Radio Studio 3 Tape Library

Photo by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission

Photo by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission

Photo by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission

Photo by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission






















This photo is of the Radio Studio 3  tape library at Pebble Mill (used on The Archers, and many other radio dramas). All of the bird sound effects were verified by the RSPB, with explicit notes as to the times of year they could be used. We’d get letters otherwise…

Martin Fenton

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

Andy Walters: I think a lot of the tapes are now in the basement store at the Mailbox. I’ve definitely seen a master tape of the Archers signature tune down there along with the Midlands Today film archive.

Kath Shuttleworth: ‘The tapes were all transferred to CD for the move to The Mailbox. Those CDs have since been transferred onto hard drive and the sound effects are still used today, it’s just all a bit more high tech than a bank of tape machines! The original tapes were junked, apart from a few which I discovered contained missing episodes and rare Archers cast recordings. These were sent to archive and copies retained with The Archers team. Andy Walters, I don’t know what the tapes are in the basement. There were plenty of master tapes of the sig and vinyl copies too. Maybe someone brought them to The Mailbox as a momento! All the effects are now on a local server or hard drives of specific machines along with many other SFX collections. Well over 1TB when I last looked! We use two playout systems in studio (Spot On & Ableton Live). A lot of effects are still played in “live” for The Archers. All SFX are available to use at the click of a button and looping sounds is so much easier than it was in the days of 1/4″ tape!’

Andy Walters: ‘Possibly. There are a lot of programme tapes in the basement with codes that mean nothing to me. Or at least there were last time I was down there.’

Kath Shuttleworth: ‘If they’re still there we should take a look at them before they get junked as part of the current clear up regime! You never know, there could be a gem of a programme down there that’s missing from archive.’

Archers – Ruth & David’s Wedding Invitation – Stephen Martin

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

This invitation was given to Stephen Martin, who was then working creating sound effects on the Radio 4 drama series, ‘The Archers’.  It dates from December 1988.

Thanks to Stephen Martin for making the invitation available.

Strange Events at Pebble Mill – blog by Peter Poole

Archers' Studio, circa 1971

photo by Philip Morgan

This event was told to me about Radio Studio 3. This was the drama studio made famous by ‘The Archers’. One morning when the studio door was unlocked it would not fully open. This was due to several chairs that had been pushed against the door from the inside. This door was the only entrance so it’s a mystery how this happened. This may be a tall story told to new BBC staff. I can’t remember who told me. Has anyone else heard this story? I found another story about this studio on this website .

This other event happened to me. It was the late 1970s and I was working alone one evening in the dubbing theatre. A little later Brian Telford came in with a tape recorded earlier in a village church. This was a recording of organ music for The Archers. The tape had a high frequency noise on it. Brian wanted to filter this noise using the dubbing theatre’s graphic equaliser. As we listened a very loud crash could be heard when the music had finished. But it sounded very strange, as if it was backwards. I played the tape backwards and the sound of a large door being slammed shut was heard. Brian said he was unaware of any such sound when the recording was made. I can’t remember what happened to the tape or if any investigations followed this event. The high frequency noise was probably due to RF induction. That is the microphone cable acting as an aerial and picking up a signal from a radio transmitter. If the church was near to the Droitwich transmitter  this could happen. Maybe Brian faked the tape and it was all a practical joke. If this was the case he did a great job. But I feel this was unlikely. I’m very sceptical about the paranormal but can’t explain how this backwards door slam was recorded. Anyone have any ideas?

Peter Poole
(It is Roger Slater being the spot operator, knocking on the door, in the background of the Archers’ Studio photo)