I was fortunate enough to work at Pebble Mill during those heady days of regional TV when we had the luxury of not only ‘Midlands Today’ but two half hour opt-outs a week, Tuesday evenings and Friday nights.
That legendary producer Roger Casstles was the first to ask me to join the ‘Look! Hear!’ team as a presenter alongside Chris Phipps and Michael Woods. After the first series Michael left and Toyah Wilcox replaced him. At one time the programme was so popular we were receiving over 600 letters a week.
As a result John Clarke, another legend, asked me to present a new hobbies based series called ‘Sparetime’. The moment I saw the opening credits that Anne Jenkins had created I knew we were on to another winner.
The ground breaking programme ‘Together’ followed this. Ground breaking at the time because it focussed on the lives of communities that had settled in our region. The programmes objective was to bring us all closer together. I well remember the Sikhs of Coventry, the Muslims in Stoke, the Irish in Leicester and the Caribbean community in Handsworth, an OB.
If you have memories of this please contact me. They were halcyon days at The Mill.
I’ve written about it all in my autobiography, ‘This Is the BBC Holmes Service’.
For more details visit johnholmes.co.uk
Alan Towers presenting an episode of Midlands Today from Studio B at BBC Pebble Mill, accompanied by a handler and Golden Eagle.
Jonathan Dick, who was an RSA on Midlands Today, died very suddenly overnight on 17/18th April. David Croxson worked with him at BBC World News. He writes that Jonathan was always calm, collected, very witty and thoroughly professional, and that we are all in complete shock at this desperately sad news.
The following comments were posted on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:
Jane Green: ‘Jonathan and I were RSAs together in the 80s on Midlands Today. He was the intellectual on the team, a brilliant vision mixer (the master of E-Flex and Charisma too), was unflappable in a tense gallery, and had a fantastic sense of humour.
Together, he and I took responsibility for saving all the regional TX and rushes bloopers onto a compilation tape, and when we saw each other the past few years, we recalled things like David Stevens’ forecasting the weather as ‘matchy pists’ and the BBC logo falling off the wall during Brian Conway’s breakfast bulletin. Jonathan’s hands were once seen dancing in shot in the pres studio as he tried to help the poor presenter who was failing on the self opt desk whilst reading the news. Most mishaps seemed to happen in the self-opt pres studio. Neither of us knew where that tape ended up after we left Midlands Today.
We had some fun times out in Brum in the 80s too, and last time I spent the day with Jonathan at BBC Parliament, I gave him some of the photos of him that I’d found, from a very boozy lunch a group of us had at ‘Jonathan’s’ restaurant about 1988. I never heard Jonathan say a bad word about anyone. He was a gentleman and so very kind. I’m still in shock from the awful news that we’ve lost him.”
Lynda Maher: ‘Such sad and shocking news. I worked with Jonathan as an RSA and when I moved onto studio directing he was by my side as VM, always helpful and encouraging and also great fun. He always stayed calm when things went wrong and I learned a lot from him.’
Gary Hudson: ‘I worked with Jonathan in the late 80s on Midlands Today, and I’d been in touch again on Facebook for the last three or four years. A very funny chap, who’ll be greatly missed. This is a photo he posted from Ariel when we won the RTS award.’
Darren New: ‘Very sad to hear this. I worked with Jonathan as a RSA in the Pebble Mill newsroom. I’m in the photo that Gary posted. The one thing I remember his his dry sense of humour and he would say it as it is. And he was a very good vision mixer.’
Maria Needle: ‘I worked with Jonathan and he was one of the nicest guys in telly. If ever I went into a show after him, I used to steal his DVE moves and copy them on to my disk! He was such a technical genius.’
Mary Sanchez: ‘I worked with Jonathan at Pebble Mill . He was a whizz kid on our vision mixing desk on Midlands Today and a lovely colleague too.More recently caught up with him at a reunion where we swapped funny memories and pottery tips on F/B…’