Pebble Mill with Judi Spiers














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

This title grab is from the lunchtime studio magazine show: Pebble Mill, which was the successor of Pebble Mill at One, and ran from 1991-6. The show focussed on celebrity interviews, performance and entertainment. It was presented by Alan Titchmarsh on some days, and Judi Spiers on others, and I think Ross King also presented the show. Pebble Mill was transmitted from Studio A.

Thanks to Ian Collins for making the grab available.

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

Denny Hodge: ‘I worked on this show did the warm up they had a very small audience but the presenters were great fun.’

David Lowe: ‘I wrote the theme tune for that – I was very proud! One of my first ones for Network TV – On The House was another’



Aerial photo of Pebble Mill













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

This is perhaps the earliest aerial photo of the BBC Pebble Mill buildings just as they were being finished, circa 1970. You can see that the car park has not yet been built, and that the construction compounds are still in place.

New Midland Centre Press Release 1962

(This Press Release, held at the BBC Archives in Caversham, announced the intention of building Pebble Mill, although the actual studios did not open until nine years later. Notice that the Release concentrates on the spiral car park – which was never built, and the canteen and Club – which certainly were! It does not mention the television or radio studios, which is strange because it emphasises that the Midland Region centre would be the first broadcast centre in Europe to combine both television and radio facilities.)

Photo, Model, February 1962. This digital resource is available under a Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 3.0 license, with kind permission of the Birmingham & Five Counties Architectural Association Trust, thanks to the Architectus project (part of the Jisc Content Programme 2011-13).

Photo, Model, February 1962. This digital resource is available under a Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 3.0 license, with kind permission of the Birmingham & Five Counties Architectural Association Trust, thanks to the Architectus project (part of the Jisc Content Programme 2011-13).
















BBC Midland Region Press Service

For release 12 noon, Monday 12th November, 1962

New BBC Midland Region Broadcasting Headquarters

Statement by R.H.S. Howell

(Head of Building Department BBC)

For a long time it has been the BBC’s policy to re-house its Regional Headquarters in more efficient and up-to-date buildings equipped with the most modern plant, and with this in view suitable schemes for other Regional centres are now in various stages of development. In all of them the common aim and object is to accommodate the whole activities of each centre on one site.

The Midland Region is one of the first to benefit under this policy and the proposed Birmingham Headquarters is unique in that it is the first headquarters in the Country and, indeed, in Europe, which has been planned and designed from the start to fulfil the carefully integrated requirements of both sound and television broadcasting under one roof. The new building will provide facilities for all types of sound and television productions and will include a base for outside broadcast vehicles and their equipment, with a ramped spiral car park above for approximately 350 cars and, of course, an administration block in which will be included a staff restaurant and BBC Club premises.

The scheme has been prepared in association with the BBC’s Building Department and in accordance with BBC detailed requirements which, amongst other things aimed to satisfy the following principles:

  1. To take advantage of the natural amenities of the site.
  2. To design a building complex which has identity.
  3. To provide clear pedestrian and vehicular traffic flow.
  4. To design a functionally efficient regional centre for broadcasting.
  5. To be sufficiently flexible as to facilitate development or technical change.

Additionally, the Architect was requested to plan the building complex in such a way that, if future needs arise, a second medium-size television production studio can be added at a later date as a second stage of development along with an increase in the size of the scenery production area, extra dressing rooms etc., and with minimum disturbance to the then existing buildings.

All these factors have contributed to the physical grouping of the elements. Clearly the functional requirements of broadcasting are of prime importance, but the resultant forms evolve from these in relation to the principles outlined above.




Dental Hospital on Pebble Mill site

Dental HospitalCopyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.

The following article was published in the University of Birmingham Alumni Magazine: Old Joe, in March 2014.

Work has now begun on the dental hospital, being built on the former BBC Pebble Mill Studios site. The dental hospital will have facilities for both dental students from the University, and for the public. The building will open in autumn 2015.

History of the BBC in Birmingham

photo by Ben Peissel, 2003, no reproduction without permission

photo by Ben Peissel, 2003, no reproduction without permission













History of the BBC in Birmingham

(taken from notes held at the BBC Archives in Caversham)


1922 Nov 15               British Broadcasting Company begins transmitting from rooms at the GEC Works at Witton. Managed by Percy Edgar and Pat Casey, it consisted of three room: one contained the transmitter, one was the office and the other was the 12x20ft studio.

1923 Dec 6                 The first ever Children’s Hour comes from Birmingham. Children’s circle established, proceeds of which were donated to West Midlands Children’s charities.

1924                            Witton premises too small. Moved to top storey of 105 New Street. One studio and a suite of offices.

1926                            New Street premises too small (and rat infested). Purpose built studios at 282 Broad Street acquired. Largest studio could accommodate a full orchestra and chorus.

1927 Jan 1                   British Broadcasting Company dissolved and the British Broadcasting Corporation constituted under Royal Charter.

1927                            Daventry ‘Experimental Transmitter’ replaces 5 IT at Witton.

1938                            First episode of Paul Temple attracts 7,000 fan letters.

1949                            Sutton Coldfield transmitter opens bringing television to the Midlands.

1951 Jan 1                  The Archers first appears on the Light Programme. Brookfield Farm was located in Studio 2 at Broad Street for 20 years.

1951                            BBC acquired the lease for Pebble Mill site.

1954                            Carpenter Road, Edgbaston became the new Broadcasting House.

1955 Dec 29                First Midland Region television studio opened at Gosta Green, Birmingham.

1956                            Gardening Club (now Gardeners’ World) began.

1957 Sept 30               First BBC Midlands TV News broadcast each weekday evening. 6.10-6.15.

1962                            Nightly TV magazine programme – Midlands at Six  

1962                            A model of proposed BBC Pebble Mill Broadcasting Centre was show to the press.

1964 Sept                    First episode of  Midlands Today presented by Barry Lankester and produced by Michael Hancock. News items were a football bribery trial, a new course on local government, Swedish sport and an item called ‘the body beautiful’.

1965                            Immigrants Unit set up by Patrick Beech to provide Hindu/Urdu programmes. BBC’s first bi-media department, making programmes for both radio and television.

1967                            First BBC Local Radio Station in Leicester.

1967                            Pebble Mill – first sod was cut by then Director General Sir Hugh Greene.

1970 Nov 7                 Pebble Mill began with Radio Birmingham, later became Radio WM.

1971                            HRH Princess Anne officially opens the new Pebble Mill studios.

1972-86                       Pebble Mill at One, presenters included Donny Macleod, Bob Langley, Ross King, Judi Spiers and Alan Titchmarsh.

1976                            Saturday Night at the Mill – live. All staged in either one of the studios or outside the front of Pebble Mill. The courtyard around the back was constructed into a mini ice-rink with a canopy area for if it rained when live bands were on.

1977                            The Horror of Fang Rock, only episode of Dr Who to be filmed here at The Mill. The set consisted of a lighthouse built in the studio, and it was the setting for a battle with an alien shape shifter. The story featured the one and only appearance in the series of a Rutan – seen in its natural state as an amorphous green blob with trailing tentacles. It was the fifteenth season of the series and the  Doctor at the time was Tom Baker. It was transmitted between 03/09/1977 and 24/09/1977.

1988 Oct                     Midlands Today became the first regional news programme to include a nightly sports section.