Radio Studio 3 Tape Library

Photo by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission

Photo by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission

Photo by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission

Photo by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission






















This photo is of the Radio Studio 3  tape library at Pebble Mill (used on The Archers, and many other radio dramas). All of the bird sound effects were verified by the RSPB, with explicit notes as to the times of year they could be used. We’d get letters otherwise…

Martin Fenton

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

Andy Walters: I think a lot of the tapes are now in the basement store at the Mailbox. I’ve definitely seen a master tape of the Archers signature tune down there along with the Midlands Today film archive.

Kath Shuttleworth: ‘The tapes were all transferred to CD for the move to The Mailbox. Those CDs have since been transferred onto hard drive and the sound effects are still used today, it’s just all a bit more high tech than a bank of tape machines! The original tapes were junked, apart from a few which I discovered contained missing episodes and rare Archers cast recordings. These were sent to archive and copies retained with The Archers team. Andy Walters, I don’t know what the tapes are in the basement. There were plenty of master tapes of the sig and vinyl copies too. Maybe someone brought them to The Mailbox as a momento! All the effects are now on a local server or hard drives of specific machines along with many other SFX collections. Well over 1TB when I last looked! We use two playout systems in studio (Spot On & Ableton Live). A lot of effects are still played in “live” for The Archers. All SFX are available to use at the click of a button and looping sounds is so much easier than it was in the days of 1/4″ tape!’

Andy Walters: ‘Possibly. There are a lot of programme tapes in the basement with codes that mean nothing to me. Or at least there were last time I was down there.’

Kath Shuttleworth: ‘If they’re still there we should take a look at them before they get junked as part of the current clear up regime! You never know, there could be a gem of a programme down there that’s missing from archive.’

Radio Studio 3 dead room

Studio 3 dead room CCTV MF

Studio 3 dead room soft end MF

Studio 3 dead room hard end MF

Studio 3 dead room, with carpet, gravel MF































Photos by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission.

Martin took these photos at BBC Pebble Mill in 2003.

The first photo is of the radio Studio 3 dead room CCTV. Exterior scenes, of The Archers were recorded in this acoustically dead room, linked to the control room via this black-and-white CCTV camera.

When DAB started, this CCTV circuit caused problems. We received a helpful letter from a lifelong Archers fan, whose dog had started to bark uncontrollably whenever there was a scene set outdoors. It was the flyback from the CCTV monitor, which had previously been truncated on VHF but came through loud and clear on DAB for those creatures able to hear it…

The second photo is of the ‘soft’ area of the dead room, with the third photo being of the ‘hard’ area.

Spot Effects Store Room

spot effects store room 1 MF Spot effects store room MF





















Photos by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission.

These photos were taken in 2003 at Pebble Mill, they show the radio spot effects store room. The room may look like a jumble of assorted domestic bits and pieces, but it was the source of the spot effects used in radio dramas, primarily The Archers.

Thanks to Martin Fenton for sharing the photographs.

Borchester Echo 1970

Borchester Echo, DC Lynne Grainger, Borchester Echo 1970 DC










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

Thanks to David Cassidy for sharing these stills.

This copy of the Borchester Echo is from 1970. It celebrates 20 years of The Archers. The magazine featured members of the production team, including David Cassidy’s mother, programme secretary, Lynne Grainger.



Royal Navy Rescue Helicopter, Pebble Mill at One

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Photos by Bhasker Solanki, no reproduction without permission.

These photos are of a Royal Navy rescue helicopter appearing on Pebble Mill at One, and landing on the back lawn.

Thanks to Bhasker Solanki for sharing the photos.

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

Stuart Gandy: ‘Yes, I remember this, but this was not the only time we had aircraft at the mill. We also had a helicopter land on the font lawn, and the harrier on the club field, twice. These were the kind of big event things that put Pebble Mill and BBC Birmingham well and truly on the map.’

Jean Palmer: ‘It was all very exciting. The best was the harrier.’

David Gregory-Kumar: ‘The legend I was always told was it blew the garden shed clean over!’

Nick Owen: ‘My brother started playing Terry Barford in The Archers about 1979 – I think he did some publicity photos for his character being in the army arriving in a helicopter on the pebble mill lawn?’

Eurwyn Jones: ‘I remember them so well, the programmes were usually directed by John Smith.’

Stephen Adams: ‘I was a GPO apprentice based at Pebble Mill whilst all this was going on. I thought wow so this is what broadcasting is all about! Needless to say I changed careers into TV as soon as I could. Never looked back. Thank you PM!’

Richard Stevenson: ‘Before my time sadly, but I very much doubt it would be allowed these days. Believe Noel used to land at the club too?’

Gail Herbert: ‘Pebble Mill must have been the only office block where we would constantly have to say to people on the phone to hang on a minute ’cause there was a helicopter/plane/etc outside the window. Utter magic!’