Joan Armatrading

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission




































These screen grabs are from the 1985, Joan Armatrading concert from the NEC, simulcast on BBC 2 and Radio 1, on 4th and 11th April. John Smith was the director, and Annie Gumbley Williams was the PA. Below is the entry from the Radio Times, courtesy of the BBC Genome project:

“The exciting singer songwriter, soon to embark on another long world concert tour, makes a rare British television appearance in a concert recorded recently at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham.
In her repertoire,
Joan Armatrading mixes previous chart successes with contemporary material, including ‘Love and affection’, ‘Heaven’ and ‘Temptation’.
Producer JOHN G. SMITH BBC Pebble Mill
A simultaneous broadcast with Radio 1. Viewers with stereo Radio 1 may wish to turn off TV sound and position their speakers on either side of the screen, but a few feet away.
Stereo headphones provide a suitable alternative.
(The second half of this concert will be shown next Thursday)”

Thanks to Stuart Allen for making the grabs available.

Mike Marshall remembers John Kenyon










John was my mentor over the years from 1967 when I came on an attachment from BBC Bristol for three months as a Production Assistant. The three months became six, and eventually I stayed on in the Unit as an Assistant Producer until 1972. It was the most exhilarating experience – John let me have full rein very quickly at a challenging time when the UK was in the throes of entering the Common Market! Agriculture was in a period of considerable adjustment as a consequence, and our programming always tried to reflect that.

Much of the knowledge in production that I gained working there is due in no small way to the guidance and encouragement that John gave me. He was also extremely tolerant of the fact that I was a non-golfer! The photo below was taken on an EBU Farming tour in the Netherlands in 1971, and shows many of the BBC’s Agricultural Radio and TV Producers – including John Kenyon.

Mike Marshall

The day the Pebble Mill studio opened

This link is to a clip from Nationwide on 15th June 1971. Midlands Today presenter, Tom Coyne gives a guided tour of the brand new Pebble Mill studios. Included in the tour are Studio B, the home of Midlands Today; Studio A, where many dramas were produced; and the Radio studios, home to The Archers, we also see Radio WM in action. There is no mention of Pebble Mill at One, because the programme had not yet been planned.

Thanks to Malcolm Hickman for sharing the link.

Still from Tom Coyne’s piece on Nationwide. Copyright BBC.











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

Keith Warrender:’The EMI cameras were still going in 1983 when they were replaced with Link 125s. Link are long gone but the old factory is still standing unused in Andover.’

Sue Astle: ‘Such an amazing exciting time for us then, we were privileged to have worked there. Susie Bancroft. Ex make up’

Sarah Tongue: ‘My mom ran the Library!’

Helen Smith: ‘Loved watching that, my Dad was the cameraman at the beginning of the clip.’

Michael Fisher: ‘Radio Birmingham as it was at the start!’

Andy Marriott: ‘What was the little mini cart system they were using for spot effects, called?’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘It was a device called a P.E.G. Programme effects generator. They used a spool of tape in a case with a metal loop fitted at one end. When you inserted the cartridge, the machine grabbed the tab and cued the effect. It had loads of slots so a sequence of effects could be built up. A BBC designs department product, IIRC.’

Sue Welch: ‘Actually remember Tom Coyne from Tyne Tees Television. A very long time ago.’

Malcolm Adcock: ‘Happy memories, joined Top Gear in 1988 and our production office was later in the old Pebble Mill at One studio area.’




Memories of Alan Ward from Louise Willcox

Alan Ward in spring 2017. Photo by Louise Willcox, no reproduction without permission











Alan Ward, retired Senior Studio Manager specialising in serious music, passed away last Wednesday, 12th July 2017.   He died aged 85, peacefully, at his home.
Louise Willcox remained in touch with Alan after he retired and remembers his kindness well.

“I am a generation or so behind Alan in terms of my Audio Unit career and frankly, after Alan retired and moved to the New Forest, I thought that our paths might potentially never cross again.

Spool forward 20 years:  Alan’s lovely wife Rita had died, leaving him bereft.  Coincidentally, my daughter Heather was being employed by DSTL for a ‘year in industry’ before university.  Towards the end of that year, a mutual friend pointed out that DSTL was not far from where Alan lived, and Roger and I got in touch.  We and Heather took Alan out (or rather, he took us!) for the odd meal in one of the plethora of lovely eateries around the New Forest.  We kept in touch by phone and email, and a year later, when Heather was invited to spend her summer vacation continuing her work-placement, Alan stunned us by offering her accommodation at his beautifully appointed home – point blank refusing to let us pay him for it, and he’d got in touch with someone who could give her a lift into work!

Heather was a shy 20-year-old but, to my astonishment, said yes.  For four years she stayed with Alan during her summer placements – by year two she could drive and she would then share the driving (probably safer), going out for meals together – Alan making great play of having a 21-year-old on his arm!   He openly admitted that he had been lonely after his wife had died and that just having someone in the house (even if she was in her room on her computer all the time!) just helped.  They developed a firm friendship and Roger and I visited whenever we could.

Heather ultimately got a job at DSTL after university, and we have continued to visit Alan.  The last occasion was about four months ago, when it was clear Alan was becoming more frail.  He had lost none of his wicked sense of humour, though!

Towards the end, Alan had full-time care at home, and was becoming more confused due to his depleted oxygen levels.  I mention this only because, at one point Alan asked the family if they’d got enough XLR cables!  This will bring a smile to audio unit colleagues – the A. Ward Award – for emptying OB Stores of equipment – was apocryphal!   Alan’s family thought it was apt that towards the end, he was planning an OB.”

Louise Willcox

Freelance Sound Supervisor