Saturday, 9 April 2022

Richmal Crompton, Author of Just William: A Literary Life by Jane McVeigh

𝐎𝐮𝐭 𝐍𝐨𝐰


Richmal Crompton, Author of Just William: A Literary Life by Jane McVeigh


Head over to Amazon and check it out: https://amzn.to/3I81gKX

Friday, 8 April 2022

BBC Radio Play S01E13 - Crime Pays for William

Initial broadcast information: Tuesday, 22 January 1946, 21:30-22:00

This is a new original story for the BBC Play series.

Adapted for radio by Richmal Crompton in collaboration with Alick Hayes.


Script published by David Schutte in William the Lionheart. ISBN: 978 0 9546802 6 8


It has been snowing in William's village, but it's not all good when a gangster makes his entrance. Read on to see how William and company deal with this intruder...


William and Ginger are putting the finishing touches to a snowman when Hubert comes along to aggravate the situation. A confrontation ensues, leading to a snowball fight, which culminates with Hubert getting hit solidly in the face. Hubert leaves with the threat that he'll get himself invited to lunch, and as guest will be able to eat all of the chocolate cake - leaving none for William!


This leads William to come up with a plan to teach Hubert a lesson, should he come back. The plan is to pile up snow on the flat roof above the porch, which can then be pushed onto Hubert with the souding of a secret word.


Some sandbags are moved out of the way, as this would 'half kill' Hubert. A very kind thought for William to have!

Violet Elizabeth visits and rebuffs pleas for her to leave with the infamous catchphrase, 'I'll thcream, an' I'll thcream, an' I'll thcream until I'm thick'.


William leaves Violet Elizabeth of the up on the porch roof crouching behind the sandbags, while he and Ginger leave to keep watch. They meet a returning Mr Brown, who is unimpressed that William hasn't removed the snow from the front door step and proceeds to do it himself. 

Getting himself upset, the multiple conversations occur in a frenzied fashion. During which the volume increases. Ginger has forgotten the secret word and William shouts it in reminder. Upon hearing the secret word, Violet Elizabeth pushes the snow off onto an upset Mr Brown.


This leads William to be left at home, alone. His family head out for lunch, but each visit him secretly to assuage their guilt. They do this by providing William with either food, or permission to consume various foot items in the kitchen, he is even given some money! This is surely the 'punishment' that we all wished for as children!


Finally, left to his own devices, William opens the front door after the bell rings. Unfortunately, it is a gangster with a gun. William struggles to keep his mouth shut and gains himself a series of slaps and learns to speak when spoken to.


When Ginger and Violet Elizabeth knock at the door, the gangster wants William to get rid of them without giving him away. He does this by telling them that he'll be out soon to play the same game as this morning. Instead of snow, this time they'll play with sand.

Following this Sergeant Jukes calls to check on the Brown household as a dangerous character has been seen in the neighbourhood. William tells the Sergeant that his family are out, and receives the reply that Jukes will pop along on his bike to check on things.

The gangster is clearly unhappy with William, but cheers up a bit when William tells him that escape will be quicker via the front door. As the gangster exits, William shouts the secret word 'Gas meter', and the sandbags are dropped on the gangster.


In the final scene, William is explaining their plan to Jukes, but makes the mistake of telling him the secret word, which leaves them both covered in a dumping of snow!



Cast
William
Mr John Brown
Mrs Brown
Ethel
Robert
Ginger
Hubert Lane
Violet Elizabeth
Sgt. Jukes 
Gangster


Thanks for reading and keep checking back as I explore this fascinating series of plays written by Richmal Crompton.

Friday, 1 April 2022

BBC Radio Play S01E12 - William's Den of Thieves

Initial broadcast information: Tuesday, 15 January 1946, 21:30-22:00

This is a new original story for the BBC Play series.

Adapted for radio by Richmal Crompton in collaboration with Alick Hayes.


Script published by David Schutte in William the Lionheart. ISBN: 978 0 9546802 6 8


Robert has yet another forever love, this time a gold digger, read on how convoluted things become as William helps out!

Diana Trent calls on the telephone, which is answered by William. Robert is out with 'Lulu', but manages to explain that Lulu is a motorbike (avoiding a similar situation as S01E10 - William Starts the New Year).

