'Salad Days'

Photo of bowler hatted characters from 'Salad Days'

A village production of 'Salad Days', the hit musical of Cold War England, offers insights on backstage Ditchling: an exercise in nostalgia or updated escapism for a new dark age?

Ditchling's strong arts tradition and deep well of theatrical talent, is exemplified by a well-established amateur dramatics society, The Ditchling Players.

This lively film follows a recent village production of 'Salad Days', the musical hit of 1950s, Cold War Britain. Is the choice of this very safe show, simply updated escapism for a new Dark Age? From auditions, through Autumn rehearsals, we observe a series of minor on and off stage dramas as the Players prepare for a week of performances.

Ditchling's 'Salad Days' is an opportunity to get to know the characters behind the on stage performers and the skilled production team behind the show - one of them marking his sixth decade with the Players.

Sonia Stock former West End actress, is a central figure in the film, as she directs and produces 'Salad Days'. Now approaching her eightieth birthday she still sets an impressive pace and very tough standards.

One of the lead actors, a former Sales Executive in the international bottle top industry, is Roger Broadbent, who talks movingly about his Egyptian childhood and the paradox of his archetypal Englishness. Ginny, his wife of forty-five years, once a singer with Donald Swann, also features. They met on the Ditchling stage in 1958.

'Salad Days' is an affectionate, backstage portrait of a very English village.

Yellow Brick Road

Photo: James Barrie

To contact Luke Holland at ZEF Productions Limited, or to purchase DVDs of the series, 'A Very English Village', please click on this image.

The Ditchling Films: 'A Very English Village'
This series of five documentary films for the award-winning BBC 'Storyville' strand, were first transmitted by the BBC in Autumn 2005 and repeated on BBC2 in January 2007.

Going for the Kill
The first film in the series follows a year in the life of Sussex farmer and Master of the local hunt, Gary Lee, at the time when the contentious Hunting Bill was being debated in Parliament.

Looking for Mr Gill
An exploration of the legacy that Eric Gill, maverick genius of the Arts and Crafts Movement, has left to Ditchling, the early twentieth century setting for his controversial experiment in art and community.

Closing Time
Ditchling campaigns to save the village pub from a commercial assault that makes a nonsense of democracy and of community.

The Ditchling Ladies
This, the last film in the series, features four ladies of Ditchling, two in their nineties, who offer entertaining and improbably lively insights on life, loss and love.

Film reviews and comments
'An elegiac 90-minute film...an engrossing and deftly crafted documentary.' The Sunday Times. Read more newspaper reviews and viewers' comments.

BBC Interview with Luke Holland
Transcript of an interview by the BBC with the film-maker, Luke Holland, about the making of the five-part documentary series, 'A Very English Village'.

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