Gangsters series in Pakistan

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission














This photograph is of the arrival of the cast and crew of the drama series Gangsters, when the end of the series was filmed in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Included in the photograph are Andy Meikle (production co-ordinator, far left, beard), Heather Storr, Ann Arnold (costume designer 3rd from the left next to Heather), David Rose (producer – centre front row, black top and sunglasses), Arthur Heywood (sparks, back row, to the right of David), Saeed Jaffrey (actor, next to David), Richard Ganniclift (camera asst/operator to the right of Saeed Jaffrey), Alex Christison (sound recordist, last but one on right, with beard and sun glasses), far right Ken Morgan ( lighting cameraman). Also there, but not included in the shot were: Alastair Reid, director; Philip Martin, writer.

Thanks to Jane Mclean, Steve Saunderson, Janice Rider, Susan Astle, Janet Collins, and Bill Bohanna for helping identify people.




Howards’ Way – John Williams

John shooting on Howards'Way

John shooting on Howards’ Way. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

John filming on the crane

John filming on the crane. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission


John filming whilst sailing

John filming whilst sailing. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

Cast and crew on Howards' Way

Cast and crew of Howards’ Way. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission













































Below is an excerpt from cameraman, John Williams’ memoirs, Shoot First: No Ordinary Life. The Book is A4, 216 pages full colour, 96,500 words; it is being sold at cost £14, plus postage or can be collected.

If you would like a copy please contact John on

“Howards’ Way was a very popular series, so much so that one entrepreneurial chap ran boat trips from Southampton water up the Hamble to come and see us when we were in action at Burseldon. This was lovely but we would have to stop filming because the noise of the boats engine chugging towards us drove our sound recordists mad, we would look up to see hundreds of smiling faces all leaning over the side of the boat waving. This we called the ‘Howards’ Way Wave’, there wasn’t much we could do except to wave back and smile and stop for coffee. All through this series people were very friendly and support came from everywhere, not only the sailing fraternity. Stately homes like Waddesdon manor near Aylesbury and the beautiful Somerley house just north of Southampton, home of Lord Normanton and his family, threw open their doors as ideal make believe residences for some of the well heeled members of the cast. Even Cowes, with its famous Royal yacht Club, gave us time during their great events so I can only imagine we didn’t get it too badly wrong.

I loved every bit of the sailing possibly because I had gone from a twelve foot dinghy to finding myself on and off beautiful thirty plus foot yachts, I was in my element. The drama part of Howard’s Way was pure soap opera but the sailing was very real and came accompanied by excitement and its associated dangers. I have from a very early age a healthy respect for water, and especially the sea, my father having been to sea in his younger days. Knowing Bob Fisher from Top Sailing helped, he knew me and knew that I could sail and although we had a great unit and cast, few if any, had done any real sailing. I think a couple of days’ course was all they had, no wonder we had a few mishaps like throwing parts of lighting equipment overboard or people making innocent mistakes by trying to walk on the water. All survived but costume and makeup were not impressed nor I with the lights for that matter although, much to everyone’s surprise, once they had dried out they did work again. The lights that is, I’m not so sure about the artists!

It wasn’t only sailing yachts we used, large motor cruisers were often part of the scene. I thoroughly enjoyed all of it, Southampton was my second home on and off for five months of the year and, rather than go into the production hotel where I knew we would never get any peace, I plus my camera assistants David, Ian Churchill, Sue Cane or whoever was working with me at the time, would book into bedsits we had found for a more comfortable life.

The only down side to this was when a certain member was on the crew! Each evening after filming and after we had got safely back to our rooms, normally between seven and eight, he would insist on taking us to “The Duke Of Wellington” a pub around the corner. This had a sign outside and paintings on the walls inside of a gentleman that looked remarkably like one of our gaffer sparks, Arthur Haywood. He was dressed in the 1827 army uniform of a British General and we would comment on the likeness. There were two choices with an evening like this, suffer a lock-in at the pub and continue drinking after hours and paying the penalty of a hangover in the morning, or leave on the stroke of ten, the one that David and I used to try for, and go to the nearest Indian restaurant for a large curry and be prepared to suffer the consequences.

