Countryfile – Ken Pollock

 

Countryfile team

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regarding Countryfile, it is fun to look at the photograph and recognise old friends/colleagues.
My involvement was to be a producer on Farming, with Martin Small, and Exec John Kenyon. We wanted to acknowledge the large “over the shoulder” audience we had on Farming, and hence wrote the brief for Countryfile. I remember it well, sitting in John Kenyon’s office sketching in the idea, and kicking around names. I came up with the Countryfile name, although we may have thought it should be two words…
Michael Grade, Controller BBC1 accepted the idea, the team went from 4 to 24, and the Countryfile bandwagon started rolling.
After poor Brain Strachan died, there was a vacancy on Top Gear, and John Kenyon told me to get some broader experience, before applying to run Countryfile. So I did, but they did not want me to run Countryfile, as I was supposedly too biased to the farming community and Mike Fitzgerald got the gig.
I stuck with Top Gear and the rest is history…

Ken Pollock

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

Patrick Flavelle: ‘I started on a rolling weekly contract working with Fitz surfacing potential stories at the fag end of Farming…led to working on the show for its first 11 years. Happy days and incredibly boozy Xmas do’s…the one after this photo was very messy!’

Mick Murphy: ‘3rd from right, 2nd row – Sue Lloyd, Director. 1st on the left, front row – Barry Paine, former BBC producer / wildlife narrator, who used to voice over some of our films. Girl behind Fitz is called Sarah…? Great picture. ‘

Jane McLean: ‘John Clarke on the left .. who I went to Russia and Siberia with for Countryfile in 1989. Should try & find the Russian pix. Talk about an eye opener. The director was Dick Colthurst (what happened to him?) and the crew was Nigel Davey, Barrie Foster, Keith Rodgerson and Andy Frizzell. We were force-fed vodka shots 24/7 – honestly! ‘

Pam Relton: ‘Dick is very successful Jane – he went to BBC Bristol after CountryFile and is now MD at Tigress Productions.’

Jane McLean: ‘Good on him. Never heard of Tigress Prods – am SO out of the loop these days re anything telly!’

Viv Ellis: ‘I recognise Yasmine O’Grady looking glam – as ever. I worked on Farming for a few months’

Roy Thompson: ‘Spent a very happy attachment to Countryfile from Wood Norton even getting to direct a piece on arts in rural communities. Very supportive and friendly team.’

Andrea Buffery: ‘This picture would look amazing next to the Countryfile team today. It consists of 30 plus people.’

Steve Johnson: ‘I worked on Countryside for a short time in mid nineties, arranged the filming of the brand new RSPB reserve at Conwy.’

Pam Relton: ‘As a real City girl, CountryFile opened my eyes to so many things. I remember my first shoot – in a battery hen farm, a barn the size of a hanger filled with chickens in cages no bigger than themselves, floor to ceiling, the noise!! I’ve not knowingly eaten anything other than free range, outdoor-reared produce since. I learned so much about the pressures on farmers and producers to comply with the big supermarkets. This was the great thing about working on programmes like this – that open up the issues to do with farming and the countryside to everyone.’

Jane McLean: ‘I was country born & bred Pam – my brother was a pig farmer – and I know exactly what you’re talking about from the other side! ‘

Don Pinchbeck

Don Pinchbeck

Don Pinchbeck

Don, in the centre

Don, in the centre

Children in Need: Jason (postroom) (left), Marie Phillips (Children in Need Organiser) (centre) next to Don

Children in Need: Jason (postroom) (left), Marie Phillips (Children in Need Organiser) (centre) next to Don

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My dad, Don Pinchbeck, worked at Pebble Mill between 1977-2001 as a Studio Attendant, he absolutely loved working for BBC Pebble Mill, he always had great stories about stars that he’d seen and the lovely people he worked with, unfortunately he passed away on 27 Dec 2015 aged 80, a great dad, husband and grandad, much loved and missed. His funeral will be taking place at St Edwards Church, Selly Park on Wed 20 Jan 2016 at 9.30am.

My dad worked at the BBC from retired in 2001 (though he really didn’t want to) he was always based at Pebble Mill, the shows I know he worked on were:

Pebble Mill at One

Telly Addicts

Basil Brush Show

I can’t remember if he worked on the Clothes Show, I know he worked on a similar show with John Leslie hosting it.

