Victoria Wood 1953-2016

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comedienne Victoria Wood died today, aged 62, after a battle with cancer.

Birmingham played an important part in launching Victoria Wood’s career. She studied Drama at Birmingham University in 1971, and as you’ll see from the excerpt of her obituary in the Telegraph today, one of her first professional engagements was at BBC Pebble Mill. Does anyone know what the ‘local television programme about Midlands Life’ was? Please add a comment if you do.

I think that Victoria was probably quite a challenging student at Birmingham University. I studied English and Drama there a decade later, and remember being told by one of our lecturers, Gerry McCarthy, that Victoria had refused to choose any of the options she was offered, and they had to put together a module on Farce especially for her!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/obituaries/2016/04/20/victoria-wood—obituary/

“In 1971 she enrolled at Birmingham University to study Drama and Theatre Arts and while working as a part-time barmaid in a pub frequented by BBC producers was invited to a party where she played a few of her songs. The following day she auditioned at the BBC studio, Pebble Mill, and was given a spot on a local television programme about Midlands life. This led to another audition, and two appearances on the ITV talent show New Faces, one of which she won.”

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

Lynn Cullimore: ‘I do know that John Clarke knew her and I think he was the producer. I was John’s Production Assistant after that time but I know they were friends. What an amazing lady though – so talented and so sad she is no longer with us. What has been happening lately that we have lost so many talented artists.’

Katie Cooper (Wright): ‘Apart from the regional news programme we also had the ‘Regional Opt Out’. Half an hour’s worth. Regionally based and ranging from news magazines to inter-town quizzes….travelogues, history, even live music + audience from Studio B!!!!. John Clarke and Roger Casstles were two of the Producers in the days of Victoria Wood. David Nelson and I amongst the Directors… Couldn’t name the specific programme she was involved in though…sorry.’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘Back in those days, Midlands News did 2 half hour opt outs a week. One on a Tuesday night and one on a Thursday night. They often featured a particular town or event. It may have been one of those programmes.’

Andy Walters: ‘I’m sure some of her As Seen On TV series was filmed around the corridors of Pebble Mill.’

Jane Clement: ‘A lovely lady, met her several times on the Mill. Another one gone too soon.’

Chris Weaver

Regional 'Day Out' Derby '83 GH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo from Gail Herbert, copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

Director of Photography, Chris Weaver has died recently. He is operating the camera in the photo above, which was on a Regional series, called Day Out, this episode was in Derby, 1983. Production Assistant, Gail Herbert, is next to him, with David Nelson, right of Chris. Chris worked at Magpie, with Jim Knights, and was married to Pebble Mill Make-up Designer, Lesley Weaver. Producer John Clarke is on the far left.

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

Elliot Weaver: ‘Action shot – “you must always point at something”‘

Johannah Dyer: ‘That is sad news – he was a lovely bloke who always went above and beyond what was expected on every shoot.’

Terry Powell: ‘So sad to hear, I knew and worked with his wife Lesley on so many shows and Chris as well sending love to his family.’

Lynn Cullimore: ‘Chris was the nicest guy ever and so lovely to work with I agree Jane. So sad to hear of this and I do send my condolences to Lesley and all the family. I remember Day Out well as I also worked on it with John Clarke. In fact, John is in this picture extreme left.’

Siobhan Maher Kennedy: ‘Very sad news . I loved the Magpie guys! Chris was great and I have happy memories from when I was in the regional opt out with Pamela Relton Liz Cox Rosalind Gower.’

Samantha Watkins: ‘Sorry to hear about the loss of Chris. Many happy memories . Here’s a photo I found in attic from the early 80’s. Also a photo of me and Lesley in 81 was in same album , on Nanny.

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Mary Kendall RIP

From Pebble Mill News 1984. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

From Pebble Mill News 1984. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Kendall, better known as Rosie from Radio WM’s long running 80’s series, The Barmaid’s Arms, and my Mum, died yesterday, 21st January 2015, after a short illness.

