Studio 3 Doorbells

Copyright, Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission













These were the doorbells used on The Archers and other radio dramas which were recorded in Radio Studio 3. Any doorbell would do – as long as it was a Friedland one! I expect that Friedland were very happy to donate a demonstration board to the BBC, although I’m sure that the castors were a BBC addition, to make it easy to move around.

Thanks to Martin Fenton, who took the photo at Pebble Mill in 2003.

The following comment was left on the Pebble Mill Facebook Page:

Andy Walters: ‘I’m sure that’s still in the Archers studio with labels as to which bell is for which house.’



Victoria Wood 1953-2016

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission











Comedienne Victoria Wood died today, aged 62, after a battle with cancer.

Birmingham played an important part in launching Victoria Wood’s career. She studied Drama at Birmingham University in 1971, and as you’ll see from the excerpt of her obituary in the Telegraph today, one of her first professional engagements was at BBC Pebble Mill. Does anyone know what the ‘local television programme about Midlands Life’ was? Please add a comment if you do.

I think that Victoria was probably quite a challenging student at Birmingham University. I studied English and Drama there a decade later, and remember being told by one of our lecturers, Gerry McCarthy, that Victoria had refused to choose any of the options she was offered, and they had to put together a module on Farce especially for her!—obituary/

“In 1971 she enrolled at Birmingham University to study Drama and Theatre Arts and while working as a part-time barmaid in a pub frequented by BBC producers was invited to a party where she played a few of her songs. The following day she auditioned at the BBC studio, Pebble Mill, and was given a spot on a local television programme about Midlands life. This led to another audition, and two appearances on the ITV talent show New Faces, one of which she won.”

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

Lynn Cullimore: ‘I do know that John Clarke knew her and I think he was the producer. I was John’s Production Assistant after that time but I know they were friends. What an amazing lady though – so talented and so sad she is no longer with us. What has been happening lately that we have lost so many talented artists.’

Katie Cooper (Wright): ‘Apart from the regional news programme we also had the ‘Regional Opt Out’. Half an hour’s worth. Regionally based and ranging from news magazines to inter-town quizzes….travelogues, history, even live music + audience from Studio B!!!!. John Clarke and Roger Casstles were two of the Producers in the days of Victoria Wood. David Nelson and I amongst the Directors… Couldn’t name the specific programme she was involved in though…sorry.’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘Back in those days, Midlands News did 2 half hour opt outs a week. One on a Tuesday night and one on a Thursday night. They often featured a particular town or event. It may have been one of those programmes.’

Andy Walters: ‘I’m sure some of her As Seen On TV series was filmed around the corridors of Pebble Mill.’

Jane Clement: ‘A lovely lady, met her several times on the Mill. Another one gone too soon.’

Radio WM News Presentation Area with ringmain selector

DSCN2373 DSCN2372





















Photo copyright, Philip Morgan, no reproduction without permission.

These photos were taken by Philip Morgan in autumn 2004, when Pebble Mill had been emptied, and just prior to the auctioning off of equipment.

The top photo shows one of the Radio WM studios, with the second one showing a close up of the ringmain selector, which is mounted on the back wall.

I particularly like the piece of paper stuck to the wall reminding presenters not to forget to include the travel in the 7pm news bulletin, as well as the reminders for how to get accurate time signals!

Andy Walters added the following information:

“That was the NPA (News Presentation Area) at the end of the newsroom nearest WM. The ringmain was a separate one for the newsroom and there were several of them dotted around. in the NPA the red and gren dials appeared as monitoring sources on the desk. I remember having to remake those labels. Even though we had computer playout from 2001 the cartridge machines were still used for regional news bulletins to the end. There was a similar studio next door (The TPA!) and in Wolverhampton. Here’s the same room on it’s last day of action in June 2004. Due to some error none of WM’s equipment was auctioned and was slowly picked off by other stations who were still using the same equipment.”

News presentation area, photo from Andy Walters

News presentation area (NPA), photo from Andy Walters


Radio WM newsroom, the NPA, was just off here. Photo by Andy Walters

Radio WM newsroom, the NPA, was just off here. Photo by Andy Walters

Gordon Astley mug

Gordon Astley cartoon AW Gordon Astley mug AW


















Here, thanks to Andy Walters is a Radio WM mug featuring presenter Gordon Astley. It is still in daily use at the Mailbox, and is somewhat strangely sponsored by MEB (Midlands Electricity Board). Apparently Radio WM had a whole load of different branded merchandise, which was given away in competitions.


Midlands Today from the Conservatory

Midlands Today notice AW

Photo by Philip Morgan, no reproduction without permission

Photo by Philip Morgan, no reproduction without permission







































In the final weeks of Pebble Mill in autumn 2004, different areas of the building were decommissioned at different times, as technical equipment was transferred to the Mailbox. I suspect that Studio B, the Midlands Today studio must have been decommissioned, leaving the regional news programme temporarily homeless, and having to find a short-term location – the Pebble Mill Conservatory. Hence the need for the notice, asking for quiet!

The Conservatory was originally built for Good Morning with Anne and Nick in 1992.

Thanks to Andy Walters for photographing the sign, and to Philip Morgan for photographing much of the Pebble Mill building, including the Conservatory.