Out Of Town with Jack Hargreaves

"We think we belong to the age of do-it-yourself; think we invented it. That's because we are are so utterly unconscious of our past, because for a thousand years everybody was almost entirely do-it-yourself "

The words are Jack's. The image is of Jack Hargreaves, my stepfather, with his cameraman of over 20 years - Stan Bréhaut - who died in 2005.

Jack Hargreaves OBE (31 Dec 1911-15 Mar 1994) was an author and TV presenter, whose enduring interest was to comment, without sentimentality, on accelerating distortions in relations between the city and the countryside, via the weekly programme Out of Town (OOT), first on Southern Television in 1963, following the success of his 1959 debut with the B&W series Gone Fishing. His country TV programmes continued in the 1980s with Old Country for Channel 4. Andy King said recently on these FB pages that his liking for Jack Hargreaves' Out of Town broadcasts revolved around "having the countryside and nature explained to me without being trivialised, or sentimentalised, or anthropomorphised."

It has been tricky to recover original recordings of 'OOT'. In 2012, after much research by Jack’s stepson Simon Baddeley, Simon Winters, the classic television organisation Kaleidoscope, and the archive expert David King, 34 episodes of Out Of Town – not seen since broadcast in 1980/81 – came to light and became available on DVD. 28+ hours of Out Of Town are presented for the first time since broadcast 35 years ago.

But then in September 2015 Delta Leisure, retailer of these DVDs went into liquidation. I terminated my retailing licence on grounds of insolvency, and am retrieving the company's remaining OOT assets. But for pre-bought DVDs my family are the sole retailers of OOT DVDs.

Jack always intended these for VHS and DVD. They include earlier film by Stan Bréhaut, but a new commentary was added by Jack sitting in his real shed and front room at Raven Cottage in Dorset, 5 years after the end of Southern TV. For 26 years these were the only versions of OOT available; put together by my stepfather and a team led by Steve Wade in 1986, using archived silent location film by Jack's cameraman Stan Bréhaut, to which the team added sound effects.

Until the 2012 unearthing of 34 original recordings, the only authentic material from C4'S 'Old Country' or STV's original 'Out of Town' that I could stream were ones sent by viewers who made home recordings as the programmes went out.

We also now know that the the British Film Institute hold copies of the successor to 'OOT', 'Old Country", handed to them by Channel 4. The BFI also have episodes of 'OOT'. 'Old Country' has been retrieved by David Knowles, colleague of Jack's, and are being sold by him http://jackscountry.co.uk/tag/dave-knowles/

Hargreaves' biography by Paul Peacock was published in 2006; republished as an e-book. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jack-Hargreaves-Portrait-Paul-Peacock-ebook/dp/B00ECEPJOC