Roy Ronnie

Roy Ronnie AGW













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

Roy Ronnie died on 18th September 2015. He produced an enormous number of shows from Pebble Mill, including 77 editions of Saturday Night at the Mill between 1976-81. Annie Gumbley-Williams was Production Secretary for the last three series, and Production Assistant on other programmes with Roy, including the fishing series, Hooked. She remembers Roy being great fun to work with, and a very talented, witty and kind man.

This photo of Roy was taken when he was Midland Region News Assistant, taken in February 1961.

Thanks to Annie Gumbley-Williams for passing on this sad news, and the information about Roy.

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

Julie Hill:’ So sorry to read about Roy Ronnie and send condolences to his family. Saturday Night at The Mill was a fantastic show attracting great performers & a large audience. My great friend Penny Arcatinis and I were responsible for serving wine to the public before the show! They’d scavenge through the plastic cups in search of the largest ones I recall…
Happy days. RIP Roy. You were a top Producer.’

Susan Astle: ‘Sad news, I worked on many Saturday Night at the Mill. They were always great fun and, at times, unpredictable! I think alcohol may have played a small part. Susie Bankers.’

Tim Dann: ‘Very sad…I enjoyed my time as Designer on the first series of Saturday Night at the Mill…with the two Roy’s…& again with them both on the Kate Bush special….Those ‘daze’ will never be repeated!’

David Shute: ‘Another good one’s gone. I remember doing the warm-up for Sat Night. He was a great man for encouraging people to do more than they thought possible. Super chap.’

Ebony under cover

Ebony Ariel article Julie Hill























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

This article about an episode of the black affairs series, Ebony, on the death of black activist Steve Biko, was published in the BBC staff newspaper, Ariel, on September 7th 1988.

Thanks to Julie Hill (previously Whittaker) for sharing this article.

Here is a transcript of the article:

‘A BBC team spent three weeks dodging the authorities in South Africa to make a film on the life of activist Steve Biko.

The programme, one of a £27 million package on BBC2 this autumn, was made by the Birmingham based Ebony team, and includes interviews with friends who speak about Biko publicly for the first time since his death in police custody 11 years ago.

Jamaican born director Terrence Francis, South African Kamscilla Naidoo, and the only white member of the team, Julie Whittaker, stayed in separate hotels, held clandestine meetings out of town and took care never to be seen with the camera crew during the making of Biko, The Spirit Lives, which goes out on the anniversary of his death next week.

“Being black helped us to set up interviews with people who would never talk to a white production team,” said Terrence Francis.

“But, as a group of mixed race, we had a tense time. We were stopped in a road block, we were followed, and our rooms were searched.”


The one-hour programme is among the first to go out in the autumn package, which is providing an “unprecedented platform for new, young talent,” said channel Controller Alan Yentob.’

Here is the link to the Radio Times entry from 19th September 1988, BBC2, courtesy of the BBC Genome project:

‘On 12 September, 1977, Steve Biko died in a South African prison. The official inquest cleared the authorities of any blame, but the circumstances of his death had repercussions all over the world.
At the age of 31, Biko was the charismatic leader of the Black Consciousness
Movement and one of the most influential political figures in the country.
In this Ebony film, Biko’s closest friends and associates describe how he emerged to lead the movement and the personal qualities that set him apart.
For the first time, they also tell the story of political intrigue and betrayal which led to his death and assess the legacy of the Black
Consciousness Movement in South African politics today. Executive producer JOHN WILCOX Produced and directed by TERRENCE FRANCIS BBC Pebble Mill’

Julie Whittaker (now Hill) adds the following comment: ‘I was only sorry our documentary didn’t receive the publicity & acclaim it deserved, oh & having escaped the secret police in SA I had a rifle pulled on me in Botswana – where were filming the reconstruction of Biko’s capture. Our team of 3 & local 3 man crew achieved what would nowadays involve about 50 people!!!’