These photographs of the personnel team at Pebble Mill were given to Rani Randhawa in 1985, when she left the BBC after a one year placement, to go to university.
Actor, Robert Hardy, who played Siegfried (centre in the photo above) in All Creatures Great and Small’ died 3rd August 2017, he was 91. Hardy was born in Cheltenham in October 1925. He gained a BA from Oxford in English Literature, after being conscripted into the RAF during the war. He became an actor who could play a wide range of parts. Below is an excerpt from his obituary on the BBC website:
‘In 1978, Hardy took the part of the irascible but good-natured Siegfried Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small, the long-running BBC series based on James Herriot’s best-selling books.
As the senior vet of the small Yorkshire Dales practice, Robert Hardy became one of the best-known faces on British television.
Full of animals, nostalgia and rural scenery, the show became a massive hit, attracting audiences of up to 20 million.
The original run ended in 1978 but the series was revived 10 years later after the BBC obtained permission to write new storylines, having exhausted the original James Herriot books.
But the new scripts failed to meet with Hardy’s approval and he rewrote large parts of his dialogue. “All they did was make Siegfried explode and be bad-tempered. I kept changing things.”‘
The following comments were left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:
Keith Brook (Scouse): ‘What a bloody brilliant actor. Never forgot a line, could always find his light or see when he was shadowing someone, and could hit a mark in the middle of nowhere, every time. Occasionally, he’d even hold a line until the camera was ready! His rhythm and pacing were wonderful and repeatable. A true delight to work with.’
John Evans: ‘You suspect he was playing himself in All Creatures Great and Small.What a great part he played with such presence and humour.I always liked to watch him.’
Steve Weddle: ‘One of the greats of British acting, and a great advocate for Pebble Mill. He always approved of All Creatures being made at PM. He was one of us.’
Robin Sunderland: ‘You always knew when Robert was in a scene…. consummate professional!’
Andy Tylee: ‘ I recall him in Age of Kings playing prince hall opposite Sean Connery as hotspur. Also he was a leading authority on the English longbow.‘
Barry Smith, former Head of Personnel, has died suddenly in hospital. He moved his home from Warwickshire to Northern Ireland some years ago, having retired from Pebble Mill in 1991.
The following comment is from Louise Willcox, who remembers working with Barry Smith fondly:
“I am sorry to hear about Barry Smith. I spent many an interesting day negotiating with him, with my ‘lay’ BECTU hat on. He did his best to be honorable, within the constraints placed upon him by the BBC.
After him came the world of Human Resources – a role-change explained to me by a BBC Personnel Officer, who took demotion, rather than swap. The difference, she told me, was that a Personnel Officer’s role gave them the satisfaction of looking after the welfare of staff (from hardship loans to arranging time off for staff in emergencies), not just advising ‘the management’ on emloyment law and implementing change for them. Human Resources is the management of humans as units of work, only. I nicknamed Barry’s replacement the Head of Human Robots!
Barry was definitely Head of Personnel and felt his ‘duty of care’ keenly. My condolences to his family.”
(Thank you to Jim Dumighan, Annie Gumbley Williams and Louise Willcox for this information).
The following comments were left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:
Marie Phillips: ‘I am very sorry to hear that former Head of Personnel and Administration, Barry Smith, died a week ago. Barry had lived in Belfast for some years since retiring and his Funeral was held there yesterday [15th Jan]. I was Secretary to his Deputies – Andy Tylee and Bridget Allen before moving to CIN and shared an Office with his Secretary, Jeanette Read. Barry always worked very hard in the very best interests of staff and I am sure there will be many memories of the help he gave.’
Andy Bentley: ‘I remember Barry manning the North Road gate during a strike, he said afterwards he could not believe the amount of abuse he got because the car park was full. He was very sympathetic to us after that.’
Jane Upston: ‘Dear Barry, a fantastic boss. I worked in Personnel for 10 years, first as Maggie Molloy’s and Barry’s P A and then as Personnel Officer Network Television. I remember you well Louise. I was then Jane Morgan.’
Ed Billington: ‘Sad to hear this news always a nice guy I remember sitting in my 3 wheeler outside pebble mill one night on picket duty for the union and he came to see if I was ok and told me if gets to cold go home to bed.’
Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.
Memo from Mary Mallet in Personnel to film editor, Charles White, about the need to produce his birth certificate due to joining the BBC Pension Scheme.
I particularly like the sarcastic tone of the first line!
Thanks to Charles for sharing the letter, and keeping it safe!
The following comments were left on the Pebble Mill Facebook Page:
Louis Robinson: ‘In the awful, awful days of the bloodbath that was the “Pamela Armstrong Show” Mary Mallett saved my sanity. Caught between two warring factions of management, she convinced me not to resign and leave. For that I am forever grateful.’
Mary Sanchez: ‘Hey! I worked on Pam Armstrong show ! Hilarious ! I’d only been at the Beeb a few weeks and this show was a real eye opener!’
Stuart Gandy: ‘Andy Tylee was the ‘personnel officer’ which was what they were called in those days, who I was assigned to when I joined.’
Marie Phillps: ‘Yes Stuart – Andy knew every member of staff he was responsible for and introduced many innovations including Career Development amd workshops for we “penpushers” to better understand the pressure and timescales faced by programme makers
I loved my morning Vision Mixing ! He gave me lots of confidence and is owed much by many. Still my Second Son!’
Andrew Godsall: ‘That is fabulous! I recall my first personnel officer at the BBC back in 1977. I was 18 and had no idea that I could just behave normally and didn’t have to bow and scrape to authority…she told me how she hadn’t really wanted to recruit me as she thought I should have gone to university instead! Then we talked about jazz and how much she loved it. Hardly any work talk at all!’
Pete Simpkin: ‘They certainly don’t make them like Mary in this sophisticated age!!’
I worked at Pebble Mill between 1979 and 1987. It didn’t actually feel like going to work – more like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. It was supposed to have been the Midlands’ white elephant, but Phil Sidey in particular and the staff in general ensured that the place soared above that position. Phil was an unpredictable, iconoclastic genius and polymath who for me personified the very best of the BBC’s creative, risk taking spirit. His invention of daily live TV from the foyer, rather than a studio made the atmosphere in the building crackle with excitement and tension. It was a genuinely amazing place to work.
The BBC’s decision to shut and demolish was an act of insane vandalism. The Mailbox is risible by comparison.