Pebble Mill Studios

I had a quick email conversation with Andrew Morgan, Production Assistant and stand-in Director for some episodes, about which studio was used for the interior sets.

You could tell which scenes were shot in a studio, and which were on location. The studio scenes were a lot more crisp visually and the lighting a lot better for interior scenes.

The intention was for there to be a lot more studio work involved in the series. The Greek Film Centre stated that as they had funded a large proportion of the production, most of it should be filmed there. And thankfully it was, as we get to see so much more of Crete’s beauty. It’s hard to see where more studio scenes could have been filmed, really.

I asked Andrew where the studio scenes were filmed – were they in Greece or in the UK? The end credits held the clue – “BBC Birmingham” was displayed at the end. He said it was filmed at Pebble Mill studios in Edgbaston, Birmingham.

The BBC acquired the lease to the site for a peppercorn rent in the 1950s, and plans were drawn up for a new National Production Centre in 1967. Construction was completed in 1971 and was officially opened by Princess Margaret on the 10th June 1971.

There were 2 main studios, A and B. A measured 6,500 square feet, B measured 40 x 25 feet, and was used for local news and sport programmes. Studio C was added later – the foyer was converted into a studio once the reception was moved elsewhere. This is where programmes like ‘Pebble Mill at One’ were filmed.

Pebble Mill closed in 2004 once all technology from the site was transferred to The Mailbox in Birmingham City Centre and the BBC Drama Village at the Selly Oak campus of the University of Birmingham. This was due to various factors – problems with the lease, the way in which TV programmes were now being produced, and also because of ‘concrete cancer’, which affected parts of the site. The building was eventually demolished in 2006.

The site is now home to a dental hospital.

Photos from the Birmingham Mail, there are more on their website.

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