Back in my University Days one of my subjects while studying my degree was Radio Documentaries and as part of the course for my final project I had to pitch three documentary ideas. The three which I pitched were The Nat Gonella Story, which as the name suggests would have been a documentary on the first gentleman of British Jazz Trumpet. Being circa 2003 I had missed the opportunity to interview the great man by 5 years, but at the time Humphrey Lyttelton and Diz Disley were still alive and they were both fans of the man and had the good fortune of working with him, as had Digby Fairweather so for a 15 piece I would have had contributers for the documentary and with a bit of research I could have tracked down Ron Brown who wrote his Biography. In fact a few years later an updated memoir was released. However for reasons I cannot recall, I opted out of this set up… Possibly due to difficulty tracking down and booking people to interview.
My next pitch, which was the one I did, was a piece on George Gershwin’s operatic lullaby “Summertime” and how it has become one of, if not the definitive Jazz Standards. I interviewed a local semi-professional Jazz musician who was the pianist for John Burnett’s Jazz Bandits (later Tad Newton’s Jazz Friends) to discuss it.
My final, and perhaps most interesting and off-key, was a about exploring the Facts behind local folklore and myths. Most places have a story or two to tell and I thought it could be a good mix of ghost story and fact presented in a way not to take the fun out of the stories. My first port of call would have been the ghost of Wilderhope Manor.
Wilderhope Manor is an interesting place and I know it as Schools used for little get aways to do outdoor activities such as Orienteering, studying the local ecology in the various ponds and much more.
The story is that the place is haunted by the ghost of a Roundhead solider who died falling off his horse and down an embankment. A good local story for me to begin with, but my fellow students weren’t keen and were enthusiastic that all folklore tales were long dismissed. It is worth noting that many of them were from cities or the hearts of towns and that may have been a contributing factor for their skepticism. The title I pitched for the series was “The Fact of Fiction”, a title possibly borrowed from a recurring feature in Doctor Who Magazine.