Mum had been living quietly in Worcestershire over the last few years, before moving to Shropshire last year. She passed away peacefully yesterday afternoon at the Princess Royal Hospital, Telford.

Steven Lloyd-Gonzalez (Son)

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

Pete Simpkin: ‘So sad to hear this news. Always enjoyed working with her and remember her reporting for my afternoon show which followed the Barmaids. She was a very individual and lively lady from a talented family. I remember her Dad recording a couple of programmes for me featuring his wartime memories. Outside of work my wife Pat and l would often meet up with her on holiday in Mid Wales where she had an ancient caravan which was her beloved escape from work. In fact we inherited her lovely van when she moved in to a newer one. Always remembered. RIP Mary.’

Sue Welch: ‘Such a friendly lady.’

Andrew Thorman: ‘I’m glad we are able to share such sad moments while remembering the good times.’

Lynn Cullimore: ‘Yes I worked with Mary and Malcolm Stent on Barmaids Arms and I am so sad to hear this. She was such a lovely lady and a delight to work with. Oh yes Ann I remember you and Ivor getting together! I loved working on the series and the Producer was John Clarke.’

Viv Ellis: ‘Sad indeed, “The Barmaid’s” was on immediately after my show they were both such fun to work with.’

Steve Woodhall: ‘Very sad news. I fondly remember the show, the banter, the pub fx (obviously live!) & the sig tune (Malt & Barley Blues), etc. RIP Mary.’

Maggy Whitehouse: ‘Aw … well I’m sure there are quite enough lovely watering places in heaven which need someone like Mary. I remember her well from my time at WM. Never heard a bad word spoken about her. Ah yes, Steve, the live fx! Would that we actually could have popped in for half an hour on our lunch breaks…’

Ann Gumbley-Williams: ‘Such sad news. Ivor and I first got together on the Barmaids Arms when it was being recorded in Studio A. The rest is history. Such a lovely lively lady.’

Gill Thompson: ‘I worked with Mary when I first joined the BBC, she was a lovely lady, such sad news.’

Andy Bentley: ‘Remember Mary well always up for a laugh.’

Ed Billington: ‘Sad news she was always happy’

Carole Lowe: ‘Sad news remember the show well it was great condolences to her family’

Lorraine Randell: ‘So very sad…I worked with Malc and “Rosie” in the 1980s…she was great to work with..I have many fond memories of those days.’

Belinda Essex: ‘Ah that’s really sad. She used to look after the audience for Daytime Live when Malcolm was the warm up guy.’

Stephen Lloyd-Gonzalez: ‘I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all most sincerely for your kind comments about my mother, Mary ‘Rosie’ Kendall. I know that she would have been genuinely surprised to see that she was still remembered so fondly and by so many. Your comments have fuelled my already immense pride in my Mum, so my deep thanks to you all for that.
I recognise many of your names and faces, from my time as a grubby teenager hanging around the lengthy corridors of Pebble Mill. Happy days indeed!
My very best wishes to you all and thanks again.’

Vision of a Nation: Making Multiculturalism on British Television

Gavin Schaffer bookCopyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

This newly published book by Gavin Schaffer, from the University of Birmingham, explores the development of multiculturalism on British television. It includes several mentions of programming from Pebble Mill and BBC Birmingham. Gavin’s research for the book included a detailed interview with Stephanie Silk, who was a PA in the Immigrants Programmes Unit in the late 1960s, as well as interviews with English Regions Drama Department producer, Peter Ansorge (producer of Empire Road , Britain’s first black soap opera, written by Michael Abbensetts).

