Black Sabbath at the Whitley Bay Festival

Tony Iommi and Chris Phipps

Dick Carruthers, Tony Iommi and Chris Phipps

“Tony Iommi reminisced about his life with Black Sabbath in an interview with Chris Phipps at a capacity audience event at the Whitley bay Film Festival.

Chris presented Black Sabbath on BBC Pebble Mill based arts show Look! Hear! 40 years ago this year.

Tony Iommi received a standing ovation.

They were also joined by director Dick Carruthers who directed  Black Sabbath, the end of the end feature movie.

The  Festival is also screening  “Squire!”  the 2nd City First play  shot at Pebble Mill in 1974 starring Lindisfarne’s Alan Hull and directed by Barry Hanson.

Photos by Miriam Phipps Bertram, no reproduction without permission.”

 

Chris Phipps

Michael Wearing biography by Lez Cooke

This article is from the Forgotten Television Drama website: https://forgottentelevisiondrama.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/michael-wearing-1939-2017/ by permission of Lez Cooke

Michael Wearing (1939-2017) 

Michael Wearing in 2009.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Wearing, who died on 5 May 2017, was one of the talented people David Rose brought into television in the 1970s. Following the recent deaths of Barry Hanson, also recruited by Rose, Philip Saville, with whom Wearing worked on Boys from the Blackstuff, Rose himself in January and Christopher Morahan in April, the last few months have seen obituaries of some of the leading producers and directors from the so-called ‘golden age’ of British television drama.

After studying Anthropology at Newcastle University, where he was involved with a theatre group, Michael Wearing got a job as an assistant stage manager at Bromley before moving to the Royal Court Theatre, where he did his first directing. While touring a stage version of Gogol’s The Diary of a Madman, which he directed, Wearing met David Rose, then head of English Regions Drama in Birmingham, who subsequently directed a television version of the play at Pebble Mill, dramatized by Wearing and Victor Henry, who played the eponymous madman. Three years later, Wearing joined Rose’s regional drama department as script editor. In 1979 he directed Jack Shepherd’s Underdog (BBC2, 4 May 1979) for W. Stephen Gilbert’s The Other Side series, but was otherwise a script editor for four years at Pebble Mill, working with writers such as Alan Bleasdale, on Scully’s New Year’s Eve (BBC1, 3 January 1978) and The Black Stuff (BBC2, 2 January 1980), and Ron Hutchinson, on The Out of Town Boys (BBC1, 2 January 1979), writers with whom Wearing developed a particular rapport.

The following year he produced Stephen Davis’s Trouble with Gregory (BBC2, 23 February 1980) and Ron Hutchinson’s six-part Bull Week (BBC1, 1980), a social realist drama set in a factory in Birmingham, but it was Malcolm Bradbury’s The History Man (BBC2, 1981), adapted by Christopher Hampton, that confirmed Wearing’s penchant for progressive TV drama. The History Man was a four-part serial, a form with which Wearing was to excel as the single play gave way to the authored serial on British television in the 1980s. Ron Hutchinson’s four-part contemporary thriller Bird of Prey (BBC1, 1982) was followed by Alan Bleasdale’s five-part Boys from the Blackstuff (BBC2, 1982) which Wearing guided to the screen after a protracted production period. Wearing suggested Bleasdale write The Muscle Market (BBC1, 13 January 1981), originally intended to be part of the series, as a separate Play for Today, in order to keep him on board at a time when the BBC was prevaricating about commissioning a more expensive regionally base drama series. Wearing recruited Philip Saville to direct Boys from the Blackstuff, shooting four of the five episodes on video to keep costs down – a decision which arguably enhanced the contemporary realism of Bleasdale’s ‘state of the nation’ drama.

Boys from the Blackstuff, Snowy’s death. Photo by Maggie Thomas, no reproduction without permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following the departure of David Rose to Channel Four, BBC English Regions Drama gradually declined as an important producer of regional drama; indeed, Boys from the Blackstuff represents the department’s last great achievement. Wearing subsequently left Birmingham, but such was his reputation that he was subsequently re-engaged by the BBC to executive produce the final series of Play for Today in 1984, personally producing plays by Howard Brenton, Barrie Keefe and Davie Pirie. Later in 1984 Wearing produced Alan Clarke’s last studio play, Stars of the Roller State Disco (BBC1, 4 December 1984). In the same year he was invited to produce a contemporary serial, then entitled ‘Magnox’, which Troy Kennedy Martin had been working on for some time. Wearing brought in Martin Campbell to direct and they both worked with Kennedy Martin to realise his vision. The convoluted nuclear thriller which emerged, re-titled Edge of Darkness (BBC2, 1985), was on of the seminal dramas of the decade, proving such a success when it was broadcast on BBC2 that it was immediately repeated on BBC1, Edge of Darkness won six BAFTA awards in 1986, including Best Drama Series/Serial.

