The Archers’ stairs

3 different staircases, wardrobe MFPhoto by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission.

This photo was taken in 2003 in Radio Studio 3 at BBC Pebble Mill. It shows three differently textured staircases – carpet, concrete and metal, so that the sound effects on The Archers and other radio dramas were authentic.

Martin tells me that it was usually the technical staff doing ‘spot’ sound effects on radio drama who would walk up the stairs, rather than the actors themselves, but sometimes the actors also used them.

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

Richard Abraham: ‘Once did spot for a single episode of the Archers. When you’ve jiggled four belts to emulate bridle noise behind Sara Coward & Judy Bennett then you’ve really lived. Largely because to get their voices right for riding they shifted from one Foyt to the other. Their bottoms were a joy to behold!’

Carolyn Davies: ‘Definitely both the spot fx person and actors used them….think there was a fake door at the top….and it wasn’t just the Archers, ST3 did tonnes of radio drama..’

Peter Wild: ‘It was a bit of both. If you can it’s always best to get the actor to do it for real. Sometimes that just isn’t practical. I directed many scenes on those stairs – which offered four surfaces. Take the carpet off and you have bare wood.’

Maggie Humphries: ‘My claim to fame is my ‘laughing’ dubbed onto a girl in a market in Israel with Topol for a documentary made by the Pebble Mill at One team…….’

Hedli Nik: ‘My great claim to fame is being Juliet Stevenson’s feet running down the stairs in Jane Austen! I did have a part as well…’


AMS Logic 1 digital mixer

AMS Logic 1 Willie Stott












Photo by Willie Stott, no reproduction without permission, taken at the BBC OUPC.

This was the first digital mixer at Pebble Mill. It replaced the BBC Type D desk in Radio Studio 1.

Thanks to Peter Poole for sharing the photo.

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

Carolyn Davies: ‘It was revolutionary! It made drama editing and mixing (and even doc editing) a dream! Radio 4 doc editing was transformed by it, no more losing your sentences in the tape on the floor…. The AMS Audiofile attached was introduced by the late great Mark Decker, pioneer of digital audio editing in the BBC, he made sure Pebble Mill were streets ahead of every one else when it came to digital broadcasting. Its down side? The green on black screen made white lines on the road appear pink after a long days edit….’

Kathryn Shuttleworth: ‘I wouldn’t say that digital did anything better than analogue when we had this mixer as it was a fairly new technology at the time. We did end up replacing it though……….with an analogue Calrec desk!’

Ainsley Harriott – Good Morning with Anne and Nick

Ainsley with HotlinersAinsley Harriott











Photos by Karen Bond, no reproduction without permission.

TV chef, Ainsley Harriott, on Good Morning with Anne and Nick, visits the Hotliners, who manned the phones of the daily live magazine show. The photo dates from the early 1990s.

Thanks to Karen Bond for sharing the photos.

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

Stuart Gandy: ‘Ainsley once gave me an apple! It was at the end of one of the recordings of Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook. I was on the studio floor clearing up after the programme for the day, when he suddenly declared there were lots of apples left over, and promptly dished them out to many of us.’

Bridget Vaughan: ‘I appeared on Can’t Cook with BBC Wm’s Bob Brolly, we won.’

Carolyn Davies: ‘Was thinking of GM today! Ainsley used to cook a separate batch of food especially for the crew….’

Studio C Sound Gallery – Kathryn Shuttleworth

Carolyn Davies, Andy Freeth, Nick Johnson

Photo by Kathryn Shuttleworth, no reproduction without permission.

The photo is of the Studio C Sound Gallery. ┬áStudio C was the Pebble Mill Foyer, which housed shows like ‘Pebble Mill at One’ and ‘Good Morning with Anne and Nick’.

Stuart Gandy added the following comment on Facebook dating the photo: ‘Can’t say exactly, but I am guessing it is mid 90s when Studio C was revamped. The laminate floor and position of the desk is a clue. The original Calrec desk that had been there since the 80s was facing the other way and the floor was carpeted.’

Peter Poole adds: ‘I used the new desk when Studio B was being refurbished. I think it was about 1995.’