Category Archives: People

News about Nial Brown

Nial Brown update

Many of you will be aware that Nial had a severe stroke at the end of February this year.

Well, Nial is now out of hospital and recuperating at home with Sarah and the boys. He’s doing well but he’s going to need regular sessions of Physiotherapy to help with walking and to improve the use of his right arm and hand which were badly affected by the stroke. He’ll also need regular therapy to help get his speech back.
The NHS are able to provide a weekly session each of speech therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy for 12 weeks. This is as much as their resources will allow and will be very helpful, but they say this isn’t as intensive as they would ideally like to offer. Sarah and Nial have taken advice that ideally they should be looking to arrange 3 specialist physio sessions a week plus exercises and practice outside sessions, and daily speech therapy backed up with daily practice and computer software. So Sarah has booked an additional 2 physio sessions and 3 speech therapy sessions with private therapists to bolster up the service offered by the NHS, and to continue after the NHS input ends. This is common practice, the NHS staff and private therapists are all used to working together.
To give an idea of timescale, Nial’s consultant has said his potential to recover function in his arm and leg could be largely realised over the next 3 years; his potential to improve his speech will be realised over approximately 10 years. The private therapists are very aware of the expense and the need to ration Sarah and Nial’s funds over time, and they will look at varying their input as needed. The physio is Richard Sealy at The Rehabilitation Practice, and the Speech therapist is Joanna Armstrong, now a private speech and language therapist who has worked at Kingston hospital for the last seven years in the stroke unit.

Many friends have expressed an interest in making a financial contribution to aid Nial’s recovery, and, whilst this is something that Sarah and Nial have not asked for, they have said that any contributions would be used to help pay for the extra sessions mentioned above, and would be very much appreciated. The hourly rates for this kind of therapy are around £120 for an hour of specialist neuro physiotherapy, and £75 per hour of speech therapy.

All donations would be treated in the strictest of confidence. It’s totally understood that these are hard times financially and nobody should feel any pressure to contribute. But whether it were a one off gift, or maybe a smaller amount paid monthly by standing order, anything would help enormously and make a difference to Nial’s recovery.
It’s equally important to spread these details far and wide, so if you know anyone who knows or has worked with Nial who might want to help, please pass this on.

If you would wish to help financially in any way, email me, Chris Booth, and I will send you details of the account that has been specially set up for the purpose. (This way will keep the account details safe from the idiots who regularly try to spam these pages!)

We’ve been advised to make it clear exactly how any money gifted would be spent. In the first instance money would be specifically used to buy sessions of physio and speech therapy for Nial. In the event of any excess money being raised for any reason, this would be donated to either a local Neurological charity called INS ( or the Stroke Association.

Best wishes,
Friends of Nial Brown

Help Wanted

I’ve just had an inquiry from Steve Burgess, used to be in Studio Engineering, who has just acquired an Ampex Mk XX head assembly (AVR1, ACR25).

He wonders if anyone out there has a Mk XX test stand or access to a set of AVR1 or ACR25 manuals?

Anyone who can help/suggest a contact, drop me an email and I will pass it on to Steve.

New Venue for Oldboys Lunch

Yesterday’s Oldboys lunch was at a new venue, “The Black Horse” at Chorleywood Common. Chose by Howard Dell after a strenuous time spent trying different pubs in the area it proved to be a very good choice indeed. Pictures of the event are now in Past Events, Current Lunch.


The food was excellent and the portions so generous virtually everyone had the ‘small’ version! It was good to welcome Nick Pitt and Ian Howlett as well as Bernard Trim who will be unknown to many of you. His connection with VT machines was connected with their use as data recorders …… a subject still subject to the OSA!


February 18th 2013

Terry Watson RIP

From Bob Tolson

It is with great sadness that I have to tell you my great pal Terry Watson passed away on Wednesday 13th February. He lost a battle with cancer having only been diagnosed with it towards the end of last year. As you probably know, after he retired from the BBC he moved to the Cotswolds with his wife Anne and it is with her that our thoughts are now.


January 1st 2013

A Happy New Year to everybody – rather a significant year for the “Class of 63” as it will be 50 years since we joined (September 9th) and 20 years since we left (March 31st) – where did the time go?

A couple of pictures to start off 2013. The first is of a place you may recall – the Effects Workshop, with Robin Lobb (we believe) in the background.



And, a hang-over from last Autumn, taken on our way back from Telford – who nicked the gates to Wood Norton?



September 25th 2012

At the beginning of this year I received an email from Larry Odham in the US with an enquiry:-

“I have been trying to find a equipment manual to get a copy from for a Ampex 1012 universal colortec.
The 1012 was used on the Ampex VR-1200 and VR-2000 quad machines.
I have several Ampex VR 1200s here operational and I use them to transfer NTSC quad tapes for preservation. I want to make one of the machines here PAL-capable.
I was very happy to find a 1012 spec sheet on your website that I was able to print out.
Is there anyone on your site or e-mail list that may have access to a 1012 manual, or know where one might be found?
I read an interesting passage in one of the history tabs,might have been under the hardware tab?, about the first Ampex VR 2000 VTRs using a standard NTSC colortec that had been modified by the BBC fellows with a “box” in order to use for PAL. I sure would like to know more about how that worked.
thanks for any help, or suggestions, or leads.”

Clive McCarthy took on the challenge and Larry has just sent me some photographs of his set-up and a brief description.

Clive McCarthy has been a real help at every turn, supplying me with important information about how the early Ampex quad VTRs did PAL before the 1012 colortec. I doubt I could have gotten very far at all without him, or you and the vtoldboys website! Thanks very much!
To bring you up on the project, What I built is exactly what Clive had written me about in his detailed circuitry analysis – and it works beautifully!
What I basically did was to place a rack next to the VR-1200 with the two NTSC 1011 colortecs to be PAL-modified. Then, added a patch bay with all the signals to and from the VR-1200 making it possible to patch the 1011 NTSC colortec out of the machine and patch a PAL modified 1011 colortec into its place. A Tektronix 1411 sync generator was added to supply the correct PAL syncs.


The actual delaying, burst switching and error detecting circuitry is breadboarded on the small table in front of the rack. I was able to go one more step beyond and found a complete 1012 colortec manual at the Stanford University archive that they were willing to photocopy for me. That was more help in filling in some of the technical gaps.


Well done Clive! Oldboys to the rescue. Mark you, I’m amazed he can still remember it all!

Larry has sent a link to his own website advertising his conversion business – some nostalgic pictures here(!):-

And here is a link to the Tennesse Archive of Moving Image & S0und where it all started!