Pebble Mill at One presenter – David Freeman

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

This screen grab is from the Pebble Mill at One show transmitted on 23rd December 1981. It shows presenter David Freeman, from Radio Oxford, interviewing Dr Who’s robotic dog, K9, about his spin-off show.

Thanks to Paul Smith for making the grab available, and to Pete Simpkin, Cathy Houghton and Julian Hitchcock for identifying David Freeman.

History of the BBC in Birmingham

photo by Ben Peissel, 2003, no reproduction without permission

photo by Ben Peissel, 2003, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

History of the BBC in Birmingham

(taken from notes held at the BBC Archives in Caversham)

 

1922 Nov 15               British Broadcasting Company begins transmitting from rooms at the GEC Works at Witton. Managed by Percy Edgar and Pat Casey, it consisted of three room: one contained the transmitter, one was the office and the other was the 12x20ft studio.

1923 Dec 6                 The first ever Children’s Hour comes from Birmingham. Children’s circle established, proceeds of which were donated to West Midlands Children’s charities.

1924                            Witton premises too small. Moved to top storey of 105 New Street. One studio and a suite of offices.

1926                            New Street premises too small (and rat infested). Purpose built studios at 282 Broad Street acquired. Largest studio could accommodate a full orchestra and chorus.

1927 Jan 1                   British Broadcasting Company dissolved and the British Broadcasting Corporation constituted under Royal Charter.

1927                            Daventry ‘Experimental Transmitter’ replaces 5 IT at Witton.

1938                            First episode of Paul Temple attracts 7,000 fan letters.

1949                            Sutton Coldfield transmitter opens bringing television to the Midlands.

1951 Jan 1                  The Archers first appears on the Light Programme. Brookfield Farm was located in Studio 2 at Broad Street for 20 years.

1951                            BBC acquired the lease for Pebble Mill site.

1954                            Carpenter Road, Edgbaston became the new Broadcasting House.

1955 Dec 29                First Midland Region television studio opened at Gosta Green, Birmingham.

1956                            Gardening Club (now Gardeners’ World) began.

1957 Sept 30               First BBC Midlands TV News broadcast each weekday evening. 6.10-6.15.

1962                            Nightly TV magazine programme – Midlands at Six  

1962                            A model of proposed BBC Pebble Mill Broadcasting Centre was show to the press.

1964 Sept                    First episode of  Midlands Today presented by Barry Lankester and produced by Michael Hancock. News items were a football bribery trial, a new course on local government, Swedish sport and an item called ‘the body beautiful’.

1965                            Immigrants Unit set up by Patrick Beech to provide Hindu/Urdu programmes. BBC’s first bi-media department, making programmes for both radio and television.

1967                            First BBC Local Radio Station in Leicester.

1967                            Pebble Mill – first sod was cut by then Director General Sir Hugh Greene.

1970 Nov 7                 Pebble Mill began with Radio Birmingham, later became Radio WM.

1971                            HRH Princess Anne officially opens the new Pebble Mill studios.

1972-86                       Pebble Mill at One, presenters included Donny Macleod, Bob Langley, Ross King, Judi Spiers and Alan Titchmarsh.

1976                            Saturday Night at the Mill – live. All staged in either one of the studios or outside the front of Pebble Mill. The courtyard around the back was constructed into a mini ice-rink with a canopy area for if it rained when live bands were on.

1977                            The Horror of Fang Rock, only episode of Dr Who to be filmed here at The Mill. The set consisted of a lighthouse built in the studio, and it was the setting for a battle with an alien shape shifter. The story featured the one and only appearance in the series of a Rutan – seen in its natural state as an amorphous green blob with trailing tentacles. It was the fifteenth season of the series and the  Doctor at the time was Tom Baker. It was transmitted between 03/09/1977 and 24/09/1977.

1988 Oct                     Midlands Today became the first regional news programme to include a nightly sports section.

Phillips 1/4″ machine

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

The photo is of a Phillips 1/4″ audio editing machine, apparently from Radio Stoke.

The following exchange took place on the Pebble Mill Facebook group:

Keith Brook: ‘Ah, the Phillips ¼” machine. Absolutely the best editing machine ever!! Most came with a dark green BBC waste basket on the right!!’

Pete Simpkin: ‘Keith are we speaking of the same machine..the Phillips I know and hate was in a grey box and was very good at stretching and spilling tape whilst editing. The official green BBC waste box I am sure was on the trolley mounted TR90 which really WAS the best editing machine!…or am we both suffering from Tempus Fugit.’

Keith Brook: ‘Pete, I’ve been searching for a picture of the Phillips beast but TR90 does ring a bell. I first used them in local radio in the late 60s and then when I arrived at Pebble Mill as a cameraman, they were at the back of Studio B gallery. They had a slanted shelf on top for scripts. The best part was that you marked the tape on a pillar and then just dragged the tape to the block. The brakes came off as you pulled the tape making editing very quick. Some of us just used our fingernail to push into the pillar, thus saving valuable seconds. Is that the one?’

Pete Simpkin: ‘Yes that’s the Phillips!’

Keith Brook: ‘The reference to the waste bin on the right hand side was that journos, in typical last minute haste to make the story appear important, would throw me a 5″ spool with their piece and a bad carbon copy of the link before rushing into the studio.’

Pete Simpkin: ‘One of my dislikes of the Philips was that one election evening I was intake tape operator and had just recorded a declaration and was splicing a leader on to it when the producer called for the replay immediately, because of the floppy take up on the machine as I attempted to line up the start again, I nicked my finger with the razor blade which I was still holding and as the declaration was replayed there was blood pouring out of the head box!!’

