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'Parishes of Polperro'

Commencing on Sunday 29 October 2000, Carlton Television will be nationally networking a six part series that focuses on the spiritual and social life of the Cornish fishing village of Polperro as it enters the new millennium.

Packed tightly into a steep valley on either side of the River Pol, the picturesque village of Polperro is one of the most photographed villages in Cornwall and has just over a thousand inhabitants including This Morning's husband and wife team Richard and Judy. As the series reveals, as well as having two celebrity inhabitants, Polperro has one of the richest religious traditions in the country and supports three Anglican churches, a Methodist chapel and a Catholic abbey.

Following the success of Carlton West Country's popular local series Cornish Chronicles, PARISHES OF POLPERRO examines how faith makes an impact on a place where people struggle to make a living and shows how they cope with grief when their youngest fisherman, Daniel Kebble, is lost at sea.

The ups and downs of village life are seen through the eyes of both priests and parishioners. The series features Father William Braviner, the 6 foot 7 inch Anglican vicar who traded life as a chartered accountant to join the clergy, Father Tim Lewis, a married Catholic priest who has three children and Margaret Oxenham a fun-loving Methodist minister who prides herself on having more churches than her male counterparts.

Begins Sunday 29 October 2000 at 12.00pm on ITV

The Series

Programme 1

Polperro has a new vicar, Father William Braviner, who at 6ft 7in is the tallest priest in the diocese of Truro. He quickly gets to work in his new position running creches and even organising an egg rolling contest for his congregation. Meanwhile, Methodist minister Margaret Oxenham who looks after a chapel in Polperro along with other churches in her widespread parish, is refusing to worry about depleting numbers. She assures herself that at least they come to church because they want to.

Regular churchgoer and Chairman of the Parish Council Murray Collings is not bothered which church he attends - Anglican or Methodist - as long as he is able to worship. Cameras show him getting in touch with his musical side singing in the bass section of Polperro's Fishermen's Choir, of which he has been a loyal member for 46 years.

Programme 2

Years ago, 13 people sharing a two bedroomed cottage was the norm in Polperro. Although it remains a closely-knit community, the families of the village are not as big as they once were. However, their superstitions live on and the mere mention of robins or rats in Polperro makes the villagers believe someone in their family will die. Behind church doors, Catholic priest Father Tim Lewis acts as spiritual adviser to an order of Carmelite nuns in Sclerder Abbey and does his rounds on an old motorbike dressed in a cassock and crash helmet!

Programme 3

The village's traditional industry is fishing. At one point there were 100 boats in the harbour but now only half a dozen remain. 83 year-old Dick Jolliff is a sea-going Methodist lay preacher who has lived in the area all his life and reminisces about the past. Father William has resorted to organising buses for his congregation to take them to church in an attempt to increase numbers. He dreams about the BMW he would have owned had he stayed a chartered accountant, but claims he would not swap his life now for anything. Polperro's Arts Festival is also on the agenda. It's music to the ears of the locals with a curious concoction of old Cornish rituals, local culture and pub-based pop.

Programme 4

In its heyday, Polperro was a post-war film set graced by the likes of Lana Turner and Sean Connery, a smuggler's haven which printed its own banknotes and it also exported barrel loads of pilchards to Italy. Low wages and soaring property prices are now driving locals out of the area, so the Bishop of Truro comes to town to listen to their grievances. On a lighter note, one of the highlights of the village's calendar, the Water Carnival makes a splash.

Programme 5

Former Fisherman Daniel Kebble is seen pilchard fishing at night. Meanwhile, in the village pizzeria Robin and Gilly Davis remember their days at London's Playboy club. Since (link to him in The Personalities) blessed the place, business is also booming for Polperro's Italian restaurant, Il Pappagallo. Owner (link to him in The Personalities) has become a born-again biker and treated himself to a Harley Davidson to celebrate his prospects. 1999's eclipse comes and goes and the village's own fish and chip shop millionaire, Steve Byford, spends a fortune on his son's wedding.

Programme 6

The Millennium is heralded in style with fireworks and fancy dress on the village green. But a week later, Polperro's youngest fisherman Daniel Kebble is lost at sea. The village gathers together to mourn with everyone attending his memorial service. TV's best known husband and wife team, Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan have a holiday home on the outskirts of the village and they give a helping hand as auctioneers to raise money for fishermen's safety equipment for the Harbour Lights Trust, set up in memory of Daniel. His father, Terry, is also confirmed into the Christian faith by the Bishop

The Personalities

Father William Braviner

"None of us are perfect and I'd rather be known as the largest sinner in the parish than the largest priest, it sounds far more interesting!"

