The Fosdyke Saga – Tara Prem

Photo by Lynda Kettle


The Fosdyke Saga was written originally as a stage play by Alan Plater, based on Bill Tidy’s Daily Mirror cartoon strip about a Lancashire tripe dynasty.

Michael Coveney, in his obituary of Alan Plater in The Guardian earlier this year, referred to:

‘his deliriously funny adaptation of Bill Tidy’s Fosdyke cartoon strip in the Daily Mirror. Plater’s job, said Tidy, was to glue his balloons together, and this he did in The Fosdyke Saga (1975) at the Bush theatre in London and its sequel, Fosdyke Two, the following year. Both shows, directed by Hull Truck founder Mike Bradwell, toured with great success, The first show concentrated on the growth of the tripe industry during the first world war, and the actor Philip Jackson claimed a place in the Guinness Book of Records, as it was then known, for playing 22 characters, including a prison warder, King George V, a sausage dealer, the Salford Ripper and Baron von Richthoven.’

I saw the play, directed by Mike Bradwell at the Bush theatre, and immediately wanted to produce it for TV.

It didn’t fit into any usual category of theatrical adaptation for BBC television, and caused the Contracts Department a bit of a headache.

“Who are these Bush people and why do we have to pay them any money?” In the end they did, and the money paid for the theatre to install some much needed air- conditioning.

We wanted to keep the idea of a theatre setting and recorded the play with an audience, in the studio theatre of the Haymarket in Leicester.

Mike Newell was recruited to direct this TV version.

Tara Prem (Producer)