Alastair Yates on Midlands News

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

A Midlands News broadcast, presented by Alastair Yates, from 1979. Alastair left Pebble Mill for Grampian in 1980. The broadcast had been recorded by Chris Howles on a Philips N1700 format tape, and donated to TVArk.

The prompter seems not to be working at the beginning of the broadcast, with Alastair doing a wonderful job of reading off the script, whilst looking up from time to time. The cartoon over the weather seems very odd, and then the prompter seems to be working properly after that. The news seems to consist of a litany of crime, followed by a list of what’s on in every single theatre in the region! This was one of the last ‘closedown’ broadcasts to be done from the Midlands, due to an economy drive! Nothing new about BBC cut-backs!

Thanks to Chris Howles for bringing the clip to my attention.




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

Bryan Sharpe: ‘Alastair gave me my first insight into radio.. when he used to be AL KAY at BBC Radio Derby… in 1974… I was 12ish and later went on to work at Radio Derby then onto work at Pebble Mill and eventually as senior director at BBC Nottingham… thanks AL!!’

Malcolm Hickman: ‘Haven’t I seen Alastair on BBC World?’

Jonathan Dick: ‘Alastair was indeed a presenter on BBC World, where I had the pleasure of directing him on many occasions.’


Bryan Harris

 Bryan Harris PS
Copyright of the photograph resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission.


Bryan Harris, Programme Organiser of Radio Birmingham, in the 1970s, died on Tuesday, 15th September 2015.  He was 82. He had an operation a few days before, but sadly died of complications.
Annie Gumbley-Williams adds the following information: ‘I worked with Bryan in Radio Birmingham in the 1970s when he was Assistant Manager of Radio Birmingham. He then went on to be Manager of Radio Derby.
He was a lovely man that was there to help many to get on within the BBC, and they owe their careers to him.’


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


Pete Simpkin: ‘Sorry to hear of the death of Bryan Harris well known at Pebble Mill from the beginning and the Programme Organiser from the opening of Radio Birmingham. He appointed me as a Station Assistant and encouraged me in some of my later outrageous programme ideas when I became a producer. The stories about Bryan are many and legendary. He certainly was a local radio pioneer and great character.’
Viv Ellis: ‘Yes, I remember Brian, nice man, very sympathetic and helpful when needed.’
Sue Sweet: ‘A real gentleman’
Max Mulgrew: ‘Remember him so well. My first BBC boss, when he was manager at Radio Derby. He was a real gent, as Sue says.’
Tony Wadsworth: ‘I was a successor of his at BBC WM. When he was manager at Derby, a meeting of Programme Organisers was held there and he cooked us all an excellent lunch. A lovely man.’

Gordon Astley: ‘..nice man. Worked with him Broad Street and Gosta Green’

Lawrie Bloomfield Obituary May 2014

[This obituary to Lawrie Bloomfield, by Tim Beech, was published in Ariel in May 2014:]

Lawrie Bloomfield, who has died at the age of 80, was the hugely popular manager who started BBC Radio Shropshire and guided it through its first nine years.

He was responsible for starting and developing the careers of many fine broadcasters – as well as bringing a sense of fun and enterprise to all that he did.

Lawrie followed his father into journalism on the Portsmouth Evening News and made his broadcast debut on Radio Newsreel in 1959 and, after several years freelancing on regional television and featuring regularly on Sports Report, he joined BBC Radio Solent in 1970. He later became station manager at BBC Radio Lincolnshire before putting together the team at Radio Shropshire in 1985.

He was one of the Corporation’s very best talent scouts, giving opportunities to a whole generation of talented and skilful journalists and broadcasters, many of whom can still be heard and seen across both BBC and commercial networks.








Lawrie Bloomfield and colleagues on Radio Shropshire’s first day in 1985

Back at 70

Radio Shropshire soon enjoyed some of the highest listening figures in the country thanks to Lawrie establishing what was seen as a more modern and bright style of local radio broadcasting. He set a high standard and the station continues to be one of the country’s most successful due in no small measure to the outstanding foundations he laid.

After retiring from the BBC in 1994, Lawrie was appointed MBE for services to radio broadcasting and continued to be active through the Thomson Foundation, training and advising young journalists and broadcasters from around the world. He also returned to work at his beloved BBC Radio Shropshire, producing, presenting and reporting.

The station’s former news editor John Shone recalls: ‘He absolutely loved it and we loved having him in the newsroom. At 70 he was back at the sharp end and in top form. His experience was such a great asset to the station and he always gave sound advice and great encouragement, especially to younger members of the team.’

‘Way ahead’

A measure of the affection felt for Lawrie comes in the many tributes that have been made. ‘He was one of the greats’… ‘a lovely boss to work for and a great team-builder’ … ‘like a favourite uncle to me and gave me my first chance at presenting’ … ‘Lawrie was my favourite (boss) because we all always felt he was ‘on our side” … ‘a larger than life character, a pioneer of the new wave of BBC Local Radio stations’… ‘one of the old school who built local radio from nothing in the early days’ … ‘Lawrie was way ahead of the others – three women breakfast presenters in the first four years – and such a line-up of talent’ … ‘there was never a manager like him!’

His son Colin, now breakfast presenter at BBC Radio Derby, said: ‘He was a big inspiration for me. I would not be doing it now if it wasn’t for him.’

And the former head of local radio and network radio in the Midlands, Owen Bentley, described Lawrie as ‘one of local radio’s great characters’.

For giving chances to so many, leading with skill and inspiration, establishing a great local radio station and above all for being a wonderful person, Lawrie will be remembered with huge affection and gratitude. Our sympathies are with Colin and his mum Alison.

Tim Beech, managing editor, Radio Shropshire

A close shave for Alastair Yates

Close shave Alastair Yates

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What sacrifices presenters have to make to appear on television! Alastair Yates had to lose his facial hair in order to appear on Midlands Today. Alastair started as a presenter at Radio Derby, and beards were ok on radio – but not on television in the late 1970s! Viewers prefer a clean shave.

Alastair Yates on Midlands Today 1978

Alastair Yates Midlands News 1978 from pebblemill on Vimeo.

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

This clip courtesy of TV Ark, was recorded in 1978 in the Presentation studio (adjacent to the Midlands Today studio) as I was reading a bulletin into Midlands Today‬.

I joined the regional newsroom team in 1978, from BBC Radio Derby, and as well as my TV duties I also read the Midlands news on Radio 4 VHF.

Before long I was also invited to present the morning show on BBC Radio Birmingham (now WM). I left Pebble Mill in 1980 to join Selina Scott as co-anchor of North Tonight at Grampian TV in Scotland.

‪Doesn’t my voice sound plummy: I put that down to David Stevens, Head of Pres., who was trying to rid me of my Burton upon Trent accent.‬ Seems to have paid off though as my career took me to SKY NEWS, where I was the first male presenter on air, then on to BBC NEWS CHANNEL and WORLD. I also joined Deutsche Welle World TV in Germany for a couple of years and am now at Classic FM news.

Alastair Yates

alastair yates BBC Midlands TV news