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Coracles and Edwardian Farm

Sean making a coracle on Edwardian Farm

I was on Edwardian Farm, episode 8, this Friday 24th Dec making a coracle. For those of you who have not seen it, it is an ongoing documentary about 3 people who live and work on a farm as they would have done in Edwardian times, 1901 to about 1920.

I spent a very enjoyable 6 hours or so with Alex helping him make a coracle, all of which was filmed. During the day’s filming I went into great detail about how to make a coracle, but only a brief overview was shown on the TV. If you just want to see the coracle bit, then it starts about 16 mins in, and finishing it off at 20mins, the coracle being used at about 24 mins. I bought the book the other day and there is a small photo of me in it. Being a person who loves to know how things work or get made, Edwardian Farm has been fascinating for me, both Lucy and I love social history. I wish they had the time to go into far more detail both in the book and series, but I know they need to make an engaging and entertaining program. A program that I would love to see would not appeal so much to the normal BBC2 audience.
I do not like watching myself, especially when seeing it for the first time, so I  squirmed, like when I watch Ricky Gervais or Alan Partridge or even Peep show.
A bit about this episode and a photo of Peter  holding onto a rope and paddle. It is a shame that we ran out of daylight because it is important to show people how to paddle this very manoeuvrable craft. It would have good also to show Peter how to get into it as the first time he tried he went head first into the water.

Here is a link to the programme on BBC iplayer. The BBC only have programmes available for a short period of time, so a month after this was posted it will be too late. I also have no idea if you can watch in other countries.

Here is my previous post on Edwardian Farm

I have a booklet on how to make a coracle, for £7.50, it is a colour book with lots of photos.

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Coracle making for Edwardian Farm

A few weeks ago I had a phone call from the production company who make Edwardian Farm for BBC2 television. This is a follow on from the series Victorian farm ,which I greatly enjoyed: a season to season journey on how Victorian labourers farmed. They, at 3 days notice wanted a chap to make a coracle on camera with Alex Langlands, one of the stars of the show. I of course said yes, especially as it was being filmed at Morwellham quay, the other side of the moor from me. I tried to negotiate a proper fee that reflected not only the day’s filming but expenses such as petrol and materials supplied. Getting tools and preparing jigs, etc., for such a days filming can also take a day. They of course said they had limited budget and we came to an agreement. The promise of being seen by a couple of million people and that this is the best advertising you can get is water off a ducks back to me, it is just a promise with no guarantee of more future work. I am not knocking it, and it is important to be seen, but it does not pay the rent today.

Above is Alex posing for a photo as we made a woven willow coracle.

I was filmed by a popular South West programme again making a coracle and taking the presenter out onto the Dart. The only feedback was a chap wanting to borrow a coracle as part of a flower show display. A few people recognised me from the programme but no great rush of people wanting coracles. A few years later I was again filmed by a programme on woodwork shown on Sky. Now, if anyone out there wants to film me making fan birds or other green wood crafts I would be delighted to oblige. Although I have made quite a few coracles and written a ‘how to make a coracle’ book, I am not just a coracle maker. I am also happy to present programmes on wood and trees and harbour a desire to have my own TV series, as I think the best people to present these are practising craftspeople.

Me and Alex: we did nor quite get the coracle finished and Alex had to finish sowing the cover on in his own time, and I had to bring the paddle back to the workshop to finish as we ran out of daylight.

I very much enjoyed the day as Alex has a good understanding of traditional craft and a passion for it; he is also very able and knowledgeable. We probably talked too much. The crew were great and the way they filmed and directed was exactly how I liked to work: just get on with it and explain and talk as we go. Any bits that needed to be re filmed were done on the spot and everything was very natural. How they are going to fit all this into 5 minutes I do not know.