Only the sheepdog H.G. Wells is missing from the family group as Father, (Tom Meehan) poses in proud Victorian style, flanked by daughters Karen (Margaret Milner-Smythe, left) and Anna (Yvonne Bristow). That's Jeremy (Brian Squires) with fiancee Anna, and on the extreme left, who else but Nanny (Maureen Adair).
On the 3rd of October 1974, Father, Dear Father, adapted for radio by Tom Meehan and Brian Squires, will be exactly 100 performances old; or rather, 100 performances new, for one of Springbok Radios brightest and one of its best-rated comedy half-hours still retains the freshness and appeal of its debut on November 2, 1972.
That was when Springbok
Radio listeners first heard the opening, which is familiar in thousands
of homes throughout the Republic...
Now approaching the one hundredth performance, the show still retains its original cast of Tom Meehan (Father) Yvonne Bristow and Margaret Milner-Smythe (Anna and Karen), Maureen Adair (Nanny), Gillian Lomberg (Barbara), Mildred Doherty (Mother), Merle Wayne (Georgie), Brian Squires (Jeremy) and Reg Richards (Bill).
For many visitors to Durban during the Easter, July and Christmas seasons, a visit to the SABC studios in Old Fort Road is one of the highlights. For recordings of "Father, Dear Father", the auditorium is invariably packed out, and local residents have a long waiting list to rise through before tickets come their way.
For long-suffering Father" himself, Tom Meehan, this show is the culmination of 27 years in broadcasting in South Africa. He says: Its a long way from The Saint (the part he played for several years in earlier Springbok Radio history), but Patrick Carter is by far the most enjoyable role I have ever played. He attributes the success of the show to the fact that many listeners can identify themselves with characters in it, to the hilarious twists in the stories and, above all, to its being the weekly chronicles of an essentially happy family.
"Whatever Anna and Karen do to their poor old man", he says, "they remain a closely integrated, loving and lovable group. They could not be domiciled better than in 'Happy Hampstead'."
Jeremy Tanner (will he ever be allowed to marry Anna?) is played by Brian Squires, a young man who is rapidly making a name for himself as a producer and also as Sub-Lieutenant Fanshawe in The Navy Lark. The girls, (Yvonne Bristow and Margaret Milner-Smythe) look as fresh and marvelous as they sound, and Nanny (Maureen Adair) is one of this talented actress's finest creations.
And what lies ahead? With a characteristic adjustment of his horned-rimmed spectacles, Patrick Carter says: "Who knows? But let's hope its 'Grandfather, dear Grandfather!'".
FATHER AND DAUGHTERS
l-r: Margaret Milner Smythe, Tom Meehan, Yvonne Bristow