Martin Chuzzlewit TX card

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission
























This is the transmission card for the 1994, BBC2 drama serial Martin Chuzzlewit. The adaptation was written by David Lodge, produced by Chris Parr and directed by Pedr James, with Gavin Davies as the production designer.

Thanks to Ann Chancellor-Davies for sharing the TX card.

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

Ian Barber: ‘That was on location in Kings Lynn, we had an amazing time there.’

Gary Williams: ‘I believe Tony Fisher did all the graphics and I loaded up all the opening/closing credits!’

Sue Haslam: ‘Looks rather like some of Tony Fisher’s wonderful calligraphy on the title too…’

Terry Barker: ‘I had just started working for Chris Parr as the show was being edited and I well remember the difference of opinion between him and Pedr over the number of cockroaches on the opening titles. Chris won, and it was less than 12.’

Camilla Fisher: ‘If you are interested in seeing more of the artwork for Martin Chuzzlewit check out the Tony Fisher archive at the library of Birmingham.’








Archive Screening Event

Had an interesting day today at the Archive Screening Event at the School of Art in Margaret Street.  We showed several Pebble Mill dramas: A Touch of Eastern Promise by Tara Prem, A Box of Swan by Alan David Price and Fellow Traveller by Michael Eaton.   Tara Prem and Michael Eaton were able to join us and it was fascinating to hear from them about how the dramas came about.

Fellow Traveller is set in the McCarthy era in the US, when many Hollywood film makers were blacklisted for their Communist sympathies.  Some screen writers who couldn’t write in the States resorted to working for British television, particularly ITV’s highly successful Robin Hood series.  Fellow Traveller is the story of a Jewish writer: Asa Kaufman, who flees to Britain and writes several Robin Hood episodes.

Michael Eaton wrote Fellow Traveller as a speculative script which he sent to HBO.  The BBC had apparently already turned it down.  Two weeks later HBO asked him to come across to the States.  He said that going there was like having a masterclass in script writing.  He was told that what he’d submitted was a two Act drama, and what it needed to be was a three Act drama – he hadn’t come across the three Act structure before.  The original version finished with Asa Kaufman finding out how he had been betrayed and by whom, but unable to do anything about it.  He then had to write a third Act where Kaufman confronted Leavey, which gave a much more satisfying conclusion.

Fellow Taveller was a three way co-production between HBO, BBC Pebble Mill and the BFI.  It was shot on 35mm film, and had some theatrical release before being transmitted on BBC 2.  It was the only TV film made at Pebble Mill. HBO apparently needed two different versions – one shorter and without any of the scenes containing nudity or sex, and one longer than the BBC version with some additional scenes in. Greg Miller, who edited the film in Soho, told us about how HBO had become quite demanding about their different versions quite late in the day.  Michael Wearing produced the film and Philip Saville, who had worked with Michael Wearing on Boys from the Blackstuff, was the director.


Debut on Two – TX Card from Dave Bushell

Debut on Two TX Card

Debut on Two TX Card reverse

Debut on Two was a series of six dramas produced at Pebble Mill in 1990 for BBC 2, to promote the work of writers new to television.  Two of the dramas were shot on location, the other four were studio based.

Michael Wearing was the executive producer, Vicky Licorish and Philippa Giles the producers, Diana Patrick and Bob Landgon the directors.  A company of established actors including Pete Postlethwaite, Hilary Sesta and Adrian Dunbar, appeared across the six different plays.

The plays in the series were:

  • The Conversion of St Paul
  • Breast is Best
  • The Wake
  • Window of Vulnerability
  • Kingdom Come
  • A Box of Swan

Thanks to Dave Bushell for keeping the TX Card safe, and for sharing it.

Pete Postlethwaite in ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’

Copyright for these photos resides with the original photographer, no reproduction without permission.

John Greening who was the First Assistant Director on this mammoth Dickens adaptation comments that:

‘Pete was a force of nature – along with Keith Allen and Paul Schofield. Generous to a fault, he even offered to perform for free in my BBC drama directors course project. What a gent. I also got very drunk at his house once with designer Rob Hinds and production manager Alastair Duncan – but that’s another story…’

Pete Postlethwaite in Martin Chuzzlewit

‘A Box of Swan’ -photos by Willoughby Gullachsen

Adrian Dunbar (John)

Sandy Ratcliff, Pete Postlethwaite, Hilary Sesta, Adrian Dunbar

Photos by Willoughby Gullachsen, no reproduction without permission.

A Box of Swan was a ‘Debut on Two’ drama produced at Pebble Mill, transmitted on 9th Oct 1990 on BBC 2.  Alan David Price wrote the script, and  it was produced by Vicky Licorish and Philippa Giles, Diana Patrick was the director.

The BFI database describes the drama as a:

‘Play about a young man brought back to his roots by the death of his father, a road sweeper for 27 years. John moved to London to further his career as an architect, but his ambivalent feelings towards his family are brought to a head when he returns home for the funeral.’

The film starred Pete Postlethwaite as Tony, Adrian Dunbar as John, Hilary Sesta as Mother, Sandy Ratcliff as Patricia and Bryan Pringle as Father.

Thanks to Dave Bushell, who was the lighting director, for identifying the drama from the photos.  Dave remembers that there were six plays in all on ‘Debut on Two’, two filmed on location and four in Studio A. They were written by new writers with established actors. The locations for ‘Box of Swan’ included an Italian restaurant and a undertaker’s chapel-of-rest, in Bearwood, West Midlands.

The other ‘Debut on Two’ plays were  Kingdom Come, Widow of Vulnerability, The Wake, Breast is Best, and the Conversion of St Paul. They were a similar idea to the ‘Second City First’ series of studio dramas from the 1970s, which also featured new talent, and particularly new writers.