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.

St Albans – a bloody history!

Yesterday I jumped on a train and stepped off in a city that has been the site of plenty of murderous history in its time. I was in St. Albans. I was surprised to learn it was a city, being that it started and remained for most of it’s life a ‘one street town’. By that I mean, like many places in Britain, it grew up around a through road, and in this case the famous Roman road of Watling Street.

The city was named after Saint Alban, the first British Christian martyr who was beheaded by the Romans for refusing to give up his new faith. Alban, originally a Romano-British pagan, was so impressed with the piety of a Christian priest that he sheltered from religious persecution that he cast off his pagan beliefs and became a Christian convert. When the Romans came calling, Alban offered himself up in the place of the other priest. As a result, when this was discovered, the Romans became so angry they beheaded him. Later, when invaders returned home to Rome, the Roman City of Verulamium became known as St. Albans.

Before that, Boudicca, queen of the British Iceni tribe, led an uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire. She and her tribe of warriors went on the rampage against the invaders attacking what is now called Colchester, London and St Albans. It took place in AD 60-61. Below the ground of these three towns archeologists have discovered a layer of carbon and ash. It is the remains from the sacking (burning down to the ground) of these Roman occupied centers.

battlefield-bookI was here, not to attack or rampage the place, but to meet up with author Robert Bard and his assistant Leslie Abrahams, to talk about the two battles from the War of the Roses that also took place on this historic site. Robert’s book, London’s Lost Battlefields, explains that there were two important conflicts fought here. The first, on 22nd May 1455, kicked off the numerous battles of the 32 year feud between the most powerful families in England at the time. Each side, represented by the colour of a rose, was vying for right to be King.

This war should have been called the War of the Car Parks; it is hard to believe that in an unassuming St Alban’s car park (one that Robert found a unique way of getting his car into – through the closed of bollards) opposite a pub, the first confrontation of the War of the Roses began. It would eventually lead to the death of Richard the Third and a burial in another car park in Grey Friars Street, Leicester. However, as you stand in the first car park, picturing how the Yorkists faced up to the Lancastrians for the first time, there is no official plaque or marker to tell the visitor of this important historical moment.

A great amount of detail from the two battles that took place during the War of the Roses in St Albans has been recorded. There is plenty of gory descriptions by those that took part, and also from observers living in or visiting the town. You may walk up the high street, between St. Peter’s church, at one end, and the Abbey at the other, with a 15th century clock tower near the middle, and picture the carnage and death that was happening 558 years ago. Many of the original buildings remain standing.

I am planning to return with my camera and make an episode of the Bald Explorer in the new year (2014) and tell part of that story.

If you would like to help make this happen and would like to be one of the first people to enjoy this episode, before it becomes broadcast on the Community Channel, then please make a donation on the right hand side of the BE website. Without out your support these important programmes, which incidentally are not funded in any other way, cannot happen. Thanks very much.