These photos were taken on location in 1987 on the glamorous drama series Howards’ Way by Albert Sheard. They include iconic locations like Cowes Week on the Isle of Wight, Somerset House and the QE2. It is cameraman John Williams about to get into the helicopter, presumably to record aerial shots. Howards’ Way was produced by a BBC drama series team from London, but was hosted at Pebble Mill, using a Pebble Mill crew.
Jim Gray, being assisted by Simon Bennett, on the jib camera in the first and third photo.
The following comments were added on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:
Gareth Williams: It’s Inside Out from 1985 – Floor Assistant yours truly. Directed by Pedr James and Tony Smith. Costume by Janice Rider and Sally Nieper, produced by Sally Head, Script Ed a very young Caroline Oulton , theme tune Phil Collins. It all goes a bit hazy from there…!
Janice Rider: Lou Wakefield ( bottom R ) seated with back to us , played the lead
Gareth Williams:And Gwyneth Strong, standing, later ‘Cassandra’ in OFAH.
The following comments were posted on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:
Alan Miller died on 16th March 2021. He was 69. Alan worked on a whole range of factual shows at Pebble Mill, but particularly Top Gear GTi and Countryfile. I worked with him on a couple of films when I was a researcher on Gardeners’ World in 1991. He was originally a sound recordist who then moved into directing. He will be remembered as a kind, funny and generous man, who taught a lot of us an awful lot. (Vanessa Jackson)
Annette Martin: ‘I first met Alan when I was on attachment to Glasgow as a Vision Mixer and he was in the Sound Dept. He was a generous and friendly colleague and even lent me his tent so I could enjoy the wonderful Scottish countryside. Then we met up again at PM and worked on many programmes together. He was a pleasure to work with and I’m so sad he’s passed on.’
Columbo Street: ‘This is so so sad. Alan’s generosity with his knowledge and experience was the bedrock of my (& many others) early tv life. Such happy memories as a new researcher of filming with Alan and John Craven – from every corner of the UK to Oz, Mauritius and the US … The TV industry in the Midlands and beyond is richer for being lucky enough to have Alan Miller as a part of it.’
Julie Mason: ‘This is very sad news. I worked with Alan a lot, shooting various things but Top Gear Gti in particular. We shared a lot of laughs. Went up and down the M6 – he drove like a lunatic – working with a small, bijou team who shot the items for the UK Horizons spin off. Fun times.’
Jim Knights: ‘Such sad news on the passing of a friend and colleague. Always a pleasure to be his cameraman on shoots. And most importantly always ensured a 1 hour lunch break, excluding travel. Good and generous guy. The likes of which we will never see again.’
Here’s the false gable end from “The Franchise Affair” (1988). Christopher Glover was working on VT on this outside broadcast. The flames from gas burners when shot from the right angle made it look like the building being on fire.
Les Podraza is the chap up the ladder (note the lack of health and safety). He spent two days building this the flaming structure. The night shoot was apparently fantastic.
The following comments were left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:
Robert Meikle: Its a Heron. Great fun to drive in a studio with little in the way of a set. I tracked one for a series of dance shows, basically The Black and White Minstrels, but not with the black make up. Very fast crabs all over the floor, with Ron Greene being very cool on the front. Also good for very, very slow creep in, before zooms were commonplace. Example, also with Ron, Pete and Dud in ‘Not Only but Also’. Happy memories of obsolete ways of working. For the anoraks, powered by hydraulic motors, compressor powered by 3 phase AC, could go for a distance with electrical power off, in silence.
Ian Keown: It was a very scary machine to drive, as it could crab (all 4 corner wheels moving), or steer, with just the two rear wheels moving. It went forward and reverse, and in crab mode if you went all the way round with the wheels, they became reversed, as quite a few studio walls and sets could testify! On the front, the left foot pedal was for craning up and down, and the right pedal moved the seat left and right, but if you had your whole foot on the pedal, and pushed your toe down, the seat moved to the left!It was a monster whichever end you sat on!!
Mark Smithers: Once did a play called ‘The Fallout Guy’ with Dave Bushell as the LD. There was a longish scene with a drive through the desert, so to show movement we mounted a 5k lamp where the camera usually is and I sat on the front to point the lamp with the camera supervisor Paul Woolston driving.
Laura McNeil: That was the only drama I did from start to finish, sound from pre to post-production. I loved working on it. Then I didn’t get a credit on it but the runners did. I almost cried it was awful as I found out when the end credits rolled in the edit suite.
Richard Stevenson: Looks like it’s still in the camera store. All the cable coiled up on the back. As far as I know it never went up to [Studio] B – no height in that studio anyway.
Simon Tooley: It used to come out of the store for ‘Crimewatch Midlands’. There was one mark on the floor, and I used to sit on the back of it in the same place for the whole show! If I remember rightly.
Alan Hussey: Very versatile dolly in the hands of an expert tracker – you could slip it from track to crab on the move. On the front both feet and both hands had individual jobs.