Tony Fisher – graphic artist and one time producer

Tony Fisher

Tony Fisher

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

Tony Fisher sadly died on Wednesday 15th January 2014.

Tony was an extremely talented graphic artist, who joined BBC Pebble Mill in 1984, and worked there until the Graphics Department closed, a little while before the building shut in 2004. He was a real gentleman, and always impeccably dressed – he was definitely the best-turned out man at Pebble Mill!

I had the privilege of working with Tony on several occasions, but the one I remember most was on a series called Countdown to Christmas. Tony had applied for an attachment as a producer, and was taken on by Executive Producer Steph Silk, on the factual Christmas series – I was his researcher. It was the winter of 1989. Pebble Mill was so busy at the time that we had to use offices in Selly Oak, next to the BBC costume store. The series was a five parter, which went out daily at 10.30am on BBC 2 in the run up to Christmas – 4-8th December. Bob Davies, then known as Bob Chippriott, was the director, and Marian Foster was the main presenter. The main location was the On The House house, set in the back garden of Pebble Mill, which operated as the studio.

I can remember a little about the programme. It was a magazine show packed with helpful advice about how to survive Christmas. There was a daily cookery strand, presented by the Observer food journalist and writer, Katherine Whitehorn; a guide to the must have presents; and a wrapping and decorating insert with a very camp window dresser and stylist from Libertys in London.

Tony found the producing part of the programme quite stressful, but what he really relished was the planning and designing of the title sequence and graphics. He commissioned a friend of his, who I think worked at Bournville College, to make a series of models, of almost childlike figures of a family, preparing for Christmas. The figures moved around a board with Christmassy activities. I think it was stop-frame animation. The title sequence was probably the best part of the programme, and Tony was very proud of it!

The whole experience of working on Countdown to Christmas was enough of a foray into production for Tony, and after the series was transmitted he returned to the Graphics Department, and subsequently designed the titles and graphics for many Pebble Mill programmes. I remained firm friends with Tony from then on.

Vanessa Jackson

The following are some of the comments left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:

Liz Munro: ‘What a lovely tribute, Vanessa. And how sad. I do remember him because he was impeccably turned out. Also, he sounds typical of quite a few people at Pebble Mill – quietly talented and unassuming. As for the chap from Liberty’s, I think that if the recent series is anything to go by, it is not altogether surprising. Your comments made me smile.’

Dharmesh Rajput: ‘Oh how sad – as Liz says – he was such a gentleman and always took time to chat – and yes personifies a specific time and atmosphere at the beeb particularly at Pebble Mill that was pretty wonderful’

Janice Rider: ‘Very sad news . Lovely , witty, immensely talented , gentle soul and the Dandiest dresser of Pebble Mill . Worked with Tony on Boogie Outlaws and we seemed to instinctively both come up with a matching colour palette for the record producing character played by Ian Hogg . Always remember that moment of osmosis . My heart goes out to Camilla and his daughter .’

Louise Bagley: ‘So sorry to hear the sad news about Tony Fisher. Such a lovely guy, always impeccably turned out, a true gent!’

Pam Renoata: ‘Tony was a wonderful and hugely talented man. I met Tony through my husband Gurpreet Renoata who worked with him in the graphic design department. They’ve stayed good friends long after the section closed. Tony was always such fabulous company. Witty, charming, articulate, cultured, modest. A true gent. His passing is a tremendous loss to everyone who knew him and indeed the world. Talking about him in the past tense just doesn’t feel real. It’s lovely he’s being remembered here. Thank you.’

Dharmesh Rajput:  ‘If I’m not mistaken – I’ve just remembered he creates the map for Silver Street on BBC Asian Network.’

Harriet Fisher: ‘Thank you for writing this fond tribute Vanessa. It is lovely to read about other parts of Dad’s life and how many people he touched. And to all the other kind people who have written, thank you. Pam, what lovely words. I only wish he could read these comments and see the cards, flowers and tributes that have arrived. He deserves to see them, there are so many people that love him. He was a inspirational man, so kind, dignified, stylish and warm. He was witty and quick, even until the day he left us. I will miss my wonderful Dad forever. Thank you for your kind words’

John Greening: ‘So sorry to hear this sad news. I had the privilege to work on a number of shows with Tony, the most stylish man I ever met. If you seek a suitable memorial to his genius just watch the opening titles of “Martin Chuzzlewit”…’

Jane Brocklehurst Curry:  ‘So sorry to hear about this. I worked for a long time in the Graphic Design department at Pebble Mill and Tony was such a charming colleague. As everyone else has pointed out – a true gentleman. I’ve great memories of working with him and of his fabulous Christmas and graphic design dept invites.’

Ian Wood: ‘Greatly saddened to hear this. Tony was supremely talented, a wit and a gentleman – always had been, from the days when he taught Graphic Design while I was at Bournville School of Art in 1981-2, when he and Chris Brett steered and cajoled me into my degree course. It was a pleasure to renew my acquaintance with him when he joined Pebble Mill.’

Marie Phillips: ‘Tony Fisher is someone you never forget when you think of kindness and a willingness to help. He was never too busy when I asked for cards posters, leaflets etc for Children in Need. Aside from that, he willingly gave my daughter, Ruth, invaluable help with a major project for her Art and Design studies. A man a pleasure to have known.’

John Peries: ‘Yes, Tony created the drawing of the Silver Street location that got it out of our imaginations and onto the page to share with others. He was lovely to work with, and it was always good to see him when he passed by Pebble Mill or The Mailbox.’

Mandy Glynn: ‘Really sorry to hear the sad news. I worked with Tony in the Graphics Department at Pebble Mill for 7 years. Tony was a lovely, kind, caring and very talented man. A true gentleman.’

