Reviews

SKIPPY (1967)

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Show ImageSet in Waratah National Park, this Australian series told the adventures of a smart kangaroo that was saved from near death by Sonny (Garry Parkhurst), the son of Chief Ranger Matt Hammond (Ed Devereaux). In return, Skippy remained a loyal and trusted friend of the youngster and would warn him of impending danger with a distinctive 'Tut Tutting' sound. Filmed in the outdoors with stunning colourful scenery as its backdrop, the series became a massive hit in the UK and featured a young Lisa Goddard in her first television role as Clarissa 'Clancy' Merrick, friend to the Hammond family. More than twenty years after the show finished a new series The New Adventures of Skippy was made with a grown up Sonny (Andrew Clark), following in his fathers rangering footsteps.

SKY (1975)

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Show ImageEerie, unsettling and a benchmark production for children's television in the 1970s, Sky was created by Doctor Who stalwarts Bob Baker and Dave Martin as one of the run of outstanding children's dramas HTV produced in that decade. Filmed in such richly atmospheric locations as Avebury, Glastonbury Tor and Stonehenge, Sky is a mixture of ecological fable, science fantasy and good, old-fashioned peril. Marc Harrison stars as Sky - an ethereal boy who materialises on an Earth that is as unprepared for him as he is for it. He soon realises that he's been brought to the wrong time and must seek out the Juganet to return to his correct place in reality. With the help of tearaway Arby Venner, his sister June and friend Roy he must race against time as Nature rejects Sky and the Earth's immune system creates the evil Goodchild, who is out to stop him at all costs... (Network DVD)

THE SKY AT NIGHT (1954)

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Show ImageIn the often neglected area of factual television, few programmes can lay claim to have had such an unquestionable impact on the field it chronicles than The Sky At Night. For an astonishing five decades since its debut on BBC television in April 1957 the series has become the cornerstone for the television presentation of the science of astronomy, successfully nurturing an ardently dedicated following of space enthusiasts, whilst winning deserved professional acclaim. Over the course of its landmark history, the series has succeed in not only effortlessly explaining complex astronomical theory to a layman audience, but has also inspired many to enter future careers in the science, leading to many remarkable discoveries about the nature of the universe itself. But the real key to The Sky At Night's longevity laid firmly with it's presenter from the first edition to the 721st on 7 January 2013; the late, great and inestimable Sir Patrick Moore. The monocle sporting, endlessly knowledgeable and totally eccentric Moore was arguably the last great example of that dying English breed, the "gifted amateur". Although in this particular instance, the "amateur" was universally recognised and feted as one of the world's leading authorities on his chosen subject by the formally trained members of the astrological academic world.

What made Moore's contribution even more remarkable was the staggering fact that he hosted every single transmission, each month since the show's inception, until his death on 7 January 2013. From early space flight to the astonishing intergalactic views afforded by the Hubble Space Telescope, Moore's continued presence assured the programme's unique place in the annals of television history as the longest-running TV programme in the world to be fronted the same presenter. During the course of the show's run our view and understanding of the Universe we inhabit has deepened considerably. The Sky At Night has been the interested viewer's fixed point and chief guide to greater understanding throughout one of the most invigorating periods in the science's long history. From the musical gravitas of Jean Sibelius' Pelleas et Melisande Suite [1955], Opus 46. 'At the Castle Gate' performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham during the show's credits, through to Patrick Moore's boyishly enthusiastic, captivatingly clear explanations and extrapolations, The Sky At Night is undoubtedly one of the brightest stars still burning undimmed in the firmament of factual television. Beginning with the 3 February 2013 edition, the show has been co-presented by Lucie Green and Chris Lintott.(Review: Stephen R Hulse)

SMALL TIME (1955)

