Tribute to Dave Baumber by Paul Vanezis

Dave Baumber, photo by Peter Poole, no reproduction without permission

Dave Baumber, photo by Peter Poole, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some sad news. Dave Baumber, ace sound recordist and dubbing mixer has died after a short illness. My Pebble Mill friends will be shocked, as I was, but for those of you who think they don’t know him, well, I’ll remind you of his work. My Doctor Who friends will have heard his work as a grams operator on the 1966 adventure serial The Moonbase.

Dave was a BAFTA award winning sound supervisor for Boys from the Blackstuff in 1983, but fans of cult TV will have heard his work as a sound recordist on Tom’s Midnight Garden and Torchwood and as a dubbing mixer on Artemis 81, Gangsters, Spyship, various ‘Play for Today’ editions including Nuts in May, Red Shift, Penda’s Fen and Licking Hitler.

Dave looked after the sound on many of the major series to come out of Pebble Mill including Anna of the Five Towns, All Creatures Great and Small, All Quiet on the Preston Front, Martin Chuzzlewit, Dangerfield and Dalziel & Pascoe.

By 2004 Dave had itchy feet and was keen to get back to doing more location sound. He was my sound recordist on Casualty Saved My Life. He had stints on the real thing, Casualty in Bristol and then the aforementioned Torchwood.

Apart from being brilliant at his job, he was a really nice guy.

Paul Vanezis

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

Ray Holman: ‘So sad. I worked with Dave on several series, some at Pebble Mill such as All Creatures and the last one was in Cardiff on Torchwood. What a shock and what a lovely man, I’m so sorry.’

Steve Weddle: ‘A true professional who made everything he did seem deceptively easy. Happy times.’

Jeff Matthews: ‘I am devastated and totally saddened by this terrible news. I worked with Dave on Torchwood and had many a ‘soundman’s’ type chat with him. He retired and went to drink wine in France. I hope he had lots of fun. A very sad loss.’

Studio Operations (part 6) – Ray Lee

All Creatures Great and Small, Studio A. Photo by Tim Savage

All Creatures Great and Small, Studio A. Photo by Tim Savage

Saturday Night at the Mill, 1977. Photo by John Burkill

Saturday Night at the Mill, 1977. Pebble Mill courtyard. Photo by John Burkill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Programmes

Studio A had a lot of drama series, and one off plays, as in those days drama was more often than not recorded in a studio. Exterior shots were done on film for the most part, and played in from TK during the recording session.

One of the early drama series was The Brothers  which was a fairly dire soap opera about a set of brothers who owned a lorry transport business. I remember virtually nothing about the series apart from the lovely Lisa Goddard, but it was a regular booking and kept us all in employment. Rather more interesting were the Dickens classics – Martin Chuzzlewit and Nicholas Nickleby. Then there were several series of  All Creatures Great and Small adapted from the James Herriot books. The first few with Carol Drinkwater, and the later series with Linda Bellingham, as James’ wife Helen. Then there was Gangsters which was I think the first studio production to use a “handheld” camera. The camera was a Bosch Fernseh, which had a quite large camera on a shoulder pad, connected to a back pack by a short cable, then the cable from the backpack went to a further CCU which was rigged in TAR. The Camera / backpack combination was pretty heavy, so the cameraman tended to put it all down as soon as the required shots had been taken.

There were a number of plays for today, and several series of The Basil Brush Show. The latter was recorded on a Saturday evening with a live audience, but for the afternoon dress rehearsal, several staff members and their children formed and audience so that “Basil” had someone to perform to. My wife and children came on several occasions when I was working in the gallery or TAR.

We hosted Playschool for at least one series, possibly two. This may have been around the time when there was a union dispute regarding who was to start the clock! As I remember, electricians said it should be them as it was electrical, and scene hands said it should be them as it was a prop. I don’t remember how it was resolved, but it was that kind of union silliness that set Margaret Thatcher on her crusade against the unions.

