Extract from Chapter 2 of the book

"50 Years of ABC Technical Services -

Alright Leaving Here" by Doug Grant

 
 

 

                                              Opposite the Forbes Street radio studios
was the charming sandstone 1866 St. Peter's Anglican church and hall.
The Minister of the church at the time was the Reverend Bernard Judd, who was
also known for his role as the President of the Temperance Alliance. Prue Bavin
(Script Assistant to Producer Mungo McCallum on opening night) remembered
that: "Mr Judd....was most disapproving - he was not the least impressed by
television. He thought we were a frivolous lot"
. The church hall had been used
for some years as a radio rehearsal studio - Studio 228. As Oswald Clerihew
put it in an April 1956 edition of the staff newspaper 'Radio Active', "Once it
was used for unfortunate solo artists - who hadn't anywhere else to go - to sing
in"
! He added, "Now it's cluttered with cameras, cables, monitors, scenery,
cabinets, tables, chairs, ladders, lights, booms, dollys, and a number of hot
people unable even to find space for a cat to swing in"
. He was referring to the
fact that radio Studio 228 had been transformed into the ABC's TV training
studio. Incidentally, it was in this same item that the description was provided
that television is: "merely smog - with knobs on!".

The technical facilities at St. Peter's hall had been set up under the auspices
of technical staff including Colin Stockbridge and John Laker. The Studio 228
radio control room was converted to a vision and sound control area. The first
TV camera to be supplied was received around late October 1955. It was a
Marconi Mark 2 type utilising a 3 inch image orthicon camera tube, but which
was later modified to a Type 2A to take advantage of the relatively new 4 1/2
inch image orthicon camera tubes developed by RCA. John recalls working with
Colin Stockbridge to assemble the camera: "with the handbook in one hand and
surrounded by boxes of cables and parts. Fortunately there was a picture in the
front of the handbook"
. They managed to get the first camera up and running
around mid November 1955: "late one Friday evening". They saw: "a very
black and very white picture which was very grainy"
. The following Sunday
morning, both Colin and John brought their respective wives and children into
St. Peter's and they: "saw themselves on TV". John and Colin thought: "this
was a great stride ahead".

The Sydney TV camera went into full-scale training action for the first time
on the evening of Wednesday November 28th , 1955 when a live magazine-type
program was presented to an audience including the General Manager, Charles
Moses (later Sir Charles), other senior officers, and TV school members. Leo
Fowler was the cameraman, Dave Tapp was the Technical Producer, Bob Forster
was on the Camera Control Unit (CCU), and John Laker was responsible for
lighting. Kaye Kinane produced the show and Betty Parsons floor-managed.
Leo Fowler and Bob Forster had been seconded from ABC-Radio in Melbourne
because they had previous television camera experience in the U.K. with the
BBC. They had both been PMG technicians attached to ABC-Radio.

 

Doug Grant was an Engineer with the Australian Broadcasting Commission/Corporation for 30 years, and worked in both radio and television areas of the ABC's Technical Services Division.

 

 

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