As a boy I got hooked on Out of Town, that unique TV program conceived and presented by the late Jack Hargreaves. I was into fishing of course, but Jack gave me a fascination for the deeper beauty of the countryside I fished in and an appreciation for those who worked and lived in it.
The allure of Out of Town is hard to explain in words, you’d need to see it to appreciate it fully. As an explanation it’s probably sufficient to say that in the days of only 3 TV stations, no means of saving broadcasts for later viewing and sketchy programming information in the newspapers, I snatched my fix of Out of Town whenever I could. When I had newly started Secondary School in the late 1970’s, I remember skipping school to go home or to my sisters house to watch Jack for half an hour. Strange to think that Out of Town was already on air 6 years before I was born and continued beyond my school years.
Unfortunately, due to the way it was made, very little of over 1000 episodes remain intact and able to be broadcast. You can pick up around 30 episodes on DVD and you might find the odd upload on youtube.
I’ve read all of Jack’s books and most recently his Biography (Jack Hargreaves, a portrait) written by Paul Peacock, which gives a bit more of an insight into a complex character.
On his blog Democracy Street, Jack Hargreaves’ step son Simon Baddeley describes the difficulty in reviving Out of Town for a new audience despite having ownership of most of the old film and sound reels. Jack’s way of making compelling TV seems to have been invigorating and very much in the spirit of Kitchen Table manufacturing.
Paul Peacock’s Biography helpfully lists the subject material of all of the films shown throughout the long run Out of Town enjoyed, so just for mischief I will put up an occasional blog based on one of these titles. That’s of course if I can find any footage worth sharing of these mostly lost country pursuits, pastimes and professions around the real and virtual countryside.
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