The Folk Process, 1


Here are the details of the broadcast cribbed from the Radio Times:

Extract from the ballad by Jose Hernandez, translated for radio by Dorita Y Pepe, who also play the guitars. With Patrick Magee as Martin Fierro, Denys Hawthorne as Cruz his comrade, The Argentinian verse read by Alec Martinez. Others taking part: Kevin McHugh, Peter King, Grizelda Hervey, and Tony Van den Burgh. Arranged for radio and produced by Frances Dillon

According to my limited sources the following is known about the participants:

Real names Dorothy & Peter Sensier; English musicians specialising in South American Folk Music. Peter Sensier (Pepe) died in 1978

Born November 10, 1834 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Little is known about his early years, though it maybe that ill health forced him to live in the pampas, where he acquired background knowledge about gauchos (argentine cowboys).

A self taught writer with political leanings, he defended the position of the provinces that did not have to remain tied to the central authorities established in Buenos Aires. In 1858, he emigrated to Parana, where he participated in the Cepeda and Pavón's Battle (on Urquiza's side). He became a reporter for the Nacional Argentino newspaper, and in 1868 he lauched the newspaper "El Eco de Corrientes" where he published articles about gauchos and the land, about politics of borders and about the Indians; topics that he would articulate in the Martin Fierro book.

He took part in the last gaucho revolution which ended in 1871 with the defeat of the gaucho and Hernández's exile. He returned to Buenos Aires in 1874, and whilst living at the Great Argentine Hotel he finished writing the book titled "El Gaucho Martin Fierro" (an epic-popular poem considered one of the greatest works in Argentine literature), and edited it in December of 1872, with great success.

In 1879, he published, The Return of Martin Fierro. Hernandez showed great skill in writing about the life of a gaucho and telling the story in the first person.

He was also congressman and in 1880, being the leader of the Congress, he defended the federation project in which Buenos Aires becamethe capital of the country. In 1881 he wrote "Instruction of the rancher" was elected senator, and later reelected until 1885. On October 21, 1886 he died in Belgrano from heart failure. His last words were: 'Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires'. His resting place is the cemetery of La Recoleta.

Dates: 1922 - 1982. Bizarre, eccentric, offbeat, erratic, quirky, all terms to describe the type of characters created by the magnificent Patrick Magee. Often seen in epics or costume dramas. He often had a mop of frizzed, unkempt white hair, which coupled with his stone face, very intense eyes and stocky physique made for unique character portrayals. Born in Armagh, Northern Ireland on March 31, 1922 and raised there, he began acting in Ireland in the 1950s. From there he moved on to London where as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He became a respected and renowned stage actor and felt that the stage was his medium and that films were nothing more than a means of accumulating money to finance his stage career. He appeared in low budget horror films as a villain most often but also created many memorable roles.

He has had a long and distinguished career encompassing extensive work in theatre, television and film, both in England and Ireland. Drama has included Shakespeare and Chekhov, as well as many contemporary plays, while he has been seen in popular TV series including Inspector Morse and Father Ted, and The Russia House and Emma on the wide screen. Throughout, radio performance has been a constant theme, notably in drama and poetry.

No information.

No information.

This may be the same Peter King better known as a radio producer. I can't quite place the manager of Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club (and Jazz saxophonist) in a dramatic role!

Born 1901, Plomesgate, England, UK. Died 17 December 1980 No other information.

Edward Henry Coote "Tony" Van den Bergh, writer and broadcaster: born London 4 July 1916; married 1941 Ursula Grove (one daughter); died London 3 May 2000. Perhaps better known as a writer and broadcaster on medical matters, than as an actor.

I don't know if the information I found for Francis Dillon relates to the same producer, but it seems likely that it's the right man: Dillon, Francis Edward Juan [Jack] (1899–1982), radio producer, was born on 9 December 1899 at 16 Lewis Street, Walsall, son of Francis Herbert Dillon, a gymnastics instructor, and his wife, Monica Gannon. At the age of fourteen he went to Dr Stephenson's academy in Yorkshire to train for the army. In 1915 he went on to Ayr Academy before active service in Flanders. He is reported to have fought with the White Army in Russia, but escaped via the Far East and ended his military career with the Black and Tans in Ireland.

Dillon's next employment was as a tax inspector in Manchester, where he remained until 1936. At the time Manchester was the centre of exciting experimental work in the new medium of the radio feature. Now better known as Jack, Dillon joined producers Archie Harding and D. G. Bridson as a scriptwriter. He married and he and his wife, (Hilda) Tania (b. 1901), had at least one daughter. By 1938 he had moved to Bristol as west regional features producer and in 1941 he joined London features and drama department to contribute to the BBC's war effort.

In 1941 Dillon joined another features writer and producer, the poet Louis MacNeice, on an infamous recording trip on board the destroyer HMS Chelsea. They spent nine days patrolling the northern Atlantic and indulging in late night drinking sessions that kept the crew awake. The trip resulted in a programme, Freedom's Ferry, and began a lifetime friendship between the two men, with Dillon's character immortalized as Devlin in MacNeice's poem ‘The Autumn Sequel’.

In 1942 Dillon began the Sunday radio series Country Magazine which ran for twelve years. The idea for the series originated from the Ministry of Agriculture which felt such a programme would be helpful in wartime when travel between town and country was so restricted. On the third anniversary of the series the Sunday Pictorial ran an article on the producer:

Francis Dillon, the man who has gathered the farmers, basket makers, cowherds and glovemakers together is … a homespun type, wears corduroys and a fisherman's hand knitted guernsey in Portland Place bars, drinks beer, and doesn't like the idea of getting publicity in the Press.

Dillon's other wartime programmes included Know your Enemies written by William Empson and Igor Vinogradoff and concerning the Japanese people. In 1947 he accompanied Louis MacNeice and Wynford Vaughan Thomas on a three-month trip to India to record the events leading up to independence. In later years Dillon made a number of imaginative adaptations of fairy tales. He won second prize and £500 at the first Prix Italia award in 1949 for The Old and True Story of Rumpelstiltskin. His factual series such as I Like my Job made good use of new recording technologies in the field.

While researching the career of the probation officer he was attacked by three men with razors in Covent Garden and he received eighteen stitches to his hands. Francis Dillon retired from the BBC in 1959, but continued as a freelance writer and producer from his home in Arundel. He died of pneumonia on 9 December 1982, his eighty-third birthday, at Arundel Hospital, Arundel.

In compiling the above information I had access to detailed biographies for only three of those involved in the above production. It would be good to know more - perhaps somebody out there can supply some of the missing details and would be prepared to forward the information.

Gil Swain

compiled by Gil Swain / Diversity website

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