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The Major


We have produced a Style Guide to help editors follow a standard format when editing a listing. If you are unsure how best to edit this programme please take a moment to read it.
The old oak tree, for years the village meeting-place and notice board, has to be cut down because it has become a traffic hazard.
Commentary written by Desmond Hawkins
spoken by Paul Rogers
Music composed and conducted by Sidney Sager
Played by the BBC West of England Players
From the West
First transmission on May 20, 1963

The unwilling gardner-a jay plants an acorn, seed of the doomed oak

What does it mean when a mighty oak tree, known to generations of villagers simply and affectionately as 'The Major' must die? What does it mean to the people who live nearby and who have used it for many, many years as both a meeting place and a noticeboard? What does it mean, too, to the creatures who live both within it and on its leafy branches? Such is the story behind the BBC's Natural History Unit documentary The Major which will be retold tonight.
John Burton and Christopher Parsons wrote the script before actually finding their tree-but after an extensive search the Forestry Commission did locate one which satisfied almost all their requirements. It stood near the Speech House in the Forest of Dean. Christopher Parsons, who also produced this film, and cameraman William Morris, visited ' the Major' over the months for an entire year recording the various activities: the Gloucestershire Morris Men dancing beneath the branches at Whitsun, a village cricket match in the next field and, finally, the felling.
Meanwhile two other cameramen, Eric Ashby and Leslie Jackman, were filming other sequences. While Ashby concentrated on small mammals and birds Jackman filmed creatures ranging from tiny gall-wasps to large caterpillars.


Commentary written by: Desmond Hawkins
Narrator: Paul Rogers
Music composed and conducted by: Sidney Sager
[Music] played by: The BBC West of England Players
Filmed by: Eric Ashby
Filmed by: Leslie Jackman
Filmed by: William Morris
Sound mixer: George Pagan
Film editor: Paul Khan
Producer: Christopher Parsons

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Feedback about The Major, BBC One London, 19.00, 14 August 1964
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