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Reflections by Shaun Metcalf

Page history last edited by David Samways 5 years, 8 months ago





Reminiscences by Shaun Metcalf (Ed. - salesman extraordinaire!)


The change over from black-and-white TV to colour TV throughout Australia was on 1st March 1975.


I was shipped out to Australia in 1972, arriving on March 22nd.  I was attached to Amalgamated Wireless Australia (AWA) at their North Ryde facility and factory.


It was a daunting prospect!  My brief, as Marconi Systems Engineer, was to help AWA sell Marconi Chelmsford’s wide range of colour TV studio equipment.


We started off with installing a single MkVIII colour camera at “The cottage” at AWA North Ryde, a northern suburb of Sydney.  This camera, bought by AWA, arrived in Australia just a few days after me on 8th April 1972.  Some weeks later a 2nd Mk VIII arrived; this was a “mobile” Mk VIII that toured around parts of Australia in the back of a station wagon or by air (Ansett and TAA in those days).


Throughout 1972, together with an AWA engineer and a Mk VIII, we visited Wagga Wagga, Canberra, Wollongong, Newcastle, Canberra, Bendigo, Shepparton, Ballarat, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.  We also visited all of the TV studio centres in Sydney, including the National TV centre of the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission).  In addition, we showed the Mk VIII on AWA’s booth at the IREE exhibitions in Canberra and Melbourne (1972 & 1973) – refer photos later.


For TV cameras we had lots of serious competition.  Colour TV was now well established in the UK and in Europe.  Our main camera opposition was-


Philips, Eindhoven (Holland), with their triax-cabled LDK5 camera

Fernseh, Darmstadt (West Germany), the KCU40 camera

RCA, Camden, New Jersey (USA), the TK44 and TK45 cameras

EMI, Hayes (UK), the EMI 2005 camera

Ikegami, Japan, the HL33 camera

Funnily enough, Link (the 110 camera) did not participate, although they had been very successful in the UK with the BBC.


We also demonstrated a Mk VIII B3404 3-tube 16/35mm Telecine machine.  This was permanently installed also at AWA’s “cottage” at North Ryde.


Our opposition here was the Rank Cintel Flying Spot Telecine and a similar Flying Spot machine from Fernseh.  RCA also had 3-tube telecines on offer, which were sold to the country stations in Australia together with their VTR machines and cameras as a package deal.


Marconi’s flagship product was the Mk VIII automatic colour camera.  It was the first automatic colour camera in the world.  It was a joy to demonstrate and impressed a great deal of engineers and production staff.


The Marconi Mk VIIIs delivered incorporated EEV Leddicon tubes from EEV Waterhouse Lane, but Philips Plumbicons could also be used.  Most Marconi Mk VIII cameras used Angenieux 15:1 zoom lenses.  The Rank (Rank Taylor Hobson) lens available at the time was only a 10:1 lens.


Our flagship systems products were our Colour OB Vans with Mk VIIIs installed.  Back at Marconi in Chelmsford before I went to Australia I was the systems engineer who put together the Marconi bid for ABC’s OB Vans.  I followed the bid to Sydney and had a number of discussions with ABC engineers on our offer.  We were successful in eventually selling 5 OB Vans to the ABC.  These vans were all designed and built in Chelmsford (Building 720, Ian Rogers and his team).  The IDO (Drawing Office, Joe Smith and Basil Francis) were responsible for the design and construction of the vehicles before they were kitted out with their electronics.


OB vans were sold to the ABC (5), ATN7 Sydney, TEN10 Sydney, VTC Sydney (an AWA built 2-camera van), BTQ7 Brisbane, HSV7 Melbourne and NWS9 Adelaide.


Mk VIII cameras went into operation at-

ABC stations ABN2 Sydney, ABS2 Adelaide, ABC3 Canberra, ABT2 Hobart and ABQ2 Brisbane.

Commercial TV stations TEN10 Sydney, ATN7 Sydney, VTC Sydney, HSV7 Melbourne, BTQ7 Brisbane, NWS9 Adelaide, BCV8 Bendigo, and to the New South Wales Education Department.

Over 100 Mk VIII cameras were delivered to Australian customers.

In addition, 30 Mk VIII cameras were delivered to TVNZ (NZBC) New Zealand. AWA in New Zealand also represented Marconi.


The Mk VIII B3404 3-tube telecines were delivered to ATN7, TEN10, TCN9, QTQ9 Brisbane, BTQ7, HSV7, ADS7 Adelaide and NWS9.


Previous generation MK VII 4-tube colour cameras also operated at VTC in Sydney (and Melbourne), as did a B3402 Mk VII 4-tube telecine machine.


Many stations used the Marconi Monosync Pulse Distribution System and Marconi Sync Generators, plus huge numbers of VDAs (vision distribution amplifiers).


Marconi obtained around 60% of all studio colour TV equipment sales in Australia and New Zealand. Marconi was hugely successful.


