Oliver White and his encounter with Grace Wyndham Goldie

Specially shot video of film editor, Oliver White, talking about his encounter with the legendary Grace Wyndham Goldie, whilst a trainee at Ealing in the late 1960s. Grace Wyndham Goldie was the Head of BBC Television Talks, and later Head of News and Current Affairs, she was a formidable producer and executive. Oliver is talking about the obituary of Dwight D. Eisenhower, who died in 1969. Oliver White worked as a film editor at BBC Pebble Mill for many years, he edited dramas like Nuts in May, Gangsters, Kiss of Death and Red Shift, amongst many others.

This video was recorded at the London Film School, and is part of Royal Holloway’s  ADAPT project, which engineers re-encounters between television practitioners and the historic equipment they once used habitually. I think that the editing machine next to Oliver is a moviescope – can anyone confirm that?

Oliver White with a Moviescope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Ieuan Franklin: ‘A fearsome lady by all accounts – Bel Rowley from BBC drama The Hour is based on Grace Wyndham Goldie but the character is a bit too meek for GWG I think! Great to see Oliver, he’s looking well.’

Gangsters complaint

Letter from Mary Whitehouse to David Rose

David Rose’s reply to Mary Whitehouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This exchange of letters was given to me by David Rose several years ago.

Mary Whitehouse, in capacity of General Secretary of the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association, which she established, complained about many television programmes from the 1960s onwards. The 1975 ‘Play for Today’, Gangsters, clearly wasn’t to her taste, because of its violence, and ‘coarseness’. David Rose’s response defends the themes and tone of the film, as well as stating its public acclaim. I suspect that it felt like a badge of honour to provoke this kind of complaint from Mary Whitehouse: a way of gauging that the point of the play had been successfully made to the audience!

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

Jane Partridge: ‘Did you know the lady herself was a visiting speaker for the Royal Television Society Midland Centre’s meeting at Pebble Mill? It would have been somewhere around 1979-1980, possibly early 1981 (but definitely before June that year when I had to change departments). John Grantham was Secretary of the Midland Centre, and as his secretary, I had the job of meeting Mrs Whitehouse in Reception and taking her up to the room we used for the meetings. She was, in fact, a very nice person.’

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Gangsters series in Pakistan

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

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This photograph is of the arrival of the cast and crew of the drama series Gangsters, when the end of the series was filmed in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Included in the photograph are Andy Meikle (production co-ordinator, far left, beard), Heather Storr, Ann Arnold (costume designer 3rd from the left next to Heather), David Rose (producer – centre front row, black top and sunglasses), Arthur Heywood (sparks, back row, to the right of David), Saeed Jaffrey (actor, next to David), Richard Ganniclift (camera asst/operator to the right of Saeed Jaffrey), Alex Christison (sound recordist, last but one on right, with beard and sun glasses), far right Ken Morgan ( lighting cameraman). Also there, but not included in the shot were: Alastair Reid, director; Philip Martin, writer.

Thanks to Jane Mclean, Steve Saunderson, Janice Rider, Susan Astle, Janet Collins, and Bill Bohanna for helping identify people.

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David Rose obituary by Simon Farquhar

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Below is Simon Farquhar’s obituary of David Rose, which is published in The Times today, 24th Feb 2017. Thanks to Simon for sharing the full copy of his article.)

When David Rose was appointed the BBC’s Head of English Regions Drama in 1971, with a noble brief to “find new writers in the regions and nurture them”, the Head of Plays waved him off to the new Pebble Mill studios in the badlands of Birmingham saying “you will come to our weekly meetings, won’t you?” Shrewdly, Rose replied “thank you, but no. I don’t want to know what you’re doing, and I don’t want you to know what I’m doing”.

It was typical of what made him an adored man, a wise and altruistic professional with a Father Christmas beard, a twinkling eye and a boundless enthusiasm for drama, stories and, crucially, storytellers. Softly spoken and broad minded, he was a quiet giant who gave a voice to those with new and dangerous things to say, driven, unlike many other pioneering forces in television drama of the time, not by politics but purely by principles, and known to chew his handkerchief in anxious moments. His ten years at Pebble Mill are now the stuff of television legend and a wonderland for the tv historian to explore. On his watch, that building became a powerhouse of innovation and unpredictability; young talent such as David Hare, Willy Russell and Stephen Frears made the place “the British film industry in waiting”.

