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Pebble Mill at One was a British television magazine programme that was broadcast live weekdays at one o'clock on BBC1, from October 2, 1972 to May 23, 1986 and again from October 20, 1991 to May 25, 1996. It was transmitted from the Pebble Mill studios of BBC Birmingham, and uniquely, was hosted from the centre's main foyer area, rather than a conventional television studio. Two weeks after the show began, ITV launched a brand new daytime line-up, including an ITN News bulletin at lunchtime, placing it in direct competition with Pebble Mill.

Only a handful of the programmes are known to survive. However, one episode that does survive from the early years celebrated the tenth anniversary of Doctor Who in 1973, featuring interviews with Patrick Troughton and visual effects designer Bernard Wilkie, which is included on the special features of The Three Doctors DVD.

Intro, 1979[edit | edit source]


BBC Pebble Mill At One Opening Titles, 1979

Cancellation[edit | edit source]

In 1986, Bill Cotton, then Managing Director of Television at the BBC, decided that a full daytime service was required on BBC1. As part of this new service, the decision was taken by BBC1 controller Michael Grade to replace Pebble Mill at One with a new lunchtime news bulletin, the One O'Clock News. Over 30,000 viewers wrote to the BBC to complain.

Presenters[edit | edit source]

Presenters during the long run included Jan Leeming, Donny MacLeod, Fern Britton, Marian Foster, Debi Jones, Bob Langley, Tom Coyne, David Seymour, Magnus Magnusson, Alan Titchmarsh, Chris Baines, Josephine Buchan, Judi Spiers, and Paul Coia. Editors for the show included Terry Dobson, Jim Dumighan, and Peter Hercombe.

Memorable Moments[edit | edit source]

On September 20, 1979, the show was visited by a Sea Harrier aircraft flown by Lieutenant Commander Nigel "Sharkey" Ward, which landed (and later took off) vertically, on the adjacent BBC Social Club's football pitch.

The programme returned the favour on April 7, 1986 by transmitting a live programme from the newly launched aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal in the English Channel. This programme attracted its highest ever audience of nearly six million viewers.


Pebble Mill - Owen Paul cock up

One of Pebble Mill at One's more frequently repeated scenes was in 1986 when Marian Foster introduced pop act Owen Paul who was to perform his hit "My Favourite Waste of Time". He was to mime to a backing track but could not hear the foldback loudspeaker as it had failed, so was seen standing looking into camera while the music played and his recorded voice was heard.

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