Norman Painting’s Piano

Photo by Martin Fenton, no reproduction without permission












This photo by Martin Fenton, shows the piano in Pebble Mill’s Radio Studio 3. It was this piano which was played by Norman Painting, who played the role of Phil Archer, in The Archers. Norman Painting died in 2009, aged 85. He played Phil Archer from the start of the Radio 4 soap in 1950. Additionally, Norman wrote over 1,000 scripts for The Archers between the mid 1960s and early 1980s. He also wrote two books about the series: Forever Ambridge in 1975, and his autobiography, Reluctant Archer in 1982.

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

Jane Partridge: ‘I remember Studio 3 – little cubby hole by studio standards (actually about the size of our living room) – rather like Studio B was for the TV lot (only needed to be big enough for a camera dolly and a presenter!). Pity the old building is no longer there, but the memories remain. (I worked in Communications & Engineering Services on the third floor before marrying one of the communications engineers (36 years ago in June!) and ending up in Props until our eldest daughter was born in 1984).’

Lynn Cullimore: ‘Norman was also very knowledgeable about plants etc. and I did a series with him called The Garden Game and Gardens of Delight. He was great to work with and I managed to see him just before he died. Yep, remember the piano too.’

Jane Ward: ‘Norman loved playing piano duets and duos for two pianos. I once went to his house for the day and we spent the entire time having a ball playing through loads of duet repertoire he had…it was such an enjoyable day!
I played the Studio 3 piano for the programme a few times when they needed a pianist and Norman happened not to be in…
Loved the Studio three stairs with various acoustic properties…and the kitchen sink!’









1984 Spring and Summer line-up













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

This page from the 1984 Pebble Mill News, includes an article about David Waine’s press briefing about Pebble Mill’s output: 500 hours of network TV, 1,000 hours of network radio, and 160 hours of regional television. Highlights include a new Saturday night light entertainment show, new series of Top GearKick Start and Top Sailing, as well as Now Get Out of That, Gardeners’ World, Asian Magazine, and Gharbar. On the drama front there is mention of The Groundling and the Kite, Phoebe, The Amazing Miss Estelle, and Morte d’Arthur. 

Network Radio was also busy, with a new Radio 4 series of Enterprise, and Rollercoaster,  as well as hosting a Schools Radio Festival hosted by Sue Lawley, Rolf Harris and Duncan Goodhew.

In regional television there were new series of, Midlands Sound and Midlands Tonight, and a television version of Malcolm Stent’s Radio WM series, In the Barmaid’s Arms.

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

Peter Poole: ‘I worked on The Barmaid’s Arms in Studio A. They had a good band called The Nightriders. This was before producer choice. After that regional TV could never afford Studio A.’

Pete Simpkin: ‘As producer of the Radio version of the Barmaids it was quite pleasant to be a member of the audience with the real beer and not have to worry about anything! I do remember that someone had crafted a tiny hole in the chest of Malc’s shirt to take the cable for his personal mic.’

Lynn Cullimore: ‘Yes, Peter it was Mike Sheridan and the Nightriders…I was the PA and I loved it. Malc was wonderful to work with and i did many programmes with him. Malcolm is still going too..doing shows and things. Mary someone or other did a brilliant set for it…cannot remember her other name but she was very good.’

Peter Poole: ‘Hi Lynn, it was great when regional TV could do shows like this. Do you remember who the producer was? Malcolm often did warm up for PM at One. He always did a great job entertaining the audience.’

Lynn Cullimore: ‘The Producer was John Clarke whom I worked with for a long time. I did many Studio A programmes at one time – do you remember The Garden Game?’

Stuart Gandy: ‘I do remember The Garden Game. Wasn’t it on during the Friday night opt slot? In those days regional programmes had two opt slots per week.’

Peter Poole: ‘I remember John he was great producer and a very nice man. It’s amazing the programmes produced on such small budgets. I didn’t work on The Garden Game but do remember it. One of the many panel shows in Studio A. I always enjoyed working on regional TV programmes. The production teams were lovely people.’