Round at the Redways

1955 | United Kingdom

A curious mixture of soap opera and DIY, Round at the Redways appeared on the new independent network on a Wednesday at 5.45pm from the first week of ITV’s launch.

The weekly 15-minute serial depicts the daily life of the Redway family. Bill Redway (Howard Greene) runs a small ironmongery shop in a London suburb with the help - and hindrance - of his wife Ruth (Marjorie Lawrence) and their children, Maureen (Jacqueline Wall) and "Noke", short (apparently) for Pinocchio (Andrew Irvine).

Clearly aimed at children, it would be the last programme broadcast in the late afternoon before the ‘toddler’s truce’, a one-hour closedown of television which enabled parents to settle their younger children before getting them off to bed, and was very likely based, if not influenced, by the BBC soap opera for children; The Appleyards in respect of a family drama that may have appealed to a younger audience.

As the ‘man of the house’, Bill Redway was not only the shop keeper but also the family handyman, although he displayed a certain ineptness in the DIY jobs he undertook. This was not the case of the actor who played him. Born Henry Howard Greenhouse he trained as a draughtsman's assistant and an architect. Whilst studying at Cardiff College he befriended fellow pupil Terry Nation and the pair worked together on student productions. This led to working weekends at the New Theatre, Cardiff, as a stagehand and ultimately to becoming an actor. To supplement his income, Greenhouse applied himself to anything and everything, including stage management, design, building, acting, writing, and teaching children with special needs. In 1950 he changed his name to Harry Greene by deed poll. Greene is the father of the former Blue Peter presenter Sarah Greene. It’s not known why he was credited as Howard Greene for this series.

Round at the Redways

Whilst working as an actor, Greene met his ‘Round at the Redways’ co-star, Marjorie Lawrence, and by the time they came to the screen as husband and wife, they were real-life husband and wife. Andrew Irvine, better known now as Andy Irvine, the curiously named son ‘Noke’, later became one of Ireland's leading folk musicians.

The show ran for seven months and when it came to an end Marjorie Lawrence approached Associated Rediffusion with a proposal for Harry to film a DIY show based on him doing up their flat in Primrose Hill, North London. First shown on 4 January 1957, ‘Handy Round the Home’ emphasised practical demonstrations that viewers could copy at home. With that series Harry Greene became television's first DIY expert and his catchphrase, "Safety first; DIY second" made him a household name. During his lifetime, Greene wrote over 23 books, presented more than 2,000 DIY programmes, and via his building company provided bespoke construction services to over 32 stars of stage and television.

‘Round at the Redways’ was either filmed or broadcast live from a small studio in Kensington, London, that A-R had purchased in May 1955. Sadly, no evidence exists of it having survived in the archives.

Published on November 22nd, 2020. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.