Reminiscences from Kenneth MacLeod of "Westward Diary"

Kenneth Macleod at his home in Surrey on August 15th 2000

Kenneth Macleod at his home in Surrey on August 15th 2000

Following my visit to interview Westward Television’s Kenneth MacLeod in August 2000, he sent me these reminiscences to be included on my website “Westward Shrine”. That website is now defunct, so I am republishing these memoirs here to allow them to be able to be read.

Childhood days

My earliest days were in Kent and my first memories are of Broadstairs, where we lived. It was a wonderful place for a child. I have fond memories of it and regard it as home. We were not a conventional family. My mother and father were both in the theatre and were married during a run of “Joy Bells”, a highly successful musical starring George Robey, which ran for two years. The arrival of the “Talkies” and the depression meant fewer lavish musicals. Dad was forced to find other work. After various selling jobs, he found regular work at Manston airport but the money was poor. He supplemented this by playing piano in a dance band, working as a Tote clerk at dog races and extra waiting at odd functions (not to mention the occasional appearance at the Bohemia Theatre, Broadstairs).
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"We poor buggers would go on every night and get slaughtered and crucified" – 'Westward Diary' presenter Kenneth MacLeod talks in 2000

Kenneth Macleod at his home in Surrey on August 15th 2000 when I interviewed him

Kenneth MacLeod at his home in Surrey on August 15th 2000

I used to run a tribute website for Westward Television called “Westward Shrine”. You can see it here via the miracle of the Wayback Machine on http://www.archive.org. Westward Television was the ITV franchise for the Westcountry from 1961 to 1981. I used to love it as a kid, and have always been fascinated in memorabilia about it.

After some correspondence with his daughter via a chance internet search, I was extremely privileged and honoured to be invited by Kenneth MacLeod to go to his home in Surrey on August 15th 2000. I spent a wonderful two hours with Kenneth. He was on a great form and, looking back on it, I was extremely fortunate to be able to record the following transcript where he talks in depth about the old days of Westward Television. Kenneth MacLeod sadly died on January 31st 2003.

The topics we talked about were: Continue reading

Doctor in the House episode written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman

A bit of a gem this, that reminds us of John Cleese’s strength as a comedy writer and his work outside of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers. This Doctor in the House series was a fantastic success, showing at peak time on Saturday evening on ITV, via London Weekend Television. JC and GC wrote this opening episode. Bill Oddie and Graeme Garden, of “Goodies” fame, wrote most of the episodes, with Barry Cryer and Bernard McKenna also writing. A wider writing team wrote the subsequent Doctor at Large.

This is very funny, and shows the talent of Barry Evans, as Michael Upton, who was always my favourite character in the series.

The USA: The clue is in the title – and it is the greatest example of pooled sovereignity between states

Four of the USA’s founding fathers: (l to r) Adams, Morris, Hamilton, Jefferson

There was a rather strange moment on Thursday’s BBC Question Time. There was a discussion about President Obama’s intervention in the EU referendum debate.

Liam Fox was waxing lyrically about how the USA has great democracy, and all we want is the same democracy ourselves without our country being, he posited, controlled by “Brussels”. Continue reading

Saturday morning TV as it used to be!

I think this was all before “Swap Shop”. I think there was an Ed Stewart programme at some stage. But around 1971, the BBC1 TV staple on Saturday mornings was a combination of the “Banana Splits” and “Here come the Double Deckers” – both of which programmes had very catchy theme tunes. Happy memories!