Vote for Them – aircraft shots

Vote for Them 2 JR Vote for Them JR












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

These publicity photos were almost certainly taken by Willoughby Gullachsen, and were used to publicise the three part drama serial: Vote for Them, written by David Edgar and Neil Grant.  The show was transmitted in June 1989. Carol Parks was the producer, Michael Wearing the executive producer, and James Ormerod was the director.

This link to the BBC Genome project gives more information about the drama from the original Radio Times:

Thanks to costume designer, Janice Rider, for sharing the photos.

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

Neil Grant: ‘The aircraft is a Supermarine Spitfire, though not one of the earliest Marks as it has a four bladed propeller. Simon Adams is on the left – he played Aircraftsman “Nobby” Clarke – together with, I think, Peter Llewellyn Williams, who played Aircraftsman Bill Beatty.’

Diane Lester: ‘An early example of a supermarine spitfire. ..we filmed these scenes at an airfield just north of Salisbury, and had a hurricane and other planes there, including an American one. All the planes flew in, and on the last day we filmed with them,the spitfire and hurricane took off and did a victory roll over the airfield ….very spectacular.’

Mary Sanchez: ‘This was my first drama I worked on as a floor assistant (runner) . Having to identify about 100 extras and main characters all in uniform was quite a tall order! A really lovely bunch though.’

Gary Hudson: ‘I’m guessing a Mk IX Spitfire, but experts will know. In 1989 hardly any of the Battle of Britain-era ones were still flying, and I’m assuming this one is authentic (not a replica) and was airworthy, or else how did it get there? Mary, Diana? There were only a couple of Hurricanes flying then, I believe, but again someone will know.’


Saturday Night at the Mill – running order

Saturday Night at the Mill RG




















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

This is the running order for a dummy run recording of Saturday Night at the Mill in December 1976.

Saturday Night at the Mill was an entertainment show which used the Pebble Mill Foyer studio and the courtyard area, for performances. The show was presented by Donny MacLeod and Bob Langley, amongst others, and Kenny Ball and his Jazzman were the resident band.

For live studio shows there were often dummy recordings to make sure that the crew were all up to speed, and that technically the show was going to work.

Thanks to Roger Guest for sharing this running order.

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

Jane Mclean: ‘Roy Norton was the director, Roy Ronnie the producer, Margaret Walne was PA and I was on autocue. The Kenny Ball band was the house band on all the programmes. The hospitality back at the Strathallen was legendary…!’

Annie Gumbley Williams: ‘I did autocue too. Roy Norton used to shout down the head phones! Liz Silver was PA then and she trained me as PA on Sat Night at the Mill. Roy Norton producer and Keith Ackrill was Researcher or Assistant Producer? Patricia Mifflin too. Great fun.’

Susan Astle: ‘Goodness ..those were the days. Trying to get artists back for makeup checks when they would rather be in hospitality. I think we had our own, obvs! Susie Bankers’

Keith Brook (Scouse): I think I vision mixed that show. I know I did the series. After we complained that there was no hospitality food left, Roy Norton used to shoot down to the Strathallan after the show to stop the office people from scoffing the lot. They didn’t work on the show which allowed them to get there early and hoover it all up!! The gallery talkback was distributed around Telly Centre to entertain the bored troops in London.

Michael Fisher: ‘Kenny Ball was a frequent guest on the show. Am I right in thinking that the recently deceased Alvin Stardust appeared in some Pebble Mill Saturday evening shows and a special stage with a catwalk-like extension so he could strut up & down!’

Raymond Lee: ‘I remember working on many of these shows. The pilot programme actually went by the title “Pebble Mill at Night”. Kenny Ball was actually the “resident” musician for the show.’

Eurwyn Jones: ‘I remember working on the series with Ron Sowton. Ginger Rogers was the guest on a show, she arrived in a massive car live in front of the foyer.’

Tim Dann: ‘I remember it as though it were yesterday!!…fantastic fun!…then all back to the ‘Strathallan Hotel’ for hospitality. I was the Designer for the first series. Those were the ‘daze!!”

Keith Ackrill: ‘Patricia Mifflin and I were the two researchers on “SNATM.” Roy Ronnie was the Executive Producer and Roy Norton the Director. We had a great crew working with us, which made the programmes so enjoyable to work on.’

