Brian Parker

Brian Parker on his 90th birthday. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

This blog is written by academic Lez Cooke about director Brian Parker, who worked on a number of significant Pebble Mill dramas. It was published on the Forgotten Drama website: https://forgottentelevisiondrama.wordpress.com/2021/01/03/brian-parker-1929-2020/
“Brian Parker, who died on 8 December 2020, had a long and eclectic career in television, initially as an actor, first appearing as a seventeen year-old in a live production of Dickens’ Bardell Against Pickwick (BBC 1946), where he played Master Bardell, and then as director of a wide variety of television drama, including popular series such as the BBC’s Softly Softly (from 1966-71) and The Troubleshooters (1966-68), YorkshireTelevision’s Hadleigh (1969-71), Granada Television’s Crown Court (1973-77) and Thames Television’s The Bill (1988-2001). Alongside these assignments he directed single plays for series such as The Wednesday Play and Play for Today, including Auto Stop (BBC 1965) with David Hemmings, Julia Jones’ A Designing Woman (BBC 1965), Peter Terson’s Shakespeare – or Bust (BBC 1973), Alan Plater’s Land of Green Ginger (BBC 1973) and James Duthie’s Donal and Sally (BBC 1978), for which Parker won the award for Best Direction at the 1979 Prague International Television Festival. Donal and Sally was about the relationship between two young people with learning difficulties, a subject Parker had previously explored in Steven (BBC 1974), a play he devised and directed for a short series produced by Tony Garnett.
In the 1960s-70s Parker had a particularly productive working relationship with David Rose, appearing as an actor in episodes of Scotland Yard (BBC 1960) and Z Cars (BBC 1964), both produced by Rose, then as director on 18 episodes of Softly Softly, for which Rose produced the first two series, and on four episodes of Alan Plater’s The First Lady (BBC 1968) which Rose also produced. In the 1970s Parker was reunited with Rose when the latter became Head of BBC English Regions Drama in Birmingham, directing four Plays for Today produced by Rose: Shakespeare – or Bust, Land of Green Ginger, David Halliwell’s Steps Back (1973) and Barry Collins’ The Lonely Man’s Lover (1974), plus four half-hour plays: Jack Rosenthal’s Thirty Minute Theatre play, And For My Next Trick (BBC 1972) and three Second City Firsts.
I first met Brian Parker at a Kaleidoscope event in 2014 where David Rose was introducing Medico (BBC 1959), a recently discovered drama-documentary which Rose directed. Parker described Rose as his ‘mentor’, underlining the important influence Rose had on his career. After the event he emailed me:
I really enjoyed the event last weekend and made amazing discoveries! My acting and directing mentor is still brilliantly defying Parkinson, one of my early shows is in the Library of Congress (after it was transmitted the writer took me to lunch, we ordered, and he said “what went wrong?”) and people are actually looking at stuff made long before home-recording was possible.
Sadly, the next occasion we met was at the memorial service for David Rose in 2017.
In July 2020 I contacted Brian Parker to see what he remembered about Steps Back, the David Halliwell Play for Today about which I was writing a piece as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of Play for Today. Parker replied immediately, providing much useful information about the production of the play and it sparked an exchange of emails about his television work which continued until shortly before his death.”
Lez Cooke

Pebble Mill at One, Studio C

Copyright Simon Harris, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1980’s photo of the Pebble Mill at One studio, in the converted foyer of Pebble Mill. Note the Links cameras

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

Wendy Lewis Edwards: Four years on Pebble Mill at One then back years later for Good Morning with Anne and Nick. Remember Beryl Reid crawling on all fours across the floor between cameras to pull faces at Val Doonican singing away with his guitar. The viewing audience were completely unaware…

Julian Hitchcock: I hardly know where to begin. I first worked in the foyer in late 1978, worked on countless Saturday Night at the Mill programmes and hundreds of PM@1s.

Oddly, my last visit was as a guest on the Anne and Nick daytime show that took the same slot, in 1995, when I was escorted there and back in a limousine. On that occasion, I deliberately wore a checked jacket to pull the TM’s leg. (Sorry).

