Pres Studio

Photographs from Stuart Gandy, no reproduction without permission
























Pres studio at Pebble Mill. This was probably taken around 2004, when the studio was being decommissioned with the move from Pebble Mill to the Mailbox.

Thanks to Stuart Gandy for sharing the photographs, which were originally posted on the Pebble Mill Engineers’ Facebook group.

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

Jason Dean: ‘The pres studio was largely left unused between it being the home of nightly weekday regional continuity during the late 1970s (all evening between Midlands Today and closedown in the early hours) and being used for Breakfast bulletins from Jan 1983. It looks like the photo might have been taken during this fallow period judging by the state of it?!’

Diane Kemp: ‘I did loads of bulletins from the little self opt studio, including the memorable time the Midlands was snowbound and we were interrupting network – all from there.
Can’t see it clearly enough to see the desk, the backdrop or the seat adjacent where SAs sat.’

Jane Green: ‘It looks like it’s being built or dismantled here….we SAs sat to the right of the presenter. It was a squash. The second photo shows what looks like a control desk that the presenter operated. Later on we had a proper backing with logo. Which once fell off on air as  Jonathan Dick reminded me…National inserts were done from Pres too, if you had a guest for news or Newsnight. I sat there with Michael Heseltine one evening for what seemed an age. If it’s not Pres, I can’t think where it might be. The cameras would only be in Studio B or A otherwise?

Diane Kemp: ‘It’d be great to see a photo of it as it was. I’d say ‘in all its glory’, but to be fair it was never a beautiful space. Rivalled only by the fab studio in Nottingham above the probation service offices where you could hear the women’s toilets flush on-air.’

Elisabeth Seaborne

Elisabeth Seaborne, who worked in the Newsroom and in the Asian Unit, sadly died in January 2018.

Below are memories from those who worked with Elisabeth:

Diane Kemp: ‘I remember her from my days at Midlands Today. I always thought she was probably better read and more clued up than many of us (well certainly me). I also remember her telling me about working for Philip Donellan and Charles Parker. A direct link to two phenomenal documentary makers.
I’m sorry to hear she’s passed away.’

Carol Wilson: ‘When I knew her she was the camera diary supremo at Midlands Today. She seemed to know just about everyone. Sadly she became ill with MS and was incapacitated for most of her later years.’

Janet Collins: ‘Elisabeth also worked as Comms Clerk in the Planning Office’

Midlands Today newsroom

Photo from Jonathan Dick, no reproduction without permission












The Midlands Today newsroom at Pebble Mill from the early nineties.

Cathy Houghton in the foreground and David Davies in the background, at BBC Pebble Mill, Birmingham. The computer system was BASYS, which Cathy apparently excelled at!

Thanks to Jonathan Dick for sharing the photo.

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

Malcolm Hickman: ‘As a Comms engineer, we sometimes had to see Gwen Smith when there had been a problem with the Saturday results feed. Her bark was always greater than her bite. When you got it wrong, she gave you a tongue lashing, when it went right, she sent out a hero gram. A lovely lady.’

Jane Partridge: ‘I remember when Phil was doing a Saturday Comms shift and I was away (possibly at Guide Camp in those days) he took our eldest daughter into work with him, she was 5 at the time (so 1989-90) and he was heavilly involved in setting up the BAYSIS system. She was used to using the BBC Model B computer we had at home, so going into the newsroom with him, she perched on a stool and was happily occupied tapping away on a keyboard…. the report I got was that there was a newsroom of open-mouthed journalists nervously attempting what this 5 year old didn’t bat an eyelid at.’

Diane Kemp: ‘I remember when BASYS came in. There were some ‘super users’ who taught the rest of us. Jane Green was one, I think??’

Roger Casstles reminisces about BBC Pebble Mill

Specially shot video of Roger Casstles talking about why BBC Pebble Mill was a special place. The video is recorded on Pebble Mill Road, overlooking the site where Pebble Mill stood, and is now a dental hospital. Roger mentions some of the productions that came from Pebble Mill, like Pebble Mill at One, Midlands Today, The Archers, as well as the Midland Radio Orchestra, and being a centre for drama, but tells us that the really important thing was how people worked together, for instance post production working across all productions and the way that Graphics and Set Design departments collaborated with production. Roger Casstles was the creator and producer of The Clothes Show, the fashion magazine series which ran from the 1986-2000.

(The video was shot by BCU Media graduate, Ash Connaughton, with me, (Vanessa Jackson) asking the questions).

Roger Casstles at the site of Pebble Mill











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

Andy Frizzell: ‘Had some great shoots with Roger in many countries around the world. As always talking a lot of sense. We were all saddened by the closing of ‘The Mill’.

Claire Chambers: ‘As Roger would say “ why answer a question with one word when thousands will do” ! Very well said’

Linda Hearn-Clapham: ‘Very happy memories of recording Hartbeat and The Movie Game at Pebble Mill in the 90’s!’

Children in Need circa 1992

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

This photo is from Costume’s Ruth Kiosses, who was the back-end of this racehorse, inspired by the BBC drama series, Trainer, which was made at Pebble Mill.