Photo by John Burkill no reproduction without permission.
This photo from 1976 is of a 2″ videotape machine, a IVC9000 machine.
Ray Lee added the following information: ‘I believe this was the IVC9000 slant track which was used extensively on Pebble Mill at One. Unfortunately as we only ever had the one machine, much time was spent transferring clips to the Ampex VR2000 format and back again, as although both used 2″ tapes, the formats were completely incompatible.
None of the early VT’s had pictures in shuttle. It was not until the 1″ C format VPR2′s came into use around 1976-77 that it was possible to see pictures while cueing.’
Photo by Paul Scholes, no reproduction without permission
This photo was almost certainly taken after the last episode of the 6.55 Special on 19 August 1983, outside the front of the building. The 6.55 Special was an entertainment show, which involved live music and celebrity guests.
Included left to right are: Chris Glover (moved down south and opened a Chandlery shop); Leigh Sinclair, VT editor (2nd from left); John Burkill, VT engineer; Elaine Baldwin; Ivor Williams, VT editor; Paul Wheeldon, Communications Supervisor. It was Elaine Baldwin’s last day at Pebble Mill before leaving and working at Central.
Thanks to Jane Mclean, Ann Gumbley-Williams and Steve Dellow for identifying everyone!
Balcony of the 2nd floor bar: Ivor Williams, Nigel Evans, Mike Bloore, John Burkill Photo by Tim Savage
When Pebble Mill was first built, the BBC Club was on the second floor, and became known affectionately by some as the VT Office. It was true that most of the VT staff could be found there at lunch time, and that many conversations with programme staff, producers, and directors took place there over a pint. That in a sense was the cauldron of ideas, that quite often led to innovative programme ideas that came to distinguish Pebble Mill. Departments were small enough, and the bar just about big enough that representatives from all disciplines could come together socially and exchange ideas.
I was only an occasional user, usually having ventured there to collect a Radio Times, but for some it was their regular lunchtime activity. It was there that the problem lay, in that it was just a bit too convenient on the 2nd floor, and more than one of my colleagues was recognised as having a drink problem, and sent on a “drying out” course by the BBC management. As space became more of a premium, the new Club building was built and the second floor returned to office space. I don’t remember the details of the changeover but the net result was that a more deliberate decision was needed to go to the club, rather than just falling out of the lift at the second floor.
The following comments were left on the Pebble Mill Facebook Group:
Jane Clement: ‘Ah, the second floor bar – home of my first Pebble Mill job (barmaid) and the scene of many an interesting night (and lunchtime). The tales I could tell from both sides of the bar as a barmaid then a researcher, then an AP…The new Club that replaced it was never quite the same.’
Lynn Cullimore: ‘Ooh yes, some people I could mention did use it as their office but you are right, I am sure many programme ideas were thought up there. The new bar was never quite the same! I remember my first rum punch day (the first of many) – or rather there were parts of it that I forgot!’
In 1977 Kenny Ball and his band were the house band for the entertainment show from Pebble Mill, ‘Saturday Night at the Mill’. The show was a spin off from ‘Pebble Mill at One’. Here is the title track of the band’s 1977 album, which was also the show’s title music.
Thanks to David Ackrill for sharing the link.
Photo of Donny MacLeod and the Kenny Ball band by John Burkill, no reproduction without permission.
The following comments were added on the Pebble Mill Facebook Group:
David Crozier: ‘I was the designer on a number of these shows. I remember them as being huge fun and with a very real sense of being live. It was working on Sarurday Night at The Mill which gave me the first yearnings for becoming a live programme, multi-camera TV director, which I later became. Great times!
Stuart Gandy: ‘It certainly was a fun programme to work on and like so many programmes we did, put Birmingham on the broadcasting map, something it sadly no longer seems to be.’
Julian Hitchcock: ‘I was Floor Assistant / AFM on any number if these and recall it all vividly. As David says, “great fun”.’
Kevin Lakin: ‘I remember Bruce Forsyth taking a very dim view of trays of beer being bought down from the bar on the 2nd floor during rehearsals . . . . pillock’
Janice Rider: ‘I earned the nickname Strobe Rider from Rob Hinds after the Hollywood movie star Joseph Cotten threatened to walk off the programme if he couldn’t wear his very inappropriate black & white dogtooth jacket which flared dreadfully during his interview !’
Julian Hitchcock: ‘Now this is interesting. I remember going on the studio directors’ course and wanting, in my final project piece, to show a scene in a cinema (it was an adaptation if Graham Greene’s short story, “A Place off the Edgware Road”. Cinemas are, of course, dark. However, the technical manager was adamant that if the scene was dark, no one would be able to see anything,- as if this could not possibly have been intended. I pathetically agreed, with the consequence that the cinema was entirely visible. On this basis, what would be wrong with a person appearing with a “strobing” jacket? When, having left TV, I found myself having to be interviewed in the foyer, I deliberately put on a check jacket because I wanted to strobe…’
Jane Mclean: ‘I did autocue. Maggie Walne (Kidger) was PA. Yes, a beautifully alcoholic programme to work on. And afterwards we always went to The Strathallan on Hagley Rd to wind down. Remember Roy Norton directing the early morning traffic! He directed with Roy Ronnie (I think I’m right).’
Julian Hitchcock: ‘I can never remember Roy Ronnie directing, but it’s possible. They were each great fun in different ways. Norton was wonderfully nervy. I well recall him ordering us ( the floor crew) to “make them laugh”. And thereon hangs another tail.’
Kevin Lakin: ‘Does anyone remember the ” The James Last Orchestra ” fiasco . . . the 50 piece Orchestra were going to be performing in the courtyard, then at 7 o clock we were told they would coming into the foyer, at 7.30 the whole Orchestra went back outside, and that’s when the two Roys went and hid on the 5th floor.’
Julian Hitchcock: ‘I do! Better with hindsight than at the time. I was the guy who had to tell Herr Last. I think this was one if the things that lead to the building of the quadrangle roof.’
Carol Churchill: ‘Oh l loved working on it , l remember making Kate Bush up on her first TV appearance .’
Tim Dann: ‘I did twelve of these beauties!!…& it certainly was off to the Srathallan afterwards!!…tho I don’t remember ‘winding down!!!’…The milkman beat me home every time!!!!…After the ‘credits’ Roy Norton the director, who was always in a state of high excitement…used to leap to his feet sending his chair crashing into the gallery window & screamed “Take me Pres, take me Pres!!!”….I can only imagine ‘Presentations’ enjoyment & envy of what fun we, in the Midlands were having!!…Designed the ‘Kate Bush’ prog too…which morphed into ‘Dave Brubeck’ & then we took the set to Glasgow for an ‘Andy Williams Special.’…. Thwarted tho by Production A’s/managers/managers industrial action!!…Roy Ronnie produced & Roy Norton directed them all.’
Kevin Lakin: ‘Andy Williams was cursed then, I worked on an Andy Williams Special from Warwick University which was thwarted by the Musicians Union, all the orchestra walked out 2hrs before the show started, and fair play to Andy Williams he did the whole show to just a piano accompaniment, it was recorded, but never went out. I think the two Roys were behind it, Mary Spencer was the Designer.’