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Show Image Associated Rediffusion's 15-minute midday children's slot for children of five and under, devised by Eric Spear as a rival to BBC's Watch With Mother, began the day after Independent Television's opening night in London on Thursday 22nd September 1955. At 12.15pm on the Friday the very first programme under the Small Time banner was broadcast. This was called Johnny and Flonny, a glove puppet series with Paul Hansard. The following week on the Monday saw The Big Black Crayon with Rolf Harris and Jean Ford and on the Wednesday was Toybox with Susan Spear. There were no Small Time programmes on Tuesdays or Thursdays until November when The Little House That Stood On The Hill joined the 12.15-12.30pm line-up and on Thursday Snoozy The Sea-Lion made up the complete original Monday to Friday set. Eventually the show was moved to a weekday teatime slot and during its run many of television's most fondly remembered children's series and characters were introduced under the Small Time umbrella. Among these were The Adventures of Twizzle, Ivor the Engine, The Pingwings, Sara and Hoppity, Torchy, Pussy Cat Willum and Basil Brush.

Two other stars of Small Time were a glove puppet owl and a glove puppet dog. Ollie Beak and Fred Barker became something of a double act on children's television, even though they could strike terror into the heart of any male TV presenter that worked with them. Wally Whyton was still having nighmares about them years later when he recalled the unscripted ad-libs that Fred (voiced by Ivan Owen, the man who went on to create the distinctive Terry Thomas-like voice of Basil Brush) would suddenly come out with. "In those days there were not always enough commercials during the children's programmes." He later recalled. "Then Muriel and myself had to fill in. Sometimes this could add an extra eight minutes onto a show like Five O'Clock Club. "One New Years day when there were no adverts Ollie Beak came on holding a balloon and announced, 'I've been to the Chelsea Owls' Ball.' To which Muriel, quite innocently replied, 'I didn't know owls had balls.' I don't know how we managed to carry on with straight faces." Once established, Small Time became the customary early evening audience grabber for ATV's young viewers and it wasn't long before it was followed by shows like Lucky Dip, Tuesday Rendezvous, and the aforementioned Five O'Clock Club which was aimed at slightly older kids. At it's height Small Time was just as popular as Watch With Mother and introduced children's characters that were every bit as enduring as Andy Pandy, Bill and Ben, The Woodentops, et al.

SMUGGLER (1981)

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Show ImageSet during the Napoleonic wars of the early 1800s, Oliver Tobias (Arthur of the Britons) stars as Jack Vincent, a swashbuckling ex-British naval captain turned smuggler. A strong-willed, independent man who lives by both his wits and the sword, Vincent is ably assisted by petty thief Honesty Evans (Hywel Williams Ellis), Sarah Morton (Lesley Dunlop - May To December) and Sarah's grandfather, Captain Konig (Peter Capell), in his struggle to stay one step ahead of the Excise Men and other rebels such as the infamous Kemble gang. A fondly remembered series, Smuggler was a hit with both children and adults alike on its original transmission in 1981. With taut, adventurous plots from Richard Carpenter, Bob Baker and John Kane, the series was directed by Dennis Abey, Jim Goddard and Charles Crichton. (Network DVD)

SOAP (1977)

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Show Image With its outrageously open treatment of taboo subjects such as infidelity, impotence, homosexuality, racism, religion, and mental illness, Soap was one of the funniest half-hours to hit American television. Created by Susan Harris, Soap told the story of two sisters, Jessica Tate and Mary Campbell and their equally dysfunctional families. Married to compulsive adulterer and scruples-free stockbroker, Chester, Jessica Tate (a sublime performance of bewildered vagueness by Katherine Helmond), lived in a mansion in the wealthy part of Dunn's River, Connecticut. Those that lived with her were Grandpa Tate-an ex US Army Major who still thought the war was on, son Billy-who apart from anything else was abducted by a religious cult, and their black butler-Benson; whose belligerent attitude manifested itself whenever the front door-bell sounded, with the sarcastically put question; "You want me to get that?" Robert Guillame became so popular as the only one to keep a cool head in the Tate household long after everyone else had lost theirs, that he was spun off into his own successful series, Benson. For her sins, Jessica also had two grown up daughters, the flirtatious Corrine, and Eunice, who was having an affair with a married Senator. The Campbell household lacked any semblance of sanity too. Mary was married to impotent second husband Burt (a wonderful performance of rubber-faced lunacy by Richard Mulligan), who is first accused of murdering his own son, Peter, and is later abducted by aliens! Living under their roof was Mary's own children-Jodie (future Hollywood movie star, Billy Crystal), who fought hard within his own family to be accepted as a homosexual, and Danny-who worked for a local mobster. Bert's son from a previous marriage, Bob, a ventriloquist who would make sarcastic and untimely remarks through his puppet, Chuck, joined the family later on.

