These photos are from The Archers’ studio at BBC Birmingham. It’s interesting to see how many of the props and sound effects are still the same as at Pebble Mill, e.g. the doorbells and Jill Archer’s aga.
Pres studio at Pebble Mill. This was probably taken around 2004, when the studio was being decommissioned with the move from Pebble Mill to the Mailbox.
Thanks to Stuart Gandy for sharing the photographs, which were originally posted on the Pebble Mill Engineers’ Facebook group.
The following comments were left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:
Jason Dean: ‘The pres studio was largely left unused between it being the home of nightly weekday regional continuity during the late 1970s (all evening between Midlands Today and closedown in the early hours) and being used for Breakfast bulletins from Jan 1983. It looks like the photo might have been taken during this fallow period judging by the state of it?!’
Diane Kemp: ‘I did loads of bulletins from the little self opt studio, including the memorable time the Midlands was snowbound and we were interrupting network – all from there.
Can’t see it clearly enough to see the desk, the backdrop or the seat adjacent where SAs sat.’
Jane Green: ‘It looks like it’s being built or dismantled here….we SAs sat to the right of the presenter. It was a squash. The second photo shows what looks like a control desk that the presenter operated. Later on we had a proper backing with logo. Which once fell off on air as Jonathan Dick reminded me…National inserts were done from Pres too, if you had a guest for news or Newsnight. I sat there with Michael Heseltine one evening for what seemed an age. If it’s not Pres, I can’t think where it might be. The cameras would only be in Studio B or A otherwise?
Diane Kemp: ‘It’d be great to see a photo of it as it was. I’d say ‘in all its glory’, but to be fair it was never a beautiful space. Rivalled only by the fab studio in Nottingham above the probation service offices where you could hear the women’s toilets flush on-air.’
This is the leaflet which was given to all staff who were moving from Pebble Mill to the Mailbox towards the end of 2004.
The guidelines, like tidying away what was on your desk every day, did not work from the start, and very quickly the open plan areas had a busy, and rather cluttered look. Waste paper baskets were meant to be banned, but staff soon brought in their own, and personalised the office space!
In 2012 Television Network Production was moved from BBC Birmingham, to BBC Bristol, and the Mailbox became a much quieter and tidier place. Now the space houses many BBC staff, but few programme makers.
The following comment was added to the Pebble Mill Facebook page:
Kathryn Shuttleworth: ‘With very little production staff and more back office & HR in residence it is a bit more like a call centre in places. You can certainly spot the programme makers desks amongst it all!’
These BBC Birmingham mugs were given to all staff when BBC Birmingham was moved from Pebble Mill to the Mailbox in 2004, when Pebble Mill was closed, and production moved to the city centre site. This one has never been used!
Thanks to Suzie Curtlin for sharing this photo of the BBC Birmingham pen which was given to all staff moving from Pebble Mill to the Mailbox, when the Pebble Mill building was closed, prior to being demolished in 2005.