Jim Goddard – Director of The Black Stuff

Jim Goddard, Director of The Black Stuff

Jim Goddard, Director of The Black Stuff












Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

(The television and film director, Jim Goddard has died recently aged 77. He worked at Pebble Mill directing episodes of Dangerfield and also directed the Play for Today – The Black Stuff. Here is a link to his obituary in the Guardian: http://m.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2013/jun/27/jim-goddard-obituary. Head of the English Regions Drama Department at Pebble Mill in the 1970s, David Rose, wrote a letter to the Guardian with memories of Jim Goddard directing The Black Stuff.)

As producer of Alan Bleasdale’s The Black Stuff, I was immensely impressed by Jim Goddard’s direction. Although it was transmitted as a BBC Play for Today, it was in fact a feature-length film. I recall Jim working in west London with the team of actors led by Bernard Hill playing Yosser Hughes, walking back and forth in a rehearsal room, to measure out a long tracking shot which was to be filmed on the roads of the north-east. With the actors in mind, Jim took full advantage by combining old-style television rehearsal with the economic need to keep the film camera turning.

This valuable preparation gave the team of actors the freedom of spirit which subsequently Michael Wearing and Philip Saville inherited when producing and directing, with newly introduced lightweight cameras, Bleasdale’s compelling series The Boys from the Blackstuff.

David Rose

Children in Need – Viv Ellis

Viv Ellis CIN













Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

It all started with a glass of wine in the club, as so many things did back then. I was working on Daytime Live as a producer/director having previously been at Radio WM. Gyn Freeman whom I had known at WM was one of the team coming up with that year’s Children In Need inserts from Pebble Mill. I have a horrible feeling it was 1988. Anyway, by the end of the evening I had accepted a dare to be sawn in half by a magician. Live. We conjured up a magician called Tony Shelley from Sutton Coldfield and for quite a few weeks I would go to his home so he could train me. On the night, Peter Purves was really funny – though I do think a Blue Peter badge for me would have been in order!

As for Steve Weddle, the editor of Daytime dressing as a chicken – it was kinda normal for him.

Viv Ellis

Planning Department 1980

Sue Robinson, Penny Brain, Bruce Martin PP








Photo by Peter Poole, no reproduction without permission.

Included in the photo are, left to right: Sue Robinson, Penny Brain, Bruce Martin.

This photo of the Planning Department at Pebble Mill dates from 1980, when Planning were on the 3rd floor. Sue Robinson went on to become a multicamera director on studio programmes like Pebble Mill at One. Bruce Martin was the manager of the department, which used to book studio, VT and outside broadcast crew. He always used to greet people with a ‘Hi, pal!’, whether you were male or female.

Studio Operations (Part 5) – Ray Lee


Studio A production gallery 1971, by Ivor Williams (including vision mixer)

Studio A production gallery 1971, by Ivor Williams (including vision mixer)


Photo by John Kimberley, Studio A colour matching desk

Photo by John Kimberley, Studio A colour matching desk























Other Equipment

Most of the rest of the signal chain equipment, Video amplifiers, colour coders, vision mixer etc. were BBC designs, from Designs Department, as the BBC had largely pioneered television equipment in the U.K. from the earliest days. Again to get the best out of it, much of the equipment needed regular adjustments to keep it within specification. The normal day to day drift due to voltage changes or temperature changes, was enough to require correction.

As the colour TV service had only started quite recently, the designs were first generation colour equipment, and basically pushing the limits of what was achievable. The vision mixer was basically a black and white vision mixer, with additional modules to allow it to work with colour signals. One quirk of this first generation vision mixer, was that it truly was a mixer. In the same way that sound mixers added all the signals, so did the vision mixer, so several picture sources could be added together to create several superimposed images. As there were 8 channels, in theory one could have had up to 8 images in the combined output. This required some quite special precautions to prevent the signal exceeding the maximum video level, as well as ensuring that the synchronising pulses and colour burst stayed constant so that the receiving equipment would correctly decode it. Such a requirement for multiple images was not really needed, and most of the time it would just be a transition from one source to another, either a cut, or a fade. I believe simple wipes were also possible, i.e. top to bottom, side to side or diagonal, but that was about as much as could be done at that time. I believe there was also a mode of selecting modulated line drive to one or more cameras in order to create a sort of wavy – dream like transition.

All subsequent commercial vision mixers, were more correctly called vision switchers, as they did not allow for more than two images to be simultaneously displayed, in a mix mode. However they came with a whole lot more transition effects, and it was quite noticeable at the time, particularly with L.E. programmes that the directors would try out all the latest transition effects on their programmes if they thought they could get away with it. They also tended to have more channels so that more picture sources could be permanently wired to particular channels. The old Designs Department mixer quickly ran out of channels if there were 5 cameras and several other sources, like VT, TK, slide scanner and O.B. feed. Some of these had to be preselected, and could not all be present at the same time.

Because all the first generation equipment needed careful tending and not infrequently became faulty, there was a need for a good number of engineers on hand throughout studio recordings and live transmissions. The equipment on outside broadcast units was also subject to vibration, cold and damp, and so needed even more regular intervention, but space was limited, so that meant having fewer more experienced engineers. It was not uncommon for engineers to be repairing equipment minutes before it was needed to be used.

Ray Lee


Dr Who – Horror of Fang Rock

Fang Rock 1 Fang Rock 2 Fang Rock 3 Fang Rock 4 Fang Rock 5 Fang Rock 6 Fang Rock 7 Fang Rock 8
































Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

The above PasC (programme as completed) paperwork, for ‘Horror of Fang Rock,’ the only Dr Who episode recorded at Pebble Mill, is available on this BBC Dr Who archive website:

The ‘Horror of Fang Rock’ starred Tom Baker as Dr Who, and was a four part serial, transmitted between 3-24 September  1977. Each episode was 25 minutes. It was the only story in the original series to be made outside London. It was made at Pebble Mill due to engineering work at the studios in London.