Controversial from the outset, the series drew 32,000 letters to the ABC network (only nine of which supported it) even before it had premiered! Many ABC affiliates faced angry picketing against their plans to air it, while sponsors were placed under enormous pressure to boycott the show, which a number of them actually did, mirroring those affiliate stations which ultimately refused to carry it, or lost their nerve and placed it in a late night viewing slot. A high proportion of the unseen show's detractors at that time were religious groups, one of the strongest and most vocal being the National Council of Churches. In response to these attacks, ABC actively represented the programme as a landmark breakthrough in TV comedy, claiming that: "Through the Campbell's and the Tate's many of today's social concerns will be dealt with in a comedic manner." In this instance, ABC ultimately won the battle, and with the series attracting a large and appreciative audience from the outset, the controversy was largely over and forgotten by the end of the first season. Soap undoubtedly set new standards for television comedy with its brilliant ability to turn, literally on a dime, from madcap comedy to serious drama in mid-sentence. Successful both as a knowing and lovingly crafted satire on the more outrageous elements endemic in so called "legitimate" soap operas, and as a highly individual comedic entity in its own right. Due to a combination of excellent writing, first rate acting and a certain fearlessness in addressing serious issues with wit and humour, Soap more than justifies its fondly regarded position in the pantheon of truly great U.S. situation comedies. (Review: Stephen R Hulse)

SOFTLY SOFTLY (1974)

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Show Image One of British TV's first crime-busting double acts starring Stratford Johns as the no-nonsense Charlie Barlow, a superior officer not adverse to pounding his suspects into submission, and Frank Windsor as his gentler sidekick John Watt, first became household names in Troy Kennedy Martin's Z-Cars. So successful was the partnership that in 1966 they were seconded to the Regional Crime Squad by the BBC for Softly Softly, a series that ran for ten years and became one of the best-realised spin-off series the BBC has ever had. After leaving Newtown, Barlow and Watt headed south to the fictional region of Wyvern (supposedly near Bristol) where they took up their new posts of Detective Chief Superintendent and Detective Chief Inspector respectively. Promotion did little to temper Barlow and he remained the tough, relentless and sharp-tongued copper that had such an impact on Z Cars that he became the national idea of a police chief. In 1970 the series title was changed to Softly, Softly-Task Force and Barlow was promoted once again, this time to Head of Thamesford Constabulary's CID Task Force. Watt accompanied him. But the following year Barlow went it alone when he was headhunted by the Home Office to take up a post in Whitehall with the Police Research Services Branch in the series Barlow at Large. Softly, Softly-Task Force plodded on without Barlow for another six years and although the scripts were of a superior quality there was always the feeling that 'that little extra something' was missing. In 1973 Barlow and Watt were reunited briefly by the BBC in a real-life investigation of the famous east end Ripper murders of 1888. This proved successful enough for the BBC to reuse the format shortly after the Task Force disbanded in a series entitled Second Verdict, which looked at mysteries of a similar kind.

