Radio Studio 3 Tape Library

Photo by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission

Photo by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission

Photo by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission

Photo by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission






















This photo is of the Radio Studio 3  tape library at Pebble Mill (used on The Archers, and many other radio dramas). All of the bird sound effects were verified by the RSPB, with explicit notes as to the times of year they could be used. We’d get letters otherwise…

Martin Fenton

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

Andy Walters: I think a lot of the tapes are now in the basement store at the Mailbox. I’ve definitely seen a master tape of the Archers signature tune down there along with the Midlands Today film archive.

Kath Shuttleworth: ‘The tapes were all transferred to CD for the move to The Mailbox. Those CDs have since been transferred onto hard drive and the sound effects are still used today, it’s just all a bit more high tech than a bank of tape machines! The original tapes were junked, apart from a few which I discovered contained missing episodes and rare Archers cast recordings. These were sent to archive and copies retained with The Archers team. Andy Walters, I don’t know what the tapes are in the basement. There were plenty of master tapes of the sig and vinyl copies too. Maybe someone brought them to The Mailbox as a momento! All the effects are now on a local server or hard drives of specific machines along with many other SFX collections. Well over 1TB when I last looked! We use two playout systems in studio (Spot On & Ableton Live). A lot of effects are still played in “live” for The Archers. All SFX are available to use at the click of a button and looping sounds is so much easier than it was in the days of 1/4″ tape!’

Andy Walters: ‘Possibly. There are a lot of programme tapes in the basement with codes that mean nothing to me. Or at least there were last time I was down there.’

Kath Shuttleworth: ‘If they’re still there we should take a look at them before they get junked as part of the current clear up regime! You never know, there could be a gem of a programme down there that’s missing from archive.’

2 comments on “Radio Studio 3 Tape Library
  1. When I joined the BBC in Broad street as a Studio Manager in 1963 after about 3 months training in London, one of my first experiences was as Spot Effects S.M on The Archers. Tony Shryane -Producer- sat at the mixing desk, controlling the programme levels. There was a Studio Manager playing in Sound effects off 78rpm records and also from from recorded tapes- recorded originally on 5″ full track tapes @ 7.5″/sec. on an EMI Midget battery powered tape machine. These tapes were edited and compiled onto 10.5″ dia.tape reels of which at that time there were about 2 dozen. These were catalogued originally in a box file but later on fullscap sheets in a spring back folder.
    Within a few months I moved on from pouring cups of ‘tea’, opening and closing doors etc to become the Gram and tape S.M. Agriculture was as ever becoming more developed and this meant more mechanisation and more recordings required. F.M radio was expanding and quality sound effects were also required to replace some of the original 78 rpm recordings. Another S.M joined the Archers Team-Peter Belham- and between the two of us we increased the Tape library for the programme vastly ,and were recording in Stereo, looking to the future for not only The Archers but Birmingham Radio Drama output. This library of effects move to Studio 3 at Pebble Mill, along with a Mini Archive of significant Archers episodes. Before this time Tony Shryane had asked me to take over at the Mixing Desk. Peter, was grams SM but also mixed from time to time but was also Mixing Radio Drama. We tended to swop roles back and forth as needed and I was quite often Grams S.M. when Peter was mixing a Radio Play. On Tony Shryanes retirement I felt it was time to move on from The Archers. Some years after both Peter and I had retired Mark Decker moved the effects library to the Mail Box and began the process of transferring it to C.D before his untimely death from cancer. John Pierce

  2. Hi John

    Many thanks for adding your memories of working at the BBC here. I’m going to post your comment as a separate piece in its own right, as long as you don’t mind me doing this. I wonder if you have any photographs of your time at the BBC that could accompany the post. If you do then please let me know. My email is .

    Best wishes


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