William then bothers Robert for some money as he is in possession of £6 (about £215 in today's money), however Robert actually offers to buy William the toy yacht rather than just lend him the money. He's feeling guilty for missing William's birthdays while he was in the army.

However, what William should have been doing is telling Robert that Diana is on the phone, which 15 minutes later Ethel rectifies, calling Diana 'precious Diana' - clearly no love lost there!

According to Ethel, Diana is a 'harpy', a derogatory ways of saying 'a mean, foul-tempered woman.'. However, it isn't just Diana she's unhappy with. It stems from Robert being engaged to Ethel's friend Joan two weeks ago, but treating her badly.

Robert asks Mrs Brown if Diana can come to tea, which is agreed to. This results in William having Ginger over to tea too, but with a less enthusiastic response as he eats too much! This is resolved with Ethel remembering that she won't be attending tea as she's meeting her friend Dolly.


William settles down to do his school prep work, but gets distracted and envisions himself driving the Royal Scot, a British train. His interruption from this reverie is the arrival of Ginger along with Violet Elizabeth.

After some time playing doctors, Hubert delivers Diana to the Brown residence (as she has been staying with the Lanes). There is a disagreement between the two lads as it seems Hubert duped William into paying over the odds for a 1920 penny! As Hubert runs, he encounters a policeman blocking his escape. He knows all about Hubert Lane, so William is safe from undue reprisals. 


The policeman is there to see Mr Brown as he's selling tickets for the Police Concert. Mrs Brown being out, the policeman leaves vowing to return later that evening.


Eventually, the conversation between William and Diana, which is a long one as nobody has seen fit to inform Robert that Diana has arrived, turns to Robert's money. Diana feels that Robert must be rich, as Ginger has told her that Robert is going to be a yacht tomorrow. This interests Diana very much, she advises William if what he's saying is true that she'll be seeing a lot of Robert.


Mr and Mrs Brown return and there is a flurry of bills to be paid to callers. Mr Brown rushing in each time to get the money from Mrs Brown's bag, but is actually Diana's bag - they are identical. Robert happens to take care of Diana's bracelet when it falls off her wrist - and also her earrings for similar reasons.

Diana feels like she's being robbed in plain sight and calls the lot of them thieves before getting her things back and slapping Robert in the face. By this time the policeman has returned. Robert freshly slapped asks, partly to himself, 'What on earth did she slap my face for?', the policeman responds with, 'Oh, you never know with women, sir.'


I doubt we'll be seeing Diana again any time soon!


Cast
William
Mr John Brown
Mrs Brown
Ethel
Robert
Ginger
Hubert Lane
Violet Elizabeth
Diana Trent
Policeman

Thanks for reading and keep checking back as I explore this fascinating series of plays written by Richmal Crompton.

Friday, 25 March 2022

BBC Radio Play S01E11 - William Makes the Films

Initial broadcast information: Tuesday, 8 January 1946, 20:45 - 21:15.

This is a new original story for the BBC Play series.

Adapted for radio by Richmal Crompton in collaboration with Alick Hayes.


Script published by David Schutte in William the Lionheart. ISBN: 978 0 9546802 6 8


A joyous play in which William once again bests Hubert Lane by impressing a film director. Before is all unravels...


In a change to the regular set up, there is no Mrs Brown yelling, 'William'. However, as usual, we do find William at home.

Mrs Brown is encouraging William to write elaborate thank you letters for the Christmas presents he has received. Of course, to William this is 'torcher'.

The adult Browns are all heading to the Lanes house to meet a film director. Mr Lane has some financial arrangement with the director and he has agreed to provide them with a lecture. Shockingly, William has not been invited!

Eventually, William heads out to the old barn and provides the secret knock. Well, a version of it, as it seems William has adapted it along the way! With the barn door being blocked, due to Ginger's over-enthusiastic barricading, William enters via a hole in the wall. Once in, he finds that Ginger has acquired a prisoner in the form of Violet Elizabeth, who has very helpfully tied herself up.

Following this, Hubert breaches the peace, primarily to boast about the film director that is due to visit his home. He also makes it very clear that he ensured William would not be invited. This is a boast that Hubert would not normally make, however he is accompanied by Albert (S01E05 - William Finds a Home for Albert), his new bodyguard.

