Ray Sperry

I have received news that Ray Sperry, one of Pebble Mill’s vision crew, has died. Ray started working for the BBC in Birmingham back in the Gosta Green / Broad Street days and during the Pebble Mill period; working both on O.B.s and in the studios.  He rose to become Vision Supervisor on CM1 and CM2, and like everyone else in OBs, lost his job when Outside Broadcasts in the Midlands closed down, in 1992.

A much loved member of the crew, Ray was always convivial, professional and knowledgeable.

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

Robin Sunderland: ‘Ray was a lovely man’

Andy Frizzell: ‘I Remember Ray, as Robin says, lovely man, always a pleasant and knowledgable man. People like him are a breed that’s getting thinner on the ground in the TV industry and we’ll be all the poorer for it. ‘

Malcolm Hickman: ‘As Andy says, Ray was a great bloke. Very helpful when you were trying to put a rig in on OBs. Another good bloke gone.’

 

50 Years of Gardeners’ World

Joe Godwin, Sharon Fisher, Louise Hampden, Claire Johnson

Joe Godwin, Sharon Fisher

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In June 2017, Gardeners’ World will be celebrating its Golden Jubilee. A special 50th anniversary edition is being planned. Today (5th May 2017) a Gardeners’ World masterclass was held in the BBC Birmingham, Mailbox building, for students, and BBC staff. The event took the form of a conversation between Joe Godwin, Director of the BBC Academy (the training arm of the BBC), and three of the production team: Sharon Fisher, series producer; Louise Hampden, producer; and Dr Claire Johnson, horticultural researcher. It was interesting to hear from the team about some of the challenges of making the programme, and we found out that presenter, Monty Don’s dogs, Nigel and Nellie, have a huge mailbag, and even their own Twitter accounts – although the production team don’t know who it is that writes on their behalf!

Gardeners’ World was a Birmingham programme from its start in January 1968, until it was moved to Bristol in 2012. Sharon, Louise and Claire, used to work on gardening output in Birmingham, but moved to work in Bristol when production was moved there. Gardeners’ World has been a BBC production, except for a period of 10 years in the 1990s, when it was produced by Independent production company, Catalyst. This was when Alan Titchmarsh was presenting the programme.

Gardeners’ World was one of the first shows on the BBC to be recorded in colour. It was preceded by an earlier BBC Birmingham series, Gardening Club, presented by Percy Thrower from his greenhouse in the Gosta Green studio, Birmingham.

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

Bryan Comley: ‘Edited one of the episodes in the mid 80’s on CM2, made using the roll back & mix method of linear production, even the captions were as live. A very pleasurable & satisfying way of making tv.’

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CM2 and CMCR40 at Chester Races

CMCR40 Chester Races 1985

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos by Robin Stonestreet, no reproduction without permission.

The photo shows Pebble Mill’s small-ish outside broadcast truck, CM2, with the larger CMCR40 truck at Chester Races in 1985.

The OB trucks were scheduled all over the country, depending on where they were needed, they covered football matches, cricket, as well as working on factual shows like Gardeners’ World.

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

Dave Bushell: ‘Pretty sure we had CM2 out on Vanity Fair in 1987 and other dramas.’

Ray Lee: ‘The cameras were Philips LDK14’s with the Triax adaptor LDK514. From memory there were 3 cameras, but whether there was a spare as well I can’t now remember. The cameras had a short multicore cable (10metres or so) between the triax adaptor box and the camera, then the base station in the vehicle was a modified LDK5 base station which powered the camera and adaptor box down standard triax. (at that time CM1 was a type 5 with Philips LDK5 cameras which also used triax but all the way to the camera) The front area had 2 VPR2 1″ videotape machines. CM2 was thus a complete production and recording vehicle, which meant for programmes like Gardeners World, the could leave site with a complete edited programme, apart perhaps from some captions.’

Bryan Comley: ‘Gardeners World has a very simply caption generator, so we did leave site with a TX tape, and this was 30+ years ago!’

CM2 at Warwick Castle

CM2 Vision crew 16.12.89 CM2 Warwick Castle 16.12.89 CMCR36 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo copyright Robin Stonestreet, no reproduction without permission.

The photos show the Pebble Mill outside broadcast truck, CM2, on location at Warwick Castle, on 16th December 1989.

The Vision crew, in the top photo are Johnny Moore (left) and  Ray Sperry (right).

The man on the roof of the larger truck: North 1 (a Type 5, BBC Manchester OB truck), in the blue anorak is Jeremy Chadwick, and the man in the cap is probably Albert Kinsella.

CM2 was fitted with Philips LDK514 cameras, which apparently weren’t very ergonomic. (Thanks to Toby Horwood for adding this information, and identifying Johnny).

Thanks to Robin Stonestreet for sharing the photos.

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

Jayne Savage: ‘This might have been Carols from Warwick Castle – or the programme was called something very similar – that was presented by Douglas Fairbanks Jnr and directed by Roy Norton. I was the PA and it greatly troubles me that I can’t remember who the other contributors were – apart from the choir from St Mary’s, Warwick! However, I do remember a very exciting recce when we accessed the castle roof to look for camera positions by climbing out of the manager’s window.’

Nick Patten: ‘I have very happy memories as an OBSM and a director working with these magnificent trucks.’

 

 

Top Gear Rally Report

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This titles grab dates from the 1990s. Rally Report was made by members of the Top Gear production team and presented by some of the same presenters as the motoring magazine show. The series reported on the Lombard RAC Rally.

Thanks to Ian Collins to making the grab available.

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

Peter Poole: ‘I did some location recording for this.’

Steve Lee: ‘I presented for a while…Denis Adams was the producer…Fun days !!!’

Ned Abell: ‘If this was the one on BBC2 we parked CM2 outside the Laguna Tandoori next to the Albany hotel, Nottingham. Off the air and sit down with chicken tikkas already waiting!!’

Adam Hartley: ‘I remember preparing some of the rushes & working with editors on some time around 1998… Also have a vague recollection of a viewer complaining because a certain rally car had the wrong engine noise synched to it on a wide drive past…’

Simon Edwards: ‘I think Jim Knights might have been involved?’

Paul Hutchins: ‘Yes Simon, Magpie crewed most of the rallies! Some great memories mate. Great team that went on to produce and film the world rally championship for years to come!! Happy days.’

Alan Jessop: ‘I was one of the cameramen on many of the Rally shows – great fun in the forest!’