Film ID:
YFA 1006



Visitor Tabs


This is a BBC North documentary on the Whitby Gazette. Accompanied by a light-hearted commentary, the film provides a profile of the paper and of those on making it, stressing its local character.

The film begins with three men meeting to discuss the contents of the next edition of the Whitby Gazette, waiting for something 'unexpected' to happen. After an opening montage of images, the film shows Whitby harbour with the Abbey in the background. The commentary states that it is Friday and talks in general terms about what this means in Whitby. In a shopping street a man is fileting fish on a cart. Down by the harbour, some fishermen look over to the sea. It is the day that the local paper comes out, and the film shows the paper as it comes off the rolling press. A man buys a copy at a street stand and browses through it. Tom Barker, the editor, crosses a street and enters the building of the Whitby Gazette, as he has done for nearly 25 years, and as his father did before him.

Back in the meeting, the editors discuss who should cover what story. The dry commentary stresses the local nature of the paper, and how everyone knows everyone else. A reporter interviews someone next to the harbour. The film shows some of the places in Whitby, such as Custom House, and boats in the harbour.

The owner of the Whitby Gazette, Lionel Horn, explains the history of the paper which has always been in his family. Some early editions of the paper are shown, before the staff collecting their wages. David Wood, a reporter, is typing his copy. In the composing room, Tom Wood is at work, being looked down by past staff in old photographs, with the three families of Horn the owners, Barkers the editors and Woods, the compositors.

William Barker explains how in the early days they had to persuade companies to put in adverts, and also do it on their behalf. Lionel Horn gives an account of some of the more odd entries into the paper. Up by the Abbey, in St Mary's Church, the vicar's warden turns out to be Lionel Horn; at St Michael's Church, the sides man is Tom Wood; and at St Ninian's Church the choir is mainly Tom and William Barker. Back down in the harbour a power boat is pulling a water skier, and elsewhere a game of Yorkshire coits is being played, the results of which going into the local paper. So too do the results of the competition in the fox hunting, where bets are being taken. At the fox hunt finishing reception Colonial Oswald gives a speech of thanks. A remote village is shown from a hill top.

Up on the moors we see Fylingdales early warning station and the surrounding scenery. At the monthly meeting of Grossmont Women's Institute the members are singing Jerusalem, before having a flower arranging demonstration, all being taken down by a Whitby Gazette reporter. Locals are chatting in the streets in nearby villages and Whitby itself, with events going into the Gazette.

In his house out on the moors Major Fairfax Blakeborough, the oldest reporter at 85, gives an account of his experience of what aspects of country life are of interest for local papers. He quotes the famous saying of, 'Yorkshire people hear all and say nought', that goes on the Yorkshire coat of Arms; and then recites a rhyme: "it will serve you no small trouble if when speaking you take care of whom you speak, to whom you speak and who and when and where."

Back in the office of the editor Tom Barker, he is writing the leading article, 'Viewpoint.' Tom Barker explains their policy regarding campaigns and criticising local people, such as councillors. A group of school children from the Fishman Park Ward in Whitby march through the streets with banners and shouting slogans for a playing field, with a reporter on hand. Back at the Gazette offices the article on the story is being written up.

The film then turns to show a scene from a performance of the Pirates of Penzance, which is then being written up as a review for the paper. Another reporter is getting some information from a local person over the telephone. In the setting room the paper is being put up in type to be printed on the Thursday. Just as this is happens, part of a house on the cliff edge falls into the sea: another story that might make it into the next edition, just in time. The paper is 'put to bed' and printed, and the finished copy is displayed. Tom Barker claims that the paper achieves its object as acting as a mirror for the life of the community. , Lionel Horn states that the paper would be missed if it wasn't there. The paper is seen going through the rolling presses.

End Credits - Cameraman, Peter Dearden; Film Editor, David Shore; Written and produced by David Bean, BBC TV North.

Finally, the voice of Major Fairfax Blakeborough repeats the earlier rhyme as men are talking by the harbour. The film comes to an end.