Best known so far for his BBC TV screenplays Cathy Come Home (‘possibly the most successful TV play of all time’ - The Express) and Edna, the Inebriate Woman (‘the difficulty is to control one’s superlatives’ - The Times). Martin Banham in the Cambridge University Press British Television Drama wrote ‘Television ... is a medium ideally suited to his campaigning and his compassion.’ Quentin Crewe in The Times wrote ‘Plays and novels have altered history, but ordinary writing has done so as well ... television plays like Cathy Come Home have served to awaken us ... the passion of Jeremy Sandford’s play would be inadmissible in a documentary.’ Also, ‘When Edna was first shown, many people commented that it seemed exaggerated ... Those who work in the field know that (it is) depressingly accurate.’ (Colin Hodget, Church Times).
The BBC TV documentary Hotel de Luxe, about the Savoy Hotel, which he scripted, won an ACTT award, and was the subject of an attempted High Court injunction in which the hotel tried to prevent it being shown. Screenplays and plays on radio, stage and TV include Dreaming Bandsmen (Belgrade, Coventry) (‘in most attractive bad taste throughout’ - Daily Mail), Not Wishing to Return (Radio) (life in an Irish castle in 1900) (‘haunting’ - Observer), It Is For Ever (Radio) (based on the diaries and poems of Francis Kilvert), The Motor Heist (Radio), Oluwale with Paul Schofield as narrator (‘one of the year’s landmarks in the use of radio’ - Guardian), Whelks and Chromium (Radio) (later published in Penguin New English Dramatists), The Fatted Calf (ICA Theatre), Don’t Let Them Kill Me on Wednesday (Granada TV), Death of a Teenager (Radio), Virgin of the Clearways (Radio), Raggle Taggle (Cheltenham Festival and Gloucester), The Fall of Fonthill (Radio, forthcoming).
Books include: Cathy Come Home (Pan) (‘angry, humane, and totally authentic’ - The Observer), Edna, the Inebriate Woman (Pan) (‘Mr Sandford forces attention and involvement. The strength ... lies in his breadth and dimensions, comedy and sadness springing naturally from the character’ - The Telegraph), Synthetic Fun (Penguin) a study of canned amusement (‘a nice thick coarse sandwich’ - The Observer), In Search of the Magic Mushroom (Peter Owen and Sphere) about travels in Mexico (‘highly recommended’ - Guardian), Smiling David (Marion Boyars) (‘an angry and saddening book’ - TLS), Tomorrow’s People (Jerome) (about the world of pop festivals), Gypsies (Secker and Warburg and Abacus) (‘as a work of research it is ideal’ - Evening News), Prostitutes (Secker and Warburg and Abacus) (‘excellent ... valuable information from a range of remarkable women’ - New Society), Down and Out in Britain (Peter Owen and Sphere) (‘a frightening personal dossier’ - Evening Standard), Figures and Landscapes, Hey Days in Hay, From the Back of Beyond (forthcoming), Songs from the Roadside.
Newspaper Series and Enquiries for various newspapers, both ‘popular’ and ‘highbrow’, included Families without a Home (‘the most famous newspaper article in recent years’ - Penguin Special on Housing), The Dossers, Seaside, Soho, Dark Side of Affluence, The Revolt Against Marriage, Gypsies, Down and Out in Britain, Mexico, Fortune Tellers, Frontiers of Perception, Reincarnation, New Religions, The Other Health Service (homeopathy, etc), The Age of Consent, Female Ghosts, Car Thieves, Unmarried Mothers, Holiday Camps, Package Tours, Busking, Prostitutes, Black Britain, Unusual Parliamentary Candidates, etc. etc.
Sandford began his professional career with talks and feature programmes on the BBC Midland Region (Goodbye to Gospel Pass, Follies and Grottoes, A Canoe Trip Down the Wye, and many others). He then recorded and presented a largish number of features for the BBC Radio Home Service and Third Programme. (Living in Boats, Homeless Families, Gypsies, Battersea, Mechanical Music, Laurie Lee, John Bratby, and many others).
Compiled, interviewed for, researched and presented some twenty programmes for BBC TV Women’s Programmes and later was to do thirty or so for Thames Television Religious Broadcasting. Wrote three television documentaries, R.S. Thomas (for Monitor), Hotel de Luxe (see above) and Cathy Where Are You Now? which he also researched and presented.
Songs from the Roadside, just published, is a book with companion cassette and concert presentation and features songs sung by Gypsies, including the Irish Tinker Gypsy families, the O’Connors and the Delaneys, currently camped beneath the M4 link in London and in the British industrial midlands.
From the Back of Beyond, a West Cork Journal (1898-1901) is his grandmother’s journal, kept at Castle Freke in County Cork, never before published, with extensive introduction, epilogue and notes by Sandford, to be published by the Lilliput Press of Dublin in 1996.
On the Road with the IrishTravellers features an extensive introduction by Jeremy Sandford and a photo essay by Mathias Obersdorff. It is to be published by the University of Syracuse Press in 1996.
As poet, and musician specialising in Spanish, Gypsy, and New Age music, he has performed at the Edinburgh Festival, Young Vic and Kings Head Theatre Club in week long runs, and many one-shots including Lunga Castle, the Findhorn Foundation, the Festival for Mind, Body and Spirit at Olympia, Hereford Three Choirs Festival Fringe, Hay-on-Wye Festival Fringe, and Hereford Folly Lane Arts Theatre. He has introduced and presented a series of concerts featuring field recordings and live performance by traditional Romany Gypsies. His work won ACTT awards, the Italia Prize and other awards. An artist and former director of the Cyrenians and Simon Community, ex Member of the Gypsy Council and patron of Shelter, currently runs a green and ‘New Age’ conference facility at his home Hatfield Court near Leominster, and provides music and teaching of folk and sacred circle dancing at Oak Dragon and Rainbow Circle Camps. With his wife Philippa he has lived the life of a wandering busker in Spain and the Balearic Islands. He lists his hobbies in Who’s Who as riding, sailing, music, painting, windsurfing and mountain exploration. He has successfully fought planning appeals for local Romany Gypsies and New Age Hippy Travellers.
Jeremy Sandford’s great grandfather was Beach Sandford, Chancellor of Lissmore Cathedral, his grandfather Arthur Sandford was founder of the Cork Eye and Throat Hospital (now just closing after a hundred years of service), his father Christopher Sandford lived for his first 21 years at Castle Freke in South West County Cork (now in ruins and a proposed folk park) and Frankfield House, just outside Cork (now the club house of a golf course). He was owner and director of the Boars Head and Golden Cockerell Press.
Jeremy Sandford FanClub Archives
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