SOLDIER AND ME (1974)

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Show Image Tense children's drama about two young boys on the run from would-be assassins who are plotting the execution of Czech dissidents in the wake of the 1968 revolt that led to Russia's occupation of their country. Local lad Jim Woolcott and Istvan Szolda - who is nicknamed Soldier by Jim in a mispronunciation of his name, overhear a gang plotting a murder and go straight to the police, but they are not believed. They follow the gang but are unable to stop them and then become witnesses to the deed. Worse still, they are spotted by the gang's leader who instructs his three henchmen to silence the boys. There ensues an epic chase through Manchester, Stockport, across the Pennines and the Lake District involving obstacles such as crossing stormy lakes and jumping from moving trains in as the boys attempt to shake off their pursuers. The story was told across nine episodes and was adapted, from his original 1966 novel (Run For Your Life), by David Line, the difference being that in the original the circumstances that led to the dissidents plot was the Hungarian revolution some ten years earlier. The change of background was suggested by series producer Brian Armstrong who had covered the Czech revolution for 'World In Action,' and who had risked life and limb to smuggle news footage out of Prague under the noses of the Russian occupiers.

SOME MOTHERS DO 'AVE 'EM (1973)

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Show Image Sometimes from the smallest seed of a comedic idea a mighty sitcom can grow. In the case of Some Mother's Do 'Ave Em, the simple idea was the genesis for one of Britain's most endearingly loved and enduring comedy characters, the perennially hapless, but well-meaning man-child, Frank Spencer. The beret headed, trench coated figure of Frank was quite literally presented as an accident waiting to happen. A total innocent whose every deed was doomed to backfire to hilarious and devastatingly destructive effect, from acts of charity to household DIY, chaos and catastrophe were his constant, unwanted and unwelcome companions as was his trademarked wide-eyed innocence and often bewildered deep indignation at the understandable abuse heaped upon him by his multitude of victims. Series creator Raymond Allen wrote the scripts for each episode but it was the input of its star, Michael Crawford (his constant ad-libbing caused Allen to remark at one stage, "It's nice of him to use some of my words") and his interpretation that laid the foundation for the show's phenomenal success. That success hinged on the viewing audiences whole-hearted acceptance and empathy with the disaster prone tribulations of Frank as he perpetually strove, despite his singular lack of ability and emotional development, to fit in to an adult world which he neither fully understood nor was equipped to deal with, and prove his worth as a provider for at first his gentle and long suffering wife, Betty (the excellent and sympathetic Michelle Dotrice, wife of Edward Woodward), and later in the series their infant daughter, Jessica. It would be near impossible to envisage anyone else in the role but Michael Crawford, although some may be surprised to dicover that he was in fact not the first, or the second, but the third choice to play the lead behind Norman Wisdom and Ronnie Barker, both of who turned the part down.

Another aspect of the show's appeal lay in the spectacularly imaginative and often dangerous stunt set pieces, many of them inspired by the audacious scenes from the silent comedies of pre talkie Hollywood, belonging to such accomplished physical comedians as Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, which were given added impact for the viewers by the fact that Crawford himself insisted on performing them without the aid of a stunt double, such as the memorable and often repeated scene depicting Frank on roller skates, clinging onto the back of a moving double decker bus before passing underneath an articulated lorry and then crashing head first through a shop window. Although he had been an established actor since childhood, appearing in such series as ITC's Sir Francis Drake, and perhaps most famously co-starring alongside both Barbara Streisand and Walter Matthau in the film version of the Broadway musical Hello Dolly, it was undoubtedly the success of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em which cemented Crawford's claim to genuine television stardom delighting British viewers to the tune of some 15-20 million per week. Such was the character's memorable impact that Frank's best-known exclamations and catch phrases became an indelible part of everyday language. Simple, heartfelt, innocent and adored by millions, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em is not only a quintessential example of expertly produced British comedy at its finest, but also a lasting monument to Michael Crawford's creation of a comedy icon which rivals the very best produced during the glory days of silent comedy. (Review: Stephen R Hulse)

SOOTY (1955)

