Anna of the Five Towns was transmitted from 9 Jan 1985 on BBC 2.
On Wednesday 8 September 2021 a BBC Heritage Trail blue plaque was unveiled on the site of BBC Pebble Mill, now a rehabilitation hospital, to commemorate the building and all the fantastic programmes that were created there. A small number of former BBC staff attended the ceremony. The plaque was unveiled by Midlands Today presenter, Nick Owen, who presented the last ever news programme from the broadcast centre.
Included in the photographs are:
- Annie Gumbley Williams, Jim Dumighan
- ?, Nick Owen
- Ken Pollock, Nick Owen
- Ken Pollock, Ivor Williams, John Duckmanton
- Norman McLeod, John Williams, Nick Owen
- Annie Gumbley Williams, Nick Owen, Jenny Brewer
There was a moving item on Midlands Today tonight (10th Nov 2016), with Nick Owen interviewing Pebble Mill series editor, Steve Weddle, about the campaign to erect a blue plaque to commemorate BBC Pebble Mill. The campaign seems to be building a momentum, and fingers crossed, the plaque will soon become a reality.
Nick also interviewed cameraman, John Williams, who shot a wealth of dramas and factual series during his long career at Pebble Mill. John has just published an autobiography about his life as a cameraman entitled, Shoot First – No Ordinary Life.
Coincidentally, today marks the 45th anniversary of Princess Anne officially opening BBC Pebble Mill in 1971!
Annie Gumbley adds that:
‘Steve Weddle did a brilliant interview with Adrian Goldberg on Radio WM this morning. At 4.15pm today Nick Owen will be on Radio WM talking about Pebble Mill & at 6.30 tonight on Midlands Today John Williams will be interviewed by Nick Owen talking about his book & Pebble Mill. The amazing thing is that today is the 45th Anniversary of the official opening of Pebble Mill Studios, opened by Princess Anne who arrived at 12 noon, on 10th November 1971. The photo shows John Williams, myself, Ivor Williams and Nick Owen where Ivor and myself (+Molly Dog) met up with them to pass on some photos of the event in 1971.’
This is part 14 of Colin Pierpoint’s blog about his BBC career:
I transferred into Communications in Birmingham in 1971 after completing the Grade C Engineering Course, and a year’s attachment to the Engineering Training Department at Wood Norton. In 1975 I got another secondment as a Lecturer for a year, and then after returning to Comms, a vacancy arose in 1977 for Communications Supervisor and I applied and got it. This was the job I really wanted in Manchester. I also had my sights on ETD, but at the time they wanted memberhip of an Engineering Institution on applications for Lecturers. I had been studying for an Open University degree with this in mind, but the OU at that time did not give the required qualification of “CEng” (Chartered engineer) at the time.
So from 1977 until 1980 I continued working as Communications Supervisor in the Comms Centre at Pebble Mill. An exciting evening was when the “Song for Europe” programme was broadcast live, with voting around the British Isles to choose the entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. Vision circuits from Manchester, Glasgow and Norwich were passing through the Birmingham Comms Centre. There was tie for first place so the regions had to vote again at short notice. Just as this was announced , I saw the Norwich picture lose sync (start breaking up on the screen). I said to one of my staff, put an extra equaliser in the circuit, and just twiddle the knobs until the sync pulse look square. He did this quickly and seconds later they cut to Norwich for their vote.
It was nice to be trusted by TAR staff (Television Apparatus Room, who adjusted the camera channels for studios A, B and C). Comms were often the only engineers in Pebble Mill in the evening and David Stevens would sometimes ask me to clear a fault. Usually I could do a tweak of the camera control unit, which I always reported to TAR staff the next day. One fault I failed to rectify: there was shading across the Midland Symbol C (the rotating world). No matter what I adjusted; iris or target volts, I could not get the image over the whole field, [for the technical readers, the monocrome output went into an inlay switcher, and parts of the image would disappear as I adjusted]. So next day the TAR staff told me what the problem was. The bulb lighting the bottom of the symbol had blown! Too technical for me I am afraid.
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I have been asked to pass on the news from Steve McLaughlin, via John Birkill, that Terry Lindfield sadly passed away last week from pneumonia. He will be sorely missed with that infectious laugh that used to ring out down the corridors of Pebble Mill.
John confirmed that he was the Project manager, in the mid 1980s, at Pebble Mill for the transition from Quad to 1″.
The photo above was taken in 1985 when he was a guest at my wedding to Ivor. Terry is second from right. (To avoid the quiz the others are from R-L Gail Herbert, Patricia Mifflin, Terry and Brian Watkiss).
He was quite a character that made his mark on Pebble Mill even though he was there for a short time along with Norman Hicks from London Special Projects Installation Dept.