Studio Operations (part 3) – Ray Lee

'All Creatures Great and Small' set in Studio A. Photo by Tim Savage

‘All Creatures Great and Small’ set in Studio A. Photo by Tim Savage













Studio and camera usage

Studio A was the main drama studio, and at least initially had network drama bookings most of the time. The main drama booking days were Sun/Mon and Wed/Thurs  for usually Rehearse day 1 and Record day 2, allowing for set and light on Tuesday and Saturday and sometimes a quick booking on a Friday. Studio B was used every weekday evening for Midlands Today, and briefly on a Saturday for the sport report, and on a Sunday for either Farming (the forerunner of Countryfile) and/or the Asian network programme “New Life”. Farming went out at lunchtime on a Sunday, and “New Life” was recorded on a Sunday afternoon/early evening.

Pebble Mill at One used the cameras from Studio B on  Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, as normally Studio A was in use for Drama. Studio A cameras were used on Tuesdays and Fridays when there were not normally drama bookings. If there were gaps in the bookings Studio A cameras were used in preference, as there was then an extra camera available. At that time Studio A had a complement of 4 cameras and a hot spare, whereas Studio B had just 3 cameras. In the earliest days the camera control unit (CCU) for one of the cameras was shared between Studio B and Studio A, which involved major re-cabling after Pebble Mill at One. By the time I moved to Studio ops, an additional CCU had been acquired, so this chore was no longer necessary. There was one additional camera and CCU in the back room of TAR, this was the “maintenance channel” and was used to repair faulty modules, and circuit boards. It was rare for it to be fully functional, and occasionally it was a case of checking whether the module or circuit board that had gone faulty in one of the studio cameras was better or worse than the one in the maintenance channel, or which might be quicker to repair! The cameras needed constant cosseting to get the best out of them, but when working well produced pictures that even against today’s cameras were very good.

Later on a further camera was obtained for Studio B which was permanently rigged in the presentation annex, meaning that there were always 3 cameras available in the studio area, and the practise of wheeling one into presentation for the end of Midlands Today was no longer needed.

Ray Lee


Midlands Today Running Order

Midlands Today running order Oct 1995 PP

























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

This running order is for the Midlands Today lunch time news from 10 Oct 1995. Kay Alexander was the presenter.

Thanks to Peter Poole for sharing this running order.


Pebble Mill – Midlands Today Signature Tunes

Midlands Today newsroom

Midlands Today newsroom

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

Here are programme signature tunes for: Midlands Today 1992? opening and closing sigs and Midlands Today 1996? opening and closing sigs. David Lowe and Richard Myhill were the composers of the signature tunes.

Thanks to Peter Poole for making these available.

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

Mike L Workman: ‘Richard Myhill composed the 1996 theme for the KPM Music library, there was a remix done for BBC Midlands in 1998 for the MTD patchwork look. In fact it was called ‘Newslive’ on KPM CD 402!’

Gary Hale: ‘Peter Poole, thank you for uploading these themes. I loved them then and still do. More Midlands Today themes please…. Brilliant.’

Jane Green: ‘The second was my favourite. I have a snippet of the visuals somewhere on old vhs of the 3rd one. p.s. Anyone know what the bell is for that’s on the desk in the photo?’

Peter Poole: ‘The second track is also my favourite. Listening to it and I’m back in Studio B. Network on prefade and ready to mix back to network. Very happy days.’

Mike L Workman: ‘I like them both equally, I’d love to hear the one they adopted in 1998, I’ve only ever heard snippets of that one!’

Pebble Mill in the Snow

Pebble Mill in snow Gav Yarnold

Shefali Oza, Karen Kenworthy, Nigel Craze(Gav Yarnold)

Gav Yarnold



































Photos from Gav Yarnold, no reproduction without permission.

Here are some photos of Pebble Mill in the snow from 2004.

The second photo in the Pebble Mill Club includes Sharuna Sagar, Midlands Today weather presenter, Shefali Oza, Karen Kenworthy and Nigel Craze.

The third photo is of Gav Yarnold at work.

The following comments were added on the Pebble Mill Facebook Group:

Jane Ward: ‘Reminds me of my first day at Pebble Mill…. Departmental meeting in Geoffrey Hewitt’s office ( in one of those offices off the front corridor between Reception and the Network Radio complex/foyer…. Looking out to a snowy Pebble Mill Road. 16th Feb 1987…’

Peter Poole: ‘In snowy weather most of the Pebble Mill at One audience did not arrive. A call went out for staff to fill the audience area.’

Alan Bentley: ‘I did a 30 hour shift there as no one could get in or out, can’t remember the date.’

Pete Simpkin: ‘Reminds me of a great snow in the early eighties when I walked the 7 miles from Shirley to PM to do my afternoon programme phoning in travel news from call boxes on the way. Must have been mad, they don’t do things like that any more!’

Lindsay Doyle: ‘It is Sharuna in the picture, it was January 2004, the night we were snowed in, Pershore and Bristol Roads blocked. I had filmed the lead story for Midlands Today and had to abandon the car half way down Bristol Road and totter in high heels, slipping and sliding at 1730 in a desperate attempt to get back to edit it, fun times.’

Newsroom – Maurice Blisson

Basys, Maurice Blisson











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

I came across this old photo taken in Pebble Mill newsroom, in the early 90s at a guess. I am in the foreground and also on it are Harvinder Singh, a newsroom stalwart who still does news shifts at the Mailbox, and Bob Sinkinson, Network News reporter, now retired. It looks like it is the old assignments desk, with me as intake editor and Harvinder on Camera Diary, controlling the movements of the crews and reporters. The early computers were the Hewlett-Packard BASYS system and were very rudimentary. There is the reflection of a red light at the end of the newsroom, indicating transmission.

Maurice Blisson

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

Becky Land: ‘Ah BASYS, that takes me back. I went from an electric typrwriter (ILR) to Basys and Rip n Read and thought I was in vanguard of technological age. Cart anyone?’

Peter Poole: ‘Maurice was a great character. The BASYS system could be logged in to remotely using a dial up connection. Somehow the modem phone number, user name and password was leaked. And a person who was due to be interviewed hacked into BASYS. And was able to read the scripts for their interview.’