Thinking back I wonder that I am still here to tell these tales but perhaps outings like this made my constitution strong. That must be the answer, perhaps I should be grateful!!

Sue Cane a camera assistant often worked with me, not once complaining, unlike some of the others. One episode just before we were due to be filming in Malta, not the night shoot, David my operator fell ill and was replaced by Patti Musicaro, an assistant from BBC Ealing. It was all done at the last minute so we had not worked together before and, apart from Jimmy Monks my grip, I arrived much to everyone’s surprise with an all girl crew. It was a hectic shoot and all went well, but I do remember disappearing off most nights with Jimmy for a quiet drink in a local bar, only when we had finished filming did Patti tell me she had never operated on a drama before. Last I heard of her was, after being a very successful photographer, she was running her own Polygraph company and operates all over the world. Sue is still busy.

I enjoyed the experience of shooting “Howards’ Way” as did the millions of viewers that watched every Sunday night but it was not without its own tragedy. Maurice Colbourne, our leading actor, collapsed and died in France over one weekend. We had been filming in Burseldon on the Friday expecting him back on the Monday, I was told of his death when I arrived on the set on Sunday. Everyone was in shock but this was a genuine case where the show must go on and on it went. We carried on filming with the writers rewriting scripts but it was not the same. Finally London made the decision we would finish the series, but it would not be renewed.”

John Williams










Topol’s Israel

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

This article is from the Pebble Mill News from 1984. It tells about a Pebble Mill documentary/entertainment series, called, Topol’s Israel. The programme followed the Jewish entertainer on a trip back to his home country. The production team were Peter Hercombe, director, Chris Wright and assistant producer, Pam Creed. The camera crew consisted of cameraman, John Williams, assisted by Keith Froggatt (both in the bottom photo), with soundman, Alex Christisson, and electrician Arhtur Heywood.

Thanks to Robin Sunderland for sharing the newspaper, and keeping it safe all these years.

Below is the synopsis for the first episode of the series transmitted at 8.30pm on BBC2 28 March, 1985, from the BBC Genome listings database:

‘The first of six musical journeys in which film and stage star Chaim Topol revisits his native Israel.
Part documentary and part entertainment, the series joins Topol on the closing night of his triumphant
West End revival of Fiddler on the Roof, and follows him to Tel Aviv, the city which has always been his home.
Week by week Topol reflects on his experiences as a child of Israel – his memories of family life in an immigrant quarter, of the Exodus operation, his pioneering days on a Kibbutz, his days as an entertainer in an army troupe.
His travels range from the Galilee to the Red Sea, from Jerusalem to Jaffa, and from the Lebanon to Eilat, and on his way he meets an array of friends from every walk of Israeli life.
Producer PETER HERCOMBE BBC Pebble Mill
BBC record REH/ZCR 529 from retailers

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

Dawn Trotman: ‘I remember it well and meeting the man himself albeit briefly.. Chris Rowlands cut it.’

Arthur Heywood’s Funeral – John Williams

Arthur Heywood









Yesterday’s funeral.

Annie asked me if I would say a few words today because Arthur loved his life as a member of a crew with the BBC Film Unit in Birmingham. As a lighting cameraman, I was part of that Unit, and I worked with Arthur on many occasions filming, often 0n the other side of the world. Most productions, apart from drama, a crew would be made up of four people. Two on camera, one sound, one lights. Arthur would be in charge of lights and he was there not only to light the set but to make sure people like me did not get the chance to electrocute anyone, which of course the BBC knew I would, if given the opportunity

Crews were close knit units, often away for weeks, very much dependent on each other, not only for the success of a production, but sometimes even their lives.
We lived together, worked together, and played together.
You just had to get on , but it meant we had very few secrets we could keep from one another.