The support effort from AWA was second to none.  They provided the springboard and contacts that Marconi required.



Thanks to AWA……


Mr. John Hooke (MD), Fred Kenyon, Ken Franks, Alec Stewart, Jack Davis and John Windsor were all instrumental in the support and networking efforts.



The Marconi effort in supporting us in obtaining the business was fantastic…..


Tom Mayer (MD) and Cyril Teed (Marketing Director), HQ Chelmsford New Street, both visited.


Norman Parker-Smith, Tony Heightman, Don Pay and Andy Fremont, R&D Engineering Waterhouse Lane all came to see in the early stages of the “selling” process.  Richard Crook from Waterhouse Lane also spent some time in Australia.


Basil Francis (IDO) and Richard Lunniss (Systems/Contracts) visited and helped out on OB Van commissioning and equipment inventories.


Neil Burtonshaw (Sales Manager, Far East) came to help on numerous occasions.


Vic Olley, for shipping all of the kit out and for putting OB Vans on to Ro-Ro ships.


Brian Everitt, as Contracts Chief, for coordinating all of the supplies at the Chelmsford end.


Jim Wilde, who spent lots of time in Australia doing all of the training courses.


And, especially to all of the Senior Marconi Engineers who worked in Australia from Chelmsford, New Street and Waterhouse Lane-


Martyn Clarke, Iain Reid, Charlie (Chas) Elliot, Ron Huntsman, Ian Gibson (actually ex-Development), Robin Stevens, and Neil Friday.

These TDU engineers were absolutely wonderful. They made everything work; without these engineers we would not have had the tremendous success that we had.


All of this support kept me sane!


Please forgive me if I have left anyone out.  This will probably be to do with my date of birth!



And thanks to our customers-


ABC, Controller(s) of Technical Services, Ken Middleton and then Kevin Bourke. ABC engineers John Poll, Scott Meynert, Carl Wilhelm and Eric Hitchen. And Head of Research Neville Theale.

ATN7, Geoff Healey and Russell Dallaston

TCN9, Les Free and Bruce Robertson

TEN10, Fred Kenyon

HSV7, Max Albiston

VTC (Video Tape Corporation), Ken Hardy

QTQ9, Paul Marlan

BTQ7, George Everingham

BCV8, John Deare

NWS9, John Batchelor


This was, indeed, an incredible journey.  We lived in a flat in Manly and many of the Marconi travellers visited us there.  Barbies (BBQs) on the beach and much beverage was consumed.


But we should not forget those Marconi colour pioneers who went out prior to TV colourisation and set the scene-

Joe Swain, Andy Fremont and Johnny Bowers travelled there a couple of years before me with a B3402 MkVII telecine and a couple of MkVII cameras.


I left Australia in August 1975 with much sadness. AWA gave my wife (Wendy) and I a wonderful leaving party at North Ryde 3 days before we returned to the UK.


Back in Chelmsford I took up the post as Transmitter Sales Manager, very, very different from studio systems.



London, 2012- the present!


Many thanks to -


Martyn Clarke, for checking my memory banks and helping me on these notes. Thanks Martyn!

Howard Lilley, Ampex (Australia), for reminding me of some of the engineers that were involved. Thanks Howard! 





Reminiscences by Keith Thomas


I remember Shaun Metcalf representing Marconi Sales in the early 70s, but I didn’t think he was there for 5 years... but he should know better than I!  In particular he was pushing the latest Marconi MK 8 colour cameras, although I don’t think he had too much luck as the Japanese (and in particular Sony) were just about to capture the studio camera market.  I do remember (with some surprise) that the colour coding equipment used with the MK 8 camera at that time included many of the circuits which I had designed during my stay at Pottery Lane in the early 60s before emigrating to Oz.

Eric Hitchin was particularly involved in the installation of the (then new) studios for Channel 10 on Epping Road in Sydney.  Channel 10 was the first Australian TV station to have been planned for colour from the ground up.  When it was up and running, Eric subsequently became Chief Engineer of Chan 10 reporting to the Engineering Director Fred Kenyon, who was also an ex Marconi employee.

A few more from the times I was an apprentice please click 




Associated articles


Television transmission in Australia by H.F. Bartlett 1975 click here


Capability advertisement for MkVIII camera shown below:









Comments (1)

shaunmetcalfe@aol.com said

at 7:33 pm on Apr 13, 2017

Keith Thomas is certainly right. In the late 70s and in the 80s SONY were very successful in the TV camera (especially hand held cameras) and VTR business. I was with AWA-Marconi for nearly 4 years, and during my time in Australia very few Japanese cameras were sold. One of the stations that bought Japanese cameras was WIN 4 Woollongong, who bought HL33 cameras from Ikegami. Most of the "country" stations had a package deal with RCA for cameras (TK45), VTR machines and telecines. The MK VIII was the biggest selling camera in both Australia and New Zealand during the move to colour for both countries.

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