Hey folks, this is quite exciting! Terry Taylor, the editor of a magazine which is put out twice a year for the Just William Society in the U.K., had been in touch with me a few weeks ago to ask if we could put together the story of my life. Daunting!
Not quite the whole story but a lot of it, starting with my being “discovered” as they used to say, on a bus in Chipperfield, and my beginnings as a child actor in wartime London with comedian Will Hay on BBC radio.
We performed the act for the King, Queen, and Princesses 4 days before the war ended. What followed was my being cast as “Just William”, and the downward spiral of my life as an actor to the present day. That’s 69 years! Here’s what he had to say:
Imagine my surprise, on opening my emails one morning, to find myself reading: “Hi. Hope to hear from someone. We should link up. John Clark.”
John Clark, who, from October 1945 to March 1947, was the first actor to star as Just William in the first two series of the popular BBC radio programme (some 61 episodes in all)! John Clark, who additionally starred in the first Just William stage play and who also became the first William on TV. You bet I would link up. John had found us through our website while checking out Alick Hayes, whom he described as his mentor. He said there were some corrections he could make and could maybe add some interesting facts. Then, after I had contacted him, he kindly agreed to answer my questions but, since he now lives in Hollywood (“A long distance in time and space from those heady days in 1947 when I played William”) he suggested this could best be done via email.
So I posed a series of questions, which John answered and this is the result. Except it wasn’t quite! As we proceeded John started to remember more and more and this inspired more questions. The illustrations triggered even more memories; indeed John said how grateful he was since, in the process of writing, he had uncovered so much about his past. (Unfortunately, he had lost much of his memorabilia when the basement in which it was stored was flooded.)
In short, we went through a number of versions before arriving at this final result. The journey was stimulating and amusing for us both and we certainly owe John a big thank you for the time and trouble he has taken. I am sure you will enjoy the results.
The magazine comes out next week, and if anybody’s interested in reading it, they will just have to join the Society. It’s full of the history of Just William through the short stories of the legendary writer Richmal Crompton, who began her creation in 1922. You will also see the wonderful illustrations of Thomas Henry.
Here’s how to join and obtain the magazine, plus lots of other stuff. Click on the Society website below, and then go to membership. You’ll see you can send in your personal check in your own currency (Canadian, U.S., Australian, Euro, whatever), and they’ll take care of converting it. But first Use this currency converter to figure out the amount equivalent to £12 (annually, they send out a reminder.) I just bought a membership for my grandson’s birthday, in Dublin. Cost me $20. Reasonable enough:
Make check out to JW Society, and mail to: JW Subscriptions, Paula Wild, Easter Badbea, Dundonnell, Wester Ross, Scotland, IV23 2QX
If you have questions, email Paula at: email@example.com
Annual subscription is £10 UK adult; £5 UK child under 16. ALL OVERSEAS MEMBERSHIP IS £12.
Paula can also supply back copies of the magazine to members only, at £3.50 each.
Magazine Editor: Terry Taylor, Drift House, Coney Weston Road, Sapiston, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk,
IP31 1RX (Tel: 01359 269292 email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you have any memories, ideas, comments or articles, email them to the editor before mailing hardcopy.
Websites: Lez McLair (email: email@example.com.)
Society website: www.justwilliamsociety.co.uk
Just William website: www.justwilliam.co.uk