Wednesday, 9 November 2016
534 West Country Tales
First viewed : 25 January 1982
Not every good idea originated in the north. While BBC North West were paying Stuart Hall and Bill Grundy to grouse at each other on Sweet and Sour, BBC South West came up with a modest winner. They invited viewers in the region to send in supposedly real-life eerie stories from the region. The 13 best were turned into half hour dramas with name actors. Originally broadcast in the regional slot on a Friday night ( when we had Home Ground ) , it was quickly upgraded to the national pre-Newsnight slot on a Monday night on BBC 2. There were two seasons of six and seven episodes.
I think I only saw two of them. The first was the opener The Sabbatical in which Keith Barron played an unsettled vicar who gets stuck in a ruined church and finds a naked congregation bearing down on him. They were all pretty old but it was a totally unexpected conclusion to a regional programme. Perhaps there was a nudist colony nearby. As well as appearing in this one, Barron acted as narrator for the other five episodes in the first season.
The other one I recall was the third episode The Breakdown , wherein a lonely widower suspected of his wife's murder goes to the aid of a woman whose car has broken down near his isolated house. This didn't have any nudity but did give singer Anita Harris ( usually a rather annoying variety show perennial ) a chance to show an impressive pair of 40 year old legs as the mysterious woman. The ending was well-telegraphed but the episode did succeed in conjuring up the required sinister vibe.