Roy Ronnie – Midlands at Six

16mm frame of Roy Ronnie. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

16mm frame of Roy Ronnie. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.












Yesterday, 29th September 2015, Roy Ronnie’s funeral was held in Gloucestershire. Here is a still of Roy Ronnie, dating from the 1960s, from Jim Gregory. This frame is from a small film clip Jim found in a film can recently, Jim thinks that it must be an offcut from an item he was doing for Midlands at Six, the precursor to Midlands Today, which was made at the BBC studios in Broad Street, before Pebble Mill opened.

Dave Brazier on a music OB

Dave Brazier music OB RS






















Photo by Richard Stevenson, no reproduction without permission.

This photo of floor manager, Dave Brazier was taken in July 1989, at a music outside broadcast in Birmingham. Possibly Jackie Graham, in the back of shot.

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

Matthew Sly: ‘Dave very kindly gave me and my friends a place to stay when we returned from Tenerife late one night. It would be very difficult to find a more considerate, kind man.’

Siobhan Maher Kennedy: ‘That was my first lodging staying at Dave’s house for my first job at Pebble Mill. Nice fella.’

Nikki Turner: ‘I consider myself lucky to have worked with the legend that is Dave Brazier. Miss you Dave!!’

Richard Stevenson: ‘James French was on the crew that day.’

James French: ‘Isn’t it a concert we did in the Botanical Gardens? A really hot day. Forget who was on the bill.’

Annie Gumbley-Williams: ‘Saw David at the Antiques Road Show last week.’

Good Morning Mug

Good Morning mug JP












Photo by Jennifer Phillips, no reproduction without permission.

A number of these ‘Good Morning’ mugs were manufactured for use on screen during Good Morning with Anne and Nick BBC1 1992-6.  They were used by guests and presenters as well as in the telephone hot-line area.

Thanks to Jennifer for sharing the photo.

Tony Wigley

Tony Wigley on crane, Keith Froggatt swinging

Tony Wigley on crane, Keith Froggatt swinging, photo from James French, no reproduction without permission.

John Couzens talks to director, Tony Wigley on crane, Richard Reynolds on boom

John Couzens talks to director, Tony Wigley on crane, Richard Reynolds on boom. Photo by James French, no reproduction without permission.

























Tony Wigley, senior cameraman at BBC Birmingham, died this weekend (September 20th 2015). Tony worked on both drama and factual programmes, and was married to Dawn Robertson, from the Drama Department. Tony worked tirelessly for the BBC during his career.

The photos are from The Old Curiosity Shop, recorded in Studio A at Pebble Mill, which was transmitted in December 1979.




‘Dead Girls Tell No Tales’ – Why Grace Archer had to die

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission










Last weekend I heard the Radio 4 play: Dead Girls Tell No Tales, Joanna Toye’s backstage drama of the story behind the death of Grace, in The Archers, sixty years ago this week. Grace had recently married Phil Archer, and there was talk about them starting a family, so the young couple were at the centre of The Archers world, when the decision was made by the editor, to controversially kill Grace off.

The momentous episode of the radio soap was transmitted on 22nd September 1955, which was also the launch date of the ITV network. Apocryphally, the death of Grace Archer in a fire in the stables, whilst she was trying to save her horse, Midnight, was designed to scupper ITV’s opening night, but Toye’s play shed new light on that theory. Grace’s death certainly resonated with the audience – around 20 million tuned in, and the BBC switchboard was inundated with distraught listeners, often in tears, after the programme. Press attention was definitely distracted from the ITV launch, but Toye poses that the real reason for Grace’s death was because the actress, Ysanne Churchman, was seen by series editor, Godfrey Baseley, as a trouble maker. Apparently she wanted equal pay for female actresses on the soap, as well as involving the actors’ union, Equity, and campaigning for professional actors to always be employed, as opposed to smaller parts being played by country folk.

The radio play was very evocative of the period, with RP accents and class distinctions, and was very convincing. Ysanne Churchman, in the drama, was played by Eleanor Tomlinson, a younger actress, but Ysanne herself appeared at the end, and explained what happened to her own career, after being forced to leave The Archers. The rise of ITV, ironically, provided her with a good living, voicing commercials.

One of the things that struck me about the drama, was that Godfrey Baseley, really could ‘play god’ with his characters’ lives. He wouldn’t even tell the BBC Press Office why the episode on the 22nd September warranted a Press showing – such a thing would never happen in today’s BBC, when the Press Office would be involved from the start, and micro managing the whole campaign.

The ghost of Grace Archer still seems to haunt Ambridge today, and the older female characters have recently been reminiscing about Grace’s death, 60 years ago.

Joanna Toye is one of The Archers’ regular writers, and Sean O’Connor, the series editor, produced Dead Girls Tell No Tales. The radio play is available on iPlayer for download – it’s well worth a listen:

The following comment was left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:

Lynne Cullimore: ‘I heard the play and thought it very good. I used to work at the Beeb (when (I very first started) for Tony Ysanne’s husband who sadly died earlier this year. Lovely to bring back memories of Grace and well done to Jo Toye (whom I used to work with in Countryfile) for writing the play.’