Edward’s Trust – Gardeners’ World, Children in Need












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

This article is about a Children in Need and Gardeners’ World story from around 1990. The gardening series created a garden for a Birmingham charity – http://edwardstrust.org.uk. The charity was set up by the parents of a little boy called Edward, who died aged 7. The aim of the charity was to provide places for families to stay when their children were far away from home in hospital. The charity managed to refurbish some flats near the Childrens’ Hospital, and Gardeners World, then headed up by Stephanie Silk, created the garden as a place for the families to sit and relax. Children in Need gave the charity funds to help with the refurbishment.

When the Childrens’ Hospital was re-built the flats were demolished, and Edward’s Trust refurbished some old nurses quarters in Moseley. These closed in 2008, but the charity continues, and offers counselling and bereavement services to families.

Thanks to Children in Need co-ordinator Marie Phillips for making the cutting available.

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

Marie Phillips: ‘It was my first few months with Children in Need and the grant given to the Dent’s project was one which stood out. I thought it would make a really nice feature for Gardeners’ World and at the same time, provide awareness of the Edward’s House Charity, but hadn’t a clue how to go about it. At the time I was based in the Press Office and asked Chris Bates his opinion. He thought it was a great idea and spoke to Stephanie who to my delight agreed. I remember the garden had raised flower beds and looked marvellous when it was finished. The programme brought a huge response and Edward’s Trust benefitted all round. I think that sadly, some years later, the project had to close.’

General Programme Unit Success

Pebble Mill mag Page 2

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Thanks to Pete Simpkin for making this clipping from the Pebble Mill magazine available.

The article talks about the success of the General Programme Unit in terms of winning commissions from both BBC 1 and BBC 2. The commissioned shows mentioned include a late night Saturday entertainment show and the ‘Golden Oldie’ video programme – presumably what became the ‘Golden Oldie Picture Show’. A sailing magazine show had been commissioned by BBC 2 – this is what became ‘Making Waves’.  ‘Paddles Up’, a canoeing series, and ‘Now Get Out of That’, are also mentioned, as well as programmes from the NEC Motor Show, and the RAC Rally.  Recommissioned shows include ‘Gardeners’ World’, ‘Asian Magazine’, ‘Gharbar’, ‘Kick Start’, ‘Junior Kick Start’, and ‘Pot Black’.

The article dates from around 1983/4.

The following comments were added on the Pebble Mill Facebook Group:

Jane Maclean: ‘Jane Hyde & Sue Gilbert were the PAs on Now Get Out of That. I did one series with Jane in ’82. Would think the Sat night entertainment show was Saturday Night at the Mill. Think the sailing series would be Making Waves – a magazine prog covering all aspects of boating – which I did during 83/84. Also did Pot Black + junior version, Paddles Up in Llangollen and Kick Start + junior version at Donington.’

Maggy Whitehouse: ‘I did a season on Making Waves … including the Tall Ships race which was based at Gothenburg that year. It was a wonderful job to have. Chris Wright was one of the directors and Tony  Rayner, the producer.’

CMCR9 on Gardeners’ World

CNV00022 CMCR9 Percy Thrower's CNV00015 CMCR9 Gardeners' World Camera Rostrum






















Photos by John Abbott, no reproduction without permission.

These photos are from an outside broadcast for ‘Gardeners’ World’ with the scanner CMCR9, which was Pebble Mill’s CM1, and later became Manchester’s North 3. The first photo is outside Percy Thrower’s garden. The second is of a rostrum set up for the ‘Gardeners’ World’ OB. I think that the dark shape in the foreground of the second photo is the flap on the roof of the scanner, which was for the inlet and outlet for the air conditioning unit, which was fitted above the cab.

Percy Thrower presented ‘Gardeners’ World’ from 1969 until 1975, when he was dropped by the BBC, because of a contract he entered into with Plant Protection, a subsidiary of ICI, to appear in some commercials.

Keith Brook (Scouse) has identified the right hand cameraman up the tower as Don Cooper and thinks that it’s Tony Wigley in the blue jacket to the right of the lower camera.

Barrie Edgar – Service of Thanksgiving














I was privileged to attend the Service of Thanksgiving for Barrie Edgar at St George’s Church, Edgbaston, this afternoon. It was a celebration of his fantastically long and fruitful life, although tinged with a little bit of sadness.

