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Now And Then

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Susie and I saw that, on Anglia TV last night.

Dr Packman, sitting there in a half decker, complacently telling us how much better the Broads are now, and all the problems that have been solved by him , since the bad old days of the 70s and all based on an Anglia exhumation of a film called "No Lullaby For Broadland". I have always tried not to be personal about Dr Packman when talking about the BA but this is a dirty trick. A punch below the belt and I now lose all respect for him.

Are you sitting comfortably? I will tell you a story. . . . .

Television journalism can be biased in whatever way they want you to see things.

In the late 70s there were problems on the Broads - no doubt of that - but the gutter press had jumped on it and blamed it all on the hire boats and the holidaymakers. In other words, biting the hand that feeds you. This was all brought to a head when Anglia TV produced this film. It was adopted by Friends of The Earth (FOE) who championed it as their cause for the "natural beauty" of the Broads.

It all came to a head at a public meeting held in Norwich Guildhall in 1980, chaired by someone awfully senior - it may have been the Lord Lieutenant - to discuss the problems of pollution, as well as the bad press which was killing the tourist industry upon which the Broads depended. Standley Bushell attended on behalf of the River Commissioners and I attended as a director of Blakes. Standley and I, in public meeting, succeeded in convincing Andrew Lees of the FOE that they must dis-associate themselves from this film as it was a gross and disgraceful misrepresentation of the truth. We also persuaded him that we were actually on the same side as he was!

Lord Buxton, the then owner of Anglia TV, heard about this two days later, watched the film and ordered all copies to be returned at once to Anglia House and destroyed. If you Google it now, you won't find it. But you will find the press cuttings which decried it and vilified it at the time. 

What was wrong with it? It simply used camera tricks to portray what the film company wanted you to see. Easy to show rubbish strewn on the bank - just get the film crew to throw it there and then film it, in several different locations. Yes, they were seen doing it. Likewise dead fish, floating belly up in the "polluted" water. Just buy some fish from the local eel fisherman that morning, place the same fish in several different locations in the reeds and then film them. How do I know this? Norman Webb, the eel fisherman from Horning, was a friend of mine. he told me about it.

Even David Court, the MD of Blakes, complained on TV that he had seen the same dead bird filmed eight times, in different places.

The shot of a lot of "rubbish" dumped all over a "river" bank was back-filling for the new quay heading being built in Porter and Haylett's new basin in Wroxham. The film crew must have been trespassing on private land to get that shot, as Porter and Haylett never gave them permission.

And what about all the shots of the overcrowding of boats? It may occur to you that these are all long range telephoto shots taken down a long straight river. But do they represent the Broads as they really were? It's easy, isn't it? If you want to show a seriously overcrowded river, just go down the other end of Horning reach with a long range telephoto camera, and film the mixed one-design start of the Three Rivers Race! Sure enough, you will film an overcrowded river. But is it a true and faithful depiction of the Broads as they were? Of course not!

Also very easy to show bank erosion caused by excessive wash. Just make the excessive wash with your own camera boat!

The point is, that this disgusting and in-excusable "investigative journalism" brought about a drastic recession in the Broads tourist industry, from which it has never even half recovered. Yes, there were other factors, such as dear old Freddie Laker and the "global economy" but for Dr Packman to now grasp this wonderful opportunity to profit from an obvious "leak" by Anglia TV after 40 years, is a cheap trick.

So what has really changed?

Water quality, is the big one. But this would have been improved anyway, by measures already in place. It had already been proved that boats were not the problem, as pumpout toilets had been put in place (by the boatyards) about 8 years before this film was made. The problem was farm fertilisers and local domestic sewage works. As the water quality improved, so the reed fringe grew back and protected the banks from wash erosion. But none of this was anything to do with the BA! It all happened years before they were created and even today, it is not within their remit. So they cannot glibly congratulate themselves for it.

What else has changed for the good? Not a lot really. You can't get under Potter Heigham, or Wroxham, bridges any more, in  boats that were designed to do so. The  north rivers are just as crowded as I remember them but with less moorings and no more boatyards (discouraged by early BA policy) so no services, very few pumpouts or rubbish bins, very little mechanical repair service - you name it!

