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20th Century Notts: 1988-1990

John Baird
Fri 19 Oct, 2018

We reach the '90s and Nottingham's favourite detective makes his debut.

1988

A Flight of Angels by Geoffrey Trease (1988)

Set in the network of caves beneath Nottingham, A Flight of Angels tells of a group of school friends and how their class project became an attempt to solve a 400-year-old mystery. Trease’s knowledge of Nottingham and the castle area are in evidence with the story of Mortimer’s Hole making an early appearance in the story.

All this part of Nottingham lies on sandstone. It’s very porous, the rainwater soaks through, so you get natural caves – and the rock is very easy to cut if you need to. (from A Flight of Angels)

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Helen Cresswell’s novel Moondial makes its debut on television in this year, with a repeat showing two years later. The six-part serial, also written by Helen Cresswell, focuses on a young girl called Minty, played by Siri Neal. After her mother is involved in a car accident Minty is placed with her aunt, and is soon drawn to a time-travel-enabling moon dial in the grounds of a mansion. Nottinghamshire’s Helen Cresswell scripted other onscreen children's series including Lizzie Dripping and The Bagthorpe Saga.

1989

Lonely Hearts by John Harvey (1989)

Named by The Times as one of the best 100 crime novels of the 20th Century, Lonely Hearts is the first of John Harvey’s twelve-book Charlie Resnick series. Set on Nottingham’s meaner streets, Lonely Hearts has Detective Inspector Resnick on the case of a sadistic killer. The jazz-loving, Notts County fan (write what you know) is John Harvey’s best-known and most-loved character.

Londoner Harvey had moved to Nottingham in 1965 to teach English and Drama to the secondary school students of a small mining town. After teaching took him elsewhere he moved back here in the '70s to take a Master’s degree in American Studies, and has yo-yoed between Nottingham and London for most of his adult life.

It was several moments before Resnick realized that one of the cats was sitting on his head. The radio was turned to Four and a woman’s voice was trying to tell him something about the price of Maris Piper potatoes. (from Lonely Hearts)

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Nottingham writer Michael Eaton’s Fellow Traveller won Best Screenplay at the British Film Awards in 1989.

Set in the mid-50s, Fellow Traveller follows a blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter as he travels to London to work anonymously on 'Robin Hood', a new TV series. Unable to return home the screenwriter is soon confronted by the devastating news of his best friend’s suicide, another target of the McCarthy-period witch hunts. Stars of the film include Ron Silver, Imogen Stubbs, Julian Fellowes and Richard Wilson.

1990

The Revolutionary's Daughter by Gwen Grant (1990)

Nominated for a Carnegie Medal, The Revolutionary’s Daughter takes place at a time of the miners’ strike and tension is mounting. With local families becoming divided, Violette’s own family are about to be ripped apart by her deserting mother in this book for teenagers. Gwen Grant was born in Worksop during the Second World War. Grant’s father was a miner and she grew up in poverty. Despite this, her parents taught her that there was opportunity for everyone

Don't worry, there won't be any tears from me. I've done all the crying I'm going to do. You've been telling me to grow up. Well, now I have. (from The Revolutionary’s Daughter)

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In 1990 Alan Sillitoe was awarded an honorary degree from Nottingham Trent University. Twenty years later (in 2010) there was a commemoration event for the late writer at the Council House at which Gwen Grant was a guest speaker.

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