No No No. It’s ok Arthur I won’t go on!

So when Annie asked me to say a few words of course I said yes!
But where do I start about Arthur, there are so many stories to tell?

In the end it was Annie who gave me the clue. When I heard Arthur had died I sent Annie my condolences and she replied, as only she can, that she thought Arthur was already at the bar with a pint and G&T.
So I think that is a good a place to start as any!

Knowing Arthur as I do, Annie is probably right, but not before he had checked that the bar itself had been made out of a beautiful turned peace of solid oak or teak and not the horrible plasticky stuff you get these days. That the gin was Gordon’s and not Haighs. and that the beer was real and didn’t come out of aluminium barrels. He would have that twinkle in his eye he always kept for special occasions, it would have been used to his advantage in seeing who was behind the bar.

There are so many stories I could tell but let me just pick two that stay in the memory. The first is about one’s past and how it has a habit of catching up with you no matter where you are or how long ago.

Most evenings when filming had finished we would meet up in one or other of our rooms and have a drink together. It would be a time to relax, talk over the day decide where to eat etc. and perhaps let your guard down.

One such time in the eighties I found myself with Arthur in Israel shooting a documentary on the famous Topol, of ‘Fiddler On the Roof’ fame. I’d never been to Israel before, but I knew Arthur had. He had mentioned to me he had been here before back in 1947 when it was then Palestine and he was in the army as part of the British forces trying to keep the peace between Jews and Arabs. 
One evening when we were in Tel Aviv, and after several G&Ts we got Arthur talking about this time. He spoke of the difficulties they had to face, of being caught up in the conflict not knowing who to trust, Arab or Jew. By accident he let slip he’d met a lady who had been a singer and could even remember her name and that she lived here in this town. 
Of course we were on him in a flash! Do you think she is still around? What name did you say? Out of nowhere a telephone book was produced together with the number of someone with the same name and initials.
Go on Arthur Phone! Reluctantly, but never one to refuse a challenge, especially with all of us egging him on he phoned and naturally, we all tried to listen in. To everyone’s amazement, even after nearly 40 years, the voice on the end recognized him immediately. 
He made a rendezvous and tried to keep it secret but in reality there was not much hope of that! We felt we had to spy on him just to see if the lady would past muster which she did, and that Arthur was safe, which he was, only then could we allow him some privacy.
 Please Don’t ask me what was going on with the production at this time cos I’ve forgotten, but there is a lovely sequel to this story and Annie has filled me in with some of the details.

The lady’s name was Lucie. Young and in love she was the first girl Arthur ever proposed to,  but evidently the differences in backgrounds and religion meant that consent was not forthcoming from her father. Surprise that!! Not long after Arthur and his unit left Palestine for Cyprus.
 A year or so after our meeting in Israel, Arthur, in his usual way, invited Lucia and her family over to stay putting panic in the Haywood house hold.  What do you feed a Jewish couple on? Did they drink alcohol? We would have to have a new cookbook and new saucepans!! 
They need not have worried. They arrived and nearly died laughing, they weren’t orthodox so apart from missing out on Sunday morning bacon sandwiches nothing was a problem.  And as Annie says, Every cloud has a silver lining, she got new saucepans and a cookery book!
 The next story I want to tell happened very early on in my career and the first one I was asked to shoot abroad. I was determined to impress.
It was about the then Bishop of Birmingham, who had been Bishop of Singapore when the Island was over run by the Japanese during the second world war and of a Japanese Officer who as a Christian helped save the Bishop’s life and in return, at the end of the conflict the Bishop was able to save his. The film would start with them meeting each other for the first since the war ended and we would be shooting it in Singapore.
We flew out in a Britannia, courtesy of the RAF, stopping off at Gann to refuel. This was a RAF staging post set on a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and more to the point, it was duty freeI! This meant we could pick up a generous supply of booze, all at ridiculously low prices.

