David Waine, who has died at the age of 76, had a career with the BBC spanning 30 years ending as Head of Broadcasting at BBC Pebble Mill in Birmingham.
Really sorry to hear of John’s death. He was one of the youngest Exec Producers in the BBC and ran the half-hour Sunday farming programmes 52 weeks of the year. He had a very small staff just two directors, I think 3 Pas, plus two well respected farming presenters, John Cherrington, later his son Dan, and David Richardson. Later, he was joined by Ken Pollock.
It was specifically aimed at farmers and took a look at food production across Britain and Europe including the Common Market. One crew a week would be allocated, which took us around the country and it opened my eyes to the wonders of food production from the abattoir, to growing watercress and our Christmas dinner, be that turkey or goose!
Later on in my career I would often talk with him about broadening the programme, but it never happened although in my mind his programme was the forerunner of the now very successful Countryfile programme that goes out Sunday nights.
John regularly gave me the chance to direct, by offering attachments; one I remember especially was on Dutch-Elm disease, a disease that has devastated the country of these fine trees. He was a good friend.
The following comment was left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:
Andrew Thorman: ‘I never knew him but would like to think that those of us who followed in his path were walking a well trodden way.’
This page from the internal newspaper, Midlands News from 1992, shows what a vibrant place Pebble Mill was at this time, with both radio and television programmes winning all kinds of accolades, and even the restaurant winning an award for healthy food! Jeremy Clarkson is looking very youthful in the top right-hand corner, but down at the bottom the photographs for Countryfile‘s day out and Sarah Rowlands and Mark Decker’s digital editing session seem to have been swapped over – oops!
Here are a couple of screen grabs of John Craven presenting on Countryfile.
Thanks to Ian Collins for making the stills available.
The following comments were left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:
Jo Moore: ‘I’ve got half an idea that I was the AP on this item…I think it was an Alan miller shoot – possibly when we were doing something about water/ irrigation etc.
I still see John from time to time and like most people who’ve been lucky enough to work with him – he taught me SO MUCH about all things tv. A total gentleman, generous of spirit and warm beyond measure. Some of my happiest telly times.’
Alan Miller: ‘It rings a bell with me too but I cannot be sure I was the director or merely compiled the programme it was in. That’s the trouble, I made so many films with John that I have lost track.’
Andrea Buffery: ‘The bath scene was for a compilation programme directed by Joanna Brame starring Bob the duck!?! and my old snorkel’
Dawn Trotman: ‘The compilation had Charlotte Smith’s bog snorkelling piece in it I think? The train pix was I think from the scenic train journey items we did just before we left Pebble Mill. John always pulled the whistle! A true legend and one of the nicest men in telly.’
Kulwant Sidhu: ‘I directed JC on a steam train thread for CF on several occasions…that screen grab looks like Severn Valley…but could be mistaken. Great man, great raconteur.’
Roy Thompson: ‘Such a great guy, really helped and guided me during an attachment to Countryfile.’
This article is from Midlands News, the internal BBC newsletter from June 1992. It gives an insight into the work of the Graphics department at Pebble Mill, and mentions a number of the staff and programmes being worked on.
Thanks to Stuart Gandy for sharing the article.