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Show Image For over a staggering sixty years the anarchic antics of a little yellow bear named Sooty, brought laughter and enjoyment to whole generations of appreciative younger viewers. Sooty's genesis occurred in 1948 when, during a family holiday in Blackpool, a Yorkshire engineer and part-time magician named Harry Corbett chanced upon a glove puppet teddy bear in a novelty shop at the end of the seaside resort's famous north pier. "I'd always had a thing about teddy bears," noted Corbett, years later. "And this one had a cheeky face. It was almost as if it was saying, 'Don't leave me here.' " So Corbett parted with the princely sum of 7s 6d (38p.) and returned to the boarding house with his new partner-to-be housed within a brown paper bag. Corbett soon set about incorporating the puppet into his magic act with immediate success. It was in 1952 that the mismatched duo made their television debut on a BBC show called Talent Night, to instant success. The TV critic of the Sunday Express newspaper writing on 4th of May commented: 'Five minutes on the television screen last night established Harry Corbett's teddy bear as a rival to Muffin the Mule.' At that point, the bear was known simply as "teddy", and due to its decidedly sharp features, appeared to look more like a rat! Acting on advice to give the puppet a more distinctive look and its own name, the Corbett's carried out many experiments until they finally dubbed it's ears and nose with soot from the chimney. The result, and the character name which the look had suggested to them, ensured their place in television history.

Totally confident of success, Corbett, at the age of just thirty-four, gave up his day job to become a full time professional entertainer. The decision was a wise one, and quickly led to an inclusion in the BBC children's series Saturday Special that starred comedy actor, Peter Butterworth, (who would later become a regular in the legendary series of 'Carry On' films). From Saturday Special, Corbett and Sooty quickly graduated to their own show, with Corbett taking the precaution of paying £150 a year to insure the thumb and first two fingers of his right hand for £20,000, in case of accidents. As in all the great double acts, Corbett's own character was every bit as important as that of Sooty as he quickly made the role of perennial victim to the bear's unending series of messy practical jokes into an art form of understated, good humoured harassment. Although for some, the BBC wardrobe department in particular, Sooty's pranks were less of a joke, as Corbett explained: "I always used to wear a good suit, because if you wore overalls the kids would know right at the start that something messy was going to happen and it wouldn't be as funny. One time I was covered in a pound bag of flour and two eggs. My suit was in a right state but I peeled it off and took it along to wardrobe as usual. But when I returned to collect it two weeks later, it was still bundled up in a corner where I'd left it. Attached to it was a curt note, which read: 'In future please take your suits back home and clean them yourself.' After that I started taking them to a cleaner in Bradford. Every week I'd turn up with a suit plastered with raw egg and flour. The manager thought I was a raving lunatic!"

Another controversy was ignited by one of Sooty's favourite props, a harmless, puppet sized balsa wood hammer. The then head of BBC children's television, Freda Lingstrom disapproved strongly with the inclusion of the hammer, claiming it set a bad example to youngsters. This fear was borne out when the story surfaced of a man who was reading his Sunday paper at home when his son, without warning, hit him over the head with a real hammer - so forcibly that he had to go to hospital for stitches to the potentially fatal wound. When questioned by his mother over why he did such a thing, the child replied: "Well, Sooty did it." 1957 saw Sooty joined by Sweep, a wonderfully dim and endearing dog with a sausage fetish. Together they formed an immaculate double act which made them very much akin to the Morecambe and Wise of glove puppets. Seven years later, another character was introduced, Soo, a sweet little panda girlfriend for Sooty. The then staid and highly moral BBC were not amused and immediately proceeded to ban Soo on the dubious grounds that her inclusion would bring sex into children's television! Eventually, following a vocal public outcry, the corporation relented, only on the strictly understood condition that Sooty and Soo must never touch. After Soo, other new supporting characters quickly followed, including Ramsbottom, the Yorkshire snake, Kipper the cat, and Butch -a fierce dog who was the archenemy of the timid Sweep. As well as TV Corbett took the show on the road, touring large theatres to the massed delight of children and a growing number of adults everywhere.

