The day the Pebble Mill studio opened

This link is to a clip from Nationwide on 15th June 1971. Midlands Today presenter, Tom Coyne gives a guided tour of the brand new Pebble Mill studios. Included in the tour are Studio B, the home of Midlands Today; Studio A, where many dramas were produced; and the Radio studios, home to The Archers, we also see Radio WM in action. There is no mention of Pebble Mill at One, because the programme had not yet been planned.

Thanks to Malcolm Hickman for sharing the link.

Still from Tom Coyne’s piece on Nationwide. Copyright BBC.











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

Keith Warrender:’The EMI cameras were still going in 1983 when they were replaced with Link 125s. Link are long gone but the old factory is still standing unused in Andover.’

Sue Astle: ‘Such an amazing exciting time for us then, we were privileged to have worked there. Susie Bancroft. Ex make up’

Sarah Tongue: ‘My mom ran the Library!’

Helen Smith: ‘Loved watching that, my Dad was the cameraman at the beginning of the clip.’

Michael Fisher: ‘Radio Birmingham as it was at the start!’

Andy Marriott: ‘What was the little mini cart system they were using for spot effects, called?’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘It was a device called a P.E.G. Programme effects generator. They used a spool of tape in a case with a metal loop fitted at one end. When you inserted the cartridge, the machine grabbed the tab and cued the effect. It had loads of slots so a sequence of effects could be built up. A BBC designs department product, IIRC.’

Sue Welch: ‘Actually remember Tom Coyne from Tyne Tees Television. A very long time ago.’

Malcolm Adcock: ‘Happy memories, joined Top Gear in 1988 and our production office was later in the old Pebble Mill at One studio area.’




Studio B in action

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission


Studio B in action at BBC Pebble Mill circa 1975/6. Jack Rooke on the left hand camera and Dave Doogood on the right hand one. The presenter looks like a young Tom Coyne, who presented Midlands Today.

Studio B was used for Midlands Today as well as many other programmes, which didn’t need the much larger, Studio A.

Thanks to Stuart Gandy for making the photograph available.

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

Malcolm Hickman: ‘EMI 2001s on HP peds.’

Richard Stevenson: ‘Although the cameras changed, pretty sure those peds stayed until the end.’

Carole Haysom: ‘Early Sunday mornings for Farming today…remember getting a few shorts straws for that!!!!’

Susan Astle: ‘Farming and Asian progs on a Sunday, early days at Pebble Mill! I remember Samantha once coming in the night before frock! They were early starts!!’

Helen Smith: ‘Love this – that is my Dad on the right hand camera!’

Richard Stevenson: ‘Many happy days being trained by your father. He taught me a lot for which I will always be grateful.’



A Master of the Marionettes – photo from John Greening

Copyright resides with the original holder, probably Willoughby Gullachsen.

‘A Master of the Marionettes’ was  a 1989 ‘Play on One’ produced at Pebble Mill by Michael Wearing, with Pedr James directing.  The drama was written by Guy Hibbert, with Hilary Salmon the script editor.

L to R: Pedr James, behind Pedr is Guy Hibbert (writer), ?, Helen Smith, Rod Litherland (lighting. By the van (right) – Gareth Williams (AFM), Bobby Chapman (script supervisor). Eric Crouch (electrician) with the cloth cap at the back, Peter Wood-Fisher (Technical Manager) on the right.

The play starred Ken Cronham, John Duttine, Fiona Victory, Carol Drinkwater, David Bradley and Kenneth Colley.

The drama was about a group of salesmen, and their complicated and intertwined private lives.  The Radio Times billing read: “Teddy Rose’s passion is security – selling alarm systems to prosperous yet fearful suburban homes, one of which he and his family inhabit with conspicuous success. Then one Saturday morning a violent street encounter starts a chain of events which calls into question his every assumption and changes his life for good.”

Thanks to John Greening for making the photo available.

Lesley Weaver adds the following memories about working on the drama:

“I was the make up designer on this drama. It was shot around Oct/Nov 1988. It was the first production I worked on when I return to work after the birth of my eldest son.

I was really down about leaving my 5month old baby but there were mutiple great stab wounds ( by a chisel) for me to distract me. My assistant Helen Smith helped me keep them looking fresh on location. The exteriors were very cold so the injuries became hard & kept falling off the actors skin, then started to melt in once in the hospital scene because it was too hot! Filmed on locations around Solihull I think, in the studio at Pebblemill and the hospital scenes were shot at the Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry if I remember correctly. It had a great production crew with a nice cast, who were lovely to work with especially David Bradley & Kenneth Colley.  My 1st assistant was (Bafta award winning) Paul Gooch & the costume designer was called John Lynlard ( someone will prob correct his surname for me).”