Albert is much the same, although laying on the 1930s American gangster accent on a bit too thick: 'Shall I give dis guy de woiks, boss?' being just one humorous example.

Hubert and Albert make a swift exit at William's repeated orders. He, Ginger, and Violet Elizabeth decide to make their own film. With a goat!

While William and Ginger retrieve the goat from the field, we are left with Violet Elizabeth, who provides us with her first monologue. Our first entry into the private mind of Violet Elizabeth is perhaps not as different as her public persona. She wishes to be a Queen in the film, with others at her beck and call, while she knights William with a borrowed sword.

The children are 'treated' to Ginger's Firewater recipe consisting of liquorice, custard powder, tomato sauce, lemon essence, and brown sugar all mixed in an old ginger pop bottle. If any dear readers are brave enough to try this recipe - and survive to tell the tale - please do get in touch via Facebook!

Though a series of evens, William flags down Mr Schmoltz's car, to prevent it bursting tyres on glass in the road. This elaborate and extravagant man gives them a one pound reward and offers to be in his next big production. He then follows them to the barn with his assistant, a likely long-suffering, Miss Filbert. After declaring them all to be geniuses to be given big roles in his next production, including the goat. They head of to the Lane's abode.

Hubert's first words upon seeing our gang: 'Who asked you here, William Brown - you hoppit'. However, Mr Schmoltz considers William to be stupendous, magnificent, colossal. So for the time being, William and friend stay.

Schmoltz orders Mrs Lane to get ice cream and a whole host of other goodies. However, we soon hear the news from Ginger that Florence, the goat, has eaten Schmoltz's hat. The same hat we've been told he was given by the Czar of all the Russias. 

Considering this a personal and intentional insult, all references to geniuses cease and are replaced instead by 'pig-dogs', all contacts null and void. Schmoltz, along with Miss Filbert, exit.

The play announcer, Margaret, sums this all up quite nicely: 'Well, that's show business for you.'


Cast
William
Mr John Brown
Mrs Brown
Ethel
Robert
Ginger
Hubert Lane
Violet Elizabeth
Mrs Lane
Miss Filbert
Mrs Lane's Parlourmaid (Perkins)
Albert
Mr Schmoltz

Thanks for reading and keep checking back as I explore this fascinating series of plays written by Richmal Crompton.

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Richmal Crompton, Author of Just William: A Literary Life by Jane McVeigh

Not long now until this Richmal Crompton biography is released on 3 May (a change from July 9).


I noticed that there has been another price drop, this time to £15.83 from the original £17.99.

Head over to Amazon and check it out: https://amzn.to/3I81gKX



Friday, 18 March 2022

BBC Radio Play S01E10 - William Starts the New Year

William - The Lionheart book cover
Initial broadcast information: Tuesday, 1 January 1946, 20:45 - 21:15.

This is a new original story for the BBC Play series.

Adapted for radio by Richmal Crompton in collaboration with Ian Smith and Alick Hayes.


Script published by David Schutte in William the Lionheart. ISBN: 978 0 9546802 6 8


This is the first play in Volume 2 of the Richmal Crompton BBC plays, it is also the first play broadcast in 1946. The new year brought about a new air time of 8:45pm, which feels like an odd time to air such a programme, however regular afternoon repeats were provided.


Just William episode
advertised in the newspaper.
This episode begins, for the very first time, in the old barn. It is 4pm in the favourite hang out of the
Outlaws and William is wrapped up telling the story of Antonio. 


Antonio is a person who has had a change of heart and begins helping people. Of course, William thinks that this should be emulated, and when better to start than the 1st of January.

William may well have gotten out of actually performing any helpful tasks, if not for Hubert, who appears at the barn, as always, uninvited.

Our hero spends the rest of the day doing his genuine best to assist him family, who are all getting ready for a part that very evening. All the while, regardless of who William is helping, he recites the story of Antonio. Sadly, the story falls on distracted ears and never runs its full course, as William is send off to help another family member when accidental destruction happens at William's helping hands.

Just part of the eventual excitement includes:

When Mrs Brown tells William that she is giving him permission to clean 'Lulu', Robert's motorbike, he spends his time pretending to ride it instead! Being caught by Robert has him sent inside, where he answers the phone to Robert's latest forever love, Joan. He tells her that Robert is busy with Lulu in the garage and doesn't have time to come to the telephone!

