1 9 5 2 – 1 9 5 7 (UK)
160 x 20 minute episodes
BBC television’s first foray into soap opera was actually children’s programme The Appleyards, which went out once every two weeks from 1952 to 1957.
Its tales of serial ordinariness made it the junior version of the BBC’s own The Grove Family, which ran for the same period. The serial aired in a children’s television slot between 5 and 6 pm, often sharing the hour with Children’s Newsreel.
It featured Mum, Dad and their children, living somewhere in the Home Counties, and initially was broadcast live. Later episodes were recorded onto tape but, apparently, were almost all wiped.
Unlike later soaps, which continue in real time, as the younger Appleyard child actors grew, they were replaced, so in this little corner of suburban England, time appeared to stand still.
In the series’ early years, Frederick Piper’s Mr Appleyard was a finely spoken, if somewhat remote character; Constance Fraser made a slight, but warm-hearted, Mrs Appleyard; and David Edwards and Maureen Davis gave a brief display of young adult spirit as the teenage offspring John and Janet. Young Tommy (Derek Rowe) and Margaret (Patricia Wilson) represented the tiny tots of the family.
The title was not to the liking of the BBC Controller of Programmes, Cecil McGivern, who famously suggested that it sounded like ‘suet pudding with a mixture of cement’.
A reunion special – Christmas With The Appleyards – was screened in 1960.
Frederick Piper (1)
Douglas Muir (2)
Maureen Davis (1)
Tessa Clarke (2)
Patricia Wilson (1)
Carole Olver (2)
Pat Fryer (3)