Museum of the Broadcast Television Camera

E-mail Received; Memories of working with Fernseh cameras

Bosch Fernseh KCU-40 TV camera

I worked at Yorkshire TV in the late 70’s and early 80’s as a Studio Cameraman. We also were allowed out on Outside Broadcasts from time to time at the weekends, and once every three months we did a block of Emmerdale (Farm as it was then called). This was when we had to leave our beloved EMI 2001’s and slum it with the Bosch Fernseh’s.

Emmerdale exteriors were shot using one of the Sport Scanners and seeing these monsters destroy low hanging trees as the trundled into the locations was quite something. How we achieved shooting drama under these circumstances would take some believing these days. Each Scanner had I think five cameras, three full size and two lightweights. The latter never worked properly, had green eye-pieces, lousy studio viewfinders and terrible lenses. The full size jobs were heavy, unreliable and gave up the ghost at the slightest hint of dampness. On football matches they were ok, they would be rigged the day before, lined up on the TX day, and last for the match – just. On Drama, they were constantly being switched off and on, moved around and pointed at the “sky”. In other words, if the grey midwinter sky entered the frame the whole picture crushed down and there was an enormous red tear where the sky stopped and the land began. Solution – crane up, look down and avoid the sky.

Because of the damp problems the cameras always had their full wet weather covers on – resulting in overheating and channel failure. YTV engineering came up with another solution, this was a large box that fitted on top of the camera above the vent holes containing a large fan to cool down the oven below. Great, now the camera is bigger and noisier.

A colleague of mine – who shall remain nameless, once spent twenty minutes or so rigging one of the lightweights for a shot in a tricky place. Only to be told when the camera was switched on that the picture coming from it was unacceptable, change to a big camera. He took the lightweight back to the tender and gave it a good kicking before putting it back in its flightcase. Apparently it worked perfectly when next rigged.

Somehow we soldiered on and they were used for many years, till at least the mid eighties I think. Sorry I don’t have any tender stories about the old Fernseh’s, they were terrible.

Best wishes