Working in Television – Peter Hercombe

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This is an excerpt from an interview with the Assistant Editor of Pebble Mill at One, Peter Hercombe, from a book called Working in Television written in 1980 by Jan Leeming, who worked at Pebble Mill for a time. The aim was to encourage young people to think about careers in television.

Thanks to Jonathan Dick, who has sadly died recently since sharing the excerpt.

Billy Joel Live on One

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The live concert of Billy Joel at Wembley was transmitted on 8th June 1984.

Below is the entry from the Radio Times, courtesy of the BBC Genome project:

“Billy Joel in Concert

BILLY JOEL , American singer/songwriter, in a rare live broadcast from Wembley Arena, presents a catalogue of hits from ‘Piano man’ to ‘An innocent man’.
In this, the only European engagement of his 1984 World Tour, Billy Joel includes previous favourites Just the way you are’, ‘Goodnight baigon and ‘Allentown’ along with his contemporary successes ‘Tell her about it’, ‘Uptown girl’ and ‘An innocent man’.
Lighting STEVE COHEN , DEREK PRICE Executive producer JIM DUMIGHAN Production JOHN G. SMITH
BBC Pebble Mill”

Jane Mclean was the PA.

Thanks to Stuart Allen for sharing this screen grabs from the concert.

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

Andrew Henry Lewellyn Davies: ‘It was also broadcast live at the same time on Radio 1. I still have the recording. Superb broadcast of Joel in his pomp.’

Peter Hercombe: ‘Remember this well. Love Billy Joel. Well done John G and Jane !’

Danger in the Ice – John Williams

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Copyright, John Williams, no reproduction without permission.

The article above is from John Williams memoirs, Shoot First, No Ordinary Life. It tells the story of a dangerous and highly memoriable shoot in Antarctica, for a Pebble Mill at One documentary, Langley South. It was published in the October 2016 issue of the BBC pensioners online magazine – Prospero. The link to the article is here:

The documentary was transmitted as inserts in 1981, as part of Pebble Mill at One, and as a four part documentary series on BBC2 in April 1982. Here are the Radio Times entries, courtesy of the BBC Genome project:

Monday 19th April 1982

“The first of four films in which
Bob Langley journeys to the White continent of Antarctica and examines its potential for mankind. The Falkland Islands are his first staging post. a last outpost of the British Empire in the South Atlantic. In recent weeks this tiny colony has been the centre of world attention as neighbouring Argentina has laid claim to the islands.
Against this background some of the 1,800 islanders talk of their hopes for the future.

Tuesday 20th April 1982

“On the second leg of his journey to the Antarctic, Bob Langley embarks on the Royal Navy’s Ice Patrol Ship Endurance for the voyage from the Falkland Islands to the southern ice cap. The journey takes him across the notorious Drake Passage off the tip of Cape Horn, through a mine-field of icebergs and after a brief respite at an abandoned whaling station, onward to a dangerous and uncharted corner of the Antarctic peninsula.”

Wednesday 21st April 1982

“In the third film report from British Antarctica Bob Langley, aboard the Royal Navy’s Ice Patrol ship Endurance, becomes trapped in the ice in the Weddell Sea. It is like history repeating itself. In 1915 another Endurance, under the command of Sir Ernest Shackleton , was trapped in these very waters, triggering off a feat of survival which rates as one of the greatest of all escape stories”

Thursday 22nd April 1982

“In this final film report from Antarctica, Bob Langley visits British and American scientific bases and meets the. modern pioneers. Antarctica is known to contain vast mineral riches. Its seas are teeming with protein. It could be vital to our future as other continents exhaust their own resources.”

John’s book is A4, 216 pages full colour, 96,500 words; it is being sold at cost £14, plus postage or can be collected.If you would like a copy please contact John on








Topol’s Israel

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

This article is from the Pebble Mill News from 1984. It tells about a Pebble Mill documentary/entertainment series, called, Topol’s Israel. The programme followed the Jewish entertainer on a trip back to his home country. The production team were Peter Hercombe, director, Chris Wright and assistant producer, Pam Creed. The camera crew consisted of cameraman, John Williams, assisted by Keith Froggatt (both in the bottom photo), with soundman, Alex Christisson, and electrician Arhtur Heywood.

Thanks to Robin Sunderland for sharing the newspaper, and keeping it safe all these years.

Below is the synopsis for the first episode of the series transmitted at 8.30pm on BBC2 28 March, 1985, from the BBC Genome listings database:

‘The first of six musical journeys in which film and stage star Chaim Topol revisits his native Israel.
Part documentary and part entertainment, the series joins Topol on the closing night of his triumphant
West End revival of Fiddler on the Roof, and follows him to Tel Aviv, the city which has always been his home.
Week by week Topol reflects on his experiences as a child of Israel – his memories of family life in an immigrant quarter, of the Exodus operation, his pioneering days on a Kibbutz, his days as an entertainer in an army troupe.
His travels range from the Galilee to the Red Sea, from Jerusalem to Jaffa, and from the Lebanon to Eilat, and on his way he meets an array of friends from every walk of Israeli life.
Producer PETER HERCOMBE BBC Pebble Mill
BBC record REH/ZCR 529 from retailers

The following comment was left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:

Dawn Trotman: ‘I remember it well and meeting the man himself albeit briefly.. Chris Rowlands cut it.’

Tom O’Connor Roadshow – group shots at the bar!


Mary Sanchez, Mark Botfield, Jane Mclean, Steve Weddle, Jo Dewar

Mary Sanchez, Mark Botfield, Jane Mclean, Steve Weddle, Jo Dewar

David Weir, Jane Mclean, Bev Wildman (now Thompson), comedian, Peter Hercombe, Caroline Marshall

David Weir, Jane Mclean, Bev Wildman (now Thompson), comedian, Peter Hercombe, Caroline Marshall
























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

A couple of after show sessions in the bar at different locations during the run of the Tom O’Connor Roadshow in 1987.

Included in the top photo are AFM Mary Sanchez, PAs Jane Mclean, and Jo Dewar, and producer Steve Weddle. In the lower photo are studio director, David Weir, PA Jane Mclean, music researcher/AP Bev Wildman, comedian, exec Peter Hercombe and music researcher/AP Caroline Marshall.

Thanks to Jane Mclean for sharing the photos.