Colin Fearnley – editing with an axe!

Colin Fearnley 1986

Photo by Paul Scholes, no reproduction without permission.

Colin Fearnley worked at Pebble Mill in VT.

There is a story about why he has an axe in the head!  Colin had been working on a youth programme with Janet Street Porter, circa 1986.  Apparently it was a very quick turnaround, and a review of the programme said that it looked as if it had been edited by a mad axeman. This spawned a whole host of axe jokes! Colin was probably VT play in man. [See comment below from Colin Fearnley correcting this detail!]

Thanks to Tim Savage for remembering the story of the axes.

The following comments were left on the Pebble Mill Facebook Group:

Paul Colbert: ‘Could have been Reportage or Rough Guides, both of which I worked on as series Director in Manchester with most of the production team commuting on trains and planes to Manchester. Editor J S Porter, with Rachael Purnell and Sharon Ali. Tough times for the production team, even harder than working with Roger Castles on The Clothes Show! London Luvvies!’

Jane Mclean: ‘Was it Behind the Beat? God I HATED working on that programme.’

Dawn Trotman: ‘Behind the Beat. I remember editing that. Crazy hours and Janet Street Porter constantly screaming down the phone. I think we edited it in mechanical workshop? Lovely directors though but stressed.’

Jane Mclean: ‘The stuff of nightmares Dawn – every single aspect – and I mean every! JSP never once came to Brum (thank god) and in the end I refused to answer the phone!’

Dawn Trotman: ‘It was actually a creative time. I worked with some very adventurous directors who did try to re invent the wheel and suceed. Tough going but good times. Not that JSP was of any value but she did surround herself with the best in the business no fool in that respect just very shouty!’

Ian Collins: ‘The Mad Axman nickname was actually given to Jim Hiscox who was the editor working on “Behind The Beat”. I think Colin was the assistant and the axe was added well after the picture was taken.’

Dawn Trotman: ‘I beg to differ Ian. The Mad axeman was originally given to John Bland for a film he cut in about 1983 or 4 . It was set in a military defence barracks very strange ! Can’t remember the name, I think the producer was a Gareth ? And John ended up with a review which said cut by the mad axeman on acid ! We keep the cutting in his room at the end of the film corridor. But I didnt remember Jim being on Behind the Beat I remember Colin working on it . He used to tut over our inserts.’

Ian Collins: ‘Dare I suggest that there were two mad axe men :-)’

Paul Colbert: ‘Surely John Birt was the Mad Axe Man?’

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3 Comments

  • ‘Twas not me I am afraid. The programme was indeed “Behind the Beat”but it was Jim Hiscox who did the axe-ing and I think Steve May was his assistant.Did some butchery on many other shows though!

  • Hi Colin, thanks for putting the record straight about you not being the ‘axe-man’ on ‘Behind the Beat’! Can you add any more information about where/why this particular axe-man photo was taken? Thanks. Vanessa

  • A few of us were into steam railways and drinking beer. The photo was on one of these “works outings”. I have no idea who added the axe and when!

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