Olly’s Prison – Photos by Willoughby Gullachsen

Photos by Willoughby Gullachsen, no reproduction without permission.

‘Olly’s Prison’ was a three part drama series produced at Pebble Mill by Richard Langridge.  The script was written by Edward Bond, and directed by Roy Battersby. It was transmitted in 1993, and was probably the last studio only drama to be recorded in Studio A at Pebble Mill.  Dave Bushell was the lighting director, and Bob Jacobs the 1st A.D. and Ian Barber the AFM.  Dave Bushell remembers it being a satisfying drama to work on, although not a bundle of laughs.

Mike Eastman remembers working on the series: “I had a small acting role in this production playing a prisoner, my filming days were just prior to Christmas 1991. It was the first time I had worked with Bob Jacobs as ‘first’, but went on to do lots more work with him later on.”

The BFI database http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/489433 includes this precis of the storyline:

Part 1: Tells the tragic story of Mike who sees his life crumble as his grip on reality becomes ever more tenuous. He shares a claustrophobic flat with his 16-year-old daughter, Sheila. Sheila is uncommunicative, like many teenagers, and Mike becomes increasingly frustrated by her silence. He resorts to violence.

Part 2: Bernard is serving a life sentence for the murder of his daughter. He attempts suicide but fails. His fellow prisoner Smiler uses his makeshift noose to hang himself.

(No precis of Part 3 is included)

‘Olly’s Prison’ featured Bernard Hill as Mike, Jonny Lee Miller as Smiler, Mary Jo Randle as Vera, George Anton as Frank, Bryan Pringle as Barry, Richard Graham as Olly, and Maggie Steed as Ellen.



‘A Box of Swan’ -photos by Willoughby Gullachsen

Adrian Dunbar (John)

Sandy Ratcliff, Pete Postlethwaite, Hilary Sesta, Adrian Dunbar

Photos by Willoughby Gullachsen, no reproduction without permission.

A Box of Swan was a ‘Debut on Two’ drama produced at Pebble Mill, transmitted on 9th Oct 1990 on BBC 2.  Alan David Price wrote the script, and  it was produced by Vicky Licorish and Philippa Giles, Diana Patrick was the director.

The BFI database describes the drama as a:

‘Play about a young man brought back to his roots by the death of his father, a road sweeper for 27 years. John moved to London to further his career as an architect, but his ambivalent feelings towards his family are brought to a head when he returns home for the funeral.’


The film starred Pete Postlethwaite as Tony, Adrian Dunbar as John, Hilary Sesta as Mother, Sandy Ratcliff as Patricia and Bryan Pringle as Father.

Thanks to Dave Bushell, who was the lighting director, for identifying the drama from the photos.  Dave remembers that there were six plays in all on ‘Debut on Two’, two filmed on location and four in Studio A. They were written by new writers with established actors. The locations for ‘Box of Swan’ included an Italian restaurant and a undertaker’s chapel-of-rest, in Bearwood, West Midlands.

The other ‘Debut on Two’ plays were  Kingdom Come, Widow of Vulnerability, The Wake, Breast is Best, and the Conversion of St Paul. They were a similar idea to the ‘Second City First’ series of studio dramas from the 1970s, which also featured new talent, and particularly new writers.