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Old 6th May 2023, 1:30 pm   #1
Colourstar
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Default BBC's Citroen DS camera car in action!

Another absolute gem from the BBC archives, this time from a 1976 edition of Blue Peter. So much detail to see here and with the piece shot on location videotape, its so clear it looks like it was made last week!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQA9FiqKct8
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Old 6th May 2023, 3:14 pm   #2
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Default Re: BBC's Citroen DS camera car in action!

Fantastic! I was surprised how stable the picture was, as in not shaking about all over the place.

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Old 6th May 2023, 3:26 pm   #3
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Default Re: BBC's Citroen DS camera car in action!

At one point about half way through Noakes clearly puts a dent in the car roof. I can just imagine the reaction in the gallery.

Does anybody know what happened to that DS when it was decommisioned? Presumably it was just scrapped.
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Old 6th May 2023, 3:43 pm   #4
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Default Re: BBC's Citroen DS camera car in action!

Those were the technologies of the time, and that's the amount of kit that had to be moved around to follow a race, and an actual figure on the amount of power it all took.

It was all presented by someone with a good bit of personality, without talking patronisingly to a young audience. When a bit of technical detail wasn't considered toxic.

Horse race courses are usually pretty open places, without bad obstacles to the line-of sight microwave link. The paying punters in the stands wanted to see it all.

Done this way, without internet etc latency they should have had pretty much immediate video that could be mixed in with other camera sources and or done as P in P.

How did they get it synced up for syncs and chroma phase?

The smooth ride was all done by hydro-mechanical systems without even a hint of electronics. Hydraulic-gas accumulators did the springing.

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Old 6th May 2023, 3:53 pm   #5
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Default Re: BBC's Citroen DS camera car in action!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio Wrangler View Post

How did they get it synced up for syncs and chroma phase?


David
We used to transmit a natlock correction signal (analogue tones) on a dedicated RT channel which was received by the CRE (colour roving eye - the name that was given to the vehicle) and then used to adjust the timing of its sync pulse generator.

This system was used not only for the CRE but for all other moving sources prior to synchronisers being commonplace.

I should add that although a direct clear line of sight between the source and the receive antennae is a prerequisite the reception of a moving analogue video signal (in this case about 450Mhz) it was no mean feat. The whole thing is very susceptible to multi path interference which is tricky to overcome. Directional antennae at each end with the receive antenna being panned to follow the source was the usual setup. My memory isn't telling me if the transmit antenna was also panned during the rove, I'm guessing it was. No doubt another of my erstwhile colleagues will chip in - it was a long time ago!

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Last edited by fetteler; 6th May 2023 at 4:06 pm.
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Old 6th May 2023, 4:59 pm   #6
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Default Re: BBC's Citroen DS camera car in action!

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulsherwin View Post
Does anybody know what happened to that DS when it was decommisioned? Presumably it was just scrapped.
A registration number search (VGY 997M) on the DVLA site (Check if a vehicle is taxed and has an MOT) brings up the vehicle details, so probably not scrapped.
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Old 6th May 2023, 5:00 pm   #7
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Default Re: BBC's Citroen DS camera car in action!

Is that an Ampex portable VTR?

Like this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jy1FtBkLkeA
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Old 6th May 2023, 9:55 pm   #8
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Default Re: BBC's Citroen DS camera car in action!

The 1983 BBC Year book shows a Citroen DS still in use as a camera car, I can't remember the registration though, but it could be the same car.
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Old 6th May 2023, 10:42 pm   #9
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Default Re: BBC's Citroen DS camera car in action!

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulsherwin View Post
Does anybody know what happened to that DS when it was decommisioned? Presumably it was just scrapped.
It shows up in DLA records as "untaxed since 1991" which probably equates to scrapped - this is in the era before Certificates Of Destruction were issued, whereupon the car completely disappears from the DVLA database. However, it could equally be in a garage or back garden somewhere.

On a footnote; given the Taliban-like zeal with which threads involving motor vehicles are shut down on this forum, I'm surprised this one has lasted as long as it has.

Last edited by Cathovisor; 6th May 2023 at 10:57 pm.
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Old 6th May 2023, 10:54 pm   #10
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Default Re: BBC's Citroen DS camera car in action!

My memory suggests that there was rarely a recorder involved with the CRE or Safari as was often referred to. Most jobs were horse racing one where the lucky crew were always the first off site as they did the race and then just drove off into the sunset - where the rest of the OB crew had to wait until all the last race analysis was over and all that before we could even start de-rigging everything.
If it used a recorder it might have been an Ampex VPR20.
Sometimes the CRE was used as a single camera OB unit - memorably it was on the Tog Mor heavy lifting ship that raised the Mary Rose in 1982.

