Howards’ Way 30 years anniversary

Howard's Way MH










Howards Way behind the scenes grab












Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission. Thanks to Les Podraza for making the cast and crew photo available.

(This iPlayer link is to an item by South Today about the making of Howards’ Way)

The end of 1st September 2015 marked the 30 years anniversary of Howards’ Way, the sailing drama series, which was likened to a British version of the US drama Dallas.

The series was hosted at Pebble Mill, and recorded on location in Southampton, with some of the interiors being recorded in Studio A.

Here is the Radio Times synopsis for the first episode, courtesy of the BBC Genome project:

“A serial in 13 parts devised by GERARD GLAISTER and ALLAN PRIOR
Episode 1 written by JILL HYEM
‘I’m sorry, Jan … It may be selfish, but I intend to spend the rest of my working life doing something I want to do.’
Title music

Thanks to Paul Burton for pointing out the anniversary, and the South Today piece.

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

Dawn Trotman: ‘I think it is John Kenway yet it was John Willey who shot the first and second series.. I edited the first series with Nigel Pardoe-Matthews and the second on location with Sharon Pemberton and Lynne Hawkins..great fun.. We always knew it would be successful..It was our Dallas..’

Maggie Humphries: ‘Not John Kenway,, it’s Jimmy Monks, Grips who worked on the series.’

Lesley Weaver: ‘Maggie Humphries is right, it is the lovely freelance grip Jimmy Monks near left of camera and far right is David Evans a lovely freelance Camera operator. Can’t really work out who’s behind camera. I worked on the second series so I ought to remember. In the clip I remember Tony ‘O’ sparks from Lee North and Susie Peck is the designer talking about the costumes, lots of others I remember too.’

Thin Air – photos by Les Podraza

Photos by Les Podraza, no reproduction without permission.

Thin Air was a 5 part thriller which went out on BBC 1 in 1988.  The story follows a young investigative reporter, Rachel Hamilton, who works for a local radio station. Rachel stumbles into a world of new money, new drugs and new buildings down by the river as birthday celebrations at her radio station are violently disrupted.

The serial starred Linda Robson, Philip Croskin, Brian Bovell, Sam Kelly and Kevin McNally. It was written by Peter Busby ad Sarah Dunant, produced by Caroline Oulton and directed by Antonia Bird.  Andy Roberts wrote the music for the serial.

The serial was produced in London but hosted out of Pebble Mill.  Steve Saunderson was the lighting cameraman, Simon Passmore the script editor and Amanda Atkinson the designer.  Les Podraza was a member of the scene crew.

Thin Air TX Card

Howards’ Way – Les Podraza’s photos

Howards’ Way photos from Les Podraza, no reproduction without permission.

Howards’ Way was hosted at Pebble Mill in the late 1980s, Les was a member of the scene crew.  These photos were taken on location in Southampton.

Cast and Crew of Howard’s Way

More of a Way of Life than a Job – Les Podraza

Les with David McCallum

By Les Podraza.

The first production I ever worked on was “Moonstone”. It was enormous, taking up the whole floor space of studio “A” at Pebble Mill. I was 19 and wet behind the ears! This brilliant place was to be my new home for over 25 years. Years that can only be described as unforgettable. Or to put it another way, in the words of Walt Disney “If it can be dreamed, it can be done.” I worked on so many productions I’ve lost count. I was so proud to work at Pebble Mill. As we all know, it became the Centre Of Excellence For Drama. And by golly did we churn some programmes out or what!

My parent department was Scenic Servicing, along with attachments to various other departments. I can hardly believe that it’s just a hole in the ground now! I loved being part of Pebble Mill and all it stood for, my job and all that went with it. Such a crying shame that all that talented and professional work force have moved on to pastures new, some of whom I see regularly still, and some have passed away. My thoughts go out to all their families.

To have worked for the BBC at Pebble Mill was distinctly a way of life and not a job as such. Every day was different that’s for sure. One day I would be building a set for Play For Today, the next day I’d be out on location somewhere in the UK. My friends and colleagues were my family. For some people that statement would be hard to understand, but when you spend so much of your time with people you work with, they do become your family. Hours spent working on shows, travelling, sleeping, and then working on shows. It wasn’t routine, and it could get very interesting at times. There were good and bad times but all in all it was a magical place to be involved with. I still possess many letters from producers and production crews alike thanking me for the good work me and my colleagues did on a particular show. These letters were so good for morale. That is probably why so many production crews wanted to work at Pebble Mill and not London. Because of the good will and professionalism they knew they would get from all the various departments that it took to produce brilliant programmes.

One particular event took place once a year. It was called Rum Punch day. All would meet up in the bar first and then move on down to the workshops. Nearly always on or between the 20th and the 23rd December. It was a chance to put up some glitzy sets in the studio workshops. I remember when Howard’s Way had finished. The main set was stored for Rum Punch. When staff from all departments and regions came down to the workshop floor, the place was rocking with a DJ at one end, with loads of overhead lighting on the dance floor, and the longest ever bar in the world at the other, with about 10 scene staff serving 200 to 300 people at once. We always got incredible comments every year. The worst one emotionally, was the last one ever in December 1992. I can remember seeing grown men crying, coming to terms with their redundancy notices for April 1993. It was a very sad time indeed.

There is so much I could say about the place that has made me so very proud to be a part of the best design and production facility in the world! But alas, there is not enough time or space here. But please enjoy my photographic memoirs of various productions I worked on. I’m sure you will find them very interesting. (Les’s photos are posted under the individual programme titles).

Parnell & the Englishwoman – photos from Les Podraza

Photos from Les Podraza.  The photos feature Les, who was a scene hand at Pebble Mill, with director John Bruce, and actors Trevor Eve, and T.P. McKenna.

The screenplay for Parnell and the Englishwoman was written by Hugh Leonard and tells the story of a 19th-century Irish nationalist politician who has an affair with the wife of an English MP.  The drama went out in 1991.  Trevor Eve played Charles Stewart Parnell, with Francesca Annis playing Katharine O’Shea;  T.P. McKenna played Justin McCarthy.  It was produced by Terry Coles out of BBC London, hosted by Pebble Mill.