Help Make the Next Programme!

So it’s 2014 and the Bald Explorer is polishing his head and getting his walking boots out the cupboard for another year of exploring the British landscape. He will be winding up the clockwork mechanism on his camera and getting out to make another set of programmes for you to enjoy.

The next place I have my eye on is St. Albans in Hertfordshire. Boudicca attacked and burnt the Roman town there, the great Watling Street runs through it and the first engagement in the Wars of the Roses happened in a car park there. And there is plenty more besides …

In the past I have funded the (to date – eight) documentaries myself with the occasional help from generous fans of the show. The Community Channel really like the programmes and I get emails and messages from viewers who think the series should be on mainstream channels. Take this one from Jill C on Twitter:

Just watched @BaldExplorer on @ComChanTV exploring the canals of Britain. Here’s a programme needs more exposure! A ‘must watch!’

and this one from Les Benson via BE page on Facebook …

Brilliant programme. Presenter shows real interest in the subject and not with himself as is the case with most presenters.

Many are surprised to learn that the programme has, in fact, no budget at all, and that there isn’t a large crew of people running around making it happen. In the reality, it is just myself and one other and often that other is my son, Billy.

However, it does cost money to make the Bald Explorer documentaries. Apart from the wear and tear on filming gear and copious cups of tea and coffee required, there are also fees to contributors, insurances, fuel for transport, over night accommodation, sustenance and, on occasions, props to be bought.

The normal 45 minute programme takes about 6-10 days of filming and the further it is away from home, the more expensive it is to produce. Then, of course, there are the days before production starts, when I make a reconnoitre and find out where to film, meet the contributors, assess the problems likely to be encountered, such as parking, aircraft noise, access to locations, toilets and so forth.

So, I am now asking for additional help from the lovely supporters of the programme; would you help contribute? Even a small sum like £10 helps pay for parking costs. Last year, I did try the Kickstarter thing, but we didn’t reach the target and so none of the pledges ever reached me, even though plenty of people offered considerable sums. I do, however, have a Paypal donate button on the right hand side of the website and any money collected goes straight into a special production account of the Bald Explorer programme.

If you can help, it would enable me and the crew to make another episode at the beginning of the spring when the weather is warmer and the colours are bright. Thanks so much.

The Bald Explorer in 2014

My job, if you can call it that, with the Bald Explorer programmes, is to look back in history and follow a story from the past with the perspective of today. In other words, I am retracing the steps of people or things that have gone before us, whether they are the smugglers on the Romney Marshes or a Shropshire canal that has long since been abandoned. I also try to discover the historical highlights from small, perhaps lesser known, towns and villages in the British landscape.

The documentaries, which are broadcast on the Community Channel, a not-for-profit television station and freely available to most of the British population on various digital platforms, as well as on the internet website, Youtube, are completely self-funded. By that I mean, the production budget, such as it is, comes directly from my own pocket or the kind donations received from viewers and fans who appreciate the series. I am not, at time of writing anyway, in receipt of any payment for the programmes and they currently do not make any financial return.

Although these somewhat quirky, individual, and hopefully unique, programmes are not what could be strictly described as ‘expensive’ to produce (I visit places and present the material to camera), there are costs associated with each episode. Travel expenses, overnight stays, liability insurance, food and, occasionally, location fees can be listed as the necessary out-goings that I have to find. To date, I have been lucky, in that it has been possible to cajole friends, offspring or interested parties to give up their time for free and assist me with the making of the Bald Explorer episodes. The subjects covered and locations visited have, for the most part, been within easy reach of my home, or a friend’s home, and as a result, the programmes have been made possible to produce. However, as we move into the future, and with 2014 around the corner, I would like to broaden the scope and reach of the Bald Explorer documentaries. Travelling further afield and exploring places that are genuinely ‘new’ to me would, I am certain, add value, as well as, audience enjoyment, to the series. The problem is financing it all.

I have experimented with a fund-raising campaign on Kickstarter, but the results, although optimistic, did not bring in enough pledges to make a series of several episodes in one go – the most cost-effective method of making television programmes. As a consequence, I am forced to continue making each episode one at a time and simply try to cover the basic expenses. Naturally, at this stage, I am more than happy to give up my free time to produce the episodes (they are very important to me) but, self-funding them as before, is no longer possible.

The question, therefore, is can the viewing public help and how can this be managed?

In an ideal world, it would be great to have a dedicated fund-raiser to take on the role of managing the fundraising process. I am not sure I can do this myself, for I know my limitations and although I maybe good at researching the shows, scripting the episodes, pre, shoot and post production processes, the marketing and money-finding is definitely not one my strengths. So, I would be curious to see if the readers of my website and enthusiastic fans of the show might like to help or could suggest ideas towards raising the necessary cash to make the future episodes of the Bald Explorer happen?

Before I leave you, as always, may I please draw your attention to the donations button on the top right hand side of the Bald Explorer website, where your generosity is much appreciated. Thank you.