At 6 ft 7, Father William likes to be known as Polperro's largest sinner. As the village's Church of England vicar at Talland Church, he boasts This Morning's Richard and Judy among his loyal parishioners. He has known the couple for 18 months and refers to them as "a very pleasant, ordinary couple who came to the area to escape the media glare".

Father William's calling came when he was working as a chartered accountant. He attended a Christmas service and on hearing the priest say, "Do not ask what God can do for you, but what you can do for God", he felt drawn to the church and never looked back. He packed in his job as an accountant and helped out at the local church until the Church of England accepted him for training.

His next step on the road to righteousness was the University of Durham for an ordination apprenticeship. Whilst at Durham, he studied for a theology degree and married his wife Angela while they were both students there. They now have two children Ben, aged 7, and Jon, aged 5. He then went onto Oldham as a curate and Polperro was his next destination as parish priest where he was inducted in January 1999. He had first visited Cornwall on holiday years before and fell in love with the county so when he was placed there by the church, he jumped at the chance.

"It is such a friendly place, like one big family" says Father William.

He was in awe of how the community supported each other after Daniel's death and says:

"We all have friends who are fishermen therefore the loss was dear to all our hearts. Everyone in the village attended his memorial service so it definitely brought the village closer together, such a tragedy shows you what you can lose".

Father Tim Lewis

The parishes' only Catholic priest is a camera-shy family man who, like Father William met his wife Judith at university. They have three children Catherine aged 9, Jonathan aged 3 and Anna Maria aged 1.

He says "Like any Christian, it was the desire to serve God and people that drew me to the church".

Born in South Wales, he went to the University of Birmingham. During his final year, he was accepted for training as an Anglican priest. He also spent three years at Oxford University and was ordained in 1988. He then lived at St Clements, Essex before moving to Plymouth for three further years.

His life took a totally different turn when he converted from the Church of England to Roman Catholicism in 1994. His change of heart was over the ordination of women and because he feels more at home with Catholic doctrines and beliefs.

His role as the organist at Plymouth's Catholic Cathedral for nearly four years allowed him to put his musical talents to good use and he also took a teacher training course at Exmouth. But back on the road to religion, Father Tim prepared for the priesthood at the RC Seminary in Guildford and became a Catholic priest in October 1997 by special Papal dispensation.

From there Father Tim and his family moved to Polperro where he is both parish priest and priest to the Carmelite nuns who live at Sclerder Abbey. He lives in the Presbytery next to the church where his youngest child was born.

He, along with the whole village was shocked when Daniel Kebble was lost at sea and says, "You could feel the enormous sadness in the air".

Margaret Oxenham

Fun-loving Margaret is Polperro's Methodist minister and her term of office there will finish in 2002. She says she'll be sad to leave as she has become extremely attached to the village and its unique charm.

Born in Yealmpton near Plymouth, she became interested in Sunday school and youth work from a very early age. After marrying, she moved to Dorset and soon became a foster mother, working mainly with mentally and physically disabled children. Margaret also has two daughters of her own.

She entered the ministry in 1989 and along the way had to cope against the odds with a disabling illness, one of its symptoms was temporary paralysis. However, she triumphed over both the illness and a divorce and now works at least a hundred hours a week.

Terry Kebble

Terry and his glamourous wife Elaine, along with the rest of Polperro, are trying to cope with life after Daniel. Terry set up The Harbour Lights Trust Fund in memory of his son to raise money for fishermen's safety equipment. So far they have raised 9,000 and have managed to buy several life-jackets and an electronic tracker.

He received help towards the fund from Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, This Morning's golden couple, and as a result they have become good friends.

He says, "Richard and Judy are fantastic, they have been such towers of strength when it comes to supporting the Trust. Nothing is too much for them, they are such lovely people".

In the light of recent events Terry found comfort in religion and cameras trace how his life has changed from the memorial service to his confirmation.

23 years ago Polperro was the chosen destination for his honeymoon so it holds many cherished memories for Terry. After spending 17 years as a fireman with the London Fire Brigade and being injured during his time as a fireman, he and his family moved to Cornwall 13 years ago in search of a better life. Since then he has tried his hand at several careers including lifeguard, security man and holiday camp worker. He now holds the position of church warden in Father Braviner's church and fondly refers to him as 'GG' (Gentle Giant).

