Margaret Thatcher produced two autobiographies, ‘The Downing St Years’ and ‘The Path to Power’; it was this second book that brought her to Pebble Mill in June 1995 to be interviewed by Sarah Greene and Will Hanrahan round the kitchen table on Good Morning Summer. I booked her and had the responsibility of researching her and looking after her on the day.
Beforehand, the building had to be checked by plain clothes detectives and sniffer dogs because the IRA was still deemed a risk to her. We couldn’t give her a dressing room near the crush bar or in the basement, so we had to locate her in a room adjacent to the radio complex, which was re-decorated and dressed accordingly with oil paintings and sofas from the props store in Selly Oak, thanks to Julie Knee.
You didn’t mind when some guests arrived early, but she arrived at 9.30am, hair perfectly coiffured and in full make up, she required no time in hair and make-up. The thought of making small talk with Margaret Thatcher was daunting, particularly when your political views were diametrically opposite, but I somehow managed to get through the next two hours, at one point physically holding her back behind the doors in the radio complex, with her handbag on her elbow ready to go on, because she just wanted to get on with it.
The thing I will always remember was Sue Robinson, who was directing that day, calling down to say that I should warn her about the loud intro to the music number that followed directly after her interview. We had the Tribute to the Blues Brothers on and they were playing ‘Everybody Needs Somebody’ with a huge brass section and Sue couldn’t move her out of the interview area before they started. I began to explain the situation and then the film and then the type of music and then a list of the legends of soul who appeared in the film and I knew she didn’t have a clue what I was talking about.
I’ve actually found the 1995 interview on YouTube – here’s the link
The following comments were left on the Pebble Mill Facebook group:
Jane Mclean: ‘I did Good Morning Summer and don’t remember Her Maj being on! Hysterical you looking after her and Sue directing!! Got through half of it then found myself thinking of all the spoof Maggies. Don’t believe you found it on You Tube. Think you have your own copy….’
Sue Robinson: ‘I have NO memory of this! I obviously decided to erase it from my memory in case it gave me nightmares!’
Jean Thomas: ‘On her visit there was a request over the tannoy for a welcoming commitee in the foyer. I was somehow at the front thanx to the guys from the 7th floor. She had fierce looking security guys who came in first who stood in the front staring at us. You guessed she came in and headed straight for me. Cameras popping everyone watching, I wanted to dissapear. She was lovely………’
Caroline Officer: ‘Sue Robbo, you can’t remember this one?? And Jane, yes I probably do have a copy but I stupidly dumped all my Pebble Mill stuff on to a D3 tape before I scarpered to Ready Steady Cook.’
Andy Bentley: ‘I was on the roof during the visit with Police Marksmen so they could view the whole area.’
Raymond Lee: ‘Don’t remember the Good Morning visit, but do remember her at Pebble Mill during the Pebble Mill at One era. Sadly I can’t remember what year, but likely to be late seventies, or early eighties. She came with Dennis, and I remember them both being in the production gallery at one point in proceedings. It’s likely that it was before she had engendered much of a reputation.’
Sarah Dunning: ‘I can remember her visiting pebble mill, as when she was walking around the bottom quadrangle corridor we were weren’t allowed anywhere near her by the security guards incase anybody did anything untoward!!’