These photos were taken by Makeup Artist, Maggie Thomas, on location in France (Paris and Rouen), in the Black Country Museum in Dudley, and in Studio A at BBC Pebble Mill. ‘Sophia & Constance’ was a 6 part period drama, transmitted by the BBC in 1988. It was an adaptation of Arnold Bennett’s novel: ‘The Old Wives’ Tale’. It is set in 1964 in the town of Bursley in the potteries. It is the tale of 2 sisters: Sophia and Constance. Constance is the older and quieter sister, and is content to live and work in the family’s draper’s shop, whilst Sophia is more adventurous and outrages the family by becoming a schoolteacher. The series was directed by Allison Romey and David Hugh, and produced by John Harris. The Executive Producer was Colin Rogers. The cast included: Catherine Cusack, Melissa Greenwood, Patricia Routledge, Alfred Burke, Nigel Bradshaw, Freda Davies and John Scott Martin.
Pebble Mill at One – Keith Ackrill’s photos
Most of these photos of Pebble Mill at One were taken by Director Keith Ackrill, and must not be reproduced without his permission. They include photos of Donny Mcleod interviewing Ron Moody and Jimmy Saville, George Hamilton IV and Andy Williams in rehearsal, as well as a black and white photo from 1975 of the Pebble Mill film crew on location in Burnley. This photo features, left to right: Richard Ganniclift (cam), Sam Hanna (contributor), Peter Casselberg (sound), Keith Ackrill (director), Tim Johnson (cam).
All Creatures Great and Small – Maggie Thomas
Photos taken by make up artist Maggie Thomas, whilst on location with ‘All Creatures Great and Small’, in the Yorkshire Dales.
Paul Balmer – Memories of working at Pebble Mill
I worked at Pebble Mill for 17 years from 1974.
I initially worked as a sound guy on many of the continuing dramas including many Second City Firsts and Classic Serials.
I also worked developing the soundscapes for the BBC’s first stereo drama serial – Juliet Bravo.
As a musician I was the ‘off screen’ guitarist for Alison Steadman in ‘Nuts In May’ – Mike Leigh’s direction was “No! No, worse much WORSE!” (difficult for a trained classical guitarist). I was in the dubbing suite for ‘The Boys From The Blackstuff’.
Alan Platers ‘Curriculi Curricula’ was also a major undertaking – the first lightweight on location electronic drama also with stereo sound – ‘hand synced’ by Roger Guest and videoed on location at Birmingham University!
I stood next to the writer on the very first ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ as the horse produced copious manure and the props guys argued over whether poo was an action prop or litter?
I also wrote music for Pebble Mill at One films – McClouds Mysteries – re enacted ghost stories! – Great fun. I have VHS copies somewhere!
I became a radio producer for Radio 1/2/3 and 4 and eventually a TV director having moved to Television Centre writing and directing multi camera drama for BBC Schools TV.
At Pebble Mill In 1976 I had met Stephane Grappelli – the great violinist and wrote his biography, produced a 1 hour biog on Radio 2 and a two hour DVD which was nominated for a BAFTA in 2002.
I also directed the multi award winning ‘Africa I Remember’ – shot on location in Africa.
Pebble Mill was an amazing place to work – in the same day you could work on Radio 3, The Archers and the local news!
One day I staged a ZULU charge on the front lawn.
Faintly bizarre in hindsight! But truly wonderful.
I now work as a full time writer.
All the best
Author ‘The Haynes Guitar Manuals’, Penguin Encyclopaedia of Music, Julian Bream etc
Poldark – from ‘Dishing the Dirt’ by Maggie Thomas (make up artist)
We were a large number of make-up personnel with such a lot of main actors as well as hordes of supporting artistes. So we were all booked into pubs in the area and our make-up room was in the main hotel/pub in Lostwithiel. They were such happy days. The cast were a great bunch of people and made the long hours of work very enjoyable, as well as being in the glorious Cornish countryside in spring. The massive scale set-ups on a popular series like Poldark come as close to feature films as it is possible to get for television. There are all the period carriages and people who own and usually drive them who have to be made-up with facial hair and tie-backs and costumes. This is a whole way of life for them and they are in constant demand. They spend their whole lives around film sets. Their skill in manoeuvring the huge horses and carts, wagons and carriages is spectacular, especially when they have to keep doing take after take and getting the animal and vehicle back on their marks to go again, involving the most intricate manoeuvring. I think there are very few people left who can take over such work.
When we returned to Pebble Mill to start preparing for studio, I found I was to be doing a 100-year make-up on one of the cast. Fortunately, she was an older actress, which gave me a good base to work with and in those days we always had time to have some practice make-up before the day; but the hour-long make-up, layering fine plastic especially made for ageing make-up and drying each layer with a hairdryer, is very unpleasant for the actress and then the removal at the end is almost worse.
When we started on the scenes in studio we had some extra characters who had not been used on film and one of these artistes was Christopher Biggins, who was playing the part of a very frisky ‘Reverend’ Ossie Whitworth, who was up to no good with one of the Fair Ladies in the story. We, of course, had no idea that he would eventually become a National Treasure in I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, but even way back then his wonderful disposition shone out. He was the sunniest, most cheerful person and had the most uplifting effect on everyone around him. He is also a great entertainer and there was never a dull moment when Biggie was in the make-up room; he used to have us all crying with laughter. I was not surprised to see him overcome such ghastly challenges in the jungle and become chosen as The King by the whole country. It couldn’t happen to a nicer chap.
(from ‘Dishing the Dirt’ by Maggie Thomas available on Amazon authors on line)