Keith Brook:  ‘Just to the right of the pinch roller is the marking post, with a line in it, that you refer to when you’ve waggled the sound about to find the edit point. You make a china-graph mark on the tape and, thanks to the lovely braking system on the Philips, you can easily drag that mark to the edit block which is just under that guy’s hand. You cut it at 45deg on the block and leave the right hand part there. Now, you can easily pull the left hand, incoming tape with your hands and listen until you’ve reached the next edit point. Mark it, pull it to the block, stick some editing tape over the join and you’re done!! Some of us pre-loaded 1″ strips of editing tape onto the backs of our hands for speed. Journos weren’t very good at this, or anything else for that matter, and cut on the end of the outgoing sentence and the beginning of the incoming sentence. Leaving the breath in before or after the edit made it sound much more natural and didn’t take up any extra time.’

Paul Freeman: ‘That is STILL my favourite reel-to-reel machine: I bought one on Ebay a while back but, not being an ex-BBC m/c it lacks the framing and top shelf for keeping your script on, and the pegs to hold the leader and sticky. If you didn’t bite your nails it was easy to edit on this without a chinagraph, you picked up the tape in both hands, lining your rt thumb-nail with the pillar mark, and transferred it to the edit block lining your thumb-nail with the line on the block – Simples! Wish I had one of these machines I also need the Philips pre-amp set for it if anyone ever comes across one. Curiously, it seems the neon record light, and the sleeve around the red button are BBC mods too.’

Keith Brook: ‘Yes, the thumbnail trick was a good one, but I just kept the tape running after I’d stuck my nail in and that gave me enough tape to pull over to the block.’

Pete Simpkin: ‘Any sweat…sorry perspiration…. on your fingers would have covered the coated side and made the joins audible because of the loss in top frequencies as the tape passed over the repro head!’

Keith Brook: ‘Pete, we used white gloves at Radio Merseyside. Didn’t everybody?’

Paul Freeman: ‘Pete, either we had tape stock which wasn’t susceptible to sweat, or we had preternaturally dry hands! Besides, who’s touching the edit? I’m handling it 8 inches either side ! The only person I ever saw wearing white gloves was Milton Hainsworth, and that was to grip the film to remove the chinagraph marks as he rewound the make-up, usually at far too few minutes before TX!’

Keith Brook: ‘Most of this discussion is about editing on the Philips. Here’s a close up of the marker post we keep talking about. See? It even has a groove for Paul Freeman’s finger nail!!

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Delia Derbyshire editing on the Phillips 1/4". Photo from Keith Brook

Delia Derbyshire editing on the Phillips 1/4″. Photo from Keith Brook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keith Brook: ‘Here’s a picture of Delia Derbyshire, the wonderfully talented lady who created the Dr Who theme from Ron Granger’s original notes.’

Pete Simpkin: ‘OK Keith if the Philips tape M/C gave us Dr Who’s theme what can I say! Great discussion though!’

Paul Freeman: ‘One of the great things about these machines was their simplicity: both in loading and function, important factors in news operation. They laced up so fast it was quite possible to go from a tape in a box (or more likely with a page of cue jammed in it) to pressing the play button in under 2 seconds. In a REAL emergency, you didn’t even need to spin it onto the take-up spool, you could spool it unto the floor – something you couldn’t do with those wretched Studers, and you certainly couldn’t lace a tape onto a Leever-Rich in under about 5 seconds. They were tolerant of small inserts (like a 30″ sound bite, for instance) on standard 5″ spools whereas many of the other machines would snatch if it wasn’t on a ‘W’. All in all, a shining example of something fit-for-purpose.’

Dr Who – Horror of Fang Rock

Fang Rock 1 Fang Rock 2 Fang Rock 3 Fang Rock 4 Fang Rock 5 Fang Rock 6 Fang Rock 7 Fang Rock 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

The above PasC (programme as completed) paperwork, for ‘Horror of Fang Rock,’ the only Dr Who episode recorded at Pebble Mill, is available on this BBC Dr Who archive website:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide/horrorfangrock/

The ‘Horror of Fang Rock’ starred Tom Baker as Dr Who, and was a four part serial, transmitted between 3-24 September  1977. Each episode was 25 minutes. It was the only story in the original series to be made outside London. It was made at Pebble Mill due to engineering work at the studios in London.

Karen Davies’ blog

(Copyright of the photo remains with the original holder)

I was asked to man the lift when Princess Anne opened the building….even bought a new scarf for the occasion. As a PA of only 4’11” stature and spending most of my time in the 2nd floor bar, nervous personnel doctored the lift buttons to make sure I pressed number ‘4’ to take her to the lofty management echelons! I also practically passed out waving my antennae on the reception steps in an extremely unwieldy rubber ant costume for a Pebble Mill At One, Doctor Who feature. The joys of being diminutive. I joined the Asian Unit as Gerry Hynes PA in 1971, became a Production Assistant a year later & left for ATV in ’78. Carole Glover, Coral Higson, Heather Storr, Jenny Homer, Polly Whitehouse, Jane Alderson & Pam Relton were my partners in crime.

(The photo includes Dr Charles Hill (Chairman of BBC Governors), white haired man on the left, it is David Rose (Head of Drama) who Princess Anne is talking to, and 3rd from the right is Bob Gale (senior dresser).)