ABOUT THESE PAGES
In the later days of Southern Television I, Dave Knowles was the editor of Out of Town and worked very closely with Jack on the programme. After Southern lost their franchise I then produced over a period of three years, 60 programmes for Channel 4 called “Old Country” using the same format and set that had been used at Southern for Out of Town. I spent hundreds of hours with Jack as I not only was the producer and owner of the Lacewing Productions (later to become The Production Unit) but also the editor of the film inserts.
“Old Country” was the first full network programme that Jack had ever made so it was a very important stage in Jacks broadcasting career.
This site is to help people learn how “Old Country” was produced by the use of pictures and sounds.
I hope you enjoy,
A Brief History of Jack
Born in Palmers Green* on the outskirts of London in 1911 to James and Ada Hargreaves (née Jubb), Jack (christened John Herbert) was one of three brothers. The family was rooted in Huddersfield in the West Riding of Yorkshire, but James Hargreaves based himself partly in London for commercial advantage and to allow his wife the benefit of the capital’s midwifery. The brothers attended Merchant Taylors’ School, Northwood near London after which Edward and Ronald Hargreaves pursued successful careers in medicine (Ronald became a noted psychiatrist), while Jack went to study at the Royal Veterinary College at London University in 1929. On leaving university he earned a living as a copywriter, journalist and script writer for radio and films, and by the late 1930s he had established a reputation for his pioneering approaches to radio broadcasting.
At the outset of the Second World War, broadcasting was recognised as part of the war effort. Hargreaves’ talents in this field meant that he faced being recruited to a restricted post in radio, a reserved occupation. Instead, he joined the Royal Artillery as a private, quickly became an NCO, entered the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and was commissioned into the Royal Tank Regiment. Even so, Hargreaves’ reputation as a communicator went ahead of him. He was recruited to the staff of General Montgomery to play a role setting up broadcasting services to allied forces before and after D-Day. He left the army in 1945 with the substantive rank of major, having briefly held the acting rank of lieutenant-colonel.
After the war, Hargreaves continued his media career and during the 1950s was editor of Lilliput magazine and Picture Post where he commissioned work from Bert Hardy. His brilliance as a communications manager led to his being recruited to the National Farmers Union by Jim Turner, later Lord Netherthorpe, who was celebrated for his success as a lobbyist for farmers. Working closely with Turner, Hargreaves organised and developed the NFU’s Information Department, founding the British Farmer magazine during an almost intractable crisis of trust between NFU HQ and the members of the largest union in the country, many of whom were experiencing seismic change in the agricultural economy.
Hargreaves loved angling. Bemused at the way it had, from “sociological, technical, financial and Malthusian” causes become tribalised by class and species, he wrote Fishing for a Year (1951), arguing “for regression” – the pursuit of different fish, in separate places and varied methods throughout the licensed seasons. “What do they know of fishing” he wrote “who know only one fish and one way to fish for him?” Yet his language was seldom so polemic and never adversarial. Hargreaves’ style was complemented in this first book by the drawings of his friend Bernard Venables: “It is one of the most excellent provisions of Nature” he wrote in a chapter for the warmest time of the year “that chub are to be angled for on hot summer afternoons … When the grass is high and full of hum and rustle, when the comfrey blooms along the edge of the water and the air shivers in the heat, the chub lie just under the surface in slacks and corners and eddies all along the bank. You will see them and you will think they have not seen you”. His writing and contacts among anglers saw the president of the Piscatorial Society, Sir Robert Saundby, asking Hargreaves to organise the Society’s library. With typical thoroughness the collection was removed to Jack’s home, leaving it fully catalogued with not a volume unread. This was when he became sceptical about the opinion of the 17th-century author of The Compleat Angler, Izaak Walton, as to the culinary qualities of the chub – a dish Hargreaves described as “eating cotton wool full of pins and needles”.
* In those days Palmers Green was not all built up and certainly not like further into London. Jack knew a lot about the country much of which he learnt first hand. His mother had sent off to work on a farm at a reasonably early age and he had also studied at the Royal Veterinary College at London University in 1929.
Jack Hargreaves was married, in 1932, to Jeanette Haighler. They had two sons, Mark and Victor; then, after divorce, he married Elisabeth Van de Putte. Two more sons were born – James Stephen in 1946 and Edward John in 1947. That marriage ended in 1948 when he began a relationship with a journalist from Vogue, Barbara Baddeley.
