Graham Todd













Graham Todd’s partner, Beryl, has been in touch with Annie Gumbley Williams, about Graham’s sad passing. Graham aged 59,  was a member of Comms Department for many years. Graham died last week, after a short stay in hospital. He was diagnosed with cancer early in 2012 but the chances of survival from it were very low. Beryl said they had a long time to come to terms with this and Graham has been amazing throughout.

If you would like details of funeral arrangements please add a comment here, and I will forward your contact details to Annie.


If anyone has photos of Graham (on his own or with others) that you don’t mind sharing please let me know, as Beryl would very much like to see them.
The following comments were left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:
Paul Grice: ‘A brilliant and committed professional who was a pleasure to work with. Sad to see he has gone so young.’

Steve Dellow: ‘Sad news..enjoyed time with Graham in the old Comms Centre and out on OBs.’

Ruth Barretto: ‘I remember him when I worked for all the engineers, he was a true gent.’

Brian Johnson: ‘Shocked to hear such sad news, I worked with Graham a great deal in Comms, always a pleasure to work with.’

Studio Operations (part 10) Conditions of Service – Ray Lee

Conditions of service

A quirk of the conditions of service at that time, was the ability to take overtime as time in lieu, so that if you worked an hour’s overtime which would normally be payable at 1.25 T you could take the 1T as time in lieu, and just be paid the 0.25T.  I made quite extensive use of that option when I was not short of money, as one cannot be taxed on time in lieu, but later with a growing family money became quite important. However I cannot compare to the master of the system Elson Godbolt. As he was part of the O.B. rotation he tended to get a lot more overtime than I did based largely in the studio, and he managed to amass weeks of leave, and around every 2 years, put this together with his annual leave and PHL leave, and took 3 months off during the winter season, on full pay. It was a good job no-one else wanted much leave at that time or it would have broken the system. If all the staff had taken all overtime as time in lieu, there would not have been enough staff to cover all the requirements, as no-one would ever have been working for more than their basic hours in any one year, and the staffing levels were such that some overtime was almost inevitable, especially as some studio sessions would overrun.

Other payments included extra payment if you worked on a public holiday, 2T for working on Christmas day, payments for working over 12 hours, payment for a less than 10 hour break between duties. All of these were intended to discourage scheduling staff for unreasonable duties, but for occasions like Election Night, where staff quite often ended up working though for 24hours at some O.B. sites, they were laughing all the way to the bank!

The engineering staff both in operations unit, and engineering services, were (as far as I am aware) all on irregular hours working conditions, which attracted a 15% lift on basic salary. In some areas many of the staff worked quite regular shift patterns and some even worked days patterns, but to maintain flexibility in moving staff around all were given the same irregular hours conditions. This may have caused some disquiet among some staff they worked alongside who were on normal days conditions and therefore flat rate salary, but I was never aware of it becoming an issue, it was just seen a a quirk of the system. The downside was that non of these extra payments counted towards pensions, so people used to receiving a lot of them, could, on retirement, see quite a cut in their income. From what I have seen since leaving the BBC, pensions have got a whole lot worse!

Ray Lee

Ray Lee

Ray Lee





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

Stuart Gandy: ‘Commenting on Ray’s mention of Elson Godbolt, I do remember that in my first weeks at pebble Mill at the start of 1980, I wondered who he was. By the time I had been there a few weeks I had probably met all the ops engineers except Elson. His name being on the rota as showing weeks and weeks of leave. Other allowances I remember back then were the MHW, or meal hour work-through. This was when you could get an extra payment if your meal time was disturbed. Then there was the sssa, soft soul shoe allowance which was meant to pay for footwear for people who had to walk on the studio floor. I think this was the massive sum of £4 when I started, and as far as I know, didn’t increase at all right up until it was abolished. It was quite a time consuming task though, filling in all the forms if you wanted to claim these things.’

Peter Poole: ‘And don’t forget meals over five at base. It was a small allowance with a luncheon voucher.’

Brian Johnson: ‘Wow, Elson Godbolt stirred a memory. Sorry this might be slightly off subject………however……When I transferred from London to my home town of Birmingham as a Technical Assistant in 1969, (pre-P.Mill) I had to do a few weeks in every engineering section. One of those was the film processing area at Gosta Green that dealt with all the News film each day. It was an unusually hot summer and we could not get the processing tanks down to the right temperature. I was being supervised by Elson and we had to buy in lots of ice to put into the huge tanks of developer and fixer to enable us to process the film. Midlands Today (I think it was called that then although I might be wrong) sent a camera crew to film us doing it and it went out on the news programme as part of the item on the unusual heat. We obviously managed to develop it ok!’

Pete Simpkin: ‘Brian as a former worker in News film processing in the BBC I can sympathise…we also had an annual maintenance weekend where we stripped the processor down and cleaned every tank and roller having to get it all up and working again by 9am Monday. Informal arrangements were made to cover any emergencies by having film processed at the local ITV studios should the need arise…it never did!’

Brian Johnson – Grade C Certificate

Grade C Certificate Brian Johnson Grade C certificate reverse Brian Johnson













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

Thanks to Brian Johnson for sharing his Grade ‘C’ certificate from Wood Norton, in Engineering and Television from 1972.