Barrie died on the 28 Dec 2012 at the Sunrise Retirement Home, just across the road from St George’s, where he’d lived since the death of his wife in 2005. St George’s was also the church where Barrie and Joan were married in October 1943, so it was a fitting location.

The pews of the church were well filled, and I recognised a good number of Pebble Mill faces, including Steve Weddle, Tom Ross, Tony Rayner, Kay Alexander and John Couzens.

There were a variety of readings from members of Barrie’s family, and a moving eulogy from his son, playwright, David Edgar.  We learnt how Barrie had served with the Fleet Air Arm during during World War II, which included flying a Walrus Seaplane and picking up stranded Allied soldiers from the Channel during D-Day!  After the war he applied to join the BBC, and came up to BBC Birmingham as an outside broadcast producer in the 1950s. David made the point that his father had the privilege of being a generalist producer, in a way which couldn’t happen today. He produced a wide variety of programmes, and was sad to lose some of them to specialist departments, like the ‘Carols from Kings College’, to Music, and ‘Songs of Praise’ to Religion.  Apparently he didn’t approve of the revamped ‘Strictly’ version of his ‘Come Dancing’ series, but it was ‘Gardeners’ World’ where his heart really lay.  A keen gardener himself, he produced 225 episodes of the programme, first with Percy Thrower presenting, and later with Peter Seabrook.  Barrie retired from BBC Pebble Mill in 1979, but carried on tending the Pebble Mill garden on a voluntary basis until the mid 1980s.

Barrie was a producer of popular factual programmes, and it is perhaps fitting that his life spanned the era of network factual programmes being made at BBC Birmingham.

Vanessa Jackson

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

Keith Brook: ‘I would love to have been there to commemorate his life. Barrie was one of those cool customers that every programme should have. He brought many talents to the table unlike the mono-talented or even zero-talented that we have today. However, despite what others have said about his television skills, by far his greatest talent was mixing rum punch. A lethal concoction of reindeer piss and sundry liquids from his compost heap. Great fun. Thanks Barrie. It was a delight to have worked with you.’

Lynn Cullimore: ‘A real gentleman of the sort that we miss in this day and age.’

Barrie Edgar 1919-2012

Barrie Edgar taken in July 2010

Barrie Edgar in July 2010














Barrie Edgar sadly died recently aged 93.

Barrie was closely associated with BBC Birmingham since the very early days of radio broadcasting in the city. His father, Percy Edgar was a Birmingham concert manager who was asked to start up broadcasting in Birmingham in 1922, by the chief engineer of the G.E.C. works in Witton, which was part of the British Broadcasting Company. He supplied artists, and produced programmes. Barrie’s reaction as a young child to a story called ‘Spick and Span’ was apparently the inspiration for establishing the first ‘Children’s Hour’ broadcast, which was years ahead of the BBC in London, and produced by Percy. Barrie made his first broadcast at the age of 14, playing Tom Brown in a radio adaptation of Tom Brown’s School Days.

Barrie started working in television in 1946, when he was demobilised after the war, and in 1951 he came back to Birmingham as a television outside broadcast producer.  The O.B. unit was shared with BBC Manchester. The first programme he produced was an amateur boxing contest at Gosta Green, the same building which became the BBC Gosta Green Television Studio in 1955. Barrie was based at the new Broadcasting House, in Carpenter Road in Edgbaston, which was where most programmes were made until the move to Pebble Mill in 1971.  Barrie produced programmes such as ‘Gardening Club’, which became ‘Gardeners’ World’, ‘Farming’ and ‘Come Dancing’. He also produced the ‘Kings College Christmas Carols’, ‘Songs of Praise’, as well as events like General Elections, and the consecration of Coventry Cathedral.

Barrie retired from television in 1979. Barrie’s son is the playwright, David Edgar.

The following comments were added on the Pebble Mill Facebook Group:

Keith Brook: ‘Dear Barrie. Lovely man. Cool, calm and collected. That’s how directors and producers handle themselves when they understand the business. ‘

Gordon Astley: ‘Barrie was a mate of my dad, Pat Astley…and got me an interview for the Beeb via the back door. He looked after me for the first few months of a career that lasted 40 years. Lovely man.’

Pete Simpkin: ‘Wonderful broadcasting practitioner the like of which has gone for ever. I really enjoyed interviewing such a terrifically talented man on Radio Birmingham/WM and also remember him taking charge of the garden at Pebble Mill….how many retired producers of standing would do that?’

Lynda Kettle: ‘An extremely wonderful gentleman!’