Living with her until 1963, Hargreaves became a stepfather to Bay and her brother Simon, Barbara’s children by the diplomat John Baddeley. He also had a daughter Polly, born in 1957 as a result of a six-year relationship with his secretary Judy Hogg.
In 1965, Hargreaves married Isobel Hatfield (born 12 April 1919). Isobel died four years after her husband on 5 February 1998 and her ashes were scattered with his on Bulbarrow Hill.
Jack is remembered for appearing on How, a children’s programme, which he also conceived, about how things worked or ought to work. It ran from 1966 on Southern Television and networked on ITV until the demise of Southern in 1981.
Hargreaves was the presenter of the weekly magazine programme Out of Town, first broadcast in 1960, following the success of his series Gone Fishing the previous year. Broadcast on Friday evenings on Southern Television the programme was also taken up by many of the other ITV regions, usually in a Sunday afternoon slot.
In 1967, with Ollie Kite he presented Country Boy, a networked children’s programme of 20 episodes in which a boy from the city was introduced to the ways of country. Two further series followed in 1969 and 1970.
Other programmes he created for local viewers were Farm Progress and a live afternoon series Houseparty.
His country TV programmes continued after the demise of Southern with Old Country which I produced with Jack for Channel 4.
Out of Town Music
It was originally sung by Max Bygraves and was from a 1956 Film called Charley Moon. The lyrics began: ‘Say what you will, the countryside is still the only place that I can settle down’.
“Out Of Town/Old Country” Theme Tune – The definitive answer by Stan Bréhaut:
In the early years it was a recording of Max Bygraves singing a popular tune of the time called ‘Out of Town’. Then came a beautiful composition. It was originally entitled ‘Improvisacion, A Granada, Cantiga Arabe’ and written by Francisco Elxes Torrega (1854 – 1909) a Spanish composer, player and teacher. He wrote the following on the original manuscript :- Because I cannot present you with a more valid offer in the day of your Saint, please accept this humble poetic note, an impression which my soul felt before the majestic wonder of the Alhahambra in Granada, which we admired together.
Such a dedication is offered “A mi esima discipula Senorita D.na Conchita G. de Iacoby su Maestro y amigo Fran.coTarrega, Malaga, 8 Dicbre 1899″ The title of the piece and its dedication changed when the work was published (Conchita Iacoby and Francisci Tarrega had a rather stormy relationship), but there can be no question about the origin of the piece.
In my guitar playing days, I first heard it on a 12″ shellac record played by Andres Segovia and titled “Tremolo Study”. It was a very difficult piece to play and I never managed it !!! Next I knew it as ‘Recuerdos de la Alhambra” and there are a number of CDs with it as one of the tracks. The one I favour is by John Williams.
Jack and I never had a row ever – he claimed this as a TV record, but we did come near to it over this music. He had found an ‘improved’ version, not for solo guitar, but arranged with modern percussion and a rhythmic tempo. Jack was certain it had been composed recently by that group and insisted that my version of it’s history was rubbish. When I gave him Segovia’s recording to hear I think he realised that although he was far more knowledgeable about more things than anyone I knew, I did have the edge on anything to do with guitars.”
LIST OF OLD COUNTRY PROGRAMMES
This list was kindly sent to me by Ian Wegg and shows all the ‘Old Country” programmes transmitted on Channel 4.
HOW OLD COUNTRY WAS PRODUCED
I thought I would give a rough idea how we produced Out of Town and Old Country with Jack:
I though that I would explain about the material being collected on Tuesday as what it contains and what eventually might need to be done, depending on what is there. I worked on Out of Town for many years as the editor at Southern Television. I then produced all of the Old Country programmes for Channel 4.
At Southern Television all Out of Town programmes were shot on 16mm film with no sound. I would then sit with Jack and go through the rushes and he would tell me the story he wanted to tell and the length he wanted to end up with. This was usually around 10 minutes as we normally had one film in the first half of the programme and one in the second. I would then edit the programme and call him back to look at it and approve it. Because of our very close working relationship I normally knew exactly what he wanted to show so changes were very rare.
