Studio 3 door

Copyright, Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission

This photo shows the ‘door’ from Radio Studio 3 at Pebble Mill. The door would have been used to create effects on Radio 4’s The Archers, as well as other radio dramas. The mini door is on castors so that it could be wheeled around to wherever in the studio it was needed, and is a box construction. It contains all the parts on a door that would make a distinctive sound: a turning key, and knob, and a door chain.

Thanks to Martin Fenton for sharing the photograph, which he took in 2003.

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

Jane Green: ‘On my way back from the bar after a hard morning’s PM@1. Was hijacked by a radio person and asked to scrunch my feet on a tray of gravel.’

Stephen Lyons: ‘ I remember well the similar one at BBC Wales Radio where I worked on Schools Radio programmes over many years.’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘Notice the stairs in the background. They had 3 different finishes on each tread. Plus at the top of the flight they had several items of door furniture.’

Angela Padgett: ‘Seen them in the Mailbox on the Behind the scenes at BBC Tour. They’re still being used.’

Ruth Kiosses: ‘I once took in my brothers Elizabethan armour for the sound department (Donald McDonald) to record for some drama. I’m sure clanging baking trays would have been the same? But they wanted authenticity.’

Colin Pierpoint: ‘I don’t know who made it. You can see the original door in the photo which was built in to the stairs f/x (extreme top right). The problem was that it had such a large selection of locks, catches and levers that to open the door required at least 8 hands! The portable one appeared later and I suspect it was to overcome the 3 extra staff required to open the original door.’

Carolyn Davies: ‘Didn’t it used to be brown?’

Kathryn Shuttleworth: ‘All the box doors were painted and the screens refurbished for the move to The Mailbox. We had the sash window from under the staircase mounted into a box too. All still in use, they don’t make ’em like that any more!’

 

 

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Archers actress Sara Coward dies

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sara Coward, the actress who played the part of Caroline Sterling in The Archers sadly died on Sunday 12th Feb 2017, aged 69, after a battle with cancer. She had played the part of Caroline for 40 years. Her last appearance in the Radio 4 soap was in September 2016, when Caroline and Oliver Sterling returned from Tuscany to find that the Grundy family might not be the perfect tenants for Grange Farm!

In a recent interview Sara said she would like the character of Caroline to live on after her own death, and be played by another actress, rather than being written out of the show. Sara had an affection for Caroline, and a sympathy for her sometimes rocky love-life. Caroline entered The Archers as a barmaid in The Bull in 1977, and rose to managing and then owning the Grey Gables country hotel, and marrying the wealthy Oliver Sterling.

Sara had the honour of acting with two members of the Royal household – with Princess Margaret in 1984, when she was attending a charity gala at Grey Gables, and in the 60 years anniversary of The Archers with the Duchess of Cornwall.

The links below are to obituaries to Sara:

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/feb/13/the-archers-actor-sara-coward-caroline-sterling-dies-at-69

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thearchers/entries/1b45d644-8fa2-4f78-ab6d-f2838e5d8f70

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Norman Painting’s Piano

Photo by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This photo by Martin Fenton, shows the piano in Pebble Mill’s Radio Studio 3. It was this piano which was played by Norman Painting, who played the role of Phil Archer, in The Archers. Norman Painting died in 2009, aged 85. He played Phil Archer from the start of the Radio 4 soap in 1950. Additionally, Norman wrote over 1,000 scripts for The Archers between the mid 1960s and early 1980s. He also wrote two books about the series: Forever Ambridge in 1975, and his autobiography, Reluctant Archer in 1982.

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

Jane Partridge: ‘I remember Studio 3 – little cubby hole by studio standards (actually about the size of our living room) – rather like Studio B was for the TV lot (only needed to be big enough for a camera dolly and a presenter!). Pity the old building is no longer there, but the memories remain. (I worked in Communications & Engineering Services on the third floor before marrying one of the communications engineers (36 years ago in June!) and ending up in Props until our eldest daughter was born in 1984).’