In Production… Chalybeate

In the next Bald Explorer programme, hopefully aired on the Community Channel in 2014, I am in search of the spring water of a Spa town in Kent. I am referring to Chalybeate of Tunbridge Wells – that’s pronounced ‘kal-eeb-ee-ot’ by the way, meaning iron water. I want to tell how the original orange coloured waters were discovered, by whom and how a fashionable resort arose from nothing at the beginning of the 17th century. Jason Reeve, my son Billy and myself have been stalking around the Kentish weald with camera and tripod, boom pole and microphone getting the facts (as far as they are known) onto digital media. I will be editing the footage and shaping it up into a TV programme fairly soon. There is still much, however, to do.

toad2Today, for example, I was over at an actor friend of mine’s abode shooting a short sequence depicting the eminent physician and Spa enthusiast, Augustus Granville, who wrote an entertaining book The Spas of England, published in 1841.  He wasn’t terribly impressed with the spring water or the resort when he visited at the beginning of the Victorian period, although to be fair to the town of Tunbridge Wells, it was a few years after its most fashionable period, the 18th Century. He bemoaned that few used the cold bath and that there was little mineral quality to the famous water. Nick Scahill, who collects all things Victorian, agreed very kindly to play the part of Granville.

The wells, named after the local medieval town of Tunbridge (now spelt Tonbridge and four miles to the north) are located in an area known as the Pantiles. It has nothing to do with the architectural titles you find on roof tops. These were small square clay fired titles baked in special pans and laid on a walkway in front of the spring head. Unfortunately, they have now gone, but the name lingers on, much to the confusion of visitors and no doubt some residents of the town.

granville

I am hoping to film in the privately owned Pantiles area very soon and obtain an interview a Dipper (a lady in traditional dress who dishes out the water for tourists to taste) and record a conversation with the curator of the Tunbridge Wells museum about the fine Tunbridge Ware that became all the rage in 1700s.

Don’t forget, you can help make the Bald Explorer programmes happen by making a small donation via the special button on the right hand side of the website. The shows are completely self-funded for transmission on the Community Channel which is a not-for-profit TV station. If you do make a contribution, I will make sure you get to see a copy of the finished episode before it is broadcast. Thank you very much.

 

 

Taking the Waters: Preview

The Bald Explorer is back and the next production is under way (Autumn 2013). In this episode, ‘Taking the Waters’, Richard Vobes, aka the Bald Explorer is investigating the story of the spring water discovered at a spot near the medieval town of Tonbridge in Kent – later it was to become Royal Tunbridge Wells.

Richard wants to find out what makes the water so good, how it became popular and why is there today for visitors who are keen to make the excursions today.

This is a teaser video, partly filmed on the common near Royal Tunbridge Wells (www.twcommons.org) and at High Rocks, a popular tourist resort and wedding venue (www.highrocks.com). The full production will be available in early 2014 on the Community Channel (www.communitychannel.org).

Follow him on Twitter: @BaldExplorer or Richard Vobes @Vobes.

Crew: Producer/Presenter – Richard Vobes. Photography – Jason Reeve. Sound – Billy Lindsey.

Taking the Waters

Working has started on the next Bald Explorer episode. I shall be off to the Sussex and Kent border to taste the waters at the Georgian Spa town of Royal Tunbridge Wells. I am working with my new cameraman, Jason Reeve, who as it happens, conveniently lives in the same town.

Like my town visits programmes I want to get to the bottom of some of the quirky and unusual historic aspects of the town, as well as trying the Chalybeate spring water with its iron health-giving properties. The programme is to be broadcast on the Community Channel, probably in the new year (2014) along with other that I have planned.

One of the lesser known facts about Royal Tunbridge Wells is the deposits of sandstone all around the area. The Kentish Weald and Sussex Downland hills are more known for their clay and chalk, but there are some very unusual rocks to explore in the area.

If you would like to support the Bald Explorer in this non-profit venture and help fund the programmes, may I direct you to the Donate Button on the right of this website. If you donate, I will make sure you get a copy of the finished programme before it is transmitted on the TV. Anything you can spare would be most welcome. Thanks very much.

talk

At the beginning of 2011, I started to formulate ideas for a documentary series in which I explore the history, places and legends of the British nation. By the Autumn of 2012, I had a number of full length episodes produced and had been approached by the Community Channel to have them broadcast.

The series is set to grow and with luck transfer to other channels.

But why television and why go to the trouble and expense of funding these programmes on a shoestring budget in the first place? My story is an odd one.

I started as a teenager making 8mm home movies, went to mime school in London, walked on glass and ate fire for a living. I also wrote and starred in a children’s slapstick television series and acted as a bit part player in many of TV classic’s, including London’s Burning, Waiting for God, The Bill and Poirot, to name but a few. I have a few stories to tell there!

Unfortunately, in my mid 40s, I lost an eye and had a number of operations from 2006 onwards so turned to the corporate world of video production – I guessed, if I was no good in front of the lens, I could at least pay the mortgage by working behind the camera.

The corporate world is not a world I fully understand, or enjoy, so to combat that, I started to record audio podcasts – I even won an award for it for the best ‘Sound Seeing Tours’!

But heritage and history has been in my blood, only I didn’t know it. When I realised this, I wanted to learn more about our fabulous nation and make films about it.

My talk is fun, witty and entertaining. I come self contained, with a PA if necessary and do not need any hi-tech assistance.

Find out more here: Talks Website