Pot Black

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This photo is of Jim Dumighan and producer Reg Perrin on the popular snooker series, Pot Black, which was made at Pebble Mill. It looks like the programme planning blackboard in the background.

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

Julian Hitchcock: ‘We recorded it just after Christmas. Wonderful convivial days.’

Gordon Astley: ‘Pot Black was my first job when I joined the Beeb. On the first episode it was my responsibility to press ‘play’ on the tape machine for the iconic theme tune !’

Dawn and Kevin Hudson, with their Pot Black T-shirts

Great Expectations – the street

Photo by Albert Sheard, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the street in Dickens’ Great Expectations from the 1981 series produced at Pebble Mill. The street was constructed in Studio A by designer Michael Edwards, and demonstrates the skill of the production designer.

Thanks to scenic services Albert Sheard for sharing the photograph.

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

Julian Hitchcock: ‘Fabulous set. I worked on this. Stratford Johns was Magwitch. Nice man.’

David Headon: ‘Studio A was amazing. You could land a Lancaster Bomber in there..’

Ian Collins: ‘I was the VT Editor on that production. Great times.’

Nick Booth: ‘Peter Booth was the lighting designer’

William Smethurst

William Smethurst, photo by Simon Farquhar, no reproduction without permission

William Smethurst, photo by Simon Farquhar, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WILLIAM SMETHURST : TRIBUTE AND FUNERAL DETAILS

You may have heard on the news that William Smethurst, one time Editor of The Archers, passed away, on 22nd July.


William was at the helm when I was first trusted to mix the drama.  I have always remembered trying to compassionately manage a particularly lethargic spot operator during an episode that William was directing.  William, kindly but authoritatively, encouraged me to deal with the issue.  With knots in my stomach, fearing the immense hurt I was going to cause my colleague, I went into the studio, only to discover that he couldn’t have cared less!   I learned valuable lessons: that not everyone has the same sense of duty and obligation, and that difficult issues are best tackled sooner than later. This has stood me in good stead ever since.   Thank you, William.  Needless to say, said spot operator went on to become a very successful Radio 1 producer, later to forge a successful career in both broadcasting and feature films!

Writer, Jo Toye, was learning her craft at the same time that I was learning mine, and has sent this tribute:

“William arrived on the writing team of The Archers in the mid-Seventies and started his shake-up of the programme in his typically imaginative way then. By the time I joined the production team as a PA in 1980, he’d been Editor for a year and delighted in the team of ‘left-wing, feminist’ writers he’d engaged. His storylines eschewed social comment for what he called ‘social comedy’ – a typical Bridge Farm family story involved not the dawning realisation of domestic abuse but the saga of CND-supporting Pat changing their daily paper from the ‘Express’ to the ‘Guardian’, to Tony’s mystification.  As I typed the scripts his bold crossings-out and rewritings taught me everything I know – no chance of the writers doing their own rewrites then as everything was sent in hard copy, by post…

With his clear-sightedness about what The Archers should be – ‘the voice of the shires’  – and the support of then Network Editor Radio, Jock Gallagher, who’d rescued the programme from the doldrums after the retirement of the legendary Godfrey Baseley – William’s energy and ever-whirring marketing brain raised the programme’s profile and listenership.


So many of the characters he created are still there today – Caroline Sterling, Susan Carter, and the inimitable Grundys, while others (Nelson, Nigel) have passed into Archers mythology. So many of the writers he took on – me included – are still writing today.  His willingness to back untried young hopefuls didn’t stop at The Archers: when he later created and ran the sci-fi soap Jupiter Moon for BSkyB he gave their first big break to Anna Chancellor and Jason Durr.


He could be tough when he wanted to be – when he moved to Crossroads in 1986 he revelled in the title of ‘Butcher Bill’ – but he was also ingenious, inventive, intelligent, witty, warm, massively well-read, and a genuine lover of the countryside, its seasonal rhythms and its history.


He shepherded The Archers through what many now see as a golden age – in simpler times and in the very special atmosphere of Pebble Mill itself.   He brought great pleasure to millions of people but for me it was personal. I owe him everything and shall always be grateful.”

William’s funeral will be at 2pm, on Tuesday 2nd August, at Halford Village Church, Queen Street, Halford, Near Shipston on Stour.

Louise Willcox

(Here is an obituary for William Smethurst on the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-36905761 )

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

Julian Hitchcock: ‘Sad indeed. Fine, much deserved tributes. I loved his sense of mischief and gossip, wry chuckle and that dangerous glint in his eye that warned that you or your name might just find their way into Ambridge.’

Cathy Houghton: ‘I worked with him on Midlands Today, a really lovely man.’

Linda Flavell: ‘Loved working with Bill so many years ago, a truly lovely guy.’

 

 

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Phil Lewis

The creator of Pot Black, Phil Lewis has sadly died recently. He was a long serving television producer in BBC’s Midland Region, and later became Head of Events in London. Phil began his career on cameras at Alexandra Palace and Lime Grove. He produced a wide range of programmes, both in the studio and on outside broadcasts, including Come Dancing, and Miss World. Together with colleagues like Barrie Edgar and John McGonagle, Phil helped make BBC Birmingham into a prolific production centre and outside broadcast hub. He will perhaps be best known for creating the television snooker tournament, Pot Black, in 1969, which helped the BBC in the switchover to colour. He moved to London in 1970.

There will be a private family cremation, and a memorial service in September in Gerrards Cross.

(Thanks to Annie Gumbley-Williams and Jim Dumighan for supplying this information)

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

Julian Hitchcock: I remember several Christmas holiday sessions in Studio A working on Pot Black. Phil had a particular, very inclusive, rather old world warmth that endeared himself to all who worked on the show.

Sheila Brown RIP

Sheila Brown sadly died on 14th April 2015, at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham. Sheila started work as a secretary in Personnel, and then later in the Press Office and PR department, organising visitor tours of Pebble Mill.

Sheila is shown in the right of this photograph, which was taken at the Friday Night at the Mill party in 2004. The party which marked the closing of the Pebble Mill building, prior to its demolition in 2005.

Clara Hewitt, Janet Collins, Margaret Barton, Sheila Brown

Clara Hewitt, Janet Collins, Margaret Barton, Sheila Brown. Photo by Ruth Barretto, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Andy Bentley: ‘Remember Shiela well, she received an MBE if I remember right. Lovely Lady.’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘We used to take parties around the Mill, including parties of staff newly arrived at Bush House. Sheila used to organise the catering and for some inexplicable reason, there was always one or two bottles of red wine left over. A very sweet lady and an accomplished ballroom dancer in her younger days.’

Jane Ward: ‘Wasn’t she a keen ballroom dancer?’

Conal O’Donnell: ‘I remember Sheila very well- quite mischievous on her way & always good fun .I am sorry to learn of her passing.’

Julian Hitchcock: ‘What a lovely, funny soul she was: her very memory brings a warm smile to all who knew her. I do hope she enjoyed her later years.’

Tim Manning: ‘I’m so sorry to hear the news about Sheila; she was – as others have said – a lovely lady, and someone who cared deeply about Pebble Mill. And yes, Jane Ward, she was a very keen and skilled ballroom dancer; when I was directing a film for The Golden Oldie Picture Show, she loaned me all her trophies and lots of memorabilia.’

Marie Phillips: ‘Sheila was very kind to me when CIN was regarded as something of a misfit in the Press Office. Very very efficient. A well deserved MBE.’

Andy Caddick: ‘We used to have long chats on the No1 bus on the way to Pebble Mill. So sad, lovely lady.’