Stan Smith’s retirement party











Photo from Malcolm Hickman of Stan Smith’s retirement party (circa 1983/4), which was well attended by Comms Centre staff.

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

Brian Johnson: ‘Will give it a try: Front row L to R – David Robinson, John Noble, Chris Donovan, Stan Smith, Keith Lindsey, Graham Hewitt: : Second Row L-R Shaffiq, John Nestor, Brian Johnson, Ian Gordon, Roy (Cyril) Thompson (peering over his shoulder), Glynn Benbow, Roy Winson, Jon Parker, Bob Allison, Mike Day, Fred Norton, Nigel Harris, Keith Brown, Paul Wheeldon, Derrek Smith, Malcolm Hickman,: Back Row R-L- John Malby, Phil Partridge, Guy with Glasses (??), then Graham Todd, Richard Taylor.
Can anyone fill in the (??) .

Great Photo. but what a male orientated lot we were’

Malcolm Hickman:’Guy over Roy’s shoulder is John Parker. Went to VT. Nigel Harris with beard, Keith Brown looking sideways.’

Andy Marriott: ‘Graham (on the right, with his hand on the trolley looking thing) was one of the Comms supervisors when I started.’


Colin Pierpoint blog – part 15, Comms on Location

Visiting Droitwich with Martin Watkins, who was later Quality Monitor. Copyright, Colin Pierpoint, no reproduction without permission.

Visiting Droitwich with Martin Watkins, who was later Quality Monitor. Copyright, Colin Pierpoint, no reproduction without permission.













Part of the comms work was out on the road. I did many Sound Lines Tests. These were on the day before a broadcast, which was usually live, but lines were also used for VTR (Videotape recording in London or other regions). From my diary, I tested lines in Birmingham Cathedral, Cheltenham Racecourse, Rugby, Wolverhampton Football Ground, Nottingham Forest Football Ground, Coventry, Ipswich {which at the time was of course in the Midland Region. (Only the BBC could do it this way)}, Hereford Cathedral, Hanley Queens theatre, Villa Park, Moseley Football Ground, Edgbaston Cricket Ground, and Birmingham City. Most of these I tested many times. I liked to take the “self drive car” then if it broke down it was not my fault. (see below!). At that time the lines were provided by the Post Office, later to separate as British Telecom. For a lines test the BBC engineer met a PO man usually with a cable coming down a telegraph pole, or from a hole in the ground. We did have some comms engineers who were not too good on the Comms switchboard (EMX); in one lines test I suddenly heard Stan Smith’s voice (the ACSE in the Comms Centre). He had been talking on the phone to someone else in Birmingham, so I said “Hello Stanley”. He asked  Where are you? I said “Would you believe, standing in a flowerbed in Peterborough?”

As I mentioned above, we also did the radio links to get the television signals out from the OB to a BBC centre. Amongst others I did Coventry Locano, Derby FA cup, Dunstable mid-point (where you receive the signal and pass it on to the next radiolink site). Ipswich Town, Norwich City, Moseley Rugby Ground. The Comms Supervisor was often in the Sutton Coldfield OB room receiving signals from dishes on the top of the mast. There was a lovely catering woman there, who would ring me at Pebble Mill to take my order for the next day, and then bring my meal into the OB room on a tray!

When reporting on site at Sutton Coldfield, I often had a chat to the transmitter staff and got to know some of them quite well. They had a monitoring problem there because it was difficult to get a quiet signal with all the RF (Radio Frequencies) around at high level. At the time their Radio 3 transmitter drive occasionally made a low frequency rumbling noise, so we had an arrangement that it was all right for them to ring me at home to listen and check for them. My equipment was nothing special, but I did have a clean signal. They also encouraged me to ring their MIC (Monitoring Information Centre) whenever I heard the fault.



Philip Donnellan retires













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

This article from the Pebble Mill News from 1984, lists some ‘comings and goings’ at BBC Pebble Mill.

Included in the ‘goings’ is radio and television producer, Philip Donnellan. Philip joined BBC Birmingham in 1948, and his retirement was beginning with a filming trip in the USA, and the promise of being able ‘to make all the films I wasn’t allowed to in the BBC!’

Other notable ‘goings’ include Stan Smith from Comms, Technical Manager Barry Hill, cleaners Maud Joyce and Gwen Carr.

Amongst the new faces were trainee cameramen, Simon Bennett and John Moorcroft,  engineer Steve May, Top Gear researcher Jon Bentley (now of the Gadget Show), and dresser Terry Powell.

Liz Darby, Bob Jacobs are also congratulated on their attachments.

Thanks to Robin Sunderland for sharing the Pebble Mill News.

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

Laura McNeill: ‘That is brilliant! I trained with David Page at Wood Norton, the audio trainee.’

Stuart Gandy: ‘Many names I remember here and some I have worked with over the years.
Dave Bushell seeing your name there reminded me that it’s 35 years last month since I joined the BBC and you were my course lecturer!’

Dave Bushell: ‘Yes, Stuart, you were one of my early victims! Luckily you survived!’

Steve Dellow: ‘Lurking at the extreme bottom right (Anniversaries)…Clive Kendall (Comms) reaching 40 years service!’

Richard Stevenson: ‘Jon Bentley, Researcher Top Gear. Didn’t he do well?!’