Pebble Mill Canteen












Photo by Tim Savage, no reproduction without permission.

This photograph is of the Pebble Mill Canteen on the 7th floor of the office block. Tim took the photo in autumn 2004 when Pebble Mill had been emptied, prior to the building being demolished in 2005.

The Canteen was at the heart of Pebble Mill, sadly it looks so clean and lifeless in this photo.  It had a excellent line in cheese scones, mid morning, and delicious cakes for afternoon tea.  You never knew who you’d meet in the Canteen, you’d frequently bump in to actors in full costume and make-up taking a break from recording a drama in Studio A.

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

Becky Land: ‘I remember that if you timed it right you could get a warm banana and chocolate scone for elevenses. Welcoming when on an early news reading shift. Loved sitting amongst the Archers cast and listening to the well known voices.. and the brilliant view on a clear sunny day. ‘

Gordon Astley:..’I loved the canteen/restaurants from Gosta Green/ Broad st/ Pebble Mill. Only problem I had was with the whingers who complained daily…bearing in mind it was good, honest food, served by nice people…and it was all subsidised by some old lady lady’s licence fee.’

Stuart Gandy: ‘Oh! Pebble Mill Puddings – legendary’

Brian Johnson: ‘Canteens at Broad St and Carpenter Road were great too!’

Susan Astle: ‘Cheese scones……made it easier to cope with a hangover!’

Donald Steel: ‘And Sunday roasts! I knew staff who would come in specially !’

Pete Simpkin: ‘Well said Susan, you had to be in the queue at the prompt time of 1030!’

Neil Wilson: ‘Carl’s kingdom for many years. So much missed.’

Eurwyn Jones: ‘Who can remember some of the women who worked there ?
I remember Lil, Edna, Miss Rose and a blonde Scottish girl………’

Gordon Astley: ‘Donald…..after my WM Sunday show I would often had 4 Sundays plated up..took 2 round to Mum and Dad..and 2 for us. Had to smuggle the green plates and the covers back in on Monday !!!’

Pete Simpkin: ‘Eurwyn there was an Irish lady on the canteen staff called Mary, my wife who is Irish taught me some Irish phrases to try out on her, I think I was set up by some of these! Great and friendly staff in the canteen…sorry restaurant!’

Eurwyn Jones: ‘I well remember Lil that worked there took pity on me during the bread strike and she used to smuggle various loaves to me….. Bless her.’

Gordon Astley:. ‘talking of strikes (BTW I was the first person in the BBC in Birmingham to go on strike !) There was a strike on behalf of the canteen staff who were then berated by the pickets because they went into work. They told me “It’s ok for those journos etc…they earn a lot…we can’t afford to strike !”‘

Lynn Cullimore: ‘I remember Edna’s singing in the canteen. The cheese scones were to die for…nowhere else can you get a cheese scone the same! Many memories of christmas lunches there…served by management!’

Gordon Astley: ‘.Lynn..sometimes it was only time in the year you found out who was management !! Anyone got the scones recipe ?’

Pete Simpkin: ‘Re management I recall the times there were lift failures and those of us who could manage it would think nothing of stepping it out up the whole flight of stairs and then it became clear who were the management…..they were the ones appearing to be nonchalantly taking in the view on each landing trying hard to disguise their lack of breath!!

Gordon Astley:’..just out of interest re: the 1st ABS strike I remember walking out on a Saturday morning with Barry Lankester. The press was waiting. It was the 1st BBC strike. Barry said we had been set up. Most members weren’t working that day, took the day off, there was a trip to London, (and my dad was very upset with me)..I had only just joined the Beeb. My boss (Eddie Deighton?) told me to go..and see him on Monday. I did and he said that I should not worry….but it was a shame that no other union members turned up to back us in Broad Street. It still leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. Does anyone else have memories of that day…and what was the strike about…methinks it was Broadcasting in the ’70s. ?’

2nd Floor Bar – photos by Peter Poole

Photos by Peter Poole, no reproduction without permission.

The photos show the bar on the 2nd floor of Pebble Mill, before it was moved to the new Club building in the mid 1980s. The 2nd floor bar proved to be a creative melting pot, where staff from all departments mingled after recordings, at lunch time and at the end of the day.

The photos include Liz Nicholls, Martin Harris, Sharon Pemberton, John Allen, Gail Herbert and Geoff Watts.

Please add a comment if you can identify any others.

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

Maggie Humphries: ‘Peter Skinner from Finance and Geoff Watts another couple of names’.

Janet Collins:  ‘I think it’s Sue Brown in a couple of photos’.

Susan Astle: ‘Definitely Sam from makeup -is she standing next to Graham Pettifer from the scene crew? From Susie Bankers’

Brian Johnson: ‘In one of the group photos , first from left, Alex who I think was Bar Manager for a time before leaving with Sarah (standing next to him) , to run a pub somewhere in Worcs I think. In front of them (seated) Colin from security who I believe sadly took his own life in the late 70s when he was still working in P Mill Security.’

Gail Herbert: ‘The tall guy in the group picture is Jeremy Pallant, producer of Farming, etc and I think Sue Williams in in the 3rd photo.’