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…
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.’