Ging
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Old 7th May 2023, 7:58 am   #11
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Default Re: BBC's Citroen DS camera car in action!

That's when interesting stuff, mildly technical in nature was broadcast. Now everything has been dumbed down so much even fitting a plug would be considered too technical for people.....!

Great piece of archive material!
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Old 7th May 2023, 8:53 am   #12
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Default Re: BBC's Citroen DS camera car in action!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cathovisor View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by paulsherwin View Post
Does anybody know what happened to that DS when it was decommisioned? Presumably it was just scrapped.
It shows up in DLA records as "untaxed since 1991" which probably equates to scrapped - this is in the era before Certificates Of Destruction were issued, whereupon the car completely disappears from the DVLA database. However, it could equally be in a garage or back garden somewhere.

On a footnote; given the Taliban-like zeal with which threads involving motor vehicles are shut down on this forum, I'm surprised this one has lasted as long as it has.
The mods are certainly keeping an eye on this thread. It's being allowed because it's a discussion of the car as a piece of historical broadcast technology.
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Old 7th May 2023, 8:58 am   #13
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Default Re: BBC's Citroen DS camera car in action!

Hi
I was never fortunate enough to see the camera car, I can see though why the BBC chose the particular vehicle, it's stability and engineering made it ideal for the purpose, would be nice to see it in action yet again and I concur with Paul, a major part of broadcasting history.
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Old 7th May 2023, 10:21 am   #14
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Default Re: BBC's Citroen DS camera car in action!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gingpeakin View Post
My memory suggests that there was rarely a recorder involved with the CRE or Safari as was often referred to. Most jobs were horse racing one where the lucky crew were always the first off site as they did the race and then just drove off into the sunset - where the rest of the OB crew had to wait until all the last race analysis was over and all that before we could even start de-rigging everything.
If it used a recorder it might have been an Ampex VPR20.
Sometimes the CRE was used as a single camera OB unit - memorably it was on the Tog Mor heavy lifting ship that raised the Mary Rose in 1982.

Ging
But as I think you will agree the machine in this vehicle is the Ampex VR3000. I believe Ampex worked closely with Uher in the design, no doubt tapping into their ‘miniaturisation’ expertise.
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Old 7th May 2023, 10:23 am   #15
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Default Re: BBC's Citroen DS camera car in action!

Re the video recorder, it is an Ampex VR3000 2 inch Quadruplex "portable" machine. This would have been used for non live work like program inserts.
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Old 7th May 2023, 10:42 am   #16
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Default Re: BBC's Citroen DS camera car in action!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard_FM View Post
The 1983 BBC Year book shows a Citroen DS still in use as a camera car, I can't remember the registration though, but it could be the same car.
Yes, in 1983 the CRE would have been that same car. It was replaced a couple of years later with another Citroen (if memory serves) but not another DS Safari as production of that model had long since stopped by then. Ging and/or Brian may remember more.

FWIW and as I see it, the CRE is what is being discussed here; not the car itself but the outside broadcast vehicle. There are many threads and discussions of OB vehicles on the forum.

Steve.
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Last edited by fetteler; 7th May 2023 at 10:56 am.
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Old 7th May 2023, 10:48 am   #17
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Default Re: BBC's Citroen DS camera car in action!

I had quite a bit of time for John Noakes, a lot of the things he did were really dangerous and wouldn't be allowed by 'elf n' safety now, which is quite fair as at least one person died in a stunt making a TV show, one of Noel Edmunds.

The BBC were really mean not letting him keep the dog Shep, when he left, in case he used it for advertising commercials.

With all these programmes, he was talking to children.

However, I blame him for what followed, so many tried to emulate him in programmes made for adults and copied his style and still do, so they sound as if they are talking to children.

Mat Baker is a classic example.
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Old 7th May 2023, 11:14 am   #18
SiriusHardware
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Default Re: BBC's Citroen DS camera car in action!

Quote:
It was replaced a couple of years later with another Citroen
I think the later car was probably the Citroen CX 'Safari', an example of which we had for a time. Mid to high end Citroens of that time were well known for their advanced, very plush suspension which would have made them ideal moving camera platforms.
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Old 7th May 2023, 11:50 am   #19
fetteler
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Default Re: BBC's Citroen DS camera car in action!

Could be - I'm sure someone who has a better memory than me will be along shortly to tell us fr certain what it was.

Steve.
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Old 7th May 2023, 12:00 pm   #20
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Default Re: BBC's Citroen DS camera car in action!

This thread has served its purpose to introducing the video of the outside broadcasting vehicle, but it has already strayed and is taking up too much Mod time so the thread will now be closed.

Cheers

Mike T
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