Timothy’s years between 

29 August 2017 tbs.pm/13521

From the TVTimes Northern edition for 4-10 September 1960

September 3, 1944. Britain has been at war with Germany for five years. What are the chances of survival of the soldiers at the front — or the men, women and children at home?

On Wednesday Granada will open the pages of Timothy’s Second Diary — 16 years after the Crown Film Unit shot their film Diary for Timothy. That film told the story of Tim’s first six months in a world at war.

Now Tim is old enough to be able to look back on his life — and into the future.

“I was much too young ever to remember anything about the war,” he said at his home near Brighton. “And I never really appreciated the years of post-war austerity. At the moment I am too involved with being at grammar school and all the things that go with it.” For the future, Tim has no wide hopes. He would like to be a professional photographer, but there is still time to make up his mind. He has almost another two years before he leaves school.

Like most boys of his age he is not particularly interested in politics or world affairs. It is a full-time job just being 16.

His mother, Mrs Betty Jenkins, believes that the war was worth fighting and the post-war years worth living through. “Things are much better today than I believe we ever hoped for,” she says. “The war made a tremendous difference to people of my age.

“We find it much easier to live together now because of the mutual feeling of clubbing together when times were harder.”

Tim’s first diary was the story of the war … The story which we knew only through the daily news commentaries. But it was also the story of the men who did not go away to fight … The story of Alan, who stayed to fight his battles on his Norfolk farm; Bill, the engine driver, whose job was just as vital as any at the front.

Sixteen years have passed since Alan Bloom was shown clearing fenland. He said then: “If it hadn’t been for the war I don’t suppose we would have done it.”

He has crammed a lot into the years between, with good and bad times. “If you want to get a lot out of the land,” he said in his garden at Bressingham, near Diss, “You’ve got to put a lot into it.”

It was also the story of Goronwy, who mined coal, and Peter Roper, the fighter pilot who had already given something to the war and was in hospital waiting to get back into the air.

Goronwy was not optimistic in 1944. “Shall we have unemployment and broken homes as it was after the first war?” he asked. He lives in the same village, but it has changed. At one time there was little choice but to work in the mine. Now other industries have grown up.

“Conditions are better in the pits,” Goronwy said. “But I’ve noticed since the war that the young ones don’t want to take part in the social life of the village.”

The embodiment of all these facets of the war can be seen in relation to Tim’s first days. Michael (now Sir Michael) Redgrave’s commentary of E. M. Forster’s script asked a lot of questions. If we survived, it asked, what would the future hold for the brave new world? Would we follow the same pattern that followed the first World War? Would there be inflation and slump? Would there be hunger marches—or would this be “a land fit for heroes”?

This week marks the 21st anniversary of the beginning of the war. It is 15 years since the war ended. We can look back on the war dispassionately, and we can ask what has happened in those 15 years.

Tim Hewat, who directs the new Timothy’s Second Diary, will go back to the original names in the diary — to ask the miner and the railway driver, the pilot and the farmer what they think has happened in the past 15 years. Is the world a better place to live in now? Have we done the things we said we would do for the children? As always, it is the children who matter.

Timothy never knew the horrors of the V-bombs or the anxiety of having a member of the family overseas. In fact, to him the war is something that other people talk about.

The baby in the original film is now a tall, gangling lad. Timothy is just stepping over the threshold to the big life ahead. The future is his.

Tim Hewat does not intend to analyse Timothy’s future, or the comments of the other originals of Timothy’s Second Diary. The first film wais a simple statement of hopes and fears; this new diary will be the final word.

The pages of the diary have run their full course. Fifteen years after the last shot was fired, Michael Redgrave’s voice is nothing more than a worried memory: “… then another war, then more unemployment. Will it be like that again? Are you going to have greed for money or power ousting decency from the world, as they had in the past? Or are you going to make the world a different place, you and all the other babies?”

He asked the questions on our behalf. Some of the answers are to be found in Timothy’s Second Diary.

Timothy James Jenkins died in November 2000. Timothy’s Second Diary appears to be missing from the Granada archive.

You Say

3 responses to this article

David Heathcote 30 August 2017 at 6:03 pm

Lovely feature – thank you! I’m a sucker for series like this. I watched “Seven Up” at the time, and all subsequent septennial episodes. I’ve followed people like Nick throughout their lives, all their ups and downs. (One of the girls made a guest appearance at a Granada TV-themed event in Manchester a couple of years back.) I shall be devastated when any of them die: they’ve been like brothers and sisters.

And it was very sad to learn that Timothy Jenkins only made it to November 2000.

Wikipedia tells more: “In a documentary on Jennings (director of the original “A Diary for Timothy”) made for Channel 4 television by Kevin MacDonald in 2000, it was revealed that… Timothy… became a mod before settling down to become a teacher; he died in November 2000.

Paul Mason 31 August 2017 at 9:24 pm

Sorry to hear Timothy only lived to be 56. Where he grew up in south Wales lost its mining and steel industries before the century ended.

Blue Peter had many pets but in 1968 they adopted a BABY called Daniel and on occasions Peter Purves and John Noakes acted as “parents” changing nappies and bottle feeding him. BP followed his progress for a couple of years but they decided not to follow him to nursery or school which was a wise move. BP did not go into how a baby was made, or breastfeeding. Next year Daniel will be 50 years old but as an adult he has shunned publicity.

Paul Mason 1 September 2017 at 3:42 pm

I’m afraid I got my wires crossed and I mixed Goronwys story up with Timothy’s. Timothy was from Brighton and had nothing to do with South Wales. SORRY!

I am two years younger than the “Seven Up” participants. Had I been born a week later I would have been part in a government survey following the lives of all those born in the first week of March 1958. My age is no secret!

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