❉ Recently discovered music from a lost children’s supernatural drama series from 1972.
Lost and forgotten, Hereford Wakes was a five-part ITV children’s drama originally transmitted over the summer of 1972 and produced by Wales’ Harlech Television (HTV) – home of Sky, Children of the Stones, King of the Castle and Into The Labyrinth.
Roy Kinnear played Mayor Hamilton, aided and abetted by local newspaper reporter Jane Meadows (Elisabeth Sladen), white witch Heddwen (Camila Vargas) and archaeologist Robbie Duggan (Iain Tranter).
The series’ obscurity is explained by the fact that a Welsh Nationalist transmission engineer deliberately confined the broadcast of the programme to Wales, failing to perform the switch required and thus enabling the Welsh language programme Ffalabalam to be shown on the nationwide ITV network whilst Hereford Wakes was shown only in Wales.
Little is known about this obscure children’s supernatural drama series, until footage of its titles appeared online. The curator of this footage takes up the story:
“I first came across the name ‘Hereford Wakes’ on a television nostalgia forum in a proposed list of forgotten series that deserved a re-issue on DVD. The title sounded familiar but it was some time before I connected a very old childhood memory with the programme which I now know I had undoubtedly seen at some point.
“Hamstrung by rotten ITV scheduling, the popularity of the 1972 Munich Olympics being shown on the BBC and – it emerged – a Welsh nationalist transmission engineer (who failed to switch the local Welsh-language programme ‘Ffalabalam’ to its Welsh region only broadcast, meaning the first episode was confined only to ITV Wales and not broadcast nationwide as advertised), ‘Hereford Wakes’ sank almost immediately into obscurity, further buried by a brand new daytime television schedule launched by ITV in October 1972 which – at least initially – rarely showed repeats.”
“It was only when I came across a stack of vintage TV Times – the ITV listings magazine – that I was able to at last gather more information. The meagre credits given did not illuminate much other than mentioning Roy Kinnear and Elisabeth Sladen (both sadly no longer with us). The other cast members were long forgotten or did not appear to work again, very similar to many television thespians from that era. It is easy to forget how prolific the British television industry was at this time and many programmes were broadcast once then wiped, lost or forgotten.
“I joined many nostalgia forums and posted questions about the series in the hope of learning more and it became something of an obsession with me. I tracked down (eventually) more relevant TV Times from ebay and struck gold with a short article about the young actress who had played the witch in the series. I was also sent some photographs from forum members which helped to build a better picture.
“Last year, through a whole network of coincidence, I was able to make contact with a relative of the series’ composer – a German who happened to be holidaying in Wales at the time of the production and seems to been approached due to difficulties with the proposed composer.
“The track names are taken from the box that the half-inch tape reel Thorsten’s niece had digitized came in. Although there are only eight pieces here, the good news is that there may be more. I am hoping to visit Thorsten’s niece in Germany later this year and help to sort through some of her late uncle’s old tape reels with a view to releasing them.”
A combination of luck and coincidence means that the music from Hereford Wakes can now be enjoyed for the first time.
❉ You can find the “recently uncovered” music for this series at https://herefordwakes.bandcamp.com/releases
❉ With thanks to Rachel Laine.