'I thought you might like to see this sign that I saw on a wall
in Salisbury recently. Not sure how old it is. Maureen Galvani'
[Fellow member of Ipswich's Freelance group, Mo
Galvani sent in these wonderful photographs in August 2015.]
Borin Van Loon takes a keen interest in 'Every Boy's Hero': Dick
Barton because of his own creation Bart Dickon as featured in his
graphic novel The Bart Dickon Omnibus
(available at a very reasonable price on his website, folks!)
Dick Barton – Special Agent
was a popular radio thriller serial broadcast in the BBC Light
Programme between 7 October 1946 and 30 March 1951. It was aired in
15-minute episodes at 6.45 (later 6.15) each weekday evening. From 11
January 1947 an additional "omnibus" edition* repeated all of the
week's programmes each Saturday morning between 11.00 and 12.00. In
all, 711 episodes were produced and the serial achieved a peak audience
of 15 million. Its end was marked by a leading article in The Times. The serial followed the
adventures of ex-Commando Captain Richard Barton MC (played by Noel
Johnson, later Duncan Carse and Gordon Davies) who, with his mates Jock
Anderson (Alex McCrindle) and Snowy White (John Mann) solved all sorts
of crimes, escaped from dangerous situations and saved the nation from
disaster time and again.
Beginning in 1948, the Hammer film company made three Dick Barton films and, long after
the radio series had been replaced by The
Archers, Southern Television made a televised version in 1979. Dick Barton has also been adapted
into a tongue-in-cheek stage play and a spoof radio comedy. Each
version has featured the original's memorable signature tune, The Devil's Galop by Charles
Williams. Oddly, in the late 1960s, legendary DJ and Suffolk resident
John Peel played a piano-heavy version of the theme tune by the Beer
& Bread Band on his Radio 1 'Top Gear' programme; we only recently
learned that this was played by the pre-fame Elton John... the intenet
is sometimes a wonderful thing. You can listen to the 7" single of The Devil's Galop by clicking the
link. The single labe doubles the 'l' in Galop; a Galop
is a dance reminiscent of the running gait of a horse, a gallop – one
for the pedants...
The series was devised by producer Norman Collins. The scripts were
written by Edward J. Mason and Geoffrey Webb and, listened to in the
21st century can seem very hackneyed and cliché, almost to the point of
parody. It gave rise to a popular catchphrase of the late 1940s "With
one bound Dick was free!" which made light of the fact that no matter
how dangerous the cliff-hanging situation Dick found himself in every
evening, he would always escape by the easiest – and usually most
contrived – method.
In 1951 The Archers was first
broadcast at 11.45 am on the BBC Light Programme (later reconstituted
into the still extant BBC Radio 2). The
Archers was never as popular as Dick and his friends, but
conservative forces within the BBC (led by drama head Val Gielgud) had
never felt comfortable with Barton's sensationalism. The Archers was viewed as far more
'suitable' fare for post-war Britain and it was allowed to take over
Dick's slot at Easter 1951. When Jock Gallagher became head of the
Midland Region of BBC Radio in the early 1970s, he said that he had
always hated The Archers
because it killed off his boyhood hero, Dick Barton. The notion that The Archers killed Dick Barton is too firmly ingrained
in the psyche ever to be shaken off.
[So nice to know that the original
hero had an 'omnibus', too.]
Pictured here on this remarkable advertisement, which fills a
rather decorative window aperture over a canal, the hero resembles a
modern-day Biggles in flying helmet, goggles and white scarf. 'Biggles'
(James Bigglesworth) first appeared in the story The White Fokker written by Capt.
W.E. Johns (1893–1968), published in the first issue of Popular Flying magazine, in 1932.
Every Boy's Hero
BUY & SELL
for GROWN UP
BOYS & GIRLS'
Here's a blipfoto caption by another spotter of obscurities:
'Special Agent Lives On. Capt. Dick Barton, Special Agent, lives on
with this add board along Fisherton St in Salisbury. The shop once sold
boys/girls hobbies and toys, must have closed forty years ago but the
board remains... A bygone age no doubt but continues to keep a presence
on this window frame for all to see.'
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
It is particularly nice to see this sign alongside the
‘Good things to eat’
sign in an angled, cursive script; dark blue, probably on a
white panel, later obliterated with white. This looks as if it refers
to an earlier business at the same premises: 92-94 Fisherton Street,
Above right: Borin Van Loon bought this book ('published by arrangement
with the B.B.C.') from the Montacute TV, Radio & Toy Museum in
Somerset some years ago. Couldn't resisit it. On reading through, it is
surprising how violent the derring-do is in a children's book in the
1940s, particularly relating to the B.B.C.'s output. Perhaps the
printed stories had more license for fists, guns and brutality.
While checking the location on StreetView, we noticed this remarkable
shop front, also in Fisherton Street:
'KNIGHT & COMPY.
POULTRY & FISH
in art nouveau letterforms, all
rendered in coloured ceramic tiling over an arched window.
to Historic Lettering from outside
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