Kim Finch: ‘Lovely Tony took me on as work experience many years ago when I was at uni. It was his enthusiasm that led me to work in the fab graphics department for six years. Lovely memories. Thank you Mr Fisher.’

 

 

The Immigrants’ Programme Unit

The Immigrants’ Programme Unit from pebblemill on Vimeo.

In this specially recorded interview, Stephanie Silk talks about becoming a production assistant in the newly formed Immigrants’ Programme Unit, at BBC Birmingham in 1966.

The Unit made a number of series to support newly arrived immigrants to the United Kingdom. The series that Steph talks about here was an Asian magazine show, with journalistic items, as well as arts and music inserts. It was a studio show, with inserts on film, and was in Hindustani, which was apparently understandable by both Muslim and Hindu viewers. The presenters of the show were Mahendra Kaul, and Saleem Shahed, and head of the Unit was David Gretton, and the studio director, Paul Morby.

Steph

 

 

 

 

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

Peter Poole: ‘I remember Mahendra and Saleem well. An interesting experience trying to edit in Urdu!’

Harry Greene (1923-2013)

Pattie Coldwell, Harry Greene, Gilly Love, Rick Ball

Pattie Coldwell, Harry Greene, Gilly Love, Rick Ball

 

 

 

 

 

Steph Silk & Andy Meikle - On The House

Steph Silk & Andy Meikle – On The House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

The On The House publicity shot includes Harry Greene on the left, Pattie Coldwell above with the wallpaper, Rick Ball with the tape measure and Gilly Love with the drill.

Harry Greene died in March 2013 after collapsing at home. He was in his ninetieth year.

Harry Greene is best known as one of the presenters of On The House, the popular late 1980s DIY television series. Harry made DIY popular and accessible. He began with a career in theatre and television as an actor, and was married to actress, Marjie, with whom he had three children. He wasn’t in fact called ‘Harry Greene’, until he changed his name by deed poll in 1950, from Henry Howard Greenhouse.

Harry was always keen on DIY, but became the first TV DIY presenter in the 1980s when he made a series for Greg Dyke at TV-AM, about the renovation of a neglected house. TV-AM bought the house for the series, and filmed the whole conversion. The completed house was given away in a competition.

Presenting on Pebble Mill’s On The House, was a natural extension for Harry. On The House was the brainchild of Andy Meikle, with Stephanie Silk the programme editor given the task of turning the idea into a successful returning series on BBC 2. The On The House, house was a timber framed building situated in the back garden of BBC Pebble Mill. The house operated as a TV studio, and demonstration area for the series, and you had to remember that there was no plumbing in the house!

For more information about Harry Greene see his son in law, Mike Smith’s blog: http://mikesmithinlondon.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/harry-greene.html?spref=tw. Mike is married to Harry’s daughter, TV presenter Sarah Greene, who presented Pebble Mill’s Good Morning Summer, although she’s probably best known as a Blue Peter presenter.

I worked as a researcher on the last series of On The House in 1989, and enjoyed working with Harry. I remember he kept changing his mind about the size of screws he wanted, and as I’d bought what he’d originally asked for, we didn’t have the right size on location!

Vanessa

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

Julian Hitchcock: ‘What a nice man. The screw size anecdote rings true.
I worked on the first series in, I think, 1986. I’d proposed a DIY series to David Waine, on the basis of the then explosion in DIY shares following the Thatcher reforms and boom in home ownership. David told me that Andy Meikle wanted to do the same thing and that a budget had been scraped together. Stephanie Silk joined to keep order and give the programme glossy lifestyle values etc. Andy was, however, very much the engine of invention. I just gave it its name (prize: one bottle of champagne) and directed gripping items on the installation of damp courses, latest trend in door mats and hammers (leading to the slogan, “On the House, the only programme with hammer glamour).

My recollection is that Andy revered Harry Greene because of an ancient connection with the previous icon of television DIY, Barry Bucknell. Incredibly, Bucknell’s heyday was in the 1950s. There had been nothing in between at all, so we had the satisfaction of breaking new ground, but I think Andy wanted to show the baton being passed on. Our first programme, as I recollect, looked back to Barry Bucknell. We found old footage of Barry boxing in a beautiful spindle staircase (planing off the rounded edges the better to support his streamlined hardboard) and various others acts of vandalism. I’m not sure that Harry quite got the joke (surely Barry had done a good, professional job?) but he was a lovely chap. I also credit Andy, Steph and BBC Birmingham in giving the job to someone of Harry’s age and, frankly, inexperience. He had great warmth, which viewers plainly appreciated.’

Pebble Mill at One – wrap party

End of PM party at Peta's. Magnus, Paul Coia, Steph Silk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo from Maggy Whitehouse, no reproduction without permission.

This photo is from the end of run party for Pebble Mill at One, in May 1986. The party was held at Peta Newbold’s house.

Included in the photo are Magnus Magnusson, Paul Coia, Maggy Whitehouse, David Lancaster, Josephine Buchan, Bob Langley, Steve Weddle, Jane Clement, Bev Wildman (now Thompson), Steph Silk.

Pebble Mill at One Production Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo from Maggy Whitehouse, no reproduction without permission.

The photo is of the ‘Pebble Mill at One’ production team.

Included are, left to right, back row: Magnus Magnusson, Norma Scott, David Lancaster, Josephine Buchan, Anne Varley, Bob Langley, Pat Langley, Steph Silk, Steve Weddle. Crouching: David Weir, Jane Clement, Viv Ellis, Marian Foster, Di Reid.  Front row: Jo Dewar, Beverleigh Wildman (now Thompson), Sue Ashcroft, Peta Newbold, Paul Coia.