Bev Dartnall’s memorial

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

This afternoon was the memorial for former BBC Doctors series producer, Bev Dartnall, who died in February. The service was a celebration of Bev’s life, and everyone was encouraged to wear bright colours, rather than black. Peter Lloyd, one of the current series producers of Doctors led the memorial – and it was a fitting tribute that I’m sure Bev would have appreciated. The tone was finely judged – there were tears, laughs, poignant memories, and even some singing.

We were told about how Bev saw herself as ‘just a poor girl from Nechells’; she rose through the BBC ranks from a clerk to drama series producer, and then took voluntary redundancy and went to live her dream, in Spain. Bev was a life-long Birmingham City fan, and woe betide any Doctors’ storyline that might make mention of any other West Midlands’ team!

Mike Hobson, also from Doctors, recounted a number of email exchanges with Bev, that he had recently looked over – many revolved around wrap parties and the need for nuts and nibbles to supplement the drinks! Other themes involved actors, and threatened that if any more actors complained about their dressing rooms, then Doctors would have to storyline a bus crash and kill them all off! There were also threats of dismissal if the costume department ever dressed a character in a Manchester United scarf again!

Writer, Claire Bennett talked about Bev’s directing of a theatre group in an upstairs room, above the Old Joint Stock pub in Birmingham – the success of which caused the pub to install a permanent theatre room there, and close friend Bobbie Chapman read a poem she’d written to Bev, when she moved to Spain. There were also poems read by two of Bev’s god children.

It was a bitter-sweet event, very moving at times, and funny and uplifting at others. The room at Kings Heath Cricket Club was packed with friends and colleagues. The service had been brilliantly organised by Bev’s friends: Bobbie Chapman, Sarah Costigan and Michelle, with valiant technical support from Ian Collins and Neil Roberts.


The Rainbow – Mail on Sunday Preview

Rainbow Mail on Sunday 4 Dec 1988














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This Mail on Sunday article from December 1988 previews Pebble Mill’s The Rainbow, a three part adaptation of the D. H. Lawrence’s novel. The drama was produced by Chris Parr, directed by Stuart Burge, with the screenplay adapted by Anne Devlin, Chris’s wife.

The serial starred Imogen Stubbs, Martin Wenner and Kate Buffery.

Thanks to Willoughby Gullachsen (Gus), for sharing the cutting.

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

Jo Mainwaring: ‘This was the first thing I remember being in production when I arrived in TV Drama – happy days.’

Terry Powell: ‘I looked after the male cast.’

John Greening: ‘And I was the location manager.’

Vanessa Jackson: ‘And I was the Producer’s Secretary!’

Dawn Trotman: ‘John Rosser cut it . I think Andy Netley was the assistant?’

Neil Roberts: ‘I synched up all the rushes! My first job at Pebble Mill.’


Dead Head

Dead Head DVD cover NR













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

The BBC Pebble Mill drama series Dead Head is released on DVD on 15 April 2013. The film was edited by John Rosser with the video edited by Ivor Williams.

Dead Head was a four part thriller, with Denis Lawson as a small time criminal who gets mixed up with a grizzly murder. It was originally transmitted on BBC2 from 15 Jan 1986- 5 Feb 1986. The four parts were, Episode 1: Why Me?, Episode 2: Anything for England, Episode 3: The War Room and Episode 4: The Patriot.

The team included: Rob Walker (director), Robin Midgley (producer), Howard Brenton (script), Dave Bushell (lighting), Gavin Davies (designer), Kathryn Ayerst (costume), Vivien Oldham (make-up), Richard Hartley (music).

Thanks to Neil Roberts for spotting the release.

The following comment was added by camerman David Short on the Pebble Mill Facebook group: ‘Remember working as a camera assistant on it. I think Keith Salmon was the Senior Cameraman. Possibly the last thing I worked on before moving to TV Centre.’

Doctors, after the bombing – photos by Neil Roberts

Photos by Neil Roberts, no reproduction without permission.

‘Doctors’ was probably the last production to finish recording at Pebble Mill, and decided to go out with a bang rather than a whimper.  Taking advantage of the fact that the building was going to be demolished they staged a bomb blast in the Riverside Surgery and Lether Bar, on the last day of shooting.

Neil Roberts, who still edits ‘Doctors’ from its new site at Birmingham University, took these photos after the last shoot.  Neil was the last avid editor in Pebble Mill, fine cutting ‘Doctors’ – it must have felt like being on the Marie Celeste!  Chris Rowlands performed the last online edit at Pebble Mill, onlining the ‘Doctors’ episode which Neil offlined, the following day in VTA.