In 1968, both Corbett and the bear's career seemed in jeopardy, when, along with fellow puppet sensations Pinky and Perky, his show was cancelled by the powers-that-were at the BBC. But a stunningly successful transfer to ITV's Thames Television ensured the character's on-going popularity. Then, at 3.3Oam on Christmas Day, 1975, Harry Corbett suffered a massive heart attack. Although he eventually made a full recovery, it was decided that he was simply too weak to carry on working full time, so the mantle of Sooty's mentor was taken up by his son Matthew. Sadly, Harry Corbett passed away in 1989. One of the keys to the magic of Sooty's total acceptance by his audience was the fact that his creator himself regarded the puppet as an almost living being. Corbett was devoted to Sooty and regarded him as a child, one of the family. This even extended to family holidays, where once Corbett actually turned the car back for home when he realised they had forgotten Sooty. In fact, when the puppet travelled it was always ensured that he was laid out reverentially on a piece of cloth -always face up - in a box with air holes, so that he could breathe properly. He would never allow Sooty to be thrown about and, even after a hard day at the studio, he didn't bully him at home. He never exacted revenge for a good soaking by using Sooty to wipe the dinner dishes. What's more, Harry always kept his nails short - much to Sooty's relief.

Across the years there have actually been in excess of 1,000 Sootys, but for Harry Corbett they were all one and the same. Shortly before he died, Corbett senior noted frankly: "I often found myself wondering what he was thinking. It was as bad as that. Before every show, I washed his face and brushed his fur. If I accidentally dropped him, I immediately apologised. I know it sounds ridiculous regarding Sooty as a person because he was really only two fingers on my right hand, but I can't help it. The worst thing was having to break in a new Sooty puppet. I used to think of it as a new partner who didn't know me yet. I got so anxious, I used to come out in beads of sweat. And I felt terrible about the one I had just discarded - I used to apologise to them and say, 'I'm sorry but I'm not using you again.' I'm so bloody soft at times." Soft and sentimental as he undoubtedly was, it was the belief which effortlessly communicated itself to the hearts and minds of the little bear's ever growing and loyal legion of fans. This magic acceptance of Sooty's existence was tellingly illustrated when Harry Corbett was awarded the O.B.E., and a special mini award was also made for Sooty.

Bye, bye, everyone...bye, bye...

THE SOUTH BANK SHOW (1978)

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Show Image Do you know your Mark Morris from your Tynchy Stryder? Your Smiths from your Elbow? Are you up to date with the most current news in the world of male ballet? Do you know who is the latest artists 'en vogue'? Well, if you are unsure then The South Bank Show is just what you need and if you are in the know then, what a clever little thing you are! Melvin Bragg's award winning show has been going strong since it's launch in 1978 and you can certainly see why. The show covers an eclectic mix of subjects that takes fans and novices alike through on a cultural journey. With such a diverse range of topics, you will not be a fan of everything but you can gain insight into a genre that you know nothing of but can learn to appreciate it for what it is. Take Grime music for example; I could probably name one or two selling artists in this genre but would not be able to scratch beneath the surface and nor would I want to really. It is not music I would choose listen to on a daily basis but the episode of The South Bank show featuring Grime music allowed a glimpse into how young people from a London estate found a way for their voices to be heard, in a unique way that meant something to them.

Creativity takes on many forms, some more appealing to us than others and some, that given a try, may just surprise us. There will be features on the show that are too unbearable for you, I for example could not stand to sit through an hour of James Bond chat and The Darkness, really? But that's ok. You can't like everything, right? With a recent move over to the fantastic Sky Arts, after its demise on ITV, there are plans for re-workings from the archives, including extra interviews and footage, so you can dip in and out of the programmes that take your fancy. Remember to include something new to you though, test that creativity of yours. Stand out episodes include the drunken and brilliant ramblings of Francis Bacon, a trip into the wonderfully eccentric world of Bjork and Alan Bennet being as wonderful as ever. In addition to the re-runs, there will be a host of new profiles that will continue to challenge audiences. The South Bank Show set the mould for future shows, most notably The Culture Show, but will always be a leader in bringing both popular and high culture to the masses. With ever increasing cuts to the arts and very few cultural programmes scheduled on mainstream TV, The South Bank Show needs to be treasured more than ever.
(Review: Deborah Giannasi)