Ron Cottrell – 1929-2014


Geoff Gough Big Band

Geoff Gough Big Band

Ron and Diane Cottrell

Ron and Diane Cottrell






















Photo copyright resides with the original holders, no reproduction without permission.

Ron Cottrell died a few weeks ago, in September 2014. His wife, Diane, wanted to make sure that colleagues from Pebble Mill knew about his death.

Ron was a musician, a drummer, with various bands, and he had a long association with the BBC. In fact he was in the orchestra for the original Come Dancing, the forerunner of Strictly, which was broadcast from Penns Hall, and presented by Katie Boyle.

As a young man with the Sonny Rose Orchestra, he broadcast from the old BBC Broad Street studios in Birmingham. The older members took him to the pub opposite, across a busy road and he was horrified that they’d left it so late to go back to the studio and they just made it with a minute to spare.

Again with Sonny at Penns Hall, Sutton Coldfield, Ron backed a young Morecambe and Wise. Ernie was very excited about their forthcoming television debut which sadly bombed, before they found success with their second attempt.

Diane and Ron met in 1966 at the newly-opened and highly glamorous Savoy Hotel Birmingham: Diane’s first and lasting impression was of a beautiful white pleated dress shirt, immaculate evening dress and a smiling face. He played with Maurice Udluff’s band who alternated with Harry Engleman’s band. One night he played all night because the Harry Engleman band got into a bitter argument during a card game in their interval and the drummer stormed off leaving Harry high and dry.

On another occasion he recalled a cold, dismal room with the band assembled to rehearse with Tommy Cooper. When Tommy suddenly entered they all collapsed into fits of laughter – which apparently was the usual response when Tommy walked into a room – and one which Tommy always failed to understand.

In 1972 Ron moved into perhaps the happiest and most fulfilling period of his musical career when he joined the Geoff Gough Big Band. The music was demanding and exciting and the band was full of characters.

Diane Cottrell would like to hear people’s memories of working with Ron, so please add a comment here, if you knew Ron.

(Thanks to Diane and to, Diane and Ron’s son, Simon, for sharing their photographs and memories).

Radio WM goes stereo













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

This article is from the Pebble Mill News from 1984. It tells about the refurbishment of the Radio WM studios, and the installation of stereo equipment by two BBC engineers: Roger Maynard and Bob Croom.

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

Andy Walters: ‘The stereo studios were BBC Local Radio Mark 3 and were used until Pebble Mill closed. The transmitter at Sutton Coldfield was also made by BBC Designs Department and is still in use today.’

Steve Dellow: ‘Looks like most of the Comms staff in the left hand pic! John Noble too…and Glyn Benbow!
Dave (?) Robinson, Mr Noble, John Nestor, Chris Donovan, Jeff Woods, Ian, Glyn, Roy Winson, Jon Parker, Bob Allison, Fred Norton, Nigel Harris, Paul Wheeldon, John Malby, Derek Smith, Malcolm Hickman
Any more?’

CM2 at Warwick Castle

CM2 Vision crew 16.12.89 CM2 Warwick Castle 16.12.89 CMCR36 2































Photo copyright Robin Stonestreet, no reproduction without permission.

The photos show the Pebble Mill outside broadcast truck, CM2, on location at Warwick Castle, on 16th December 1989.

The Vision crew, in the top photo are Johnny Moore (left) and  Ray Sperry (right).

The man on the roof of the larger truck: North 1 (a Type 5, BBC Manchester OB truck), in the blue anorak is Jeremy Chadwick, and the man in the cap is probably Albert Kinsella.

CM2 was fitted with Philips LDK514 cameras, which apparently weren’t very ergonomic. (Thanks to Toby Horwood for adding this information, and identifying Johnny).

Thanks to Robin Stonestreet for sharing the photos.

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

Jayne Savage: ‘This might have been Carols from Warwick Castle – or the programme was called something very similar – that was presented by Douglas Fairbanks Jnr and directed by Roy Norton. I was the PA and it greatly troubles me that I can’t remember who the other contributors were – apart from the choir from St Mary’s, Warwick! However, I do remember a very exciting recce when we accessed the castle roof to look for camera positions by climbing out of the manager’s window.’

Nick Patten: ‘I have very happy memories as an OBSM and a director working with these magnificent trucks.’