Studio A hosted Young Scientist of the Year at least twice, and also The Great Egg Race  with professor Heinz Wolff. There were several series of  Angels a kind of forerunner to Casualty. Then there was the great Pot Black which really put snooker onto the map for the first time. This was recorded over four intensive days after Christmas (27th – 30th Dec) and then shown one game per week. The quote of note being “For those of you watching in black and white, the red ball is next to the green ball, just beyond the black” or something like that. The problem was there was little difference in the grey level of red and green balls, so identifying them virtually impossible. It really was a game that had been waiting for colour. There were just so many programmes that came out of Studio A, the place buzzed with activity.

In addition to that there were all the Pebble Mill at One programmes which came from both studio A and studio B gallery, with the cameras in the foyer area or outside both at the back and front of the building, and occasionally on the roof! From the camera rigging point of view it was like an outside broadcast, but with the fixed infrastructure of a proper studio gallery.

In early 1975 a pilot programme Pebble Mill at Night was produced. It eventually materialised as Saturday Night at the Mill but not until 1976. This likewise used the foyer area, and depending on whether Studio A had a drama booked in used either Studio A or Studio B gallery.

Saturday Night at the Mill had the dubious honour of causing 2 of the big windows to be replaced. I think it was the night that a parachute jump landed on the front lawn, and in order to get some additional lighting, the lighting director (TM) had 2 big lights shining through the long gallery windows onto the lawn. The lights were well back from the windows and he checked that the windows were not getting hot. However they would have warmed slightly. That night after the show we had one of the hardest frosts in a long while, and the thermal stress on the windows caused them both to crack (several hours after the lights had been switched off). The replacement of the windows subsequently featured on a Pebble Mill at One, although what may not have been seen was that the new ones were about 3/4 inch too short! The gap was filled with mastic.

Studio B progammes in addition to the regular Midlands Today, hosted the Asian unit New Life programme on Sundays, and Farming, (the forerunner of Countryfile). Pebble Mill at One on any days when Studio A was in use for drama, and several programmes that could be squeezed into the small space, including incredibly some with an audience. Sadly I cannot remember all of them but The Clothes Show certainly started off in Studio B. There was rarely any slack days, and Studio B (or its gallery at least) may well have seen at least 2 and often 3 different programmes during the course of 24 hours! The presentation annex was arranged as a self operated area, and close down was done from there every night, with just a couple of engineers manning the TAR end of things. David Stevens was one of the regulars, and used a series of colour slides for his close down sequence. Sometimes the slides jammed in the slide scanner, resulting in a somewhat curtailed sequence. One of the slide scanners took a pair of slide boxes from which the slides were pushed up into the scanner gate by a metal plunger known as the Sprod. Unfortunately this required consistent slide mounts to work properly, and David’s assorted slides were not quite as regular as required, so sometime it spat out a slide altogether, just leaving a blank white screen. When possible the other slide scanner was used for this as the slides were pre slotted into place in a pair of discs which rotated into the scanner gate. The disadvantage of that being that changing the order of the slides took much longer if they needed to be changed.  As there were only the 2 slide scanners, and both studios might need to use slides there was a lot of pressure on the engineers to keep them both in working order.

Ray Lee

 

Films and Plays from Pebble Mill

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

This booklet was published in 1980 by West Midlands Arts, to celebrate ten years of regional television drama.

The dramas mentioned include Gangsters, Black Christmas, Empire Road, Licking Hitler, Dreams of Leaving, Girls, Jack Flea’s Birthday Celebration, Only Connect.

IMG

The Rise and Fall of Regional Drama – David Rose

Prospero David Rose

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

This article by David Rose, BBC Pebble Mill’s first Head of the English Regions Drama Department, was published in the BBC retiree’s magazine: Prospero, in April 2013.

Thanks to Peter Poole for finding and sharing this article.

Signature tunes: Look Hear, Second City Firsts, Gangsters

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

These Pebble Mill signature tunes are for:
1) Look Hear – Regional studio based entertainment show, presented by Toyah Willcox.
2) Second City Firsts – 30 minute studio A drama series, featuring new writers to television.
3) Gangsters – 1976 Play for Today, and later series.

Thank to Peter Poole for sharing the signature tunes.

Look Hear

Look Hear

Gangsters 1976

Gangsters 1976

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following comment was left on the Pebble Mill Facebook group:
Stuart Gandy:’I certainly remember all these, and Look Hear was one of this first programmes I worked on as a TA in Studio Ops back in 1980.’