Peter Bridges (MEng 1998)

Peter Bridges (MEng 1998) is a BBC Sound and Communications Engineer, and won a Television Craft BAFTA in 2013. 

Peter Bridges

I’ve always been fascinated by the technical side of stage productions, particularly sound. At school I was the one sitting at the side of the hall operating the PA system for all manner of events, from PTA meetings to the annual school musical. So when I came to Bristol to do a degree in electronic and electrical engineering, I quickly signed up to the Stage Technicians’ Association (STA), which looks after the technical aspects of University performances.

The STA surrounded me with like-minded, passionate people and gave me the experience I needed to apply my skills in the real world. For major University productions we hired in sound and lighting equipment, giving me my first experience of dealing with outside suppliers and negotiating terms.

In 1998 an opportunity arose to get involved with a brand new Bristol University Radio Station: BURST FM. I jumped at the chance and found myself setting up a studio in St Paul’s Church, Clifton, and rigging a radio link back to the main transmitter on the roof of the union. Since then, BURST has gone from strength to strength.

During my final year at Bristol, I had a work placement with the BBC. I experienced everything from research and development to maintenance engineering. My first job at the BBC was with World Service radio as a studio engineer. Over 1,000 applications had been received for six places. I’ve no doubt that my Bristol degree and involvement with STA and BURST helped me to secure it.

Later, I transferred to work in television and was asked to lead the sound team for BBC Sport’s coverage of London 2012. My job was to design the sound and communication facilities at the International Broadcast Centre and to manage a team of sound staff. We built a temporary broadcasting centre in the Olympic Park just as complicated as a permanent BBC building.

My work at the Olympics won me a Television Craft BAFTA earlier this year, one of the highest accolades in the industry. It was a heart-stopping moment to hear my name announced as the winner. 

Since the Olympics, I have moved to another BBC department focused on the planning, design and delivery of the technology that supports programme makers. I’m also assisting with the design of the BBC’s facilities for next summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Broadcast technology, used by both programme makers and audiences, is changing faster than ever before. It’s a really exciting time to be involved in the industry. Having a solid theoretical
background is fundamental to understanding any technology properly. I’ve Bristol to thank for that.