ORBEM
Broadcasting Parliament - Bridge Street

Broadcasting Parliament - Bridge Street: Cubicle 1A

Cubicle general view
Space was always at a premium at Bridge Street, and all the technical areas were very small. The actual studios were a bit too small to photograph, in fact. The lighting wasn't ideal for available light photography, either. There were two radio studios, each of which had two cubicles. These were known as 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B. To transfer control of the studios between their two cubicles there was a switch in the studio itself. This transferred control of speaker and headphone feeds and signalling lamps. The mic outputs were available to both cubicles at all times.

Cubicle 1A, seen here, was by far the largest, and had enough space for five Telefunken M15As. This made it possible to record committees and still have enough machines for other jobs. The large board mounted on the second machine from the far end was for insert tapes. It provided sufficient space to lay out all the tapes for the half-hour Today in Parliament transmission. The window in this view looked across Bridge Street to the Palace of Westminster.

Desk and Uhers
The desks at Bridge Street were all Neves. In the gloom at the right hand edge of this picture is a rack containing four Uhers. They were supposed to start in the event of a power cut as a means of continuing recordings of the Chambers until recordings could be started at Broadcasting House.

Above the rack is an 'Annunciator'. This displayed the name of the current speaker in both chambers (two switchable feeds) and, if the audio was switched on, would emit a nasty jangling sound in the event of a vote. These 'division bells' can be found all over Westminster, even in the local pubs. In the studios, a white light indicated a division. If the division bell rang while an MP was in the studio he or she had just ten minutes to get to the voting lobby.

Desk
There were twelve channels on the desk, but only six of them had eq facilities. In the centre of the desk are the PPMs, monitoring and talkback controls and on the right are the limiters, ringmain selectors and tape remotes. Network feeds on the Bridge Street ring-main were off-air, the tuners being in the Central Technical Area.

A mixing area in the Palace itself could be used to add commentary to the Commons and Lords feeds and this was used for the transmission of Prime Minister's Question Time (PMQs) - in those days a twice weekly event. There was usually a great demand for clips from this small section of the Parliamentary day, so extra recordings were made from which clips could be cut, avoiding the need to copy from the Intake tapes.