Photos from Annie Gumbley Williams, no reproduction without permission
On Wednesday 8 September 2021 a BBC Heritage Trail blue plaque was unveiled on the site of BBC Pebble Mill, now a rehabilitation hospital, to commemorate the building and all the fantastic programmes that were created there. A small number of former BBC staff attended the ceremony. The plaque was unveiled by Midlands Today presenter, Nick Owen, who presented the last ever news programme from the broadcast centre.
Photos by Paul Scholes, no reproduction without permission.
The photos are from the outside broadcast of the annual RAC Rally called ‘Rally Report’, which was produced at Pebble Mill for many years. The team would record and edit from the location, moving on each day, finishing the nightly broadcast and transmitting via satellite from the OB truck.
The top photo shows left to right: Chris Rowlands (film editor), Ken Pollack (producer), Jon Bentley (producer and now presenter of Fifth Gear), Gurpi Sani (post production engineer), Pete Shannon (editor). The lower photo shows Jon Bentley and Pete Shannon.
Photos copyright of Gail Herbert, no reproduction without permission.
Top Gear, now known as ‘old Top Gear’, was produced at BBC Pebble Mill from 1977-2001. It was a 30 min magazine show about cars and motor transport. The presenters included Noel Edmunds, Angela Rippon, Jeremy Clarkson, Tiff Needell, William Woollard, Michelle Newman, Chris Goffey, Vicki Butler-Henderson, Jason Barlow, Tony Mason and Quentin Willson.
When production of Top Gear moved to London in 2002 some of the Birmingham production team, and presenters (Vicki Butler-Henderson, Adrian Simpson, Tiff Needell) moved to Fifth Gear on Channel 5.
Thanks to Gail Herbert, who was a production assistant on Top Gear for making her photos available. The photos date from around 1990 and include shots of presenters William Woollard and Tiff Needell, producer Ken Pollack, directors Dennis Jarvis and David Wheeler, cameraman John Williams, sound men Tony Wass and Alex Christison, and production assistants Gail Herbert and Sophie Marsh.
David Wheeler, who is featured in these photos, sitting on a donkey, makes the following comment:
Tony Mason thought it would be amusing to do a PTC from a “4×4” for use on the sand at Weston-Super-Mere. But when I called his bluff he requested that I test drive the thoroughbred before he risked his rally-bred bottom on the beast! After some reassurance he delivered the PTC… ending: “… but I don’t think Nellie here is quite up to it, so I’ll have to find some better transport”. I seem to remember tracking from an open land rover and editing the piece to Echo Beach (Martha and the Muffins) which has a great intro and fab sax solo! Great memories.. enhanced by my trip home in the Astra 2litre, 16valve GTE… “space rocket” as I recall Gail called it!