SOUTH RIDING (1974)

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Show Image An award winning series from Yorkshire Television based on Winifred Holtby's most celebrated novel, which she originally finished writing in 1935, just a month before she died, South Riding, which starred the distinguished and much loved British actress Dorothy Tutin in the lead role of headmistress Sarah Burton and Nigel Davenport as Robert Carne, became the surprise hit of 1974. Winifred Holtby was born in 1898, the daughter of David Holtby, a prosperous Yorkshire farmer, her mother, Alice Holtby, was the first alderwoman in Yorkshire. Educated at home by a governess and then at a boarding school, Holtby passed the entrance exam for Somerville College but left in early 1918 to join the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps . After the war she returned to Somerville College where she met Vera Brittain. The two women graduated together and in 1921 and they moved to London where they hoped to establish themselves as writers. But where Vera's first two novels, The Dark Tide (1923) and Not Without Honour (1925) met with little success, Winifred had much more of an impact with Anderby Wold (1923), The Crowded Street (1924) and The Land of Green Ginger (1927). Winifred was also in demand as a journalist and over a period of twenty years she wrote for numerous newspapers and magazines. This included the feminist journal, Time and Tide, the Manchester Guardian and a regular weekly article for the trade union magazine, The Schoolmistress. Books published during this period included a critical study of Virginia Woolf and a volume of short stories; 'Truth is Not Sober.' She was a pacifist and a great critic of the class system and inherited privileges and by the late 1920s was active in the Independent Labour Party.

In 1926 Holtby spend six months in South Africa, where she learned about the conditions of native South Africans and spoke for the unionisation of black workers. Her observations of racism found their way to the novel 'Mandoa, Mandoa!' (1933). Holtby was diagnosed with Bright's Disease (sclerosis of the kidneys) in 1932, and was told she would only have two or three years to live. Determined to get as much work done as possible before the disease took its inevitable toll she put all her energy into what became her most important book, 'South Riding.' Winifred Holtby died on 29th September 1935. South Riding was published the following year and was highly praised by the critics. Partly based on Holtby's experiences as a teacher and her childhood memories of growing up in the East Riding, South Riding was a classic feminist novel that offered a panoramic view of English society which took in all social levels from lords to labourers, as the authoress demonstrates the ways in which they are affected by decisions taken by local government. The heroine, Sarah Burton, who is no doubt based on Holtby, is a feminist, socialist schoolteacher who becomes headmistress of a girls' school in the fictional Yorkshire seaside town of Kiplington, where she discovers her plans for her pupils are hindered by injustices in society. Yet despite her deeply held political convictions, she falls in love with one of her chief opponents, Tory landowner Robert Carne, whose aristocratic wife is suffering from insanity.

Another major character in South Riding, Alderman Mrs Beddows, was based on Holtby's mother, Alice, who did not find the portrait entirely flattering, and in objecting strongly to some passages, Alice tried to expurgate some of them before the novel was posthumously published. But in the face of strong opposition, Vera Brittain, working not only as Winifred's literary executor but also as her lifelong friend, worked hard and successfully to ensure they were retained. The novel had already been adapted for the cinema in 1937 but this 1974 13-part Yorkshire Television production is the best remembered and a repeat showing on Channel 4 in 1987 has helped to keep it fresh in the mind. The series won 4 major awards in 1974: Best Drama Series - (presented by The Society of Film and Television Arts of Great Britain), Best Drama Series - (presented by The Broadcasting Press Guild of Great Britain), Best Dramatisation Award to Stan Barstow - (presented by The Writers Guild of Great Britain), and Writers Award to Stan Barstow - (presented by the Royal Television Society). The series is now available on DVD.