Showaddywaddy

Photos by Bhasker Solanki, no reproduction without permission

These photos by cameraman Bhasker Solanki are from a Showaddywaddy performance at BBC Pebble Mill.

The camera operator in the lower photo is the late Bob Hubbard, and seated next to him is Robin Sunderland, also a camera operator, probably then an assistant.

Robin has kept the hat safe all these years, and here he is with it in 2021.

Pebble Mill Blue Plaque

 

On Wednesday 8 September 2021 a BBC Heritage Trail blue plaque was unveiled on the site of BBC Pebble Mill, now a rehabilitation hospital, to commemorate the building and all the fantastic programmes that were created there. A small number of former BBC staff attended the ceremony. The plaque was unveiled by Midlands Today presenter, Nick Owen, who presented the last ever news programme from the broadcast centre.

Included in the photographs are:

  1. Annie Gumbley Williams, Jim Dumighan
  2. ?, Nick Owen
  3. Ken Pollack, Nick Owen
  4. Ken Pollack, Ivor Williams, John Duckmanton
  5. Norman McLeod, John Williams, Nick Owen
  6. Annie Gumbley Williams, Nick Owen, Jenny Brewer

John Holmes’s memories of working at Pebble Mill

John Holmes

I was fortunate enough to work at Pebble Mill during those heady days of regional TV when we had the luxury of not only ‘Midlands Today’ but two half hour opt-outs a week, Tuesday evenings and Friday nights.

That legendary producer Roger Casstles was the first to ask me to join the ‘Look! Hear!’ team as a presenter alongside Chris Phipps and Michael Woods. After the first series Michael left and Toyah Wilcox replaced him. At one time the programme was so popular we were receiving over 600 letters a week.

As a result John Clarke, another legend, asked me to present a new hobbies based series called ‘Sparetime’. The moment I saw the opening credits that Anne Jenkins had created I knew we were on to another winner.

The ground breaking programme ‘Together’ followed this. Ground breaking at the time because it focussed on the lives of communities that had settled in our region. The programmes objective was to bring us all closer together. I well remember the Sikhs of Coventry, the Muslims in Stoke, the Irish in Leicester and the Caribbean community in Handsworth, an OB.

If you have memories of this please contact me. They were halcyon days at The Mill.

I’ve written about it all in my autobiography, ‘This Is the BBC Holmes Service’.

For more details visit johnholmes.co.uk 

Gwen Arthy obituary by Carol Churchill

Gwen Arthy smartening Brian Glover up on ‘Shakespeare or Bust’. Photo by Graham Pettifer, no reproduction without permission

 

This obituary for Gwen Arthy, by Carol Churchill was published in The Guardian 15 July 2021. Here is the link to the article: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2021/jul/15/gwen-arthy-obituary?fbclid=IwAR0ps6b0vYMCqicmXcM5XFsZH3wQwyUkMuUr6SkrKtv2T7rErr68WLWmWfc

My former boss, Gwen Arthy, who has died aged 94, was head of makeup at BBC Pebble Mill from 1971 until 1985.

Gwen was born in Rochford, Essex, where her father was a baker.
She studied at the Central School of Art and Design in London, later to become Central St Martins. Her first employment was with a troupe of puppeteers, among whom was a young Ronnie Barker. She then moved to the costume-makers Angels, suppliers to film, theatre and TV, where one of her first tasks was to sculpt a nose for the baritone Tito Gobbi to wear in Tosca.

Gwen joined the BBC in London in 1964 to train as a makeup artist, before moving to the BBC studios at Gosta Green in Birmingham and then to the brand new Pebble Mill in 1971, where she became head of makeup. Programmes for which she designed makeup included Shakespeare or Bust (1970), The Brothers (1972), Nuts in May (1976) and Great Expectations (1981). When we worked on Who Pays the Ferryman? (1977), Gwen and I, as her assistant, were required to go to Crete for three months, where we shared many laughs, evenings in tavernas and midnight swims. As a result we became good friends

In 1985 she took early retirement and returned to her roots in Essex, settling in Leigh-on-Sea, where she found a lively artistic community in which she soon became involved. Over the years she became a prolific painter, in many different styles, and as well as having her own show her work was hung in many exhibitions, including the summer exhibition at the Royal Academy.

When ill health made her housebound she missed her art classes and her ability to put paint on canvas more than anything. Her interest in colour, form and texture was an integral part of her life. While she had still been able, she had travelled to many places to paint, in the UK and abroad, but her favourite, to which she returned many times, was the Isles of Scilly.

Gwen’s son, Tim, was given up for adoption in the early 1960s, but happily, in 2005, they were reunited and Gwen got to know her granddaughter, Amber.

While Gwen could be a demanding boss, she was very supportive of her staff and loved spending convivial evenings, and occasional lunchtimes, with them in the BBC Club, doing their best to empty the bar of its stock of Gordon’s gin. Gwen loved her home and garden and always had a cat, the last of whom was called Biscuit.

Carol Churchill

 

Alan Miller 1951-2021

Countryfile team with Press Office. Photo from Tim Manning, no reproduction without permission. Alan Miller is fourth from the left, next to John Craven.

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.’