Eurwyn Jones: I remember working on Saturday Night at the Mill and Ginger Rogers arriving in a big car and walking in through the double doors.

The production team were Roy Ronnie, Roy Norton, Patricia Mifflin and Peter Wisdom.
David Crozier: I have many happy memories of being the designer on both Pebble Mill at One and Saturday Night at the Mill. I always loved the live TV atmosphere on both these shows. It was the Pebble Mill live TV experience which inspired my career change, a few years later, to becoming a TV director. I always enjoyed directing multi-camera live TV shows and the impression left by my time at Pebble Mill has never left me!
Carolyn Davies: Forgot how narrow it was! Amazingly well utilised space, remember it well for Daytime and Good Morning with Anne and Nick, bands, demos, cooking, how did we fit it all in!?!
Tim Dann: Great ‘daze!’…& who will forget Roy Norton in the Gallery; at the end of the show jumping up, knocking his chair over & screaming at ‘Presentation’…”Take me prez, take me, take me!!”….then as Susie says…Off to the ‘Strathallan’ for hospitality. Wonderful times.
Ruth Barretto: I used to work for john Grantham in Engineering (one of the loveliest boss) and I remember he had these huge rolled up artist impressions of the foyer area when it was in the planning stage. It was initially the reception area . He asked me if I wanted them . Being young I thought ‘why would I want them?’ Wish I had said yes now!!!
David Shute: I recall when the Wild Eyed Sidey was hot to go with this idea that the head of Engineering, a pleasant person, said it wouldn’t work ‘cos you can’t combine daylight & studio lighting. Phil gave him 30 mins back in his own office to come up with reasons WHY or come ready to discuss his early retirement. What a surprise, it all happened at speed !

Telly Addicts Clock

Telly Addict clock, copyright Gail Everett

Telly Addicts clock, courtesy of production assistant Gail Everett. I’m not sure if this was Telly Addicts’ merchandise.

Telly Addicts was a BBC 1 television game show presented by Noel Edmonds between 1985-1998.

England’s Greens and Peasant Land

England’s Greens and Peasant Land. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Play for Today was directed by Jim Hill (in front of Janice Rider & next to Heather Storr ), make-Up Sue Bide & Viv Howells (centre back) John Norton producer (left of Heather) William Hartley Ist AD (right at the back behind Viv) . John Parker (sound – back row extreme right). Andrew Smith, front right, with Dawn Robertson to the extreme right), Amin Hassan (middle right), Billy Bennett (next to Amin), Johnny Potter (sunglasses) next to Steve White.

Here is the entry from the Radio Times, courtesy of the BBC Genome project:

by RITA MAY
Local Government Elections 1982
A motorway extension is to be built – the route will be through either the local golf course or the allotments. Which will go, the golfer’s beloved greens or the allotment holders’ precious land?
‘ Watergate ‘ comes to South Yorkshire.
Film cameraman JOHN KENWAY Sound JOHN PARKER
Film editor CHRIS ROWLANDS Designer IAN ASHURST Producer JOHN NORTON Director JIM HILL
Contributors
Camera: John Kenway
Sound: John Parker
Editor: Chris Rowlands
Designer: Ian Ashurst
Producer: John Norton
Director: Jim Hill
Ron Ollershaw: Ron Delta
Mavis Ollershaw: Maggie Lane
Horace Burley: Geoffrey Andrews
Old Tom: Teddy Turner
Sid: Peter Martin
Jim: Johnny Leeze
Les: Bill Lund
Joe: Dickie Arnold
Lol: Anthony Addams
Arthur: Joe Belcher
George: Peter Russell
Frank: Sean Glenn
Eileen: Mary Wray
Pat: Rita May
Barman: Ted Beyer
Barmaid: Marlene Jarvis
Sam: Tom Harrison
Angry housewife: Pat Wallis
Angry husband: Tommy Harper
Rover driver: Terry Waddington
Customer at stall: Brenda Castle
Minibus driver: Howard Crossley
Garage attendant: Joanne Griffiths

 

Presentation studio 1980s

Here are a couple of photos of the presentation studio at Pebble Mill from the 1980s.

Photos by Simon Harris, no reproduction without permission