John Cheshire

Midlands Today studio at Broad Street. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have heard from Annie Gumbley Williams that John Cheshire died last Friday, 5th May 2017. This news was given to her by John Pierce. Both the Johns joined the BBC at Broad Street, and then moved to Pebble Mill in 1971, when the new building opened. John was a mechanical and electrical engineer, which is an unusual and very useful combination in broadcasting.

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

Malcolm Hickman: ‘John Cheshire was in Carpenter Road Mech workshop when I started in Services in 1971, before we moved to the Mill. He was always very obliging, nothing was too much trouble. A real gent. It is a sad loss.’

Colin Pierpoint: ‘The studio shown is Studio 4, which was a Radio Studio (and I remember that Charles Parker recorded Peggy Seeger and Ewan McGregor for some of his Radio Ballads – some of which I edited). Studio 4 was converted to television with instructions that we must look after the equipment (Black and white vidicon cameras) which will be moved to Pebble Mill. Needless to say they weren’t. The previous television studio at Broad Street was Studio 1 which was EVEN SMALLER!

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Studio B in action

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

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Studio B in action at BBC Pebble Mill circa 1975/6. Jack Rooke on the left hand camera and Dave Doogood on the right hand one. The presenter looks like a young Tom Coyne, who presented Midlands Today.

Studio B was used for Midlands Today as well as many other programmes, which didn’t need the much larger, Studio A.

Thanks to Stuart Gandy for making the photograph available.

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

Malcolm Hickman: ‘EMI 2001s on HP peds.’

Richard Stevenson: ‘Although the cameras changed, pretty sure those peds stayed until the end.’

Carole Haysom: ‘Early Sunday mornings for Farming today…remember getting a few shorts straws for that!!!!’

Susan Astle: ‘Farming and Asian progs on a Sunday, early days at Pebble Mill! I remember Samantha once coming in the night before frock! They were early starts!!’

Helen Smith: ‘Love this – that is my Dad on the right hand camera!’

Richard Stevenson: ‘Many happy days being trained by your father. He taught me a lot for which I will always be grateful.’

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Producer Choice Explained

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Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article was published in the Midlands News, the internal newsletter, in June 1992. Roger Waugh, the Head of Resources sets out to explain the principles behind, Director General, John Birt’s ‘Producer Choice’.

‘Producer Choice’ split off the Resource departments from Production, and resulted in mass redundancies in Resources. Redundancies are hinted at in this article, but the position wasn’t clear in 1992.

Thanks for Stuart Gandy for sharing this edition of Midlands News.

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

Carolyn Davies: ‘Still commonly used in inverted commas to mean ‘complete disaster’…’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘I remember I had to establish each business units’ asset size so they could be charged. A mammoth task.’

Mark Holdstock: ‘I couldn’t decide who was the worse DG. Birt or Mark Thompson producer choice was a completely stupid idea. When they started charging for record loans, we quickly worked out that it was much cheaper to pop into town to HMV and buy the disc.’

Steve Peacock: ‘Idiotic and divisive policy. Decimated the craft base and did us producers no favours at all.’

Caroline Feldon Parsons: ‘Producer Choice. Leading to much less actual sensible choice than a producer had before it was implemented. Lovely.’

Julia Versluis: ‘Until you had to pay for a service and discover it was three times more expensive this way.’

Julie Hill: ‘I jumped ship before that hideous “initiative” was enforced. Lost out on any redundancy though!’

Vicky King: ‘I remember it well, working in HR, one of the biggest change programmes I’ve worked on.’

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Studio 3 door

Copyright, Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission

This photo shows the ‘door’ from Radio Studio 3 at Pebble Mill. The door would have been used to create effects on Radio 4’s The Archers, as well as other radio dramas. The mini door is on castors so that it could be wheeled around to wherever in the studio it was needed, and is a box construction. It contains all the parts on a door that would make a distinctive sound: a turning key, and knob, and a door chain.

Thanks to Martin Fenton for sharing the photograph, which he took in 2003.

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

Jane Green: ‘On my way back from the bar after a hard morning’s PM@1. Was hijacked by a radio person and asked to scrunch my feet on a tray of gravel.’

Stephen Lyons: ‘ I remember well the similar one at BBC Wales Radio where I worked on Schools Radio programmes over many years.’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘Notice the stairs in the background. They had 3 different finishes on each tread. Plus at the top of the flight they had several items of door furniture.’

Angela Padgett: ‘Seen them in the Mailbox on the Behind the scenes at BBC Tour. They’re still being used.’

Ruth Kiosses: ‘I once took in my brothers Elizabethan armour for the sound department (Donald McDonald) to record for some drama. I’m sure clanging baking trays would have been the same? But they wanted authenticity.’

Colin Pierpoint: ‘I don’t know who made it. You can see the original door in the photo which was built in to the stairs f/x (extreme top right). The problem was that it had such a large selection of locks, catches and levers that to open the door required at least 8 hands! The portable one appeared later and I suspect it was to overcome the 3 extra staff required to open the original door.’

Carolyn Davies: ‘Didn’t it used to be brown?’

Kathryn Shuttleworth: ‘All the box doors were painted and the screens refurbished for the move to The Mailbox. We had the sash window from under the staircase mounted into a box too. All still in use, they don’t make ’em like that any more!’

 

 

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Eagle Tower at Silverstone

Photo by Steve Dellow, no reproduction without permission

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This photo shows a couple of heavily rigged Eagle Towers at the Silverstone Grand Prix. The towers were self-erecting and had to carry the transmitter so that the signal from the outside broadcast truck could be relayed to a radio links vehicle at a mid-point, which had to be in line of sight with the tower.

I understand that the Eagle Towers were manufactured in Warwick, at Eagle Engineering.

Thanks to Steve Dellow for sharing the photograph.

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

Malcolm Hickman: ‘I believe you are correct, Eagle was at Warwick. They were fitted on Bedford chassis. They were transported laying down onto the top of the cab and pumped upright by using levers at the back to control the hydraulics. After rigging at 30′ the centre could be extended to 60′.’

Kate White: ‘We only had one Eagle Tower in Birmingham, the other would have come from London. The 4ft dish was probably pointing at a midpoint at Dunstable Downs and on to Crystal Palace. The 2ft dishes pointing at a midpoint at Charwelton near Daventry, that would then have gone into the receivers at Sutton Coalfield. This is based on my memories from the 90s.’

Chris Harris: ‘Wouldn’t the 2ft dishes be pointing to Stowe Corner and CM1?’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘Quite right Chris. We used to have vans at Stowe, occasionally Maggots and Becketts. I was with Rod Batch at Maggots when a car spun off. The cameraman on his scaffolding was tracking the car and saw the line up card go through the shot. The car just bumped the scaffold and all we saw was a bit of camera shake.’

Mike Jordan: ‘In later years, we rigged all the links on a platform above the grandstand.’

 

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