It’s the autumn of 1984 and BBC Northern Ireland is celebrating its 60th anniversary.

The Belfast Presentation department had just upgraded its continuity suite, with new a new caption generator and a box of tricks sent across from London which allowed them to generate their on-screen clock electronically for the first time.

The winter 1984 edition of the BBC quarterly engineering magazine included some details about the continuity upgrade, which included the Studio C facility (used for local news bulletins):

Studio, C, uses a single Link 125 camera for local news contributions. The floor area is some 35sqm, and, like studio B. it has Colortran luminaires plus a twenty-way DTL lighting console. The vision mixer comprises a Cox T16 sixteen-channel desk, with sound being handled by a twelve-channel Neve desk.

The television continuity includes a comprehensive Cox special mixer, Rank Cintel MK7 slide scanner, Aston 3 character generator and separate network and clock logos. Switching, as in the whole complex, is handled by an NTP router.

The continuity has facilities to opt-out of either network and incorporates a special network mimic diagram.

There are three new videotape cubicles. Two of these have new cubicle equipment and a new pair of VPR2s, taking the total number of 1″ machines to four.

One Rank Cintel telecine machine has been moved to a new area in the complex.

BBC EngInf

Belfast was the first Pres department outside of network in London to use an electronically generated clock on air. New clock kit was also distributed to BBC Scotland and BBC Wales in late-1984, in preparation for the UK-wide relaunch of BBC One’s on-screen presentation in February 1985 (originally intended to happen in January 1985).

So BBC Northern Ireland can also boast that it was the only BBC Pres department – other than network – to use an electronically generated version of the 1981 – 1985 BBC One clock.

But who told them that having the ‘BBC1 Northern Ireland’ logo so close to the clock face looked good? We’re not quite sure what the reasoning behind that was. Perhaps they wanted to keep it proportionately and positionally in line with the logo on the globe ident? We may never know.

Incidentally, each piece of clock kit used by network in London, and the BBC Pres departments in Belfast, Glasgow and Cardiff, output the clock face at the same position on the screen, irrespective of the height/width of the channel logo displayed beneath it.

Thankfully, BBC One Northern Ireland’s logo was a little more aesthetically pleasing during BBC One’s COW (Computer Originated World) era, which came along on 18th February 1985.

VIDEO: BBC One Northern Ireland closedown – 60 Years logo. Announcer: Michael Nunan. TX DATE: October 1984. COPYRIGHT: BBC. VREF: 103-01.

Video content

[00:00:00] CLOCK: BBC One Northern Ireland electronically generated clock. Announcer Michael Nunan provides a short sign-off, pointing viewers in the direction of BBC Radio Ulster (which was simulcasting BBC Radio 2 overnight) – which was standard practice on BBC One Northern Ireland at closedown for many years.

[00:00:29] IDENT: BBC One Northern Ireland globe and National Anthem. Here we see the globe modified for the 60th birthday of BBC Northern Ireland.

In fact, to this day, this mechanical device has the ‘BBC1 Northern Ireland’ logo as shown here, but minus the 60 Years logo. As a result, the ‘BBC1’ logo looks off-centre with the globe. BBC Northern Ireland’s Pres department didn’t bother restoring the original ‘BBC1 Northern Ireland’ logo, presumably as they thought the launch of BBC One’s new on-screen presentation was imminent.


PICTURED: BBC One Northern Ireland ident. COPYRIGHT: BBC.

Posted by The Rewind Team

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