Saturday, 4 January 2014

Frank Bellamy and Waggoner's Walk

Andy's neat idea of an Advent Calendar inspired me to get out a copy of a specific image by Frank Bellamy from the Radio Times that I suspect many will never have seen before.

RADIO TIMES (06/03/1976 - 12/03/1976) page 36
I'm pretty sure that it was this image which finally convinced me in 1976 to start collecting Bellamy's published works.

The BBC say this about Waggoner's Walk:

As The Dales finally came to an end in the spring of 1969, Radio 2 launched its own soap, Waggoners Walk. This was a very different animal from the comfortable Dales or Archers and featured storylines about illegitimacy, homosexuality, abortion and a host of other hot social topics. It overtook The Archers in popularity and by the early seventies was attracting audiences of over 4 million. This did not save it from being axed in the midst of an economy drive in1980, however.

 Wikipedia says a little more:

Waggoners' Walk was a drama series that was broadcast on BBC Radio Two in 15-minute episodes, broadcast on weekday afternoons and repeated the following morning, and ran from April 1969 until 1980. It was set in an estate in Hampstead with most storylines involving the various tenants of No 1 Waggoners Walk, a large town house divided into several flats. Characters featured in the series included the Vaughan family (original owners of No 1), newspaper editor Mike Nash and his wife, Claire, and Lynn and Matt Prior, who ran a restaurant. The programme ceased broadcasting in 1980. When the BBC, as part of cut-backs, axed the series, they rejected a request from Capital Radio to take over the series. Actors who acted in the series included the Australian actor Barry Creyton. The series was created by Jill Hyem and Alan Downer and written by (amongst others) Peter Ling.


Jill Hyem, has a webpage about her experiences of choosing writing for the radio as opposed to TV acting - and further reading shows me she was behind the fantastic Tenko TV series!

Tim Brook in British Radio Drama - a cultural case history states:

Waggoner's Walk threw itself into social problems such as abortion, child custody, hypothermia, murder, and confrontations of every kind. By 1974 it had an audience of four million listeners which was much higher than the Archers. There was even a competition so that listeners could write their own plots. The suggestion that the whole cast board a bus which was then driven over the edge of a cliff was somewhat portentous because the series was axed in June 1980 as part of a money-saving plan.

So it looks (from my underlining of the above) that this was a script idea, to include a competition with a prize of £50 (now worth £305).

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If you need your fix of Waggoner's Walk, try AudioBoo for a compilation of clips and Andy Walmsley's page and the latter revisits Waggoner's Walk too with more details.

It's interesting how serendipitous Bellamy research is.... my mother-in-law lives between Skegness and Boston in Lincolnshire, and in Sibsey, a small village nearby, there's a Waggoner's Walk! Or am I still looking for some sort of meaning to what I do hear and therefore seeing patterns where there are none! That's Essays In Love by Alain de Botton's influence on me.


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