Ed Doolan 1941-2018

Ed Doolan receiving a lifetime achievement award in 2015





















Australian born, Radio WM presenter, Ed Doolan, has died today (Jan 16th 2018) aged 76. Ed revealed that he was suffering from vascular dementia in 2015.

Radio WM paid tribute to him in the following announcement:


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

Tim Manning: ‘I was Ed’s first producer at Radio WM when he moved to the BBC from BRMB in 1982. There was a bit of nervousness behind the scenes, as this was really the first time the BBC had poached a big name from a commercial rival for a local radio station. Bosses in London were reportedly a bit uncomfortable about the cost, and some staff at WM weren’t too happy, worrying that they were being pushed aside. Ed was also nervous, as he feared that his listeners might desert him and that Radio WM’s audience wouldn’t take to him. John Pickles, then the manager of the station, was convinced that the publicity coup of Ed’s arrival would lift the station’s profile, and that Ed would fit in; he was proved right.

In fact, Ed settled in really quickly, and Radio WM gave him space to grow. Ed was a great showman, with a style more akin to the big TV chat show hosts of the era than conventional radio presenters of the time, and he loved doing celebrity interviews. Nonetheless, underneath the larger-than-life on-air persona, he was a sharp current affairs journalist with a real sense of what mattered to his audience and he really knew and understood Birmingham and the West Midlands. I’m glad he was never spirited away to Network Radio (there was talk of it), as he was at his best skewering local and national politicians on behalf of his listeners. Few broadcasters have had such a lasting impact on their local community.’

Linda Flavell: ‘Ed did quite a lot on Regional TV too, although I thibhe was at his best on radio. Sad loss.’

Katie Cooper: ‘I’m so glad to have seen him at the last Pebble Mill coffee morning I got to. Lovely man.’

All Over The Shop

All Over the Shop












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

Thanks to Ian Collins for making this titles grab of the series, All Over The Shop available.

All Over The Shop was a shopping and consumer panel game show, presented by Paul Ross, in 1997-9. Panelists included actors and celebrities. It went out on BBC1 Daytime at 12.25pm. The producer was Caroline Jones, and the exec, Steve Weddle.

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

Steve Weddle: ‘It was a London creation – the second series was shipped in to Pebble Mill for reasons I can’t recall. So we inherited the format – flimsy, to say the least – and tried to make a half decent telly show out of it. I think we just about succeeded, but there was so much politics behind the scenes,given the half London/ half Birmingham set up. It did however open up channels for some PM production people to work in Events in London, especially Veronica Butt.’

Veronica Butt: ‘Linda Flavell Michelle Furey Ellena Stojanovic Yvonne Stevenson Julia Versluis Merrick Simmonds, Andrea Miller, Caroline Jones and Steve Weddle worked on it’

Julia Versluis: ‘I had fun trying to get Paul’s script onto all those lovely cards. Hours of fun! as well as trying to dodge the rest of the office printing on my labels before I could shout “no-one print” I do believe I have a photo of Veronica Butt, Paul Ross and myself at the end of show BBQ. I’ll see if I can find it.’

Caroline Jones: ‘Wow now that’s a blast from the past clearing all those logos was a copyright nightmare and all the guest who suddenly developed allergies to the items slated for the taste tests! Weird commission shipped up from London to stop us from closing the first time!’












William Smethurst

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

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














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.’







Memories of working with Terry Wogan

Points of View team,  photo from Gail Herbert, no reproduction without permission

Points of View team, photo from Gail Herbert, no reproduction without permission












Looking through some of the many comments on Facebook about Terry Wogan, following his death yesterday, it was striking how positive everyone was about their memories of working with him at Pebble Mill. I’ve collected a few of those comments here.

Linda Flavell: So sad to hear of Sir Terry’s death. Such a funny man to work with, glad to be one of the lucky ones to have spent time with him.

Kate Hillman: All those lovely trips to Cliveden. Yes, a privilege to have worked with him.

Helena Taylor: He was such a gentleman, and always had time to have a word with his ‘fans’ in the audience of Call My Bluff. Indeed a privilege to have worked with him as Kate Hillman says. So so sad he has passed away.

Sangita Manandhar: Such sad news about Terry Wogan. Had the pleasure of working with him on Points of View many years ago…always so charming. So sad.

Paul Taylor: He was a joy to work with… So spontaneously witty, he had me fighting not to laugh out loud during recordings…..

The Great Escape













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

The Great Escape was a BBC1 Daytime show, presented by Nick Knowles. It was transmitted in May and June 1997. The series was an interactive holiday show, which never escaped from its Pebble Mill studio!

Thanks to Ian Collins for making this titles grab available.

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

Joolz Richards: ‘I remember it very well. Tony Steyger was the Exec and I was his PA. It was Nick Knowles’ first BBC gig and it also featured a very young James Martin and Simon Calder as regular expert contributors. Chris Fox was one of the studio directors, Pam Creed was a producer for a while. We shot two shows a day in four day blocks over the bank holiday if I remember rightly. It was a bonkers show to work on and my very first experience of production!’

Linda Flavell: ‘I was PC on so e of it, particularly remember the show about Australian meats…kangaroo went down well..’

Gill Thompson: ‘Yes I remember this show, I organised the studio audience for it.’