TV Cream

TV: P is for...

Pebble Mill at One

That pesky acidic soil draws Pete's ire yet againIMPERIAL LUNCHEON appointment and always a highlight of any school skive, here dwelt the esteemed likes of DONNY MACLEOD, BOB LANGLEY, TOM COYNE and MARIAN FOSTER, holding forth in the foyer of the Beeb’s Birmingham studios with chat, music, cookery and celebrity in equal dosage. It was all here, and all wonderful: PETER SEABROOK in the garden; DR WHO monsters; MICHAEL SMITH cooking a roast; bodypoppers; breakdancers; numerous pieces of military hardware landing on the forecourt outside; GERARD KENNY doing ‘New York New York (So Good They Named It Twice)’ for weeks on end; pets who looked like their owners; pets doing obstacle courses; pets owned by celebrities; pets who looked like their owners who were celebrities; OLIVER REED doing trouserless dancing; OWEN PAUL forgetting to mime; kids doing ballet dancing; kids doing rock dancing; GEOFF CAPES or GIANT HAYSTACKS lifting two grown men; EILEEN FOWLER doing exercises for biddies; ARTHUR NEGUS and his antiques; competitions to visit the studio; competition winners on a tour of the studio; competition winners and their drawings/costumes/makes lined up along one side of the studio; and PAUL GAMBACCINI. Latterly taken over by MAGNUS MAGNUSSON who preferred doing interviews in “more decorous surroundings” than outside on the lawn, and who ruined everything. Dropping by: PAUL COIA, JOSEPHINE BUCHAN, ANNA FORD, TONY FRANCIS, PHILIP TIBENHAM and DAVID SEYMOUR. Axed by Michael Grade, although Magnus assured us “there will still be programmes from BBC Birmingham”. Turned out to be the rubbish DAYTIME LIVE. SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE MILL spin-off was the perfect end-of-evening tonic courtesy of (usually) KENNY BALL AND HIS JAZZMEN, a stand-up, a sit-down celebrity and a frosty MISS ELAINE PAIGE.

Grist to the Mill



  1. Chris Hughes

    July 19, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    “But first, before all that, will you give a warm Pebble Mill welcome to… Wall Street Crash/Stutz Bear Cats/Manhattan Transfer!” (Harvey and The Wallbangers if wet).

  2. TV Cream

    July 19, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    “…Gerard Kenny!”

  3. Glenn Aylett

    July 19, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    Or if none of these were available, the Kings Singers. Sadly the once mighty Pebble Mill studios are no more, replaced by a converted sorting office in the middle of Birmingham. Actually quite a good magazine show that knocks spots off This Morning.

  4. Ian Jones

    July 19, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    That’s something of a rewriting of history, Glenn. When Pebble Mill ended, it was a far cry from the cosy supper club of the 70s. It was a silly mess of a show. The most admirable thing about the first incarnation of This Morning (and there were many) was the way it captured the essence of imperial Pebble Mill, added a deft helping of new ideas, and generally brought the format right up to date – in a manner the Mill itself, sadly, failed to do. This Morning, certainly during its Liverpool era, was the show Pebble Mill should have evolved into. Instead we got Daytime Live.

  5. Glenn Aylett

    July 20, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    And don’t forget Good Morning with Anne and Nick. Pebble Mill in its imperial phase was very good and a well liked programme which had a few spin off shows. I was mostly commenting on how this once familiar building is no more and how the changes in demands for studio space have seen the BBC move to a converted sorting office in the middle of Birmingham.

  6. Rob Williams

    July 22, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Yes, but always used go well with Tomato Soup though of a lunchtime back from nursery school. Bob Langley and his fruity welsh tones, plus also Peter Seabrook always about to nip off and get some compost from B and Q…

  7. beverley piper

    August 12, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    I presented a 6 week series on microwave cookery on Pebble Mill at One, with Josephine Buckan, just before it was axed. I still work as a freelance home economist/ cookery writer and wonder what happened to Josephine?
    I simply loved working on the programme, which went out live every lunch time. Altho my very first experience of TV, I soon learned to relax with the help and support of a very friendly team.
    Happy memories!