Born in Swanage, Dorset, David Edward Rose and his sister Daphne lived over the jeweller’s shop his parents ran in the High Street. He inherited their love of music and his mother’s interest in amateur dramatics; his uncle had also set up the first cinema in town. After Kingswood School in Bath and war service with the RAF, during which he undertook 34 flying missions in a Lancaster Bomber, he took a year out in Cannes. After watching Michael Powell explaining film rushes at the end of a day’s shooting on The Red Shoes, he aimed at becoming a director. He studied at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, then worked in repertory theatre for five years, firstly as an actor at the Royal Hippodrome in Preston, where he met his first wife, Valerie Edwards, and then as a stage manager at Sadler’s Wells, before joining the BBC in 1954 as an assistant floor manager.

In his first week, he worked on the now-legendary Rudolph Cartier production of 1984. He later transferred to Elwyn Jones’ Dramatised Documentary Unit, where his first credit as a television director, Medico (1959), about the service that offered emergency medical advice to those at sea, won that year’s Prix Italia. Rose was fond of relating how, after the prize giving, he said to a man at the bar “Hello, I’m David Rose, a producer”. The man replied “hello, I’m Samuel Beckett”. Rose met Gracie Fields on the same trip, and said he always regretted not introducing them.

The following year he launched Z Cars, a series it is impossible to overstate the importance of in television history. It brought a new immediacy to television drama and believed that “a police thriller could be a work of art”, something television is only now, over half a century later, realising again. The pressure of live broadcasts was immense; on one occasion, when actor James Ellis had broken his foot, Rose, out of shot, carried him from one high stool to another, to give the illusion that the actor was delivering his lines standing up.

Director of Television David Attenborough would later say that appointing Rose as Head of English Regions Drama was one of the best decisions he ever made. The triumphant debut, Peter Terson’s The Fishing Party (1972), a story of three Leeds miners on holiday, was an authentic, unpretentious, home-grown treat. After its broadcast, Managing Director of Television Huw Wheldon telephoned Rose and said “if that’s what you’re going to do boyo, that’s alright by me”.

Plays with fire followed this beguiling start; incendiary half-hours such as James Robson’s magnificent Girl (1974), in which Alison Steadman and Myra Francis gave British television its first lesbian kiss, were history in the making. A Touch of Eastern Promise (1973) was the first drama on British television with an entirely Asian cast; the soap opera Empire Road (1978) was another first, written, acted and directed predominantly by black artists, set in one racially diverse street in Birmingham.

Nowhere on television before or since has the “right to fail” principle been so fearlessly executed. Rose loved discovering writers with no screen experience; “some people thought this was mad, but I thought it was great. They come with no baggage”, he explained. “Every day of my working life depended on writers. The BBC used to do audience satisfaction surveys, and you had to score a figure as close to 72 as possible to keep the bosses happy. I didn’t agree. If it was a low figure, I thought that was good. I don’t want to make it easy for the viewer. I don’t like them to know what’s coming”.

Although some of Birmingham’s output was commissioned by London, there was a kitty of development money which allowed him to make things without having to ask permission. This was how he got something as wild as The Ken Campbell Road Show on the air, and other works that could be called courageous and adventurous; he knew a keen as mustard young director like Matthew Robinson was just the person to hand a script like Eric Coltart’s Doran’s Box (1976) to. “I don’t understand it, it’s about a man who shoots at aeroplanes”, Rose said. Whatever was inside that puzzle box remained a mystery for the small number of head-scratchers who watched the finished piece, but we had fun trying to find out.

Rose had far more respect for his audience than his superiors. He had to fight constantly for his survival within the BBC, and had his fair share of hot potatoes: Philip Martin’s savage Gangsters (1975), Watson Gould’s blistering feminist attack on a patriarchal society, The Other Woman (1976), Malcolm Bradbury’s concupiscent The History Man (1981) and a planned-then-banned production of Ian McEwan’s Solid Geometry. But there was also Mike Leigh’s Nuts in May (1976), Alan Bleasdale’s The Black Stuff (1978) and the film he was most proud of, Penda’s Fen (1974) by David Rudkin, one of the richest and most sophisticated works ever produced for television. At its simplest, the story of a teenage boy’s awakening to the English landscape surrounding him, its potent blend of folklore, folk horror, questions of personal and national identity, environmental concerns, sexuality and religion made for a bewitching brew, interweaved with the music of Rose’s favourite composer, Elgar.

