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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.

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