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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 Radio’s 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...

Girls: (giggle)...Father, Dear Father!

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: “It’s 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!'".

From an article in Radio & TV magazine 1974
Compiled and published to the Internet by
Robin Davis, Durban, South Africa
January 2002


l-r: Margaret Milner Smythe, Tom Meehan, Yvonne Bristow

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(Top) "Well sir, what actually happened..." Patrick Carter (Tom Meehan) is in the cart again. And from the look on Jeremey's face (played by Brian Squires) he's the one who wrecked things for this father-in-law to be.
(Inset left) Mildred Doherty is Mother
(Inset right) Merle Wayne who takes the pary of the sophisticated but charming Georgie.
(Bottom) Whenever possible, audiences at "Father, dear Father" recordings are roped in to help out with crowd effects, etc. Recently a party of jockeys from the South African Jockey Academy near Durban were there to see the show, and here Brian Squires instructs some of them on how to make Indian war-whoops. The results were heard on the halarious episode in which Patrick Carter became a scoutmaster and almost got scalped.

Scripts of "Father, Dear Father" were also written in South Africa by Tom Meehan, and as the series progressed, some cast changes were made.
Yvonne Bristow who played Anna moved to Johannesburg and became a TV continuity announcer on the recently started SABC TV channel, but was still flown to Durban for recordings for some months until she was replaced by Marilyx Stafford-Meyer. Patrick Carter's literary agent Georgie played by Merle Wayne, his ex-wife Barbara played by Gillian Lomberg and her new husband Bill (played by Reg Richards) were all written out as time went by. Merle Wayne moved to Howick and Gillian emmigrated to Australia. Reg passed away many years later.
"Father, Dear Father" also went off air in South Africa with the closure of Springbok Radio in 1985.


Published to the Internet in January 2002
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