After a production of Malcolm Bradbury’s Rates of Exchange fell through, Wearing moved to ITV for the first time, producing the feature film Bellman and True (1987) for Euston Films/Thames TV/Handmade Films. Subsequently shown on ITV in a longer three-part version in 1989. In January 1988 he returned to the BBC as head of Drama at BBC Birmingham, producing Peter Flannery’s Blind Justice (BBC2, 1988), a five-part drama about two radical barristers, and several films for series such as Screen One and Screen Two, including Michael Eaton’s Fellow Traveller (BBC2, 10 February 1991) directed by Philip Saville, about American writers working anonymously in Britain at the time of the McCarthy witch hunts/ As an indication of his propensity to speak his mind, Wearing drew an analogy between the subject of Fellow Traveller and contemporary developments in British broadcasting, with new government proposals threatening the future prospects of radical television drama. Such pronouncements only seemed to enhance his reputation, however, and in 1990 Wearing was recruited by BBC head of Drama Mark Shivas to become head of Drama Serials.

As the BBC entered a more competitive era, Wearing believed that quality drama could be the corporation’s chief weapon; among the many serials he was responsible for in the 1990s were classic literary adaptations such as Middlemarch (1994), Martin Chuzzlewit (1994), Pride and Prejudice (1995), Nostromo (1997) and Our Mutual Friend (1998), as well as original authored serials such as Paula Milne’s Die Kinder (1990), Hanif Kureishi’s Buddha of Suburbia (1993), Peter Flannery’s Our Friends in the North (1996), Dennis Potter’s Karaoke (1996) and Cold Lazarus (1996), and Tony Marchant’s Holdings On (1997).

Throughout this period, Wearing was an outspoken critic of BBC management, especially following the appointment of John Birt as director general in 1992, Wearing believed that Birt’s policies were stifling creativity and, after threatening it on more than one occasion, he resigned in February 1998. There was much industry sympathy for his position and, shortly after announcing his resignation, he was awarded the Royal Television Society’s highest accolade, the Cyril Bennett Judges Award, having received BAFTA’s Alan Clarke Award for outstanding achievement in television in 1997. He subsequently took up a position with the independent production company Irish Screen, excutive-producing the feature films Human Traffic (1999) and When the Sky Falls (2000) and the six-part serial Aristocrats (BBC1, 1999). After Irish Screen was wound up Wearing produced Farrukh Dhondy’s Red Mercury (2005), directed by Roy Battersby, a feature film about three young Muslim men who form a terror cell in London. He was also co-executive producer on the feature film version of Edge of Darkness (2010), which he told me in 2009 was ‘kicked-started by 9/11’, the 2001 attacks giving him an idea of how re-work Troy Kennedy Martins’ masterpiece in the new ‘age of terror’.

Speaking about his new job with Irish Screen in 1998, Michael Wearing said his intention was ‘To have fun doing work that matters.’ As a mission statement it sums up his attitude towards producing drama throughout his illustrious career.

(This is a revised version of a biography written for BFI Screenonline in 2009).

Lez Cooke

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You and Me and Him

Screen grab from ‘You and Me and Him’. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the months before David Rose died, I was approached by a friend and former colleague of his, asking if I could get hold of a copy of David Mercer’s 1973, Thirty Minute Theatre drama, You, and Me and Him, for him. Through friends at the BBC Drama Village, I managed to get a copy of the drama dubbed off, and sent to David. Fortunately, despite being very frail David was able to watch it in the weeks before he died, it apparently meant a lot to him. I decided to take the opportunity of watching the drama myself, and below are a few observations about it.

The only character in the play is Coster, played brilliantly by Peter Vaughan. It is a studio piece, which sounds simple, there being only one character. It is anything but! Coster is in conversation with himself, in three different guises throughout the drama, in quite a schizophrenic manner. There are different settings, an office, and a bedroom. When in the office, Coster wears glasses and is smartly dressed, in the bedroom he is dishevelled and wearing pyjamas. He is in the care of a psychiatrist and realises that he needs to pull himself together. We hear Coster taped on a ¼” tape, and on the phone to himself.