The Alan Titchmarsh show

Maybe Top Gear

Children in Need

He mentioned lots of celebrities over the years, probably when Pebble Mill at One was still on, Barry Manilow, Joan Collins, Roger Moore, the stars from the shows above and lots of others.  He received lots of commendations for his hard work over the years which my mom kept.  He took me to a few staff kid’s Christmas parties at the BBC, we went to see Basil Brush a few times, we attended an open day they had for the public in the early 90’s I remember which are great and we went in the audience a few times at Children in Need.  He was very hard working, dad to 5, grandad to 3, great grandad to 2.  He lived in Selly Oak all his life, so he loved working locally and for the Beeb as he called it.

Catherine Pinchbeck

(The show that Catherine mentions, presented by John Leslie, would have been Style Challenge).

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

Les Podraza: ‘I remember Don very well. A great charachter and hard working part of Studio A. Always ready to muck in and help out. So sad he has now departed this world. ‘

Richard Smith: ‘Sad to learn of Don’s death. A lovely, friendly and hard working man, would do anything to help you. Many happy times with him in House Services. In the photos are Jason Edwards, Robert Pash, Alan Evans, Billy Gardner, Frank Barber and Marie Phillips. Condolences to Don’s family.’

Donald Steel: ‘I remember Don very well and with fondness – always the same always cheerful. It was a great gang in those days everybody helped you. So very sorry to hear of his passing.’

Marie Phillips: ‘The group photo was my retirement party in March 1998. Don was not fond of “does”so I was thrilled he and the rest of “my lads” came along. I honestly could not have done so many events for Children in Need without the enthusiasm and often out of hours help given by Don and all of them. He and they were a breed apart and I was forever grateful. Fond memories Don.’

Gill Thompson: ‘I worked with Don looking after the audiences at Pebble Mill, a lovely man and excellent at his job, always smiling and very professional.’

Mary Sanchez: ‘I remember him well from my Pebble Mill days – always really nice and friendly. I also used to see him out and about around Selly Park and we’d wave .’

 

 

Derek Smith – Obituary, from John Williams

Derek Smith, directing regional Top Gear. Photo from Jim Knights, no reproduction without permission

Derek Smith, directing regional Top Gear. Photo from Jim Knights, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have much to thank Derek Smith for. He was the one who gave me my career in the BBC with the chance to join the Film Unit in Carpenter Road. It was him who took me around the world to Singapore and a story on Bishop Wilson. A wonderful story of wonderful people that matched man’s inhumanity to man, with man’s humanity. On to Malaya and a brand-new army base cut into the middle of the jungle complete with married quarters, school, swimming pools and sixty bed hospital, now to be closed by the then Wilson government and left to be devoured by the jungle. When university students were getting very bad press of their happenings during vacations we followed them and found them in Andorra working on the Forna and then on to a farm, living above the cattle in a barn high up in the Austrian mountains giving a holiday to a group of German orphans. We got bored one night and climbed halfway down to a cafe which we expected to be empty, it was packed full of people on some sort of pilgrimage already well awash on the beer and in full song. There was no escape, we were dragged in and expected to sing. My song went well. Derek let us down by singing Lilly Marlene, which was greeted with stunned silence, and he was very seriously asked where did he learn that song. Evidently it was something to do with his time in the Eighth Army, Rommel and the desert during the Second World War. As penance we were each made to drink an enormous glass of beer where upon everyone cheered and laughed and joined in. I don’t remember the rest of the evening!! !!

Then there was Top Gear, not sure if one should mention that, because I think it was Derek who introduced ‘you know who’ and it was me who did the first story, but there is so much more. I like to think Now Get Out of That, was a programme based on a chat Derek and I had together on the reliability and initiative tests we faced whilst training in the forces, and was the forerunner of the many celebrity shows developed along the same lines that are now so successful. My chance to live and fly with the Harrier Jet fighters of One Squadron was all down to Derek, you don’t forget that in a hurry!

Plenty of us should have lots to tell of Derek’s contribution to broadcasting. He was a maverick that thought outside the box and I feel fortunate to have been allowed to work with him. My condolences to all the family.

John Williams

John Williams, cameraman

John Williams, cameraman

 

 

 

 

 

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

Murray Clarke:’Yes – a great director, never afraid to blow the budget and make interesting programmes that viewers really enjoyed watching. And yes, the original Top Gear was his creation.’

Tom Coyne RIP

copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

Midlands Today presenters, 1977. Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former Midlands Today presenter, Tom Coyne (back row, right, in the photo), sadly died over the 2015 Easter weekend, in the Wolverhampton Nursing Home, aged 84.