The days of pockets of anarchy at the BBC were coming to an end as the 1980s ushered in new threats to autonomy and artistic integrity. Rose was two years off retirement when Jeremy Isaacs invited him to become Head of Fiction at the new Channel 4.

It was an Indian summer for him. In his first year there, he produced 20 feature films; the previous year there had been just 21 made in Britain as a whole, only two of which were British. Over eight years, he approved the making of 136 films in total, the advantage over the films made for the BBC being that some had the chance of a theatrical release. High profile successes included My Beautiful Launderette (1983) and Mona Lisa (1986). And fiction didn’t only mean films: he also commissioned a soap opera like no other, Brookside (1982), a breeding ground for writers such as Jimmy McGovern and Frank Cottrell Boyce.

Some disapproved of Film on Four, claiming it betrayed television drama by diverting funds into a moribund film industry. But it allowed strange, wonderful work to be produced and gave a transfusion of faith into British movie-making. As we salute the arrival of T2 Trainspotting we should remember that it, like its predecessor, was backed by Film4. In 1987, Rose received the Roberto Rossellini Award in Cannes for Channel 4’s “services to cinema”, a remarkable and deeply significant achievement.

His appetite for new people and places was a personal as well as a professional virtue; in his later years, having read that if you make a new friend you extend your life by a week, he made a point of getting to know new people, be it in the street, at a bus stop or at a concert. Director Tony Smith says that “he could be irascible, infuriatingly dilatory, he said ‘garn’ and ‘goff’ instead of ‘gone’ and ‘golf’. He was patrician, but a benevolent and self-challenging one. And we all loved him”.

His domestic life was a busy business: married three times, lastly to producer Karin Bamborough, who had been his assistant at Channel 4, he made his own huge family as harmonious a place as Pebble Mill had been; domestic life was often carried out to a classical soundtrack which he would usually be caught conducting around the house or at the wheel of his car. His passion for music and drama was passed on to his nine children, one becoming a jazz musician and another becoming a producer. At 89 he made his debut short film, Friend or Foe, which explored his experience of Parkinson’s Disease. It won him a Mervyn Peake Award.

When he received a BFI fellowship in 2010, Head of Film and Drama at Channel 4, Tessa Ross, announced that “you are in my head all of the time, as I try and protect that precious place”. Tony Smith recalls how “towards the end of his time at Birmingham he took a sabbatical. Some months after his return, he asked me: ‘English Regions Drama – have we succeeded, really?” I answered him at length, ticking off all the positives.  He made no comment.  As I was leaving, I said, ‘You know, when you were gone, we were afraid you wouldn’t come back’.

He had returned then, but he will never be replaced.

David Edward Rose, producer, born 22 November, 1924; Swanage, Dorset, married 1st, 1952, Valerie Edwards (d 1966); three sons three daughters; 2nd, 1966, Sarah Reid (marriage dissolved, 1988); one daughter and one stepson, one stepdaughter adopted; 3rd, 2001, Karin Bamborough, died Hackney, London, 27th January 2017

Simon Farquhar

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All Memories Great & Small – part 2

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excerpt from “All Memories Great & Small” by Oliver Crocker.

Memories from Mike Duxbury (Film Editor):

‘I’d got a job as an Assistant Film Editor at the BBC in Pebble Mill in 1976 and spent most of my time assisting Henry Fowler. He was one of the senior Film Editors there and edited most of the high quality dramas. I was twenty-eight and Henry must have been in his fifties and we got on great. I had assisted him on a couple of series of Gangsters and I learned so much from him then. Henry had been editing for all of his career and by this time was becoming a little jaded. He lived in Tewkesbury which was a fifty minute drive down the motorway and he used to find the flimsiest of excuses to come in late or go home early – his favourite being “Fog on the motorway.”

60 cast and crew have shared their memories for this new book, which is available to preorder now from Miwk – http://bit.ly/2d7p5ts

Thanks to Oliver Crocker for sharing this excerpt.

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

Roy Thompson: ‘Remember Henry Fowler so well from his, and my, time at Wood Norton. He taught me so much about film production.’

Henry Fowler, film editor. Photo by Ian Collins, no reproduction without permission.

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