Laugh out loud

Each month Derbyshire Libraries run a special promotion and for the month of August the theme is ‘Laugh out loud’.  The world news just lately has been a little grim to say the least and I’m sure we could all do with something to put a smile on our faces, so I thought I’d investigate our Local Studies collection to see what  Derbyshire comedy connections I could find.

There are many comedy actors with close links to the county.  Arthur Lowe, the pompous Captain Mainwaring in the classic comedy series Dad’s Army was born in the north of the county at Hayfield. Robert Lindsay, who I remember as ‘Wolfie’ in the 1970s comedy Citizen Smith was born and grew up in Ilkeston.Arthur LoweRobert Lindsay

James Bolam, best known for roles in ‘The Likely Lads’ and ‘Only When I Laugh’ was educated at Derby’s Bemrose School. He moved to Derby as a 13 year old, joining the 3rd year at the all-boys school.  He initially trained as an accountant in Derby – but he also joined the Derby Shakespeare Company, appearing at the Derby Playhouse with them.

As a child growing up in the 1970s another TV favourite was ‘The Goodies’.  Who can forget the three-seater bicycle and Kitten-Kong? Tim Brooke Taylor, one member of the famous threesome was born in Buxton and at one time was honorary Vice-President of Derby County Football Club.

Dirk Bogarde appeared in more than 60 films with a career that lasted over 50 years. His early film career included the Doctor series such as Doctor in the House and Doctor at Sea, which made him one of the most popular British film stars of the 1950s. Before this, during the second world war however, he enlisted in the army, and was sent for training in the interpretation of aerial photography at Smedley’s Hydro in Matlock, now County Hall. His training in 1943 helped him in his role in the D-Day landings where he worked with the Army Intelligence Photographic Unit.

Moving away from the silver screen and on to the printed word, children around the globe for generations have laughed at the tales by the wonderful Roald Dahl.  Roald Dahl.jpg

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda are just two of his creations, but who knew that Dahl, born in Wales to Norwegian parents was educated for a time at Repton School?

Another author whose writings have often reduced me to tears – is Chesterfield born Derek Longden.  I remember him reading his comic pieces on Radio Derby when I was a child – always hilarious.

His books on his life, starting with ‘Diana’s Story’ about the loss of his wife after years of her suffering with ME and followed by ‘Lost For Words’, about his mother had you one minute crying with laughter and the next with sorrow. So popular were they that they were adapted for television, with ‘Lost For Words’ winning a Bafta for actress Thora Hird.

Instead of words, cartoonist Bill Tidy is famous chiefly for his comic strips.  ‘The Cloggies’ appeared in Private Eye from 1967-1981,  a parody of the popular television series of the time The Forsyte Saga, but set in the industrial north instead of a genteel upper class society. Born in Cheshire, Bill now lives in Boylestone, near Ashbourne.

It’s not only people that have a comedy connection to Derbyshire – but places too.  Most of these memories seem to centre on my childhood, but bringing us more up to date we have Royston Vasey. The village in cult comedy The League of Gentlemen is actually Hadfield in Derbyshire.  The television series ran from 1999-2002 the brainchild of Jeremy Dyson, Mark Gatiss, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton. It attracted a cult following and expanded into a full length film in 2005.

Other locations used in the series were Glossop and Hope Valley. If you knew the area you could spot:

  • Hilary Briss’s scary butcher’s shop (J.W. Mettrick & Son)
  • The old fishmonger’s became a veterinary surgery
  • The empty estate agent found new life as the Attachments dating agency
  • The little handicraft emporium was transformed into a joke shop one day and a video rental shop a week later

So here we have just a few of Derbyshire’s claim to comedy fame.  Your local library will have plenty on offer to put a smile on your face over the coming month, so why not pop in and have a look.

 

Advent Calendar – Day 24

Almost there…

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Christmas card painted by John Chaplin, with Edgar Osborne, sent from Palestine in 1917, during World War One (Ref: D5063/3/3)

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Inside the card reads:
Palestine 1917
Christmas 1917
Two campaigners send you Greetings, dear Lill
Edgar
John Chaplin

 

 

 

 

Born in Bournemouth in 1890, Edgar Osborne was County Librarian for Derbyshire for 31 years (1923-1954). During World War One Edgar served on the Bulgarian Front and in Palestine, from where he sent this card to Lill, possibly his future wife Mabel Jacobson, whom he married in 1918, not long before the end of the war. Other papers of Edgar’s from this time are available to view online via our catalogue, as part of our WW1 digitisation project. Although not available to read online, this series of papers contains a very moving story about Edgar’s experience in Palestine, including how he spent Christmas Day 1917 (ref: D5063/3/2).

After the war, Edgar resumed his career in librarianship, becoming County Librarian of Derbyshire at the age of just 33. During this time, he introduced new services, such as mobile libraries, and developed his own interests in literature, especially in children’s books – an interest featuring heavily in his archive collection, which also includes Edgar’s diaries written during World War Two and papers relating to his retirement in 1954.

National Libraries Day

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This Saturday, the 8th of February, is National Libraries Day – an opportunity to celebrate libraries and library services across the UK.

Visitors to the Record Office will have seen the exhibition in our reception –  ‘I Didn’t Know You’d Got That!’ – showcasing the range of material held in the County Local Studies Library collections.  From sale catalogues to stereo cards, periodicals to postcards, the display will be available to view until 8th March.

There are also talks and workshops happening in libraries around Derbyshire – see the ‘National Libraries Day Events’ listing available here for more information.

Local History Fair

Calling all local history enthusiasts… this Saturday we will be holding a fantastic local history day at Chesterfield Library. The event includes talks, workshops, old films of Derbyshire, and the chance to find out about our new local studies and archive centre.

The event is FREE, but booking is required for some sessions – please call 01629 533400 for more information, or to book a place… don’t miss out!!