Once Jack had seen the film I then laid the sound track by finding effects to cover what was happening on the pictures. Once I had laid the sound track I took it into the sound department and we mixed all the tracks together and at Southern Television it was common practice to the transfer these sound onto the sound stripe that ran down the edge of the 16mm film. Generally in television film was broadcast with the sound coming from a separate track which was the same size as 16mm film but had a magnetic coating but at Southern they did not like doing this as it was felt if either the telecine or sound machine had a problem then the sound would be lost.
The downside of this was however the sound quality was nowhere near as good from the stripe as the area was much smaller and the film had joins which tended to cause bumps as they went over the sound heads. One thing you do need to remember though sound coming out of a television then cut off all the highs so the overall quality was pretty low. While on the subject of quality it should also be remembered that 16mm reversal film was not good and in fact when video first became popular with the advent of U-Matic (which was had resolution far less than a basic mobile phone camera these days) this was considered better than it.
As far as I can remember the Out of Town went into the studio on a Monday morning and everything had to be ready by 9:30 am. On our arrival at Southern we were given a running order for the film inserts for the programme and lets say the two films were fly fishing in the first half and donkey racing in the second these had to be made up onto spools and got down to telecine (which was at the other end of the building) by 9:30. If you ever look at one of the programmes that went out you will see little dots in the top right hand of the film 3 seconds before the end these we also had to add. The purpose for these were to let everyone know when the film was going to run out and the mix back to the studio was to happen.
After we had got the film down to telecine everything was now out of our hands and George Egan the studio director took over. For Out of Town they used the smallest studio which I think was studio 3. This studio was also used for Day by Day so Jacks set (his famous shed) had to be set up in the morning. Jack would bring in what props (maybe fishing rods, horse harness) he needed for that mornings recording. They would then do a run through of the complete programme which was unscripted. Jack would sit on his stool and have a little monitor in front of him (out of shot) to watch the film inserts and just talk for duration. He was never worried about making a small error in information as he always said to me that this created viewer participation.
After the run through which finished around 10:15 they then went for the recording which was the same as the rehearsal ad libbed by Jack and I can only remember once did he ask for a retake. The titles for the programme were fed in from tape and everything was like a live broadcast.
It may be of interest about the music used on Out of Town came about as one day on Southern s regional magazine Day by Day there was a classical guitarist on. Jack was walking past the studio and heard him playing. Jack immediately fell in love with the piece and later asked him if he could use it on Out of Town.
The Out of Town programme at Southern were originally recorded onto 2″ video tape. I think later it may have gone onto 1″ but certainly when I first was involved 2″ was the size used. Southern also had a policy of recording the sound of the whole programme on 1/4″ audio tape and some of these are possibly what are in Plymouth. Please note though these 1/4″ tapes were left to free run so they would not sync up with any programme. Also the only visual recording of the studio links were on the 2″ tape and Southern found that a lot of the material on these tapes eventually disappeared during storage when they came to make compilations for their staff when they lost their franchise.
So to conclude on this section the films should have sound effects on them and the 1/4″ will possibly be the complete audio recording of the final programme. The film will need to be handled very carefully due to its age and the joins which were made either by me or one of the assistants will probably dried out and when run through a machine could catch and rip the film.
These days there are only a very few if not only one place that handles transferring 16mm film to tape. We had some films from Abu Dhabi a few of years ago that needed putting onto tape and could only find one company (I post the company name & cost when we find the invoice) that would do this. It was also very costly but this is what should be done to preserve it. Firstly the films were ultrasound cleaned, checked then transferred.
The 1/4″ tapes can be easily transferred but will not be in sync and will therefore need a lot of work to make Jacks voice fit the film sections. This can be done though as I have often had to do this (with my editors hat on) in the past. What is involved is either adding to the film (which would be on tape) or trimming the sound. You would be surprised though how quickly they will probably run out of sync.
The quality of the pictures will depend on how Jack stored them bearing in mind that he was not technical so he just kept them in a shed. They will however probably be OK and I will have a quick look when we pick them up from Plymouth.
If you have any questions please let me know either by posting here or emailing me at Mail@TheThermalCook.co.uk. I did work very closely with Jack for many years and spent time with him not only in the cutting room but also socially.
I do hope that this has helped to clear up things about what is in Plymouth. I have not touched on Old Country which I produced but will let you all know what is there once I have had a chance to look at it.
Please forgive any waffle (and bad English) in all this it is all thoughts that have just been put down as they came to mind.