Thursday, 3 March 2016
First viewed : Spring 1978
Some time in the spring of 1978 this replaced Sit Thi Deawnn as the late Friday night regional programme . It had been running seasonally since at least the mid-sixties and had a broad brief to provide an indepth half hour feature on something of interest in the North West and perhaps inevitably had a jaunty brass band playing the theme tune. My interest in the programme was two fold.
Firstly, it was covering the sort of topics the Littleborough Civic Trust ( see the post on Jumbo Spencer for details on my involvement with them ) discussed such as conservation, local history and tourism and visiting some of the places I went with my friends ( about to become a regular Saturday morning routine around this time ).
The second main reason was to put a face to a very familiar name. My Mum had Radio Four on all the time and so a regular part of our breakfast routine for as long as I could remember was listening to the Today programme . From 1975 onwards it was helmed by liberal journalist Brian Redhead so I was interested to see what he looked like. He turned out to be a short chubby man, with a marked resemblance to Abba's Benny, who talked as much with his hands as with his mouth ( and he wasn't exactly tongue-tied ) when addressing the camera.
Nonetheless he communicated an enthusiasm about even the dullest subject matter; in fact apart from a programme to mark the final completion of Liverpool Cathedral after nearly 75 years I can't really recall any single episode but being local it was something nice and cosy to watch before bed and the promise of an adventure the following morning.
Of course Redhead was the stuff of nightmares for some. He was said to be the inspiration for the Tory assault on the BBC in the late eighties with his all too incisive questioning of Thatcher's ministers on Today. One Tory commented that if there were no Redhead there'd be no problem or words to that effect. In 1989 there was a famous exchange when arrogant Chancellor Nigel Lawson lost his cool and referred to him as a Labour supporter when in fact Brian voted for his friend , the Tory maverick Nicholas Winterton in Macclesfield. Alas Brian didn't live to see the back of his foes and died early in 1994 when his ruptured appendix was misdiagnosed. I think the last series of Homeground was in 1982 but I'll stand correction on that.