Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Weavers Green: A forgotten soap opera

Anglia Television did not much like Emmerdale Farm. It was the last of the old regional ITV companies to schedule the Yorkshire farming soap in a prime evening slot.

The reason for this - ignoring a row over the Belmont transmitting station - was that Anglia had got there first with a rural soap opera, only to see it founder.

BFI Screenonline explains:
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.
The cast of Weavers Green was impressive, with various sources listing actors who had been or would become well known: Megs Jenkins, Dennis Waterman, Susan George, Wendy Richard, Kate O'Mara, John Moulder-Brown.

You can learn more about Weavers Green in this recent ITV News report.

And, thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can watch its rather overemphatic opening titles above.

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