Gilly and Robin Davis

The tiny fishing hamlet of Polperro may seem a far cry from her days as a glamorous Playboy bunny, but Gilly Davis claims there are certain similarities - both have a strong sense of community and their own distinctive characters.

She spent seven years as a croupier dressed in a bunny suit. She met her other half, Robin at the club. He was the casino manager and they now run the Mermaid Pizzeria in Polperro.

She says, " We've had lots of fun down here, it's a lovely part of the world, there is a real community spirit and everyone knows everyone else's business."

Wes Cooper

When former truck driver Wes made the trip from Leamington Spa to Polperro eight years ago he never looked back. This Harley Davidson enthusiast runs the Il Pappagallo restaurant with his long-term partner Denise Orange.

Wes has developed a great fondness for Polperro and says, "There are painters, writers, fishermen, lots of very interesting people. It hasn't changed for hundreds of years and I don't think it really will. I think it has a really optimistic future."

Murray Collings

Chairman of the Parish Council and secular leader of the community, Murray is also a member of the Polperro's Fishermen's Choir. His family have lived in the village for 600 years and as a hands-on member of the community he is a well-known face in the area. He is in his 60s and shares many happy memories of his childhood growing up in Polperro in the series. Murray is married and has a son and a daughter.

Polperro - The Place

Imagine a perfect fishing village hidden away on the picturesque coast of Cornwall: a tiny harbour, seagulls, fishing boats, narrow streets, cottages perched on steep slopes, tales of smuggling, Cornish pubs and unbeatable food.

Now imagine Polperro. Steeped in history, this thirteenth century fishing village originally belonged to the ancient Raphael manor mentioned in the Domesday Book. Back then, the principal occupation of its inhabitants was fishing, with pilchards caught in abundance and sold far and wide across the kingdom. Centuries later, fishing still dominates the lives of the villagers, and helps contribute to the food and atmosphere that have become Polperro's trademark.

Part of the village's charm is its location, resting on the south coast of Cornwall some twenty five miles west of Plymouth. The sea and landscape combine to producing breathtaking scenes, and countless visitors have spent days lost in the wonder and the beauty of the setting. All of this is complemented by the events that the village plays host to; antiques fairs, art & crafts exhibitions and fireworks displays, to name a few.

In 1997, Polperro established a Heritage Press to publish non-fiction work relating to the area by local historians and Cornish authors. Closely associated with the Polperro Heritage Museum and the Harbour Trustees, it aims to bring the history of the area to the attention of a wider audience. For a better glimpse of the village, or to find out about accommodation or restaurants, have a look at Polperro's official website.

Parishes of Polperro were Produced and Directed by David Taylor - A Triple Echo Production © 2000

Carlton TV has a website to accompany the programmes - www.carlton.com/polperro

Thanks to Carlton TV for permission to reproduce the above notes on the programmes, the personalities featured and about the village
- Bob Tarr, webmaster, www.polperro.org

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'Cornish Chronicles'

In the Spring of 2000, ITV (Carlton/Westcountry Television) screened a six-part documentary series about the village of Polperro in Cornwall. It was hoped that this series would be screened later in 2000 in the other Carlton areas (London and Midlands). However this is now definitely NOT happening but a second series called "The Parishes of Polperro" is going to be broadcast and nationally networked. The first programme goes out on Sunday 29th October at 12pm (midday) on ITV (Channel 3). See above for details.

The 6 part second series focuses on the spiritual and social life of Polperro through the eyes of; Father William Braviner, Father Tim Lewis, Margaret Oxenham, Terry Kebble, Gilly and Robin Davis, Wes Cooper and Murray Collings.


Index of the first series

Programme 1
Programme 2
Programme 3
Programme 4
Programme 5
Programme 6

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Do you have any comments on these programmes? Send them to webmaster@polperro.org




Programme 1 - 22 February 2000

Polperro is the most photographed fishing port in Britain but this tiny Cornish village cannot survive on looks alone. With fishing in decline, it has to rely on tourism to support its twenty-five restaurants, seven pubs and twenty gift shops. The season starts at Easter.

Although Polperro is one of the oldest and most interbred of Cornish communities there are many incomers. The village has a new vicar who, at six feet seven inches, is the self-proclaimed "biggest sinner" in the diocese of Truro. The milkman is also new. He bought his round out of his Lottery winnings! Thanks to Internet dating, Polperro is now the home of a young bride who used to be a Moscow computer programmer. But Irina hasn't got her work visa and is poorer in Cornwall than she ever was in Russia.

