Film ID: YFA 5862 Video of BROTHER TO THE OX 1981 Visitor TabsDescription This 1981 dramatization of the autobiography of Fred Kitchen focuses on his first year as a farm labourer aged 13, in 1904. The drama paints a vivid portrait of life as a farm labourer and as a navvy on the railway at the turn of the century. Fred has an extremely harsh time at the hands of his widow employer, but soon becomes capable in his farming tasks, finding comfort with the shire horses he looks after. At the end of the year he has matured enough to bargain a wage at the Hire Fair. The Yorkshire Television programme was adapted for TV by Stephen Wakelam. The drama follows the story of Fred Kitchen beginning when his father dies in 1903. Following that, Kitchen, his mother, and two sisters have to leave their tied cottage with their belongings on a horse and cart. At the age of 13 Fred has to seek work on a farm in South Yorkshire, admitting to his mother to being very scared, where he works for a very “hard and stony woman”. He has to shepherd the sheep, milk the cows and look after the horses. With very little food he is bullied by the woman who runs the farm and takes on more and more farm work, returning home to his mother, uncomplaining, at weekends, and hands over his scant earnings. As well as his hard drudgery of his working life, we see him relaxing with the workers on the neighbouring farm who tease him about drawings he has made, and get him to sing the song “A farmer’s boy”. He works gathering hay, threshing and gradually learns to plough. His one consolation is the relationship he forms with the work horses. One of the farm workers who has befriended him inadvertently gets him drunk. Although progressing well, he has to battle to get his pay, and gets into trouble once too often, and so he decides to move on, having heard about a new railway being built in the area. He sets off to get work on the railway labouring, which he eventually manages with the help of a friendly vicar. But after a summer of back-breaking work, he eventually decides to leave and in the autumn goers off to the Hiring Fair. Here he negotiates a wage of £15 for the year in which he is bound by statute to his owner, and the film comes to an end. Adapted for television by Stephen Wakelam Boy Graham Hill Mother – Diana Davies Missus –Sandra Voe George – Bert Gaunt Arthur – Peter Ivatts Tom – Johnny Maxfield Jack – Teddy Turner Bob – Ashley Barker Sam – Howard Crossley Miller – Peter Wallis Mrs Miller - Joan Campion Ganger – Christopher Quinn Mick – Bill Croasdale Missioner – James Benson Narrator - Peter Bell Designer - Mary Rea Shire horses owned and trained by Geoffrey Morton Unit Manager – David Goldstrom Stage Manager – Mike fisher Production buyer – Chris Normanton Chargehand electrician – Phil Field Costume – Joan Ellacott Make up – Di Lofthouse Casting – Heather Stammer Graphics – David Gledhill Sound – Roger Davies Dubbing Mixer – Steve Haynes Film Editor – John Watts Lighting camera – Graham Barker Design by Mary Rea, Paul Laugier Producer/Director - John Willis Yorkshire Television Context This 1981 dramatisation of the autobiography of Fred Kitchen focuses on his first year as a farm labourer, aged 13, in 1904. The drama paints a vivid portrait of life as a farm labourer and as a navvy on the railway at the turn of the century. Fred has an extremely harsh time at the hands of his widow employer, but soon becomes capable in his farming tasks, finding comfort with the shire horses he looks after. At the end of the year he has matured enough to bargain a wage at the Hire Fair. Fred Kitchen was born at Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire, in 1890. Kitchen didn’t write this, his first and most popular, book until 1939, after attending WEA classes in Worksop – he bought books instead of ale, “because you could drink in the words over and over again." The Hire Fair that he attended was the Martlemas Fair (aka Statutes or mop fair) in Doncaster, which he describes as having a babel of dialects. The fairs were noted for their drunken ribaldry, and this, together with the nomadic lifestyle of the workers so hired on yearly fixed contracts (they weren’t allowed to be married), was criticised by the church. This practice of hiring declined as it was unsuited for modern capitalist hiring flexibility.