Pebble Mill oral history project

Aiming to preserve a piece of important media history, Dr Vanessa Jackson conducted a series of interviews with staff from the influential BBC Pebble Mill Studios, gaining insight into the production practices it pioneered and the community that worked there.

Pebble Mill Oral History Project


Dr Vanessa Jackson

Research background

This project was conducted in collaboration with the BECTU History Project, and was funded by the Shiers Trust Award through the Royal Television Society. This funding supports the publication of work on any aspect of television history.

Research aims 

This project aimed to record oral histories with former programme makers at BBC Pebble Mill. The BBC studios at Pebble Mill were iconic in the British television landscape during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, and the legacy of the production practices which took place there, and the community built around them, was important to capture.

Research methods 

Video interviews were recorded with a wide range of former BBC staff, with the interview crew made up of BCU students who were paid to participate using the project grant. These videos were placed on the BECTU History Project website ( , and selected excerpts were made available through the ‘What Was Pebble Mill?’ website ( and on Facebook, as a community-building tool. The content of the interviews formed a critical component of Dr Jackson’s PhD research, focused on the history of regional television production.

Research outcomes 

The oral histories documented the lives of key television and radio workers from BBC Birmingham. Data from the interviews has been used in research articles, e.g. quotes from Louise Willcox’s interview are included in an article on the changing position of women in technical television roles, and Head of Broadcasting, David Waine’s interview will form the basis of an article for Critical Studies in Television. Here are links to the full video oral histories: