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Tony Fisher sadly died on Wednesday 15th January 2014.
Tony was an extremely talented graphic artist, who joined BBC Pebble Mill in 1984, and worked there until the Graphics Department closed, a little while before the building shut in 2004. He was a real gentleman, and always impeccably dressed – he was definitely the best-turned out man at Pebble Mill!
I had the privilege of working with Tony on several occasions, but the one I remember most was on a series called Countdown to Christmas. Tony had applied for an attachment as a producer, and was taken on by Executive Producer Steph Silk, on the factual Christmas series – I was his researcher. It was the winter of 1989. Pebble Mill was so busy at the time that we had to use offices in Selly Oak, next to the BBC costume store. The series was a five parter, which went out daily at 10.30am on BBC 2 in the run up to Christmas – 4-8th December. Bob Davies, then known as Bob Chippriott, was the director, and Marian Foster was the main presenter. The main location was the On The House house, set in the back garden of Pebble Mill, which operated as the studio.
I can remember a little about the programme. It was a magazine show packed with helpful advice about how to survive Christmas. There was a daily cookery strand, presented by the Observer food journalist and writer, Katherine Whitehorn; a guide to the must have presents; and a wrapping and decorating insert with a very camp window dresser and stylist from Libertys in London.
Tony found the producing part of the programme quite stressful, but what he really relished was the planning and designing of the title sequence and graphics. He commissioned a friend of his, who I think worked at Bournville College, to make a series of models, of almost childlike figures of a family, preparing for Christmas. The figures moved around a board with Christmassy activities. I think it was stop-frame animation. The title sequence was probably the best part of the programme, and Tony was very proud of it!
The whole experience of working on Countdown to Christmas was enough of a foray into production for Tony, and after the series was transmitted he returned to the Graphics Department, and subsequently designed the titles and graphics for many Pebble Mill programmes. I remained firm friends with Tony from then on.
The following are some of the comments left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:
Liz Munro: ‘What a lovely tribute, Vanessa. And how sad. I do remember him because he was impeccably turned out. Also, he sounds typical of quite a few people at Pebble Mill – quietly talented and unassuming. As for the chap from Liberty’s, I think that if the recent series is anything to go by, it is not altogether surprising. Your comments made me smile.’
Dharmesh Rajput: ‘Oh how sad – as Liz says – he was such a gentleman and always took time to chat – and yes personifies a specific time and atmosphere at the beeb particularly at Pebble Mill that was pretty wonderful’
Janice Rider: ‘Very sad news . Lovely , witty, immensely talented , gentle soul and the Dandiest dresser of Pebble Mill . Worked with Tony on Boogie Outlaws and we seemed to instinctively both come up with a matching colour palette for the record producing character played by Ian Hogg . Always remember that moment of osmosis . My heart goes out to Camilla and his daughter .’
Louise Bagley: ‘So sorry to hear the sad news about Tony Fisher. Such a lovely guy, always impeccably turned out, a true gent!’
Pam Renoata: ‘Tony was a wonderful and hugely talented man. I met Tony through my husband Gurpreet Renoata who worked with him in the graphic design department. They’ve stayed good friends long after the section closed. Tony was always such fabulous company. Witty, charming, articulate, cultured, modest. A true gent. His passing is a tremendous loss to everyone who knew him and indeed the world. Talking about him in the past tense just doesn’t feel real. It’s lovely he’s being remembered here. Thank you.’
Dharmesh Rajput: ‘If I’m not mistaken – I’ve just remembered he creates the map for Silver Street on BBC Asian Network.’
Harriet Fisher: ‘Thank you for writing this fond tribute Vanessa. It is lovely to read about other parts of Dad’s life and how many people he touched. And to all the other kind people who have written, thank you. Pam, what lovely words. I only wish he could read these comments and see the cards, flowers and tributes that have arrived. He deserves to see them, there are so many people that love him. He was a inspirational man, so kind, dignified, stylish and warm. He was witty and quick, even until the day he left us. I will miss my wonderful Dad forever. Thank you for your kind words’
John Greening: ‘So sorry to hear this sad news. I had the privilege to work on a number of shows with Tony, the most stylish man I ever met. If you seek a suitable memorial to his genius just watch the opening titles of “Martin Chuzzlewit”…’
Jane Brocklehurst Curry: ‘So sorry to hear about this. I worked for a long time in the Graphic Design department at Pebble Mill and Tony was such a charming colleague. As everyone else has pointed out – a true gentleman. I’ve great memories of working with him and of his fabulous Christmas and graphic design dept invites.’
Ian Wood: ‘Greatly saddened to hear this. Tony was supremely talented, a wit and a gentleman – always had been, from the days when he taught Graphic Design while I was at Bournville School of Art in 1981-2, when he and Chris Brett steered and cajoled me into my degree course. It was a pleasure to renew my acquaintance with him when he joined Pebble Mill.’
Marie Phillips: ‘Tony Fisher is someone you never forget when you think of kindness and a willingness to help. He was never too busy when I asked for cards posters, leaflets etc for Children in Need. Aside from that, he willingly gave my daughter, Ruth, invaluable help with a major project for her Art and Design studies. A man a pleasure to have known.’
John Peries: ‘Yes, Tony created the drawing of the Silver Street location that got it out of our imaginations and onto the page to share with others. He was lovely to work with, and it was always good to see him when he passed by Pebble Mill or The Mailbox.’
Mandy Glynn: ‘Really sorry to hear the sad news. I worked with Tony in the Graphics Department at Pebble Mill for 7 years. Tony was a lovely, kind, caring and very talented man. A true gentleman.’
Kim Finch: ‘Lovely Tony took me on as work experience many years ago when I was at uni. It was his enthusiasm that led me to work in the fab graphics department for six years. Lovely memories. Thank you Mr Fisher.’