Pete Simpkin – Memories of the Ghostly Voice

Pete in WM Studio 1

THE GHOSTLY VOICE

One of the security men who was on early duty at the back door in the early hours had a frightening habit of scaring me witless every time he was in situ by waiting until I had collected my studio keys from him and walked up the darkened back corridors of the building to a particular point where there was a security loudspeaker installed. He could work out the time to reach this place and then whisper ‘Pete’ into his microphone. The effect of this unseen voice whispering my name in the stigeon gloom of the early morning was unsettling to day the least but I was always caught out. Luckily he retired before I did!

Pete Simpkin – Memories of Working at Pebble Mill

WORKING TOGETHER

With the creation of the famous ‘Pebble Mill at One’ show there was an immediate challenge to how to produce a live TV programme in the entrance Foyer and yet keep the building operating. In the end it proved impossible and the actual operating Reception area had to be relocated but for several years we all mixed in and went about our daily business as best we could. On one never to be forgotten lunchtime I had been recording some ‘Thought for the Day’ talks for the breakfast show given by a local Catholic priest.

At the end of the session I had to get him back out to the street and the routine when PM@1 was on air was to just make our way out along a narrow gangway at the back of reception. This usually worked well but on the particular occasion in question the TV show was broadcasting some dancers at that end of the area and just as the producer switched cameras to a wide angle of the dancers there could be seen a bespectacled person pushing gently with hands to the shoulder blades of a frightened looking priest crossing the scene! Clearly the director was not happy because when I attempted to get back into the building after seeing the priest off the door was locked against me. As my next duty was to read the 2pm news summary it was essential to get back in and the only way was to run up Pebble Mill Road to the side entrance, down the long drive, along the back corridor and up a flight of stairs to the studio. My eventual performance was breathless reading with long gaps to get my breath. After the Manager had rushed in to tell me off for careless work and I had explained my reasons there were hurried top level enquiries made and arrangements made to prevent breathless newsreading in the future…….but that’s the sort of building and challenges we had.

Pete Simpkin radio producer

Oliver White (Editor) – His Unreliable Memoirs – TV Studio Skills

Studio Skills

There were wonderful ‘studio skills’.  I remember being at Gosta Green in 1962 and seeing a chap turn a polystyrene column into a satisfactory tree in under 30 seconds, with a soldering iron, and an aerosol.  And how disappointed the public were by the Henry VII costume exhibition.  There was a wide strip of Copydex glue down the front of one dress, with pearls every twelve inches or so.  The costume lady knew the pearls would show up, but not the adhesive… Wide aperture lenses, so the background was the background!  Michael Edwards wonderful set for ‘Great Expectations’ sticks in my memory.