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13 November 2014

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You are in: Wiltshire > History > Archive Films > RPM: Swindon

Desmond Morris in Queens Park in Swindon

Desmond Morris in Queens Park in Swindon

RPM: Swindon

In 1984 the BBC West regional TV programme RPM devoted a show to Swindon, which included famous Swindonians Desmond Morris and Justin Hayward talking about the town. Watch online.

Local music fans with long memories will recall a BBC West regional television programme from the early eighties called RPM, and presented by Andy Batten-Foster.

Each week, RPM (short for Rectangular Picture Machine) threw the spotlight on new and established musical talent in the West Country, and examined local culture and the arts.

Broadcast on 2nd April 1984 was an edition of the show presented in, and focused entirely on Swindon. As is much the case now, the Swindon of 1984 was seen as an empty, soulless place with little of note to recommend it.

RPM Reporter Mike Jenner in Swindon

RPM Reporter Mike Jenner in Swindon

Reporter Mike Jenner spends a while wandering around the town - from the Brunel Shopping Centre to the newly built Research Council buildings at North Star, investigating the architecture and industry and reflecting on how the town is so geographically well-placed within the UK.

Jenner argues that Swindon actually does have much to offer, but reserves criticism for the wilful neglect of historic buildings such as the old Corn Exchange on the High Street in Old Town, which have fallen into disrepair. Sadly, 25 years later, almost nothing has changed.

Later in the programme, two famous Swindonians return to the town to talk about their personal connection with Swindon and revisit old haunts from their individual upbringings.

Writer and Zoologist Desmond Morris visits his teenage home on Victoria Road, and even uncovers an old mural he painted in the attic. He also takes a trip to Queens Park, a place in which he reveals he once courted a fellow famous Swindonian - actress Diana Dors.

Justin Hayward outside 109 Dean St where he was born

Justin Hayward at 109 Dean St where he was born

Justin Hayward, the lead singer of legendary rock band The Moody Blues talks about his childhood whilst stood outside the house at 109 Dean Street where he was born.

And later he rounds off his visit by talking wistfully about early gigs he played in the town whilst sat in the restaurant of McIlroys department store on Regent St, which was once a ballroom where bands played.

Presenter Andy Batten-Foster also pays a visit to the Town Hall to meet the team behind Swindon Viewpoint, the town's community television channel.

RPM: Swindon is a fascinating look back to the town of the mid-1980s, and proves that the perception of Swindon as an ugly, run-down place with little or no cultural value, was sadly as true 25 years ago as it is to this day.  

last updated: 08/04/2009 at 15:33
created: 08/04/2009

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