Broadcasting Parliament - Bridge Street

Broadcasting Parliament - Bridge Street: Intake

The operational methods established during the 1975 experiment were used at Bridge Street, including the idea of a recording channel ("Intake") with pairs of machines recording the outputs of both Houses. These feeds were derived from the PA systems in the two chambers.

One pair of machines (on the left in the photo, with the yellow panels) made recordings used by Today and Yesterday In Parliament (TIP and YIP). The second pair (blue) were for local and regional output and the third (red) for the News Sequences and other programmes. A single pair of machines (white) recorded the Lords. Using seven inch spools of tape, changeovers were done every thirty minutes. For Local Radio this was reduced to fifteen minutes for the first hour and a half of the afternoon sittings. Material was therefore not available until a maximum of half an hour after it had been recorded. In an emergency changeovers were done on demand to allow faster access. The colours of the panels above the machines were repeated on the labels applied to the tape spools and boxes.

In order to extract a clip from these recordings, the tape was taken to a studio and the required section was copied. The rule was that the working recordings should not be cut as the tapes were reused day after day, after being bulk erased.

In addition to the working recordings, Intake also made archive copies of both chambers' outputs. One set (green) was for the BBC's own use and were kept for as long as there was shelf space to hold them, storage space being in rather short supply. A second set were made at 3.75 ips on four Revox machines and these were for Parliament's own archive - and permanent preservation.

On the jackfield were feeds from the Committee Rooms in the Houses of Parliament. These were recorded in Intake during the morning, but afternoon committees were generally recorded
in Studio 1 as there were no spare machines in Intake once the Commons and Lords were sitting. An essential piece of equipment was a timer. This sounded an alarm when the tape changeovers were due. A one minute overlap between tapes was the norm.

A daily task was 'cutting prayers' from the Lords. At the start of each sitting, both Houses have a few minutes of prayers. 'Strangers' are not admitted to the public galleries until after this ritual, and it was not to be recorded. No problem in the Commons, as the PA system wasn't switched on so our feed did not include prayers. But the Lords needed their PA to help them hear so the feed incoming had to be cut during the crucial few minutes. Originally done in the Central Technical Area, the job was later moved to Intake and a Studio Manager had the job of listening just enough to notice when prayers were over and then 'uncut' the feed!