Pebble Mill on Midlands Today

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b081m154

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.

John's book: Shoot First

John’s book: Shoot First

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coincidentally, today marks the 45th anniversary of Princess Anne officially opening BBC Pebble Mill in 1971!

Princess Anne opening Pebble Mill 10th Nov 1971. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

Princess Anne opening Pebble Mill 10th Nov 1971. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.’

John Williams, Annie Gumbley-Williams, Ivor Williams, Nick Owen

John Williams, Annie Gumbley-Williams, Ivor Williams, Nick Owen. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

 

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Colin Pierpoint blog – part 14 Working at Pebble Mill, Comms

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.

Colin Pierpoint

TV Apparatus Room (TAR) ST B Line Up Desk with John Macavoy & Maurice Darkin

TV Apparatus Room (TAR) ST B Line Up Desk with John Macavoy & Maurice Darkin. Photo by Ivor Williams, no reproduction without permission.

Terry Lindfield

Gail Herbert, Patricia Mifflin, Terry Lindfield, Brian Watkiss AG-W

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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.

Annie Gumbley-Williams

Occupation Democrat – Tech Reqs

Occupation Democrat 1 Occupation Democrat 2 Occupation Democrat 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

These Technical Requirements (Tech Reqs) documents are for a studio drama, called Occupation Democrat, recorded in July 1984. This was the working title of the drama, and it was changed before transmission to Murder of a Moderate Man.

The drama was set in an airport hostel, and a prison, and recording was also going to take place in the men’s toilets! It was being recorded on 1″ videotape, with VHS viewing copies being run off at the same time. Although the recording was taking place in Studio A at Pebble Mill, the Tech Run was taking place at Elstree, so presumably the rehearsals took place in London.

Robert Tronson was the director, John Bowen the producer, Jenny Brewer was the production associate, with William Hartley the production manager. Charles Bond was the designer, with Al Barnett the costume designer and Susie Bancroft the make-up designer. Dave Bushell was technical manager, with Annette Martin as vision mixer and Ivor Williams and Leigh Sinclair were the VT editors.

 

The Clothes Show

The Clothes Show, Jeff Banks, Selina Scott JR

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

Thanks to costume designer, Janice Rider, for sharing the photo.

The photos shows The Clothes Show presenters, Jeff Banks and Selina Scott. The item obviously had a 1950s rock and roll theme.

The Clothes Show was a fashion magazine show, which went out weekly on a Sunday between 1986-2000. It was devised and produced by Roger Casstles. The series became well known for its high production values and stylish inserts, which often used innovative DVE transitions, canted shots and contemporary chart music.

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

Annie Gumbley-Williams: ‘Ivor Williams, and Brian Watkiss plus other editors on the Clothes Show won a BAFTA for editing the Clothes Show, and were also nominated a second time. The BAFTA disappeared from Pebble Mill when it closed. Anyone know where it went?’

Jane Clement: ‘It was a rock n roll edition of The Clothes Show back in our era – I remember they had a local rock n roll club there dancing, who are probably the people in the background. Roger Casstles and Claire Stride producing, of course, and Janice Rider would have been on wardrobe – fun job for her. Can’t remember who else worked on it though.’

Claire Cotton: ‘Remember it well as one of BBC Birmingham’s big hits, with its spin off event Clothes Show Live still going. I loved working on it, with Jane Galpin running the London office and Colette Foster and Roger Casstles our Birmingham Office. I am still in touch with many ex Clothes Show people including James Strong (who went on to direct Dr Who and Downtown Abbey) and James Morgan who went on to do Springwatch, the Apprentice and won a BAFTA for Big Blue Live.’