Polperro is full of vivid characters and CORNISH CHRONICLES reveals what happens to them during the last year of the millennium.

Produced and Directed by David Taylor
A Triple Echo Production © 2000

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Programme 2 - 29 February 2000

It's May in Polperro and plenty of seafood is being caught offshore. While the village fish stall wrestles with a monster lobster, ten-year-old Nathan Toms goes crabbing with his father. Nathan is determined to be a fisherman and can't wait to leave school.

In his Mill House restaurant young chef Mark Puckey dreams of cooking exquisite fish dishes but finds his customers want barbecued spare ribs and onion rings. Italian restaurateur Wesley Cooper is equally despondent. The former truck driver is facing a VAT inspection and thinks a chimpanzee could make more sense of his books than he can.

But whatever their shortcomings, today's villagers are more down to earth than their superstitious predecessors who believed that robins, rabbits and rats were harbingers of doom.

Produced and Directed by David Taylor
A Triple Echo Productions © 2000

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Programme 3 - 7 March 2000

Arts festivals are usually heavily subsidised but not in Polperro where the village pays for its own entertainment. There is an early panic when the organisers discover that their collection boxes do not take pound coins but files and chisels are brought to bear on the problem.

The festival is opened by Cornish fish chef Rick Stein and presided over by a Lord Mayor who is carted around the village to test the quality of the ale in its seven pubs. After the Lord Mayor's parade comes a soaking for Wesley Cooper who is locked out of his restaurant at night and has to ford the river Pol before climbing through his kitchen window.

At sea, the fishing is poor and, to make a living out of it, the village's youngest fisherman Daniel Kebble works on his own. Despite the risk, Daniel loved what he was doing.

Produced and Directed by David Taylor
A Triple Echo Production © 2000

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Programme 4 - 14 March 2000

It's July and the tourist season is in full swing. The weather is excellent but the visitors are not spending enough in Polperro to keep the shopkeepers happy.

However some things are selling well. A visiting businessman acquires the most expensive garage in Britain while small harbour-side cottages are sold for well over 100,000. In such a buoyant market local people cannot afford to buy property in their own village and, naturally enough, this breeds resentment.

There is also a dispute between incomers who would modernise the village to make it more tourist friendly and local people who want to keep it the way it is.

But all negative thoughts are forgotten during the Polperro Water Carnival when boatloads of millers and sweeps pelt each other with china clay bombs before capsizing into the harbour. The ritual struggle between good and evil gives way to a night of drinking in the village's eight pubs and clubs.

Produced and Directed by David Taylor A Triple Echo Production © 2000

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Programme 5 - 21 March 2000

In spite of official warnings about traffic gridlock and food shortages in Cornwall's Zone of Totality, thousands of visitors pour into Polperro for the Eclipse. Most of them bring special safety spectacles while locals in the village experiment with smoked jam jars and cardboard boxes. As luck would have it, the Sun doesn't get out but the Eclipse's fast moving shadow is still worth seeing.

A lot of decisions are being made in Polperro. After almost thirty years of teaching, Sue Lord wants to be a professional artist. She has a house full of paintings she has never tried to sell. Italian restaurateur Wesley Cooper is going off in a different direction. He buys a Harley Davidson and sees himself as an urban cowboy.

Produced and Directed by David Taylor A Triple Echo Production © 2000

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Programme 6 - 28 March 2000

Love is in the air in September. Fish and chip shop owner Steve Byford holds his son's wedding in Polperro and a swarm of London guests descend on the village.

The parish council decides to mark the new millennium by erecting a Celtic cross on the village green and everyone gets introspective.

Pizzeria owners Robin and Gilly Davis see a television programme about the Playboy club and remember the way they were in the seventies when he was the casino manager and she was a croupier bunny. Gilly thinks she could still get into her tight fitting bunny costume but Robin doubts it.

There is fresh hope for Polperro's declining fishing industry as a London businessman buys some of the catch straight off the boats.

The Bishop of Truro is concerned about Polperro ending up as a theme park without any proper fishermen and promises to talk to the Tourist Board about preserving the village.

Produced and Directed by David Taylor A Triple Echo Production © 2000

See top of this page for details about the second "Cornish Chronicles" series which is going to be broadcast nationally on Sundays at midday starting 29 October 2000 and will be called "The Parishes of Polperro"

Comments? Send them to webmaster@polperro.org

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