Alan Miller 1951-2021

Countryfile team with Press Office. Photo from Tim Manning, no reproduction without permission. Alan Miller is fourth from the left, next to John Craven.

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

Alan Miller died on 16th March 2021. He was 69. Alan worked on a whole range of factual shows at Pebble Mill, but particularly Top Gear GTi and Countryfile. I worked with him on a couple of films when I was a researcher on Gardeners’ World in 1991. He was originally a sound recordist who then moved into directing. He will be remembered as a kind, funny and generous man, who taught a lot of us an awful lot. (Vanessa Jackson)

Annette Martin: ‘I first met Alan when I was on attachment to Glasgow as a Vision Mixer and he was in the Sound Dept. He was a generous and friendly colleague and even lent me his tent so I could enjoy the wonderful Scottish countryside. Then we met up again at PM and worked on many programmes together. He was a pleasure to work with and I’m so sad he’s passed on.’

Columbo Street: ‘This is so so sad. Alan’s generosity with his knowledge and experience was the bedrock of my (& many others) early tv life. Such happy memories as a new researcher of filming with Alan and John Craven – from every corner of the UK to Oz, Mauritius and the US … The TV industry in the Midlands and beyond is richer for being lucky enough to have Alan Miller as a part of it.’

Julie Mason: ‘This is very sad news. I worked with Alan a lot, shooting various things but Top Gear Gti in particular. We shared a lot of laughs. Went up and down the M6 – he drove like a lunatic – working with a small, bijou team who shot the items for the UK Horizons spin off. Fun times.’

Jim Knights: ‘Such sad news on the passing of a friend and colleague. Always a pleasure to be his cameraman on shoots. And most importantly always ensured a 1 hour lunch break, excluding travel. Good and generous guy. The likes of which we will never see again.’

Siouxsie and the Banshees – Look! Hear!


Photos by Christopher Glover, no reproduction without permission.

Siouxsie and the Banshees being recorded in Studio A for Look! Hear! Produced by Roger Casstles. Look! Hear! was a regional music and culture show. The photos date from the mid-1980s.

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

Phil Dolling: This brings back memories I was a very junior sound assistant on the floor, I recall the drummer ‘Budgie’ had his fold-back set to terrifying levels with all the high frequencies wound up. It was like razor blades coming out of the speakers. A brilliant series, it caught a great moment in Midland’s music.

Annette Martin: I mixed it she was v good. Just spotted the lovely Ron Sowton Floor Manager in 2nd pic.

Richard Stevenson: It is pre-1987 when I joined as the new cameras were in by then. Probably the Heron crane – one man to drive it and the camera op had a pedal for up and down plus a second pedal to rotate the seat. If you got them mixed up it got very messy!

Occupation Democrat – Tech Reqs

Occupation Democrat 1 Occupation Democrat 2 Occupation Democrat 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

These Technical Requirements (Tech Reqs) documents are for a studio drama, called Occupation Democrat, recorded in July 1984. This was the working title of the drama, and it was changed before transmission to Murder of a Moderate Man.

The drama was set in an airport hostel, and a prison, and recording was also going to take place in the men’s toilets! It was being recorded on 1″ videotape, with VHS viewing copies being run off at the same time. Although the recording was taking place in Studio A at Pebble Mill, the Tech Run was taking place at Elstree, so presumably the rehearsals took place in London.

Robert Tronson was the director, John Bowen the producer, Jenny Brewer was the production associate, with William Hartley the production manager. Charles Bond was the designer, with Al Barnett the costume designer and Susie Bancroft the make-up designer. Dave Bushell was technical manager, with Annette Martin as vision mixer and Ivor Williams and Leigh Sinclair were the VT editors.

 

Telly Addicts

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Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

Thanks for VT editor, Ian Collins for making these grabs available.

Telly Addicts was a gameshow which went out between 1985 and 1998 on BBC1, with all the questions being based on television shows past or present. Most questions were introduced via clips. It came out of John King’s department, and was presented by Noel Edmonds. The format of the shows changed a bit over the years, and there were some celebrity versions and Christmas specials.  Usually there were two teams of four contestants, and a tournament structure which produced an overall winning team at the end of the series.

The show was recorded in Studio A.

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

Maria Needle: ‘Ah yes I was the production secretary on Telly Addicts, Sue Williams was the PA, Louis Robinson was the producer, Sue Robinson the Director I think. I learnt to drink on this show!’

Ruth Kiosses: ‘We did loads of light entertainment costumes for Telly Addicts either from Selly Oak stores or sent up from Wales Farm Road and ones that were made especially (usually at pretty late notice I recall?) Mr Blobby often arrived in a box for various of  Noel shows not sure whether he appeared on Telly Addicts?’

Clare Cotton: ‘Aghhh happy days! We had such a laugh making telly addicts-great production team, great characters one and all…’

Jane Green: ‘Noel always gave me a panic by arriving at the last minute in his helicopter but was always ready on set on time and wanted no special treatment. I once found him standing on a chair in his dressing room trying to get a signal on a new thing called a mobile phone. It was the size of a shoebox.’

