Anna of the Five Towns – photos by Willoughby Gullachsen



















Photos by Willoughby Gullachsen, no reproduction without permission.

This 1985, 4 part drama series was directed at Pebble Mill by Martyn Friend, and produced by Colin Rogers.  John Harvey wrote the adaptation of Arnold Bennett’s novel, set in the potteries in the 1890s.  Bob Chaplin was the lighting director and Michael Edwards the production designer.  Dave Baumber recorded sound (Dave is the one with the moustache and not a lot of hair in the close up photo). Sue Bennett-Urwin was the 1st A.D., and can be seen directing in the last black and white photo. Filming took place in the Isle of Man in 1984, amongst other places.  This is where the photo of the cast and crew was taken.  The black and white photos were taken at the Black Country Museum near Dudley.

The series starred Linsey Beauchamp as Anna Tellwright, Emrys James as Ephraim Tellwright, Peter Davison as Henry Mynors, Anton Lesser as Willie Price and Anna Cropper as Mrs Sutton.

I believe that Anna of the Five Towns was the first location drama at Pebble Mill to be recorded single camera on video tape.  Please add a comment if you can confirm this, or can identify people in the photo of the cast and crew.

Group picture – either side of Jim Clelland (2nd on the left) are Dick Bentley (OB Lighting) and Ray Sperry (Engineer). Joyce Hawkins (Costume), Sally Englebach (Design) and Lesley Perry (Make-up) in the centre amongst others. Paul Woolston (Senior Cameraman) on right and also on camera in the tracking shot.  From costume Terry Powell, Mark Ridley,  Sally Pearson who sadly is not with us any more,  Rachel Selby.  The chap with the bald head and the moustache is Dave Baumber (sound), next to him is editor Ivor Williams and Steve Neilsen.  Infront of Dave, I think is P.A. Sally Daniels.

(Thanks to Dave Bushell, Terry Powell, Stuart Gandy, Jane Clement, Annie Gumbley and Russell Parker for their help in identifying people).


Soundman, Hugh O’Donnell – photo by Willoughby Gullachsen

Photo by Willoughby Gullachsen, no reproduction without permission.

This photo was dates from the late 1980s.  The soundman is Hugh O’Donnell, and the drama is probably ‘Shalom Salaam’, working title ‘Coming Together’ – I think it’s a great photo!

Thanks to Dave Bushell and Bev Dartnall for identifying who it is of.


‘A Box of Swan’ -photos by Willoughby Gullachsen

Adrian Dunbar (John)

Sandy Ratcliff, Pete Postlethwaite, Hilary Sesta, Adrian Dunbar

Photos by Willoughby Gullachsen, no reproduction without permission.

A Box of Swan was a ‘Debut on Two’ drama produced at Pebble Mill, transmitted on 9th Oct 1990 on BBC 2.  Alan David Price wrote the script, and  it was produced by Vicky Licorish and Philippa Giles, Diana Patrick was the director.

The BFI database describes the drama as a:

‘Play about a young man brought back to his roots by the death of his father, a road sweeper for 27 years. John moved to London to further his career as an architect, but his ambivalent feelings towards his family are brought to a head when he returns home for the funeral.’

The film starred Pete Postlethwaite as Tony, Adrian Dunbar as John, Hilary Sesta as Mother, Sandy Ratcliff as Patricia and Bryan Pringle as Father.

Thanks to Dave Bushell, who was the lighting director, for identifying the drama from the photos.  Dave remembers that there were six plays in all on ‘Debut on Two’, two filmed on location and four in Studio A. They were written by new writers with established actors. The locations for ‘Box of Swan’ included an Italian restaurant and a undertaker’s chapel-of-rest, in Bearwood, West Midlands.

The other ‘Debut on Two’ plays were  Kingdom Come, Widow of Vulnerability, The Wake, Breast is Best, and the Conversion of St Paul. They were a similar idea to the ‘Second City First’ series of studio dramas from the 1970s, which also featured new talent, and particularly new writers.

Pete Postlethwaite – photos by Willoughby Gullachsen

Photos by Willoughby Gullachsen, no reproductions without permission.

Since Pete Postlethwaite’s death was announced yesterday, I thought it would be fitting to post up a photo of him from a Pebble Mill drama production.  Pete Postlewthaite acted in several Pebble Mill productions including Martin Chuzzlewit, and the drama shown here.

Pete Postlethwaite was born in 1946 and died aged 64, after a long battle with cancer.

Unfortunately I don’t know which drama this photos is from – so if you can identify it, I’d be very grateful.  It looks to date from around the late 1980s.



Pete Postlethwaite and others

‘Survival of the Fittest’ – photos Willoughby Gullachsen





















Photos by Willoughby Gullachsen, no reproduction without permission. Survival of the Fittest was a Screen One drama, produced at Pebble Mill by Carol Parks, directed by Martyn Friend and written by Julian Mitchell, transmitted in 1990.

The drama starred Timothy West as Geoffrey Cowper, Jean Anderson as Molly Cowper, Nerys Hughes as Betty Trinder, Elizabeth Spriggs as Eileen Blackett, Timothy Davies as Chris Trinder and Joanna Brookes as June Trinder.

The BFI Database describes Survival of the Fittest as a:

‘Dark comedy that looks at what happens when a fiercely-independent 80-year-old widow becomes too frail to live alone. Molly Cowper is determined to stay in her own home, even though she has recently had a mild heart attack. Not wanting to be alone at night, she makes elaborate plans to ensure that neighbours will sleep in her house. Supervised by her long-suffering son Geoffrey an agreement is drawn up so that Chris Trinder and Eileen Blackett will stay there at agreed times. Her arrangements begin to fall apart however, when Chris dies of a heart attack and her dog is run over. Although Geoffrey tries to sort things out Molly still tries to enforce her wishes, riding roughshod over all of them with devastating consequences.

The second photo shows members of the crew including l to r: Sound Recordists Kirsten Jones, Roger Slater; Production Assistant, Jane Barton; and Production Manager, John Greening.Save