Tom joined the Midlands Today team when the show started in 1964, at its Broad Street studios, before the building of Pebble Mill. He presented over 4,000 editions of the regional news magazine programme by the time he left the series in 1980. This video is of Tom’s last appearance on Midlands Today, in October 2014:

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152742761389761

Tom Coyne also presented on Pebble Mill at One in the 1970s, as well as Songs of Praise, Come Dancing, and was even one of the founding presenters on  Top Gear, with Angela Rippon in 1977.

Tom also appeared in the Radio 4 drama series, The Archers, for three years, as a Geordie gamekeeper called Gordon Armstrong.

An obituary for Tom Coyne is on the ATV Today website: http://www.atvtoday.co.uk/66995-coyne/.

Derek Smith Obituary

Pebble Mill Shoots 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Photos from Jim Knights, of the regional Top Gear show, somewhere in Europe, no reproduction without permission)

(The following obituary for director, Derek Smith, has been written by his son, Graham Smith).

Derek Smith joined the BBC in Birmingham 1957, working as an assistant producer on the newly created Farming magazine programme. He worked at Gosta Green studios and Carpenter Road.
In the early 1960s he moved on to general programming, as director and producer. He made a number of films about the armed services, including Soldier In The Sun, a film looking at the Royal Anglian Regiment in Aden and Yemen (1964) (The film can viewed on BBC Four Army Collection and i-Player). Singapore Twilight (1965), The Last Outpost, (1965); Men Of Action, (1966); They Speak The Language Anyway (life at a US Air Force base.) (1967).
From the Pebble Mill studios in Birmingham, he made a number of single network documentaries. For The Flight Deck Story, the history of the aircraft carrier, he filmed on board both HMS Eagle and on USS Enterprise off the coast of Vietnam. The film was narrated by actor Kenneth More. (BBC1, Tuesday Documentary 1969)
Mission To Hell followed the Bishop of Birmingham, Leonard Wilson, returning to Singapore to tell his story of war time imprisonment by the Japanese. In the film, he met his former torturer. (BBC 2 1969)
Another military history film Derek made at this time was Jump Jet, the history of the Hawker Harrier. (BBC 1 1970).
A film for the series “The World About Us”, The Lost River Of Gaping Gill showed cavers Sid Perou, Mike Wooding and Tom Brown as they sought to discover the route of an underground river in the Yorkshire Dales. (BBC 2 1970)
Journey Through Summer was a series of six films with actor and writer P.J. Kavanagh, as he viewed Britain through long distance walks. (1974)
Four In Hand was a one-off film with HRH Duke of Edinburgh, demonstrating Carriage Driving. (1974)
A studio based programme Derek devised was Major Minor, a piano competition for 10-13 year-olds. A BBC Midlands programme, repeated on the network, it ran for three seasons and was presented by musician Steve Race.
In 1975, Derek returned to military matters with Return To Dunkirk. On the 35th. anniversary of the evacuation, the film told the story of the men who escaped from a massacre at Esquelbecq. (BBC 2 1975)
Just A Year was a film that followed three of the survivors of the Birmingham pub bombs in November 1974, on their long recovery from injury. (BBC 2 1976)
In March 1977, Derek created a new series for BBC Midlands, Top Gear. The programme ran for nine monthly episodes shown only in the Midlands region. It was presented by Angela Rippon with Tom Coyne. The following year, it became a network show, on BBC 2. Derek continued as series producer until 1986.
An original programme devised by Derek was Now Get Out Of That. It was a competition between two teams testing their survival abilities along with problem solving mental tests over two days. It was filmed on location, with documentary film crews on 16mm. The first two seasons used teams from Cambridge and Oxford Universities, while series three and four were a contest between Britain and the USA. The programmes spanned 1981-84.
After leaving the BBC, Derek spent two years in Saudi Arabia working as a programme controller. He then lived in Spain for five years before returning to Sutton Coldfield. Well into his 70s, he continued to work part-time, as historian on tours to the sites of the Normandy Landings.

Derek Smith. April 16, 1927 – March 17, 2015.

Pebble Mill Shoots 16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Murray Clarke: ‘A very talented director – never afraid to stick his neck out and make interesting programme that really entertained. Yes, I was there with him at the birth of Top Gear in 1977. Love and condolences to his family.’

Conal O’Donnell: ‘A marvellous tribute to the kind of person who made the BBC & pebble Mill ..’