It is Steph Silk on the front cover, with Saleem Shahed on the left, and Mahendra Kaul in the middle, from the Immigrants Programme Unit. The photo is from summer 1968, at a charity dinner in London, arranged by the Indian High Commission.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Vision-Nation-Gavin-Schaffer/dp/0230292984/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401910435&sr=8-1&keywords=vision+of+a+nation+gavin+schaffer

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

Julian Hitchcock: ‘Many, many memories…. Mahendra (who was also a restaurateur) was rather grand. Saleem gave off an air, not only of pipe tobacco, but of a university vice-chancellor.

Studio B! Ah, the glamour!

I was always proud of Pebble Mill’s role in the policy. There were ups and downs, as well as hours of incomprehensible chat shows, but you felt that it was engaging its audience keenly and in a vital way. Year on year, you felt it responding to social developments as, in the other direction, the rest of BBC programming caught up.

Before that happened, there was a period in which the Unit was thought by all too many as a silo for people whose epidermis was insufficiently French. I recollect being mortified with embarrassment by the “helpful” suggestion of a senior producer to a bright new graduate [of Asian complexion] who was gaining work experience at Pebble Mill and who was interested in getting into production. Fag in hand, she advised the girl to try Asian programmes.

The remark was simultaneously offensive and very good advice. I’m delighted that those days are behind us. That they are is in no small part due to the efforts of the Asian Unit.’

Lynn Cullimore: ‘Yes, remember all that. I worked in what was called The Asian Unit at one time and have to say I never went hungry because there was always a restaurant of a relative somewhere near where we were filming. I worked on Black Christmas too – John Clarke being the producer. There was also a couple of series called “Together” which was about ethnic minorities living in the Midlands. It was interesting and I learnt such a lot.’

1984 Spring and Summer line-up

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

This page from the 1984 Pebble Mill News, includes an article about David Waine’s press briefing about Pebble Mill’s output: 500 hours of network TV, 1,000 hours of network radio, and 160 hours of regional television. Highlights include a new Saturday night light entertainment show, new series of Top GearKick Start and Top Sailing, as well as Now Get Out of That, Gardeners’ World, Asian Magazine, and Gharbar. On the drama front there is mention of The Groundling and the Kite, Phoebe, The Amazing Miss Estelle, and Morte d’Arthur. 

Network Radio was also busy, with a new Radio 4 series of Enterprise, and Rollercoaster,  as well as hosting a Schools Radio Festival hosted by Sue Lawley, Rolf Harris and Duncan Goodhew.

In regional television there were new series of, Midlands Sound and Midlands Tonight, and a television version of Malcolm Stent’s Radio WM series, In the Barmaid’s Arms.

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

Peter Poole: ‘I worked on The Barmaid’s Arms in Studio A. They had a good band called The Nightriders. This was before producer choice. After that regional TV could never afford Studio A.’

Pete Simpkin: ‘As producer of the Radio version of the Barmaids it was quite pleasant to be a member of the audience with the real beer and not have to worry about anything! I do remember that someone had crafted a tiny hole in the chest of Malc’s shirt to take the cable for his personal mic.’

Lynn Cullimore: ‘Yes, Peter it was Mike Sheridan and the Nightriders…I was the PA and I loved it. Malc was wonderful to work with and i did many programmes with him. Malcolm is still going too..doing shows and things. Mary someone or other did a brilliant set for it…cannot remember her other name but she was very good.’

Peter Poole: ‘Hi Lynn, it was great when regional TV could do shows like this. Do you remember who the producer was? Malcolm often did warm up for PM at One. He always did a great job entertaining the audience.’

Lynn Cullimore: ‘The Producer was John Clarke whom I worked with for a long time. I did many Studio A programmes at one time – do you remember The Garden Game?’

Stuart Gandy: ‘I do remember The Garden Game. Wasn’t it on during the Friday night opt slot? In those days regional programmes had two opt slots per week.’

Peter Poole: ‘I remember John he was great producer and a very nice man. It’s amazing the programmes produced on such small budgets. I didn’t work on The Garden Game but do remember it. One of the many panel shows in Studio A. I always enjoyed working on regional TV programmes. The production teams were lovely people.’