Recollections of BBC engineering from 1922 to 1997
The British Broadcasting Corporation
web site is:


Home Up


Martin Ellen, born 1948 and married to Jackie.  We have one son - Stephen.

In brief, I joined the BBC in 1966 and spent 30 years working in aspects of engineering such as operations, equipment design, communications and senior management.  I was heavily involved with the Transmission privatisation process and moved to Crown Castle, subsequently becoming Director of Technical Development prior to leaving in 2002.

Along with trying to play jazz with various chums, and other activities, this web site is just a hobby.  I thoroughly enjoyed much of my time in the BBC (and Crown Castle) and feel proud to have worked with very likable people who achieved a great deal.  It is not a particularly onerous or time-consuming task to develop the web site and I enjoy the resultant contact with like minded people.

My credentials for building the web site are that I worked in several of the main departments of Engineering Division.  I started at the bottom, aimed to be Director of Engineering - and didn't make it - surprise surprise!  But I didn't do too badly.  There are many good web sites that relate to broadcasting and to the BBC, but nobody else seems to have set up a web site covering a broad range of BBC engineering activities.  So, encouraged by support from ex-colleagues, I decided to build BBCeng.


That's probably more than enough about me, but if you really want the details here they are: 


After an introductory period in BBC Transmission, I spent 15 years doing engineering design work with the BBC and then returned to Transmission where, in turn, I managed most of its functional units.  I played a significant role in the privatisation of BBC Transmission and became a member of Crown Castle’s UK management team, initially developing Digital Television business and then responsible for strategic technical issues including Third Generation Telecommunications.  I was made redundant in 2002 as a result of a global downturn in telecom businesses.

I am a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of The Institution of Engineering and Technology (formally IEE).


Consultancy associated with future redeployment of broadcast spectrum in the United States.

Jan 2006

Started development of

Jul 03/Jul 04/Nov 04

Gave presentations on Vintage BBC Transmitters at the British Vintage Wireless Society, UCL and IEE London.

Oct 04– Dec 05

Developed a web site to record the working atmosphere and the many achievements of BBC Designs Department (now part of ).

Jul 03

Published a book called On Air – A History of BBC Transmission and set up an associated web site (now part of ).  I am joint editor of the book.

Nov 02

Gave a presentation at the Science Museum in London on the history of 2LO, the BBC’s first transmitter.  The event was held on the BBC’s 80th birthday, a week after 2LO was presented to the museum.

Jul 00 – Jan 02

Principal Consultant, Technology Executive, Crown Castle.  Assisting Excutive VP Technology on strategic technical issues.  This function was discontinued following a global downturn in the telecom sector and I left the company.

Mar 98 – Jun 00

Director of Technical Development, Crown Castle International (name changed from Castle Transmission International on 13 September 1999)
Responsible for progressing strategic technical issues affecting the company including 3G mobile.

Feb 97 - Feb 98

Development Director DTT, CTI.
Responsible for developing CTI’s Digital Terrestrial Television business.  Crown Castle gained contracts to provide transmission services for four of the six UK multiplexes.

28 Feb 1997

BBC Transmission became Castle Transmission International (CTI) as a result of privatisation.

Sep 96 - Jan 97

Commercial Manager – Transmission.
Business Development, Site Development and management of the Technical Operations Centre.  Also, as a member of the core Transmission Management Team, the privatisation of BBC Transmission was a major area of work.

Jan 94 - Aug 96

Head of Technical Operations Centre – Transmission.
Establishment and management of this centre which co-ordinated real-time operation of transmission networks.

Oct 92 - Dec 93

Head of Engineering, Transmission Technical Operations
Technical leadership of operational staff; establishment of a new central stores and maintenance service; development of major improvements to safety management.

Sep 91 - Sep 92

Head of Project Management and Technical Services
Managing a group of specialist engineers who carried out a wide range of complex technical investigations.  Also responsible for developing Transmission's capital budget.

Oct 90 - Aug 91

Acting Head of Engineering, Transmission Operations
Responsible for all of Transmission's operations, including the management of over 700 staff in the UK and overseas, who carried out work at about 1400 locations to enable Transmission's service level commitments to be met.

Nov 89 - Sep 90

Acting General Manager Transmission Engineering
Responsible for all of Transmission's projects, including the management of over 200 staff in Warwick and London, who delivered major new engineering facilities such as high power transmitting stations, electricity generating plant and satellite up-links.

Jan 89 - Oct 89

Acting Head of Engineering, Transmission Operations (see Oct 90)

Jul 85 - Dec 88

Head of Engineering, Communications Projects
Responsible for developments in data, voice, music and vision communications throughout the BBC.  Played a significant role in managing the amalgamation of three BBC departments and re-locating them from London to Warwick.

Sep 83 - Jun 85

Head of Transmission Section, Designs Department
This post marked the end of a successful 15 year career in Designs Department, before being invited to take up the Head of Engineering post above.  As Head of Transmission Section I led about 15 highly qualified engineers who developed equipment used for digital television and digital sound transmission.

Jul 78 - Aug 83

Senior Design Engineer, Designs Department
I led a team which designed the core equipment which was installed at about 600 TV relay stations throughout the UK.
I also led a different team which designed the computer system used to control a large transmitting station for World Service programmes.

Jan 72 - Jun 78

Design Engineer, Designs Department
Designed many items of equipment including UHF TV measurement equipment, frequency synthesisers, RF power amplifiers, audio processors, digital test generators and technology demonstrators.

Jan 70 - Dec 71

Laboratory Technician, BBC Designs Department

Sep 66 - Dec 69

Technical Assistant, BBC Daventry HF station
This period gave me a grounding in the work of Transmission.