BBC TV matchbox

photos by Judy Markall, no reproduction without permission














Here is a BBC TV matchbox showing the Television Centre building in London. It probably dates from the late 1960s, because of the logo design, and the fact that the back of the box mentions BBC1 and 2 being in colour.

Thanks to Judy Markall for sharing the photographs.






The day the Pebble Mill studio opened

This link is to a clip from Nationwide on 15th June 1971. Midlands Today presenter, Tom Coyne gives a guided tour of the brand new Pebble Mill studios. Included in the tour are Studio B, the home of Midlands Today; Studio A, where many dramas were produced; and the Radio studios, home to The Archers, we also see Radio WM in action. There is no mention of Pebble Mill at One, because the programme had not yet been planned.

Thanks to Malcolm Hickman for sharing the link.

Still from Tom Coyne’s piece on Nationwide. Copyright BBC.











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

Keith Warrender:’The EMI cameras were still going in 1983 when they were replaced with Link 125s. Link are long gone but the old factory is still standing unused in Andover.’

Sue Astle: ‘Such an amazing exciting time for us then, we were privileged to have worked there. Susie Bancroft. Ex make up’

Sarah Tongue: ‘My mom ran the Library!’

Helen Smith: ‘Loved watching that, my Dad was the cameraman at the beginning of the clip.’

Michael Fisher: ‘Radio Birmingham as it was at the start!’

Andy Marriott: ‘What was the little mini cart system they were using for spot effects, called?’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘It was a device called a P.E.G. Programme effects generator. They used a spool of tape in a case with a metal loop fitted at one end. When you inserted the cartridge, the machine grabbed the tab and cued the effect. It had loads of slots so a sequence of effects could be built up. A BBC designs department product, IIRC.’

Sue Welch: ‘Actually remember Tom Coyne from Tyne Tees Television. A very long time ago.’

Malcolm Adcock: ‘Happy memories, joined Top Gear in 1988 and our production office was later in the old Pebble Mill at One studio area.’




Chris Phipps & Janice Rider at Kaleidoscope Event

Photo from Janice Rider, no reproduction without permission














Thanks to costume designer, Janice Rider, for sharing this photo, of her with Chris Phipps, taken at the archive organisation, Kaleidoscope’s event on Sept 2nd 2017.

“I attended an interesting talk last week at a Kaleidoscope Event held at Birmingham City University – an interview with my old friend and colleague Chris Phipps, former Radio WM broadcaster and presenter of Look! Hear! and later the booker for bands on The Tube and producer for Zenith North. Lovely to discover his passion for music is undimmed – he has just worked on a documentary about Black Sabbath’s last performance and is publishing a book next year.”

Janice Rider


Outside Broadcast Culture – Adapt Project

This video is part of Royal Holloway, University of London’s ‘Adapt’ project, which organises and records reconstructions of heritage television production practices with the historic equipment. The project is led by Professor John Ellis.

In May 2016 the project arranged a the reconstruction of an outside broadcast, using the restored OB truck, CMCR9, which was Pebble Mill’s original CM1, later becoming Manchester’s North 3.

In this video the veteran BBC crew from the reconstruction discuss the culture of outside broadcasts in the 1960s and 70s. The crew is I think a predominantly BBC Manchester one.

This video is protected through a Creative Commons licence.

Veteran CMCR9 crew











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

Richard Stevenson: ‘Jane Whitmore is sat next to the first guy speaking. A BBC Sport PA whom I worked with on everything from cricket to bobsleigh. Dave Taylor, legendary camera supervisor from Manchester is to her right. Robin Sutherland to his right – ex KA camera sup. Roger Neale, KA Vision Sup (“Twink”) in the blue jumper under the camera by the dart board. Doug Whittaker (?) at 4’35” – ex KA sound sup.’

Dave Rimmington: ‘Geoff Wilson is the guy speaking next to Jane (ex BBC Manchester Director).’


Sue Watson reflects on Appledore

Sue relaxing on location in Appledore on ‘Feasts for a Fiver’. Photo by Alan Duxbury













In this blog, Pebble Mill producer, and now prolific writer, Sue Watson, talks about how the location for the show Feasts for a Fiver, inspired her latest novels.

“I first went to Appledore in 1998 to film a BBC cookery programme with TV cook Sophie Grigson called ‘Feasts for a Fiver.’ I was a TV producer and had worked on several programmes in various different UK towns and cities but the tiny fishing village of Appledore in North Devon was special. It was an unspoilt little place, old cottages painted in pastel colours, winding cobbled streets, bunting blowing in the wind, and shops selling buckets and spades and postcards.

The nearest big town to Appledore is Barnstaple, a wonderful mix of new and old, offering all the usual chain stores and restaurants, but some lovely unique shops and features too. One of the main elements of our TV programme was a visit to the famous pannier market, one of the best local markets in the country. Here we discovered local cheeses, wines, fresh breads all in an enormous, beautiful airy building built mostly of wood. Much of the produce for Sophie’s recipes was bought here and we filmed in people’s homes, moving around the area, and turning local ingredients into affordable feasts. From the fabulous seafood to the obligatory home made scones with clotted cream and jam, we found it all – and ate it!

I loved it there, and during our time in Appledore I discovered to my joy, that I was pregnant. I was delighted and surprised and spent my free time just looking out to sea where the Taw and Torridge rivers meet before they flow into the Atlantic, thinking about my baby.

Roll on almost nineteen years, and the pregnancy I’d discovered in lovely Appledore is now an 18 year old. She’s clever and beautiful (yes, I know, I would say that being her mum!) and as she prepares to fly the nest and leave for university I have found myself being drawn back to the place where, for me, it all began. Since my last Summer in Appledore I’ve also become a novelist, swapping a busy career in TV for a life sitting at home making things up – which I love! This year I’ve written two summer books, both set in an ice cream café by the seaside, and when I decided on the subject matter, I knew exactly where the café was going to be. Appledore.

I’d always planned to return one day, but our busy lives kicked in, and this lovely old fishing village became a faded memory. Sometimes I’d take it out like a postcard from the past and look at it, remembering the beach, the sea and all the wonderful people I met there. If I’m honest I think I wanted to keep Appledore as my secret, and I was reluctant to return because I thought it might have changed, and become a bustling seaside town with Kiss me Quick hats and fish and chip papers flying along the pavements.

So as both Ella’s ice Cream Summer, and Curves, Kisses and Chocolate ice Cream are set here, I decided to go back and see for myself what had happened to her since we last met. I took my husband along, and just walking along the front in those first few hours in the winter sunshine. He fell immediately under her spell too as we walked along the front, and drank red wine in the Seagate Hotel on the front, where my characters meet up in Ella’s Ice Cream Summer.

Appledore and I are both older now, but I was relieved and delighted to see this lady of a certain age has kept her freshness and innocence. Apart from a makeover of the seafront pub, and a new chocolate shop (which caused my heart to miss a beat!) little has changed here. And despite our visit being in November and apparently cold everywhere else in the UK, she’d brought out her sunshine that day, just for us. It was warm enough to sit and eat cake and ice cream under a bright blue sky and take it all in.

So, shall we move here one day?’ my husband said, as he ate carrot cake and contemplated our long drive back to the Midlands.

‘Yes,’ I said, and wondered if I was being foolish writing a book and revealing the secret about this wonderful place. But I felt so mellow, the cake and ice cream was good and I decided it was only fair that I should write about this lovely place – so come on down, the water’s lovely, just don’t tell everyone, we’ll keep the secret of Appledore, just between ourselves.”

Sue Watson

Here is the link to Ella’s Ice Cream Summer: