You and Me and Him

Screen grab from ‘You and Me and Him’. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission













In the months before David Rose died, I was approached by a friend and former colleague of his, asking if I could get hold of a copy of David Mercer’s 1973, Thirty Minute Theatre drama, You, and Me and Him, for him. Through friends at the BBC Drama Village, I managed to get a copy of the drama dubbed off, and sent to David. Fortunately, despite being very frail David was able to watch it in the weeks before he died, it apparently meant a lot to him. I decided to take the opportunity of watching the drama myself, and below are a few observations about it.

The only character in the play is Coster, played brilliantly by Peter Vaughan. It is a studio piece, which sounds simple, there being only one character. It is anything but! Coster is in conversation with himself, in three different guises throughout the drama, in quite a schizophrenic manner. There are different settings, an office, and a bedroom. When in the office, Coster wears glasses and is smartly dressed, in the bedroom he is dishevelled and wearing pyjamas. He is in the care of a psychiatrist and realises that he needs to pull himself together. We hear Coster taped on a ¼” tape, and on the phone to himself.

It is a psychological drama and quite philosophical, and considers some of the darker issues in life, there is talk of army rape, of pornography and lusting after little girls. The tone gets increasing violent during the drama, as one version of Coster wants to get rid of his alter-egos. He even talks of suicide. The drama ends with the conclusion that ‘You and me, are him’, and that in fact they each love the other.

Technically the drama is very complex, with hundreds of edits in a half hour piece, including a lot of split screens. John Lannin was the VT editor, and did a wonderful job. It was presumably recorded on 2” videotape, and so the editing process must have been tortuous and extremely time consuming. There are some really creative shots especially in transitions between settings, for example the feet of one of Coster’s personalities from one setting, appear in the foreground of the other setting. I’m not sure how this would have been done at that time, unless it was a locked-off shot. There is also a shot showing the empty office chair spinning, and then Coster appears sat in the chair, which was presumably a locked-off shot.

The director was Barry Hanson, with David Rose the producer, and Michael Edwards the production designer. This was a really innovative piece of drama, which stands up pretty well to contemporary viewing. Apparently the master tape was supposed to be wiped, but it was kept by the VT boys, who changed the tape number. It was then found in the basement by Paul Vanezis in 1990, and placed in the BBC Archive.



Peter Vaughan 1923-2016

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

You and Me and Him. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.













The character actor, Peter Vaughan, died today (6th Dec 2016) aged 93. He is perhaps best known for his role as Harry Grout, in Porridge, although many people will recognise him as Maester Aemon in Game of Thrones. Vaughan also played the role of Coster, in the 1973 Pebble Mill  Thirty Minute Theatre: You and Me and Him. It was written by David Mercer, and directed by Barry Hanson. David Rose was the producer, and the production designer was Michael Edwards.

Thanks to Ian Collins for making the screen grab available.

Ironically, I was only messaging director Paul Vanezis last night about You and Me and Him, and he told me the following story about how he saved the TX tape:

“I found the tape in the basement [of Pebble Mill] in 1990; the spool number had been changed, but it was the original TX tape. It still had the VT card inside. John Lannin edited it and Tony Rayner was his assistant. I think they kept it because it was a very complex show to edit. I recall that it had written in red biro on the card 283 edits!!! That would have been a a lot for 1973. It had also been copied for the BFI in 1975, but then sent to be wiped, hence the VT guys intercepting it and changing the number so it couldn’t be wiped. When I found the tape I sent it to Windmill Road, but only when they promised to keep it safe.”

Fortunately the programme does still exist in the archive.

The following comment was left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:

Wendy Critchlow: ‘I remember watching this and Steve talking about the work that had gone into it in VT.’






John Lannin

2" Quad machine, photo by John Burkill (1976)

2″ Quad machine, photo by John Burkill (1976)













Annie Gumbley-Williams has sent through the following sad news about John Lannin.

“John Lannin died last Friday, 28th October 2016. John had been ill for some time. The news has come from John Kimberley. John was a VT Editor and then a Vision Manager at Pebble Mill. John was a very pleasant, friendly and very kind gentleman. He will be sadly missed.”

John was apparently also a master of the two inch editing block (seen in front of the 2″ machine above), which was a demanding piece of equipment to operate accurately!

The following comment was left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:

Bryan Comley: ‘Very sad news, I first met John at BBC Bristol, as my line manager, I will never forget his amazing management style. When he moved back to Pebble mill he got me to move too, my interview consisted of a 15 minute tour of pebble mill followed by three hours? In the bar!!! I passed the interview!!’

Bill Morris: ‘Along with the sadly departed Alan Edwards, John trained me up as an Engineering Manager in the early 80’s at Viewplan Broadcast. He was a true gentleman and an unflappable OB Manager. His capacity for both humour and beer were legendary and I remember both John and those halcyon days of OB’s with great affection.’





Early editing of drama on videotape

Early drama editing on videotape from pebblemill on Vimeo.

Copyright, Colin Fearnley, no reproduction without permission.

The video above was recorded by Colin Fearnley on 23rd November 2004, which was the last night of editing at Pebble Mill before the building closed. In this video, Steve Critchlow talks about the early editing of drama on videotape. Thanks to Colin for having the foresight to record the editors reminiscing amongst the emptying of champagne flutes.

All Creatures 1989 JR



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

Keith Brook (Scouse): ‘It’s Steve Critchlow. He saved my glittering career a few times. He moved into management in the early 80s and was my boss after I went back to cameras.’

Ray Lee: ‘Sadly now deceased. He and John Lannin pretty much were VT at Pebble Mill in the early 70’s. John amazingly is still alive and I was at a lunch gathering with him yesterday, reminiscing about old times.’

Herbie Donnelly: ‘A gent of the first order and a pleasure to deal with.’

Ampex VR2000 2″ Videotape machine

JCB 30 25 10 76 JCB 30 22 10 76




















Photos by John Burkill, no reproduction without permission.

These photos date from 1976, and show Ampex VR2000 2″ editing machines in VTB, with a 1/4″ machine between them for lifting off the audio when about to make an edit. In the top photo there is a 2″ editing block, used for cutting and splicing the tape. This was a difficult process, involving a microscope and iron filings, and just to complicate matters the audio and video were on different parts of the tape.

In both photos there is the obligatory VT pint of beer – meaning that the photos were probably taken after or during lunch!

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

Keith Brook: Lannin was the edit-block hero. Iron ‘powder’ was used to ‘see’ the frames, and thus the edit points. The beer was needed to wash down those particles that were inhaled. Apparently, water didn’t work at all. This was obviously a long edit because the beer’s flat.

Stuart Gandy: Lubrication of the working parts was essential in these machines. Beer was found to be the perfect substance.

Steve Saunderson: Can’t identify the machine, but it looks like a pint of Ruddles.

Jayne Savage: This is an Ampex VR2000 in VTB with a half drunk pint spoiling a perfectly good shot of a splicing block – Tim says. The splicing block lives on at the Drama Village.