’s about 5 miles. You may think that’s hard to achieve, and if you work from home in a sedentary job, you’d be right. On a lazy day, I had trouble getting up to 1,000 steps. Rubbish!

Pomodoro

I realised that you don’t have to do all 10,000 steps at once. (Five miles takes about 80 minutes for me if I’m doing it in one hit). I had a lot of work on during January which meant I had to be at my home office desk during office hours, so could not afford the time to walk 5 miles all in one go while there was daylight. Plus the weather was pretty awful. So how did I achieve my goal? Using a simplification of the Pomodoro technique, I would set a timer to go off after 50 minutes of each hour. During those 50 minutes I concentrated solely on the tasks at hand and didn’t get distracted by email, Twitter, or other frivolity. It was very productive.

Once the alarm went off, I would have the next 10 minutes to make a cup of tea, check Twitter on my phone – and most importantly – get off my but and walk about. Either round the block (which took about 8 minutes) if the weather wasn’t hideous, or up and down in the house if it was too awful to go outside. Each of these sessions would easily wrack up about 1,000 steps, plus at least one floor climbed to get back up to my office at the end of it. 10 of these a day and I’d easily accomplished my goal!

The Stats

One month in, and I’m finding the stats are pretty interesting. The first graph is daily distance (in miles). Next up is calorie intake (pale green) and calories burned (dark green). As long as you’re expending more than you’re eating, you should start losing weight, right?

The next graph is body weight. I’m not showing you the absolute values (still a little shy for that) but you can see my steady downward progress and the actual weight loss across the month. The dotted line is my ultimate target weight; again the vertical axis is not to scale.

Finally, there’s the sleep graph. The FitBit One, if worn in a special arm band whilst asleep, monitors how often you wake up and how long you slept.

January 2013 FitBit Stats

January 2013 FitBit Stats

Food Intake

It wasn’t until the latter part of the month that I decided to use the iPhone FitBit app to record my calorie intake each day (which is why the calorie intake graph is flat for the beginning of January). And I’ve also begun to observe 2/7 days a week with only eating 500 calories to try and give my weight loss a kick start.

I’ve been on various diets a few times in the past, and lost weight before. Then gained it again. I can’t seem to be on a permanent diet because it’s just BORING, and every time I fall off the wagon I feel bad about it, get disheartened and tend to give up.

Doing 2/7 days @ 500 calories isn’t rocket science, and two days a week being “ultra good” I find manageable, if it means I’m not beating myself up the rest of the time over what I’m eating. On the other 5 days, I’m recording my calorie intake, but I’m not limiting it. That’s a bit psychological difference in my book.

I’m still having a few drinks, eating crisps and chocolate. Fish and chips are OK. Cake sometimes too. They are not forbidden, and I don’t get a guilt trip when eating them like I have on previous diets. I can see that this sort of change could become much more long-term than those I’ve done in the past as you’re not spending every day wondering if you’re allowed to eat this or that.

Weight Loss

In the past 3-4 years, I’ve not weighed myself very often. On 1st January I stood on my old analogue scales and got a shock. Heaviest. Weight. Ever. 🙁

I decided early on not to weight myself every day, as it could get rather obsessional. Also, if I went up in weight by a pound or two, I would not record this on the app, but just wait until I’d lost it again (and more), before logging my new weight. You may think that’s a bit of a cop out, but I find it works better for me because the overall trend is downwards, which psychologically is more encouraging. It’s not cheating if you’re actually losing the weight in the end, anyway! Weighing myself after a 500 calorie day tended to give more encouraging results too!

So, I’m really pleased to have lost 3.3Kg this month, thanks to upping my activity and looking closely at what I eat. Let’s hope it continues…

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On The Trail Of Wenlock & Mandeville

The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville, are perhaps a bit scary at first glance, with that one big eye, watching you. I wasn’t too enamoured with them when they were first unveiled, but having attended the games and seen Wenlock on the TV coverage, they have grown on me!

Much like previous art installations around London with decorated Cows, Eggs or Elephants, the Mayor of London has organised six Discovery Stroll trails around iconic bits of London, with lots of variously decorated mascots to find. I’ve had a go at three so far. I’ve completed the Green trail (around Regents Park), Purple (south of Oxford Street) and most of Pink (Covent Garden and the West End). I will add to this post each time I get a few more in the bag.

Green Trail (Regents Park)

Purple Trail (South of Oxford Street)

Pink Trail (Leicester Square and Covent Garden)

Yellow Trail (South/East of Liverpool Street)

Last night (14th August) I managed to walk the Yellow Trail on my way home from work – rather convenient as it started at Liverpool Street Station! I collected all 16 mascots from the trail:

Blue Trail (St Paul’s and South of the River)

I completed the Blue Trail on 17th Autust. Having found my first two statues on 24th July, I’d already done two of this trail but thought it was time to find the other 14. The route took me around St Paul’s Cathedral, across the Millennium Bridge and south along the river to City Hall and Tower Bridge:

Red Trail (Waterloo And Westminster)

I finished the Red Trail on 20th August. It took me on a loop from Waterloo, around City Hall and The London Eye, along the south bank of the Thames to Lambeth Palace and back to Westminster Abbey:

Finally, on 22nd August I found the remaining three statues from the Pink Trail, most of which I’d done previously. So now I’ve seen all 82! It was fun!

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