It is a psychological drama and quite philosophical, and considers some of the darker issues in life, there is talk of army rape, of pornography and lusting after little girls. The tone gets increasing violent during the drama, as one version of Coster wants to get rid of his alter-egos. He even talks of suicide. The drama ends with the conclusion that ‘You and me, are him’, and that in fact they each love the other.

Technically the drama is very complex, with hundreds of edits in a half hour piece, including a lot of split screens. John Lannin was the VT editor, and did a wonderful job. It was presumably recorded on 2” videotape, and so the editing process must have been tortuous and extremely time consuming. There are some really creative shots especially in transitions between settings, for example the feet of one of Coster’s personalities from one setting, appear in the foreground of the other setting. I’m not sure how this would have been done at that time, unless it was a locked-off shot. There is also a shot showing the empty office chair spinning, and then Coster appears sat in the chair, which was presumably a locked-off shot.

The director was Barry Hanson, with David Rose the producer, and Michael Edwards the production designer. This was a really innovative piece of drama, which stands up pretty well to contemporary viewing. Apparently the master tape was supposed to be wiped, but it was kept by the VT boys, who changed the tape number. It was then found in the basement by Paul Vanezis in 1990, and placed in the BBC Archive.

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Out of the Blue – TX card


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

Thanks to Ann Chancellor-Davies for sharing this card. Ann’s late husband, Gavin Davies, was the production designer.

This is the transmission card for Out of the Blue, shown on 22nd August, 1991, on BBC1 at 21.30. Here is the entry from the Radio Times, from the BBC Genome project:

http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/1cb8a4d8341248c39da75f8d6802bf2f

The fourth in a series of six new plays written for television.
Starring Colin Firth and Catherine Zeta Jones
Alan makes films in the warehouse studio where he lives, with the help of his friends Rudy and Liz. Even
Rudy’s girlfriend, Julie, finds herself caught up in his plans. But when Alan falls in love with a beautiful young girl,
Chirsty, and decides to create the perfect romance between them, life begins to imitate the film fantasy which has become an obsession for him.
Featuring Cathy Tyson , who starred opposite Bob Hoskins in the film Mona Lisa ;
John Lynch , seen recently in ITV’s Chimera; and Dexter Fletcher , well-known from Press Gang, the children’s drama series also seen recently on ITV.
Written by Graham Alborough Producer Barry Hanson Director Nick Hamm

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

Kevin Lakin: ‘It was my job to keep fire going on an island in the lake at Edgbaston Golf Club, night shoot. It was hard to avert my eyes because Catherine Zeta Jones was without clothes. It took years for me to recover.’

Carolyn Davies: ‘Remember doing loads of mag transfers for it in Film Transfer….Audio Trainee initiation room….’

Keith Butler: ‘I worked in the gallery on lighting and vision control on this production. Even then it was obvious that Catherine Zeta Jones had “Star” written all over her, she was a joy to work with.’

 

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David Rose 1924-2017

David Rose 2009. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News has come through today that David Rose has sadly died. His death was apparently very peaceful.

David had a long and distinguished television career. He flew in Lancaster bombers during the WWII, joining the BBC in the mid 1950s. In the 1960s he produced Z-Cars and the spin-off series, Softly, Softly.

In 1971 he was appointed by director of programming, David Attenborough, as Head of English Regions Drama at Pebble Mill. His remit was to produce dramas which depicted life outside London. The era at Pebble Mill was a rich and creative one. David proved himself to be an inspiring leader, with an impeccable knack of putting together talented and innovative teams. He took creative risks and was responsible for bringing many new writers and directors to the television screen. Pebble Mill was incredibly productive under his leadership, producing many Plays for Today, as well as anthology series like Second City Firsts. The talent he worked with included: Alan Bleasdale, Willy Russell, Alan Plater, David Hare, Mike Leigh, Stephen Frears, Peter Terson, David Rudkin, amongst many others, as well as the staff team including Michael Wearing, Peter Ansorge, Tara Prem, and Barry Hanson.

In 1981 David moved to the newly formed Channel 4, where he was made Commissioning Editor of Fiction by Jeremy Isaacs. He was responsible for the development of Film on Four. It was during his time at Channel 4 that he won the Roberto Rossellini award for services to cinema in 1987, an honour he was incredibly proud of.

David Rose’s legacy at Pebble Mill is still evident in the BBC Birmingham Drama Village today, in the shape of some members of staff, and also in the innovative production practices.

David will be much missed, and we are unlikely to see his like again.

2-Opportunities from pebblemill on Vimeo.

I recorded this film in 2009, of David, Barry Hanson, Tara Prem and Peter Ansorge talking about English Regions Drama.

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