    • TV Cream

      August 12, 2010 at 3:19 pm

      Beverley – comments like this make our day, so thanks for dropping by. As for Josephine, she’s a theatre producer nowadays. Have a look at her site.

  8. William Murray

    January 13, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    I was on Pebble Mill in 1972 at the tender age of 4 when I came second in a painting competition. I can’t remember that much about it. We had a tour of the studio, a great lunch then they asked me if I wanted to be on TV. I said No, but Tom Coyne just picked me up. I can remember looking into the camera and seeing the autocue.

    I won a Littlenose book and a voucher I think.

    I have searched for the clip of my appearance many times but never had any luck, so I expect it no longer exists.

  9. Zastrozzi

    September 13, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    I was unbelievably shocked a few years ago to hear Seabrook on a debate on the radio, talking about peat (of course) and why we should keep using it, and basically being the nastiest piece of work you could hope to hear – accusing everyone else of lying and basically saying ‘to hell with the environment, what about my geraniums?’ It was like getting punched in the face by Paddington Bear.

  10. Richard16378

    September 13, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    There’s a few celebs who’s shown their true colours like that.

    Quite disturbing when it’s someone you once looked up to.

  11. Steve

    September 22, 2013 at 8:32 am

    Don’t forget Jeff Banks, he had a fashion slot which was the precursor to The Clothes Show

    I also remember an American or Canadian woman who talked about alternative therapies.

  12. Sonny Jim

    October 24, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    The BBC jumped ship out of Birmingham when the show ended. The Studios were flattened, to make way for what is now a Dental hospital & School of Dentistry! Which is ironic: a load of pain & terror, to be replaced by more pain & terror!

  13. Glenn Aylett

    July 17, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    There was a revival in the early nineties with Judi Spiers, which was OK. It was memorable one day when a comedian( can’t remember his name) commented on Judi wearing stockings, causing her to blush with embarassment.

    • richardpd

      July 17, 2020 at 11:40 pm

      I remember occasionally seeing the 1990s Pebble Mill when I had free afternoons at college.

      I’ve wondered if Victoria Wood’s Margery & Joan were based on presenters on this.

  14. Glenn Aylett

    September 25, 2022 at 11:29 am

    I always remember Pebble Mill for two things, usually being off school with the flu and the theme tune with shots of the studios from the air. ( The original theme tune, As You Please, was far better than the tepid replacement in the eighties). Always seemed to feature at least one military band marching each series, a helicopter landing, and Sophia Loren doing an interview. Great show and part of a tradition of middle brow magazine shows like Afternoon Plus and This Morning in the nineties that made having a bad cold enjoyable.

  15. Richardpd

    September 25, 2022 at 12:30 pm

    My Mum really liked the original incarnation of this, as there wasn’t much interesting daytime TV for a long time, she used to have a spin-off book which probably went into a charity bag years ago.

    I can remember there was quite a bit of fuss over it being axed when BBC1 revamped their daytime schedules, & it had lost too much ground to This Morning & other daytime shows when it was brought back.

    No mention of Owen Paul missing his cue for My Favourite Waste Of Time yet!?

  16. Glenn Aylett

    September 25, 2022 at 2:58 pm

    @ Richardpd, the BBC only really had Pebble Mill At One and Watch With Mother in daytime until they launched a full daytime schedule in 1986, while ITV ran a full daytime schedule from 1972 onwards. I do recall when Pebble Mill was axed in 1986 and replaced by Neighbours, some viewers weren’t happy, but the BBC could say the decision was the right one as Neighbours became far bigger than Pebble Mill.
    I do recall the BBC’s rival to This Morning, again from Pebble Mill, Good Morning( hardly original title) being a rag bag of a show and Anne Diamond talking like she was addressing a class of children. No wonder This Morning whopped Good Morning in the ratings, it had two great presenters, a great location on the Albert Dock and was like Pebble Mill, with a serious article followed by a competition.

