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Weavers Green (1966)

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment Ltd

Main image of Weavers Green (1966)
Anglia Television for ITV, tx. 7/4-24/9/1966
50 x 30 min episodes, black & white
DirectorsJune Howson
 Raymond Menmuir
 Ron Downing
Produced byJohn Jacobs
WritersPeter Lambda
 Betty Lambda

Cast: Maurice Kaufmann (Derek Swan); Marjie Lawrence (Hazel Westcott); Megs Jenkins (Dotty Armstrong); Grant Taylor (Alan Armstrong); Richard Coleman (Jack Royston); Charles Lamb (Bert Vincent); Frederick Piper (Ernie Arkwright); John Glyn-Jones (Daniel Jessop); Denzil Ellis (Reg Hopgood); Gerald Young (Archibald Langley); Vanessa Forsyth (Milly Vincent); Lindsay Campbell (Colonel Fielding); Susan George (Barbara Fielding)

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Village life in East Anglia, seen through the experiences of local vet Alan Armstrong.

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In the 1960s, independent television was dominated by the 'big four' regional companies: ATV, ABC, Granada and Associated Rediffusion. These four produced the majority of programmes for the ITV network, and so it was a surprise when Norwich-based Anglia Television successfully sold them the concept of a twice-weekly drama serial named Weavers Green (ITV, 1966). The serial was envisaged as 'a mirror of country life', and to this end Anglia recorded the majority of the scenes on location, using videotape instead of film. This made the show extremely expensive and it was widely described in the press as the most elaborate and, at £250,000, the most expensive television serial to date. But despite this blaze of publicity and optimism, Weavers Green lasted for only 25 weeks and is barely remembered today, thanks largely to the political machinations of independent television.

Weavers Green was the creation of husband and wife team Peter and Betty Lambda, who after 30 episodes were succeeded by Troy and Ian Kennedy Martin (writing pseudonymously as Tony Marsh). The serial revolved around local vet Alan Armstrong and his wife Dotty and their interaction with local farmers and villagers, chief among them Alan's fellow vet Geoffrey Toms, recently arrived from London with his highly-strung wife Celia, and local farmer and father-to-be Jack Royston. Country living was not idealised, and the difficulties of village life, both for those who were new to the country and those who wished to escape, were sensitively, if a little earnestly portrayed. The cast was strong, and a number of now familiar faces such as Kate O'Mara, Susan George and Wendy Richards made appearances.

But a scheduling decision by ITV dictated that while the weekday episode of Weavers Green would be in peak-time, the weekend episode was only fit for children's hour and, in some regions, a slot opposite Doctor Who (BBC, 1963-89; 2005-). Anglia argued, reasonably, that the high ratings of the weekday episodes would only be matched by a peak-time weekend slot, but amid much publicity in June 1966, ITV announced that Weavers Green would end in September. Anglia accused the network of bullying and what had begun as a simple show about country living ended in acrimony and bitterness. It was no coincidence that years later Anglia was the last ITV region to promote Emmerdale Farm/Emmerdale (ITV, 1972-; often wrongly described as the first rural TV soap) to a peak-time slot.

John Williams

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Video Clips
1. Trouble for Holly (4:15)
2. Farmer Langley gets angry (2:18)
3. Milly joins the surgery (3:16)
Complete episode (24:53)
Emmerdale Farm / Emmerdale (1972-)
Newcomers, The (1965-69)
Pobol y Cwm (1974-)
Soap Opera