Helping Ethel run a bath leads to fabric dye, rather than bath soap being added to the water. Using the electric sweeper, an early vacuum cleaner, leads to Mr Brown not only tripping over the cable, but tripping the fuse box. Ethel then gets into the bath, not wanting to lose a minute in preparation for the party.

Robert catches fire from the candle he is holding to see the fuse box in the dark, leading William knock over the telephone and inadvertently calling a fire engine. Joan arrives to throw Robert's love letters back at him as she is distraught about his new girl, Lulu. 

As the fuse box is switch back on and the light restored, Ethel is heard screaming. She has discovered that she is now dyed blue. The sirens of a fire engine is heard on approach.

William ends the frantic scene with: "But, Dad - I was only tryin' to help. That was my New Year's resolution."




Cast
William
Mr John Brown
Mrs Brown
Ethel
Robert
Ginger
Hubert Lane
Violet Elizabeth
Joan
Telephone Operator

Thanks for reading and keep checking back as I explore this fascinating series of plays written by Richmal Crompton.

Friday, 11 March 2022

Book Review: William - The Terrible (BBC Radio Plays Volume 1)

Volume one includes the first nine BBC Plays of series one. These plays are written (at least in part) by Richmal Crompton, published by David Schutte, and originally aired between October and December 1945 as 30 minute plays as a BBC Light programme.

The first edition, published in 2008, was limited to 300 copies and are of quality paper in a hardback cover, with attractive dustcover.

Illustrations are all selected by the publisher from various editions of Happy Mag and more or less represent the story that they are associated with. I think David Schutte made a good choice, with so many new stories appearing in the BBC play series, it must have been difficult to select appropriate illustrations. 


The book has a foreword by Martin Jarvis, which itself begins with some fan fiction that Martin has written, before delving in to some basic history about Crompton and the Just William series.


This is followed by an introduction by David Schutte regarding how the volumes came about and changes that he has made. These include, editing the plays so that William doesn't drop his aitches - purely because he doesn't in the book series. Examples include adding a 'h' to "w'at" and "w'en". While these changes do make for easier reading, children do drop their aitches. It is only some adults that like to prescribe 'proper' language use that would point this out. Schutte has also recreated the lisp of Violet Elizabeth in written form, which the voice actor knew she had to include, but wasn't included in the scripts. This makes for more difficult reading.


The plays follow a specific format. After bring introduced by the announcer (listed once as Margaret Hubble), Mrs Brown yells 'William!', who responds with a version of, 'All right - I'm here'. This happens even when the play begins with William and Ginger at the cinema.

Another part of the format is the idea of William turning over a new leaf, which turns into an in joke within the plays. I think it is only episode 9, William's Christmas Day, which does not include this reference. It is not only funny to the audience, but often diffuses tensions between the characters within the play.


The stories are fantastic and longer than in the books. Without the need for description in prose, there is much more emphasis on dialogue. This not only changes the dynamic between the characters, because so much more must be described for the audience, but also reveals deeper versions of the characters that we have come to know and love.

William has much better relationships with his family in the plays. They talk more to him and are much more understanding of his actions. It becomes obvious that William is a younger version of Mr Brown and it feels less like William was an (unhappy) accident. The happy family dynamics remind me much more of the other Crompton creation, Jimmy, and his family. This makes the plays a joy to read.


The addition of the original draft of Fireworks Strictly Forbidden reveals that there must have been many changes to Crompton's original content, but mostly for the better. It also reveals that Crompton, at least in the beginning, didn't include the necessary instructions for scene and music.


The quality of the publishing is fantastic. With great choices of illustrations and font face and size. Cast lists and programme information is a wonderful inclusion and really makes these books important for the history of Crompton's literature.

An absolute joy to read and worth every penny.


To get a copy, contact David Schutte, or check out places such as eBay.


Play Title Series and Episode Number
Fireworks Strictly Forbidden
(Plus original draft at back)
S01 E01
William, Prime Minister S01 E02
William - Pond Dweller S01 E03
William, Ethel, and Mr. Right S01 E04
William Finds a Home for Albert S01 E05
William Gets Robert a Job S01 E06
William's Good Deed S01 E07
William Buys a Present S01 E08
William's Christmas Day S01 E09