We arrived at out hotel in the early hours of the morning with everyone wide awake thanks to jet lag and no one wanting to go to bed. The sky was beautifully star lit and it was lovely and warm. So much we decided to all meet up on the patio by the director’s room that was right by the side of the pool and have a night cap. Once we had settled in I needed to talk to production so went ahead giving my assistant, what I thought was a simple job. The responsibility of carrying the night’s refreshment to the pool.. I still don’t know how it happened but, moments later there was an enormous scream, I found my assistant had managed to throw himself into the 4 foot deep storm ditch that surrounded the hotel seriously twisting his ankle and was obviously in great pain.
What made matters considerably worse he had smashed all the booze!

We were in deep trouble, no not the booze this time.

In only a few hours we would have to start shooting as our two main characters were arriving at the airport and there was no way my assistant could walk let alone help with the camera.
 It would have been extremely difficult for me to carry on without an assistant. For one thing it would slow us down and we would lose time, time we did not have.

It was Arthur who saved the day. He immediately volunteered to step in and do what he could. 
The transition between lighting and camera would not be easy. Both jobs are completely different each requiring specialized skills. Fortunately for me I knew Arthur had always been interested in what was going on around the camera even to the extent of coming out on occasion as a second assistant. Then it didn’t matter so much, now it did! I can only say he did it brilliantly. The crucial meeting we had to get right was successfully filmed that morning and most of the story had been shot by the time my assistant was back on his feet. He appeared very sheepishly three days later having spent most of the time lying by the side of the pool. 
I’m sure Arthur enjoyed those few days actually on the camera but I’m pretty sure too, it was with some relief when he returned to what he called his proper job.

Arthur was one of those guys who could put his hands to almost anything and often did. Lucky were the ones who were able, allowed, to take a look inside Arthur’s workshop at home. Here you would find a treasure trove of tools of every description all neatly stored plus a wood turning lathe. He would spend hours there, with Annie’s permission of course. How cruel it must have been for him when he found he could no longer do the things he loved.

Before I close I must say a word about Annie, 
and how important it was for us, living in the mad world that often surrounded a film crew, to have some one at home who could cope. I cannot remember when or where he found her or even if she found him but I do know he struck gold and he never looked back. And it has showed over the years with the love they shared for one another.
 His job entailed trust on both sides; 
the gorgeous ladies he worked with when filming were real friends to him, and to Annie. They would  take her under their wing whenever she turned up on location as did all the crew.

Arthur was not the easiest of persons at times so I know she would have had her work cut out on a bad day. Especially I think of how that love and caring has been put to the test over these last few difficult years.

Annie admits to being being wife number 3 (and a half because he lived for some years with a lady in Suffolk, someone she is still in touch with) and she was used to hearing about his exploits with ex girl friends and wives.

Annie has stayed in contact with many of these friends and also with Eileen, Arthur’s first wife, who is here today with Arthur’s son Peter.
 I found Arthur an utterly dependable trustworthy colleague and the sort of man you would want to have by your side at any sign of trouble.

I and many others have lost a good friend but Arthur lived a full and active long life, some of which I was privileged to share. There will be sadness of course but he would not want people to be miserable.

Yes, I do see Arthur ensconced at the bar with a Beer or G&T in hand , and that twinkle in his eye.

I know he would want us all to drink to that!

John Williams

Arthur Heywood, a message from Annie Heywood

Arthur Heywood

Arthur loved his time with Film Unit, the work and more importantly the people, they were a ‘family’.  When Arthur and I got together I was accepted into this family and this has lasted way beyond his working life, we never lost touch and were invited to a number of different celebrations and parties: once in the family you never leave.

I have been greatly cheered by the support and clear respect so many people had for him.  He was a rogue with a twinkle in his eyes and I like to think that he is at a heavenly bar, gin and tonic in one hand a pint of real ale in the other.

Annie Heywood