As I see it, for Dr Packman to sit there in his sailing boat and try to tell us how marvellous it all now is, in this fairyland that he has created for us, based on a film previously banned as being a gross journalistic lie, is astounding arrogance.

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I absolutely agree with Vaughn.  This was an early piece of 'fake news' in every respect.  I was personally involved at the time.  That boat 'traffic' was, indeed, made to look much worse by the use of a very powerful long lens - but even that isn't the full story.  All the boat traffic, our boat included, had been told by the Anglia TV crew to pull up at the riverbank.  At a given signal, probably twenty minutes later, we were told we could all head off again 'en masse'.  The ultimate irony was that the cameraman, filming at one point from the roof of the tv crew's own hired cruiser, toppled into the water and spent several days in the local hospital suffering phosphate poisoning.

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1 hour ago, Regulo said:

BTW, I can watch the original film on the Anglia website OK.

In which case, that's fine! It's all 40 years ago, after all. I just wanted members to be aware of the TRUTH behind what they see on the screen.

Dr Packman may not even know the truth. But he is certainly trying to exploit it for his own ends and I object to that.

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I do see why the film is liked by the head of the broads authority, its the inclusion of a shot that says the broads should be a national park - now wheres me tin hat.

did anyone notice in the interview when the reporter mentioned something about the history of the broads and mentioned the authority that JP responded with  'the broads yes' when in reality it was prior to the broads authority foundation?

having now watched both and taken on board the comments from Vaughan, I can appreciate now the cleverness that is attributed to JP, though to use this footage in the way they have does seem very sneaky to me.

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Certainly by reading Vaughan and Expilots comments I now see the film in a very different light. Thank you both.

 When i watched the film this morning, the boat speeding past the reporter creating wash was the one bit where It was pretty obvious it was staged, didnt think that re the dead wildlife though. Hated seeing that :( 

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Taken from Broadland Memories website showing at the time there was a lot of upset about this film.

However, what I think the film shows (looking past the playing up to the camera) is a time where the collective 'we' in this country really enjoyed a good, fun holiday and mixed in with people. For myself this takes me back to times on holiday as a child  in Devon, Cornwall and Dorset - hotels with no television in the rooms so you had the 'Television Room' and people would mix and talk and laugh and join in more together. 

On the Broads you would feel all part of the same 'club' and merrily moor up along side and talk about where you had been, what scrapes you'd got into and the like. Pubs would be full of families and kids doing what kids generally should do - run about and mess around (for some reason I always remember bright orange outdoor chairs with a sort of lattice back to them). Grown ups would share stories of where they were from, what they did and there was always need to explain the exact route and road numbers you had taken to get to the boatyard and another man would then interject with a better route that might have only shaved 10 minutes off.

The thing  is, we seemed to all not think much about was the actual waterways - they were a given, the boats too - so what if it was a bit mucky and a bit bashed about and the batteries only gave you an hours worth of TV in the evening, it was fun and you felt part of something great. It as a real adventure holiday with cosy berths and 'funny' three burner hobs and the smell of matches being struck to light gas heaters or to boil a kettle, oh that brings me right back. That comes through so well in those films and here now, with all our communication in our hands, Facebook Groups, this Forum we seem to have lost that. Kids just stare at phones, parents keep to their little group on their table with very little interaction between people going on.

These days we moan about boats not being moored closely enough to each other to allow more boats to get on a mooring, we talk about how good food was (or was not) in a pub and take photos of it, but we don't talk about the quality of the Beer. We post countless photos digitally but then keep so few to ever bother to look back on in a decades time or share with kids growing up now 'that was what it was like in the year 2000' , and above all we just don't seem to interact with strangers who become friends in reality - we do it all in comments and likes on Social Media...Even if we find out that they were posting from a boat 6 down from ourselves.

So that is what I feel a great sorry for, the loss of the services, innovation, boatyards, staff, help and choice in cruisers. A real family holiday where anyone from anywhere felt included. Only over the last couple of days I stopped off at Summer Craft, what a perfect trip down memory lane that yard is. Friendly, open and kind people. Old Hoseasons signs up pointing to the services they offer and talking of the many other yards you can expect the same from under the Blue Bird flag. God I miss the late 80's and 90's!

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