P.A. Course – Gail Herbert’s photos

 

Photos from Gail Herbert, no reproduction without permission.

These photos are of the Production Assistant Course from 1988.  Included in the photos are: Stephanie Ash (CE), Martine Crogan (M/C), Corinne Davies (M/C) , Patti Evans (PM), Gail Herbert (PM), Julia Hickman S&C, Helen Jackson (M/C), Yvonne James (Cardiff), Rebecca Martin (Schools), Deborah Moore (CE), Jennifer Slatter (Plymouth), Lorna Taschini (OU).

Patti Evans worked on many gardening programmes from Pebble Mill, as did Gail, although she also worked on ‘Top Gear’, in John King’s department, and on ‘Points of View’.  Helen Jackson moved down to Pebble Mill from Manchester, and worked on ‘Gardeners’ World’, and other gardening output, before moving south and giving up TV.

Top Gear – Gail Herbert’s photos

Photos copyright of Gail Herbert, no reproduction without permission.

Top Gear, now known as ‘old Top Gear’, was produced at BBC Pebble Mill from 1977-2001.  It was a 30 min magazine show about cars and motor transport.  The presenters included Noel Edmunds, Angela Rippon, Jeremy Clarkson, Tiff Needell, William Woollard, Michelle Newman, Chris Goffey, Vicki Butler-Henderson, Jason Barlow, Tony Mason and Quentin Willson.

When production of Top Gear moved to London in 2002 some of the Birmingham production team, and presenters (Vicki Butler-Henderson, Adrian Simpson, Tiff Needell) moved to Fifth Gear on Channel 5.

Thanks to Gail Herbert, who was a production assistant on Top Gear for making her photos available.  The photos date from around 1990 and include shots of presenters William Woollard and Tiff Needell, producer Ken Pollack, directors Dennis Jarvis and David Wheeler, cameraman John Williams, sound men Tony Wass and Alex Christison, and production assistants Gail Herbert and Sophie Marsh.

David Wheeler, who is featured in these photos, sitting on a donkey, makes the following comment:

 Tony Mason thought it would be amusing to do a PTC from a “4×4” for use on the sand at Weston-Super-Mere. But when I called his bluff he requested that I test drive the thoroughbred before he risked his rally-bred bottom on the beast! After some reassurance he delivered the PTC… ending: “… but I don’t think Nellie here is quite up to it, so I’ll have to find some better transport”. I seem to remember tracking from an open land rover and editing the piece to Echo Beach (Martha and the Muffins) which has a great intro and fab sax solo! Great memories.. enhanced by my trip home in the Astra 2litre, 16valve GTE… “space rocket” as I recall Gail called it!

Gail test driving a Porsche

Top Gear – John Burkhill’s photos

Photos by John Burkill, no reproduction without permission.

These ‘Top Gear’ photos date from 1977 (with the Lotus Esprit and Porsche 928 photos) and 1982 (with the photo of the Ford Granada).  They show early in-car recordings onto 1″ videotape.  The recording machine was the VPR5.  The camera mounted on the Lotus and Porsche is the Bosch Fernseh, which was one of the first ‘lightweight’ cameras, although it was extremely heavy in reality.  The camera mounted on the roof of the Ford Granada is an Ikegami, probably an HL79.  It is being operated by Keith Salmon, director David Weir is holding the gun mic and Tony Wass is on the right-hand side.  Inside the white Granada, Steve Searly is operating the racks control for the VPR5.  John Burkill, VT editor/engineer would have set up the VPR5.

The photos show how cumbersome in-car recording was in the 1970s and 80s in comparison to today, when cameras can be really tiny.

David Weir, Keith Salmon, Tony Wass

Keith Ackrill’s Memories of Working at Pebble Mill

Bob Langley dancing with Ginger Rogers

KEITH ACKRILL – MEMORIES OF PEBBLE MILL

I worked at Pebble Mill on Radio 4 and television, from the day it opened until I left in 1982.  I have very many pleasant recollections of the years I spent there.

The thing you noticed most was the tremendous enthusiasm that permeated the whole staff.

It was the feeling that we were in a brand new building hailed as the biggest combined radio and television complex in Europe.  We were all determined to make Pebble Mill programming a force to be reckoned with.

Hours and hours of top television had the Pebble Mill label.  As well as Birmingham productions, many London drama series were based in the studio or filmed on location, using Birmingham crews.

The Brothers, Poldark, All Creatures Great and Small, Juliet Bravo, Howards Way, even Basil Brush – the list goes on and on.  And that doesn’t include the many classic dramas that were produced in Studio A.

Radio was an important part of the building’s output too.  Radio Two programming found a home there, the Midlands Radio Orchestra was in residence for many years.  Folk music, pop music – every kind of music came from Pebble Mill.  And that’s not forgetting radio drama.   Pebble Mill, of course, was home to The Archers and many other dramas of all kinds were produced alongside, together with some fine radio documentaries.

There were many landmark programmes – Top Gear, Pebble Mill At One, Saturday Night At The Mill – all of which I was fortunate to have worked on.

My main memories from the last programme include talking to actor Robert Wagner, in the hospitality room, about English beer.  I know nothing about beer, but it was worth talking about it just have Natalie Wood’s dark brown eyes focused on me!  I remember sitting across the table from Ginger Rogers and, later, photographing Bob Langley dancing with her – lucky devil – accompanied by Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen, with guest trumpeter James Hunt.  Many, many great stars came to Pebble Mill to take part in the wide range of radio and television programmes that came from within that building.

I miss meeting them, but I also miss the camaraderie of the people I worked with, of being part of a team dedicated to putting broadcasting in the Midlands on the map.