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Paupers and Pig Killers from the Diaries of William Holland cover art

Paupers and Pig Killers from the Diaries of William Holland

Written by: William Holland,Eric Pringle
Narrated by: Ronald Pickup,Rosemary Martin,Rowena Cooper,Gavin Muir,Gordon Gostelow,Tessa Worsley,David Collings,Andrew Branch,Margaret Courtenay,full cast
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Publisher's Summary

A BBC Radio dramatisation of the real-life diaries of a West Country village parson, writing at the turn of the 19th century.

On 25th October 1799—his 18th wedding anniversary—cantankerous Somerset parson William Holland begins his diary, chronicling events at the vicarage and in the small farming community of Over Stowey. He would keep it for the next 19 years, candidly recording the small trials of day-to-day life—from chaotic church services and unruly locals to lazy servants and irksome in-laws.

As the new century dawns, he finds himself dealing with parish problems and domestic dramas: including a madman in the poorhouse, a drunkard in the pulpit and his wife's prattling cousin in the house. At harvest time, he has his work cut out collecting tithes from the local farmers, and his troubles are further compounded by an escaped cow, some curious medical complaints and an audacious plum-plunderer....

Paying a social visit to Bath with his family, the hectic pace has him longing for the relative peace and quiet of home. And back at the parsonage, his life is transformed when his manservant Robert resolves to give up drinking and womanizing. But will it last?

Full of humorous observations and comic incident, this delightful journal paints a unique picture of a wonderful collection of characters and the entertaining and often hilarious things that happen to them. Dramatised by Eric Pringle, it is brought to life by a full cast of well-known actors and stars Ronald Pickup as William Holland, Rosemary Martin and Rowena Cooper as his wife, Mary and Gavin Muir as Robert.

Production credits:

Written by William Holland. Dramatised by Eric Pringle. Directed by Cherry Cookson.


William Holland—Ronald Pickup

Mary—Rosemary Martin/Rowena Cooper

Robert—Gavin Muir

Miss Dodwell—Tessa Worsley

Mr Amen—Gordon Gostelow

Farmer Morle—David Collings

William Frost/Farmer Landsey—David Timson

Rector Reekes/Ben Hunt—John Hartley

Thomas Poole/Farmer Trant/Porter—Stephen Critchlow

Mrs Southcomb—Margaret Courtenay

Farmer CottleMr Lewis—Andrew Branch

Margaret/Hannah/Betty/Little Will—Jane Whittenshaw

Sally Hill/Grace—Caroline Strong

With Tilly Gaunt, Giles Fagan and Ben Crowe

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 7th-21st February 1996 (Series 1), 29th October-12th November 1999 (Series 2).

©2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

Critic Reviews

"A good diary can provide an unsurpassed entry into society, and the diary of William Holland is a very good diary indeed." (The Spectator)

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