New Theatre Quarterly



Jeremy Sandford: a Docu-Retrospect

(Containing an Explanation, an (Undelivered) Funeral Oration, Divers Reminiscences, a Draft Treatment for a Docudrama (and Some Shandyan Digressions)


Derek Paget 

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Abstract

Containing an Explanation, an (Undelivered) Funeral Oration, Divers Reminiscences, a Draft Treatment for a Docudrama (and Some Dialogue Therefrom), and Some Shandyan Digressions. When, back in 1972, the original Theatre Quarterly devoted one of its earliest issues (TQ6) to television drama, the strongest reactions were to remarks by Tony Garnett concerning the recently developed form already being dubbed documentary drama. Subsequent issues featured both an attack on the form from Paul Ableman, and a vigorous defence from its leading practitioner– Jeremy Sandford, author of the seminal Cathy Come Home (1966) and Edna the Inebriate Woman (1972). The debate continues, but despite the critical esteem in which Sandford's work is held, the man himself became persona non grata on national television, and devoted himself to his many other concerns, notably the traditions and present treatment of the gypsy people. He died on 12 May 2003 – an apparent recluse, yet with websites devoted to hundreds of loving tributes from young and old alike. The leading historian of docudrame, Derek Paget – author of True Stories: Documentary Drama on Radio, Stage, and Television (Manchester University Press, 1990) – here offers a tribute which refuses to fit a ‘proper’ academic format, and takes on something of the variegated style of Sandford's own work.