ploughboy with plough

Ploughboy Group Notes

David Ireson, Ploughboy Group Convenor
December 2003

This autumn the BBC in the West Country decided to produce six programmes on ‘Great Westerners’. Viewers were invited to telephone in their votes for the person who could be regarded as the West Country figure from the past who has contributed the most to the world. Naturally William Tyndale had to be on the short-list, along with Alfred the Great, Ernest Bevan, John Pimm, Beau Nash and William Pitt the Elder.

Two short programmes were made about William and were shown at prime time. The first during the West Country ‘Points West’ evening news, and the longer during ‘The Politics Show’ shown every Sunday lunchtime. I felt the case for Tyndale was a strong one.

Two ploughboy members of the Society were asked to take part; David Green and myself. The producer gave us 24 hours to come up with a script, and they tried to use much of it quite imaginatively.

Filming started at a West Country sheep market where we chatted with the shepherds and explained how important the Cotswold wool trade has been in Tyndale’s story. The auctioneer and the sheep had to wait whilst an excellent BBC actor, David Collins, dressed as Tyndale, recited a passage from John 10. We then spoke individually to all the shepherds present and invited them to phone in their votes. This was fun. They showed great interest and really it was a joy to chat with them all.

Filming then took place in the chained library at Wells Cathedral where there are some remarkable treasures including many books from the library of Desiderius Erasmus. (He wrote notes in the margins of the books he owned. One day a scholar ought to study them.)

A second day of filming took place at North Nibley Church with the MP for Stroud, David Drew, and then at Hunt’s Court where we were warmly welcomed. The finished programmes were presented by Esmond Holden and Dave Harvey, and all the disjointed filming came together to make a coherent argument in favour of Tyndale.

David Green and I will take part in a live programme with supporters of the other candidates. I hope we encourage enough people to vote ‘Tyndale’.

He sought anonymity in his life for many reasons; but now he is well known and touches the hearts of many. Thanks to him the English-speaking world knows about the man who is The Way, The Truth and The Life.

Comment and Round up of Activities

David Green
November 2003

October 2003 has proved a very busy month for the Tyndale Society, as other Tyndalians have observed (cf letter from Judith Munzinger in TJ No 25).

On 7 October, the date set aside by the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester for the Annual Tyndale Lecture at Gloucester Cathedral, some 53 people attended a superb lecture by Professor David Daniell which was followed by sung evensong in the Cathedral and a good supper which seems to have met with the approval of the 17 who stayed.

In between my slide lectures to very appreciative audiences (first at Abbey Road Baptist church in Great Malvern and then at Holland House, the beautiful Worcester diocesan retreat and conference centre in Pershore) a most unusual event was staged. David and Sally Ireson and I were asked to help a BBC Bristol director and camera crew, together with an actor and musician, who were shooting scenes in Highbridge livestock market near Bridgewater in Somerset. This involved invading the sheep pen area and getting the auctioneer’s permission to read the Gospel over the sheep and to interview some bemused shepherds and sheep farmers, asking them whether they had ever heard of William Tyndale. Our professional actor, David Collins, dressed in Geneva gown, frilled shirt and skull cap, made a convincing WT and further scenes were assembled in the chained library of Wells Cathedral on the very wet afternoon of the same day where our hero was filmed again reading from Luther.

October, of course, saw the most successful Geneva Conference, the memorable lecture in Oxford by Dr. Brian Cummings and, right at the end of the month, the Lambeth lecture by Cristina Odone at a meeting chaired by the Rt. Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.

All this activity has made this ploughboy a little weary. Tired but happy, he still does not want to return just yet to his accustomed byre – or oxen!

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