Lynn Cullimore: ‘Norman was also very knowledgeable about plants etc. and I did a series with him called The Garden Game and Gardens of Delight. He was great to work with and I managed to see him just before he died. Yep, remember the piano too.’

Jane Ward: ‘Norman loved playing piano duets and duos for two pianos. I once went to his house for the day and we spent the entire time having a ball playing through loads of duet repertoire he had…it was such an enjoyable day!
I played the Studio 3 piano for the programme a few times when they needed a pianist and Norman happened not to be in…
Loved the Studio three stairs with various acoustic properties…and the kitchen sink!’

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Jill Archer’s Aga

Copyright Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission

Copyright Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Jill Archer’s Aga, and presumably quite a bit of her kitchen equipment piled on top! It would have been regularly used during recordings of The Archers.

Martin Fenton took this photo in Radio Studio 3 in Pebble Mill in 2003, where The Archers used to be recorded.

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

Kathryn Shuttleworth: ‘We still have the Aga but it nearly didn’t make it as there were concerns about the weight of it! I’m pretty sure there was some concrete reinforcements installed, not just for the Aga but the entire BBC building structure. A team from Aga did the move to The Mailbox as it had to be dismantled into many pieces and reassembled. It really does weigh a tonne!’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘When I used to do the guided tours of Pebble Mill (sometimes helping Sheila Brown) the Archers Studio was always very popular.’

 

 

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Colin Pierpoint blog – part 15, Comms on Location

Visiting Droitwich with Martin Watkins, who was later Quality Monitor. Copyright, Colin Pierpoint, no reproduction without permission.

Visiting Droitwich with Martin Watkins, who was later Quality Monitor. Copyright, Colin Pierpoint, no reproduction without permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part of the comms work was out on the road. I did many Sound Lines Tests. These were on the day before a broadcast, which was usually live, but lines were also used for VTR (Videotape recording in London or other regions). From my diary, I tested lines in Birmingham Cathedral, Cheltenham Racecourse, Rugby, Wolverhampton Football Ground, Nottingham Forest Football Ground, Coventry, Ipswich {which at the time was of course in the Midland Region. (Only the BBC could do it this way)}, Hereford Cathedral, Hanley Queens theatre, Villa Park, Moseley Football Ground, Edgbaston Cricket Ground, and Birmingham City. Most of these I tested many times. I liked to take the “self drive car” then if it broke down it was not my fault. (see below!). At that time the lines were provided by the Post Office, later to separate as British Telecom. For a lines test the BBC engineer met a PO man usually with a cable coming down a telegraph pole, or from a hole in the ground. We did have some comms engineers who were not too good on the Comms switchboard (EMX); in one lines test I suddenly heard Stan Smith’s voice (the ACSE in the Comms Centre). He had been talking on the phone to someone else in Birmingham, so I said “Hello Stanley”. He asked  Where are you? I said “Would you believe, standing in a flowerbed in Peterborough?”

As I mentioned above, we also did the radio links to get the television signals out from the OB to a BBC centre. Amongst others I did Coventry Locano, Derby FA cup, Dunstable mid-point (where you receive the signal and pass it on to the next radiolink site). Ipswich Town, Norwich City, Moseley Rugby Ground. The Comms Supervisor was often in the Sutton Coldfield OB room receiving signals from dishes on the top of the mast. There was a lovely catering woman there, who would ring me at Pebble Mill to take my order for the next day, and then bring my meal into the OB room on a tray!

When reporting on site at Sutton Coldfield, I often had a chat to the transmitter staff and got to know some of them quite well. They had a monitoring problem there because it was difficult to get a quiet signal with all the RF (Radio Frequencies) around at high level. At the time their Radio 3 transmitter drive occasionally made a low frequency rumbling noise, so we had an arrangement that it was all right for them to ring me at home to listen and check for them. My equipment was nothing special, but I did have a clean signal. They also encouraged me to ring their MIC (Monitoring Information Centre) whenever I heard the fault.

 

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