Julian Hitchcock: ‘Like Jane, I floor managed it. I also directed it once on some sort of wheeze, and was a terrible Assistant Producer on the show. Richard Lewis was the producer, working with the very talented Louis Robinson as (correct me, Louis) AP cum scriptwriter. Marino Katchmaryck was the genius AP, who (unlike me,- who didn’t possess a TV and preferred books and radio) knew everything about every programme since the birth of Logie Baird. John King presided fatuously over all, assisted by Tim Manning. King’s slightly dubious interests in the supposed format rights helped my interest in intellectual property, which I’ve practiced for 17 years now.
In my view, the sycophancy displayed towards Edmonds, which he seemed to expect, probably contributed to the fatality on a different programme that he presented. Edmonds himself appeared to loathe the contestants. It was, however, very easy and very successful.’

Becky Rogers: ‘Worked on sadly the last series of the show in @ 1998 with Helen Hands (nee Lott) as producer, Sue Robinson as director, together with Nick Harris, Sarah Proctor, Kate Hillman, Simon Lupton, Dan sorry can’t remember surname…… Richard Lewis was exec producer. Happy memories – especially the celebrity edition featuring a very young Ant and Dec!! Left telly in 2000 for life in the lakes and the world of commercial radio. Got married last December and hubby surprised me with a personal video message from Noel during the speeches. Despite it being 14 years since I’d worked briefly with him, it was genuinely lovely of him to ‘share’ our day. Many many happy memories of my time at Pebble Mill!’

Julian Hitchcock: ‘I had no idea that it went on so long after I left in ’92. I meant to mention Helen Lott. Nick Hurran directed, presumably before Sue. Possibly Annette Martin, briefly, too. There wasn’t exactly a lot of scope for directors or camera operators; two cameras on each side and a wide angle in the middle!
During my stint, there was a dreadful family (stars of auditions we did in the Clifton something hotel in Bristol) that kept on winning. Of course, being supreme couch potatoes, Pearl and her family were utterly boring. Noel hated them and beseeched us to hit them with harder questions, but it was useless…’

Nick Harris: ‘Such a happy show – remember being paid as a researcher to literally watch TV for six months choosing clips. The longer you’d been there the better the series you got to watch. I started with Triangle and ended with Ab Fab! Then followed three months of auditions around the country. A sifting out the dopes. (One guy thought Noel was called Norman!) and then three months of studio. Two very happy years of my life – in fact I was reminiscing with Noel about exactly that a couple of weeks ago at Deal Or No Deal…’

Julian Hitchcock: ‘The name, of course, was extraordinary. Addiction was not the best thing for a government-funded broadcaster to paint in such a positive way, but King, who was not quite of this world (where does one begin?!) thought it was so good that he tried another series, simply called “Addicts”…’

Thea Harvey: ‘I was PA and worked with Tim, Richard, Helen, Marino, Andrea and, Nick Hurran now a famous (??!!) movie director. They were happy days and we used to have great Christmas lunches! ‘

Ann Gumbley Williams: ‘I worked as PA as we were called then on the pilot shows of Telly Addicts. I think it was first called Telly Quiz . Memories of who worked on the pilot show not good. I think it was Annette Martin who was the producer. Does anyone else remember? They took ages to get the format and edit at first. I didn’t do the programmes after it was commissioned. I was probably off having a baby!’

Lynn Cullimore: ‘I did work on one of the Addicts programmes with Claire Rayner at her house. I just stepped in as another Production Assistant was sick. I enjoyed the day filming at claire’s house – she was lovely and had made us all cake! Telly Addicts was very popular I remember and I did go to one of the shows – just as a member of the audience so i could show my husband what went on!’

Gail Herbert: ‘I was the copyright researcher on Telly Quiz. Producer was Bill Jones, Prod Sec Julie Whittaker, Studio Director Mike Derby. It was great fun doing that series. I then went to work as John King’s PA on Golden Oldies, etc.’

Live from Pebble Mill – Cargo Kings

Copyright resides with the original holder, probably Willoughby Gullachsen; no reproduction without permission. Thanks to Janice Rider for making the photographs available.

‘Cargo Kings’ was a live play produced at Pebble Mill in 1983 in Studio A, when Robin Midgley was Head of Drama.

The BFI Database describes the storyline thus:

‘Roger Savage, an anthropologist, visits at remote island, where the natives, Mambu, Baku and Abode learn about an obscure cargo cult from him. Soon they are in London putting Savages ideas into practice.’ http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/161953

The script was written by Stephen Davies, directed by Donald McWhinnie, Dawn Robertson was the production associate, with Will Hartley the production manager.  Roger Gregory was the script editor.  Ian Ashurst was the production designer, with Janice Rider the costume designer and Carol Ganniclifft the make up designer.  Bob Hubbard was the camera supervisor, lighting was by Barry  Hill, and Annette Martin was the vision mixer.

The play starred Jeffrey Kissoon as Baku, Norman Beaton as Mambu, Michael Cochrane as Roger Savage, Christopher Asante as Obode and Ray Smith as Chief Inspector Beltrap.