  17. Richardpd

    September 25, 2022 at 9:56 pm

    Schools programmes had been on BBC1 up to 1984, I’m not sure what was shown for the time between them moving to BBC2 & the revamp.

    I remember Good Morning not being as good as This Morning & the BBC gave up on it in around 1996.

  18. Droogie

    September 26, 2022 at 11:25 pm

    I remember being allowed to stay up as a kid for Saturday Night At The Mill. Kenny Ball and his jazzers always looked like they’d had a few ( though to be fair you need to be pissed too to enjoy listening to trad jazz bands.) I also recall Ollie Reed in terrifying form dropping his trousers and trying to do a Max Wall dance and insisting interviewer Tony Lewis do the same thing too .

  19. Glenn Aylett

    September 27, 2022 at 8:11 pm

    @ Droogie, Oliver Reed was a legend on every show he appeared on and I reckon he was booked just to see what stunt he’d pull next and get the ratings up.

    • Droogie

      October 1, 2022 at 12:30 am

      @GlennAylett Indeed. But I always felt sorry for him for that. His drunken buffoon TV chat show alter ego affected his movie career because he always felt he had to live up to the hellraiser side. Shame, as he was always the consummate professional on set. It would’ve been interesting to see if his Hollywood career had taken off. He was supposedly the 1st choice to play Robert Shaw’s character in The Sting. And one can only imagine him as Hannibal Lecter .

      • Richardpd

        October 1, 2022 at 12:01 pm

        Yes it tended to overshadow his acting ability.

  20. Richardpd

    September 27, 2022 at 10:20 pm

    Supposedly Oliver Reed was deliberately supplied with plenty to drink before an infamous appearance on The Word.

    • Droogie

      October 1, 2022 at 12:16 am

      @RichardPd. That Word episode was horrible. They tried to stitch Ollie up with hidden cameras and endless booze in his dressing room to watch him come up a cropper . Paul Kaye pre-Dennis Pennis played a fake PR person there to wind Ollie up by being deliberately annoying. Ollie supposed got him in a corner and squeezed his throat telling him to desist from being a c**t. The legendary comedian Bill Hicks was on The Word sofa that night too and was visibly disgusted at the CCTV footage of Reed drinking in his dressing room being shared with the studio audience.

      • Richardpd

        October 1, 2022 at 12:03 pm

        I think the Word also slipped up when they invited Barry White on, with someone behind the scenes calling him The Walrus Of Love right to his face & didn’t realise he didn’t like this nickname & refused to appear on screen.

  21. Glenn Aylett

    October 1, 2022 at 8:13 pm

    The Word probably helped to destroy The Happy Mondays( not a bad thing) as Shaun Ryder was off his head when he was interviewed in 1992 and the band did a terrible live performance that people probably realised they were a bunch of useless druggies whose time had passed. Also Stinking Thinking was nominated by Melody Maker for being the worst single of 1992 and it was abysmal( Ryder singing some dirge on a refuse truck FFS).

    • Richardpd

      October 1, 2022 at 10:02 pm

      Their Yes Please album managed to finish off both The Happy Mondays & Factory Records.

  22. Glenn Aylett

    October 2, 2022 at 12:19 pm

    @ Richardpd, Ryder and Bez spent a year making the album in the Carribean, where they were off their heads most of the time, and by the time Yes Please was released, Madchester was dead and buried and no one was interested. The appearance on The Word can’t have helped either.

    • Richardpd

      October 5, 2023 at 10:16 pm

      Yes Please was produced by Tina Weymouth & Chris Frantz, who must have thought David Byrne was easy to work with by comparison!

  23. Palimpsest

    October 5, 2023 at 3:36 am

    Help my ailing memory! My recollection informs me that there was a, possibly Scandinavian, stop-motion animated short about an igloo dwelling penguin presumeably set at the South Pole. The whole thing was either spoken in gibberish or something like Swedish and would occasionally feature a penguin Antagonist whose main feature was a terrifying set of sharp looking teeth. This short tended to be shown mid-program sometime around 1975 and bore similarities to Pingu, which according to online sources started many years later. I don’t think I imagined this…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top