Friday, 19 November 2010


BBC Pebble Mill Studios, Birmingham

About six years or so ago, I accompanied a friend on a business
trip to Birmingham and, whilst there, took the opportunity to visit the
famous BBC PEBBLE MILL studios.  PEBBLE MILL AT ONE was a
daily lunchtime show that originally ran from around 1972 or '73 until
1986.  (It was revived in 1991 to 1996 - simply titled "Pebble Mill" -
with a new cast of presenters).

Donny MacLeod
I remember watching the original
incarnation back in the '70s, either
on my dinner-break during school or
work, and there was usually at least
one feature or interview which  was
interesting enough to delay me from
stirring from my chair when I should
have.  The original presenters (I think -
no research spared) were MARION FOSTER, BOB LANGLEY, DAVID
SEYMOUR and DONNY MacLEOD.  In fact, big Donny once presented a
programme about the MOD (a huge festival about Scottish and Gaelic music)
from my home town, and - if memory serves - I think I actually saw him
wandering about my local shopping centre at the time.

Anyway, there I was, sitting in my friend's car, outside the now
nearly deserted studios.  (Although there still seemed to be a trickle of
traffic in and out the main gates, suggesting that it was not yet completely
abandoned.)  Parked in the very street that I (and a significant portion of
the population) had hitherto only ever seen through the studio windows
as Marion, Bob, Dave or Donny interviewed some second-rate celebrity
eager to plug his or her latest book or record.

Pebble Mill logo
I couldn't miss the opportunity.
Leaving my friend in the car (he was
too scared to accompany me), I got out
and wandered over to the unmanned
security booth outside the main gates
of the entrance to the car park.  I smiled
into the camera, gave a thumbs-up, and -
open sesame - the gates swung inward
to allow me access.  I was in.

I spent the next 20 minutes wandering around the back of the studio,
exploring the famous gardens from which PETER SEABROOK had
presented his segment of the show.  (I now wish I'd lifted that
abandoned plastic watering jug as a memento.)

Emboldened by my easy invasion of the Mill, I made my way around
to the front of the building, just in time to see a security guard returning
with his lunch from a nearby cafe or snack van.  "Any chance of seeing
inside, mate?" I ventured.  "Sure, c'mon in", he replied.  (Friendly lot, those
Brummie natives.)  And so it was that I found myself in the actual reception
area of those iconic studios - the same reception area that absolutely every
major star (and quite a few minor ones) who had ever appeared on the show
would have had to pass through on entering the building.  I spent the next 10
minutes chatting with the guard and his colleague, and then - remembering
that my friend would probably be wondering what had happened to me -
prepared to take my leave.  However, not for nothing am I known as
"Gordie the Bold" amongst my compatriots - I wasn't finished
pushing my luck yet.  "Any chance of a souvenir?" I asked.

And that, dear readers, is how a magnificent, two foot long BBC
RESOURCES magnetic-strip sign came to adorn the door of my fridge.
I came, I saw, I conquered - and I left with a trophy.  A trophy, I might add,
which now resides in the very house in which I originally viewed the show
back in the '70s.  Anyone who regularly watched the programme was as
familiar with that Birmingham street (a cul-de-sac) as the one outside
their own window - unlike most viewers, however, I was actually there.
Sadly, the building was demolished in 2006 - and thus vanished
yet another iconic landmark from the '70s.

The Pebble Mill site as it is today


Anonymous said...

Fond memories of 'The Mill' in the early 70s when home alone on a sickie from school. Before ITV started transmitting all day in 1973 it was a case of watching anything at all. Ironically this tended to be mostly programmes for schools. Ah we'll there was always Unclre Raymondo with his recipie of the day to look forward to on the swinging Radio 1 Jimmy Young Show! Try telling the youth of today how hard we had it back in the 70s!

Cheers, Ken.

PS playing catch up with your excellent blog. Being of roughly the same age, it strikes many a nostalgic chord or two.

Kid said...

Glad you're enjoying it, Ken. It makes the effort I put into it worthwhile.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...