Gwen Arthy obituary by Carol Churchill

Gwen Arthy smartening Brian Glover up on ‘Shakespeare or Bust’. Photo by Graham Pettifer, no reproduction without permission


This obituary for Gwen Arthy, by Carol Churchill was published in The Guardian 15 July 2021. Here is the link to the article:

My former boss, Gwen Arthy, who has died aged 94, was head of makeup at BBC Pebble Mill from 1971 until 1985.

Gwen was born in Rochford, Essex, where her father was a baker.
She studied at the Central School of Art and Design in London, later to become Central St Martins. Her first employment was with a troupe of puppeteers, among whom was a young Ronnie Barker. She then moved to the costume-makers Angels, suppliers to film, theatre and TV, where one of her first tasks was to sculpt a nose for the baritone Tito Gobbi to wear in Tosca.

Gwen joined the BBC in London in 1964 to train as a makeup artist, before moving to the BBC studios at Gosta Green in Birmingham and then to the brand new Pebble Mill in 1971, where she became head of makeup. Programmes for which she designed makeup included Shakespeare or Bust (1970), The Brothers (1972), Nuts in May (1976) and Great Expectations (1981). When we worked on Who Pays the Ferryman? (1977), Gwen and I, as her assistant, were required to go to Crete for three months, where we shared many laughs, evenings in tavernas and midnight swims. As a result we became good friends

In 1985 she took early retirement and returned to her roots in Essex, settling in Leigh-on-Sea, where she found a lively artistic community in which she soon became involved. Over the years she became a prolific painter, in many different styles, and as well as having her own show her work was hung in many exhibitions, including the summer exhibition at the Royal Academy.

When ill health made her housebound she missed her art classes and her ability to put paint on canvas more than anything. Her interest in colour, form and texture was an integral part of her life. While she had still been able, she had travelled to many places to paint, in the UK and abroad, but her favourite, to which she returned many times, was the Isles of Scilly.

Gwen’s son, Tim, was given up for adoption in the early 1960s, but happily, in 2005, they were reunited and Gwen got to know her granddaughter, Amber.

While Gwen could be a demanding boss, she was very supportive of her staff and loved spending convivial evenings, and occasional lunchtimes, with them in the BBC Club, doing their best to empty the bar of its stock of Gordon’s gin. Gwen loved her home and garden and always had a cat, the last of whom was called Biscuit.

Carol Churchill


All Memories Great & Small – part 3 Les Podraza

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





















Excerpt from “All Memories Great & Small” by Oliver Crocker

Memories from Les Podraza (Scene Hand)

‘I walked into the Beeb and the receptionist said they didn’t have any jobs, so I said “If you don’t mind, I’ll sit here until you’ve got one…” I sat in Pebble Mill reception for three days! Eventually the personnel manager came down and said “You’re keen aren’t you?” I explained I didn’t want to “work” for a living, I wanted be part of the entertainment industry… Half an hour later, I had a job at the BBC! I joined the staff scene crew and the first major production I worked on was The Brothers. I did five of the seven series of All Creatures, it was brilliant to work on, they were really good times.’

All Memories Great & Small is available to preorder now from Miwk –

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission



Gavin Davies CV

Gavin Davies on Dead Head. Photo by Willoughby Gulachsen, no reproduction without permission

Gavin Davies on Dead Head. Photo by Willoughby Gullachsen, no reproduction without permission

gavin-davies-cv gavin-davies-cv-1Here is production designer, Gavin Davies’s CV, and impressive credits list. I think the CV dates from the mid 1990s when the services of crafts people were hired to Independent companies, following John Birt’s re-organisation of the BBC.

Thanks to Ann Chancellor-Davies for sharing Gavin’s CV. Gavin sadly died some years ago.







The final edit at Pebble Mill

The final edit at BBC Pebble Mill from pebblemill on Vimeo.


This video was recorded by Colin Fearnley on November 23rd 2004, which was the last evening of editing at BBC Pebble Mill. The editors had a get together to mark the occasion. Colin recorded the editors reminiscing about the programmes which had been edited in the VT area, including dramas, like The Brothers, and factual programmes like The Clothes Show. The video finishes with Mike Bloore inviting Tony Rayner and Steve Critchlow to jointly carry out the final edit: attaching the credits on an episode of Dalziel and Pascoe, which Chris Rowlands was editing.

Tony Rayner & Steve Critchlow carry out the final edit

Tony Rayner & Steve Critchlow carry out the final edit

Remembering Pebble Mill – David Norris

Remembering Pebble Mill PP








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

This article, by David Norris, about Pebble Mill appeared in the BBC retirees’ magazine, Prospero, recently.

Thanks to Peter Poole for sharing this article.

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

Keith Brook: ‘Ah, Brothers.

My ‘roll your own’ cigarettes, in brown Rizla papers, featured heavily in the series when Hilary Tindall smoked them in a sophisticated way.
I had to make them fatter to look like imported ciggies. Fair play to the girl, she wasn’t a smoker, but she inhaled my super strong, no filter tip, Old Holborn masterpieces.

The whole series cost me a fortune!!’

Mainly because of the retakes cause by Paddy O’Connell, which required another hastily make one.