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Press Cuttings : Report by Marie Scofield : May 2012

A matter of major concern is highlighted in an article in the Daily Express, 23/3/2012. The thatched cottage in Lingfield, Surrey, where W.E.Johns wrote the first Biggles stories, is threatened by a planned development in fields opposite. The property over hangs a now busy arterial road. With the present amount of traffic, spray is destroying the lime plaster & lorries regularly remove some of the thatch. This is apparently the last thatched cottage in Lingfield village. The plans for a large development show the cottage further from the road than it actually is but Surrey County Council seem determined to approve the plans.

In General Aviation, Feb. 2012, an article by Steve Slater, “Being Biggles”, discussed the “Biggles Bi-plane”, a replica BE2C, which was originally built for the film “Biggles sweeps the skies” (never made). Aeroplane, April 2012, had more news of the replica. It was due to fly on 1/2/2012 to commemorate the centenary of the maiden flight of the prototype BE2 at Farnborough. However a “blustery arctic gale” prevented this. The replica did make its celebratory flight on 3/2/2012. Flypast April 2012, also recorded this event. All articles included photographs.

Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio, 2/4/2012 broadcast an interview with Emily Cockayne, author of Cheek by jowl; a history of neighbours. The content of the book concerns relationships between neighbours & at one point, falling in love with one’s neighbour was discussed,   W.E.Johns being mentioned as an example. According to Emily, Johns made opportunities to speak to the neighbour by lobbing tennis balls over the dividing fence. Presumably this refers to Doris Leigh, in Birmingham.

Adrian Riches’ book When Comics went to War contains mention of Biggles fights alone & Wings over Spain from Modern Boy in 1930’s, also Biggles follows on from Boy’s Own Paper, 1952.

Almost Unknown by Stewart Wilson, Chevron, 2009, discusses what makes a good fighter pilot. “Very few good pilots were Biggles figures, the dashing, unflappable, indestructible & fictitious Boy’s Own character many of us…read about when we were young.”

Various references have occurred about people mentioning their reading of Biggles books. The Vimy Experiences by Peter McMillan, Insight, 2011, is an account of the flights of the replica Vimy. One of the team behind the project, John Owen, “grew up … reading Biggles volumes”.

Flying at the Edge; 20 Years of Frontline flying in the Cold War Era, Terry Doyle, Pen & Sword, 2010, recorded Terry’s reading of Biggles, “which sealed my fate as far as aviation was concerned”.

Best of British, March 2009, has an article “Biggles & me” by Ted Dempsey, who wrote enthusiastically. “Biggles! As a child, I loved the books, written by the romantically named Captain W.E.Johns.” For a full page, he records his daydreams about Biggles & flying. One of the illustrations is a photo of W.E.Johns.

In Best of British, Feb. 2012, Robert Eden shared his love of books. “At the tuppenny library, I developed a taste for the William books & the Biggles books”.

Andrew Sykes, in Waitrose Weekend, 19/1/2012, chose the top six books which influenced him as a child. Biggles in the Baltic was among the six.

Radio 4 broadcast a series “Stop what you’re doing & read this” in January. This was about the transforming power of reading & on 12/1/2012, Carmen Callil recalled Biggles books with pleasure.

Anita Bensoussane, in the Enid Blyton Society Magazine, no. 18, 2002 wrote” Occasionally authors create characters that transcend the book & become part of our culture.” The examples given were Peter Pan, Sherlock Holmes, Noddy. Biggles could certainly be added to those.

Daily Express, 26/3/2012, ran a heading “Medals won by a real-life Biggles could fetch £20,000 at auction”. Major Alan Wilkinson (!) won a double D.S.O. for bravery over the Western Front in World War 1. He was the first allied airman to shoot down six German planes in a day, “echoing the dare devil dogfights of author W.E. Johns’ fictional pilot Biggles”.

The Royal Victorian Aero Club ran a feature in its magazine on why members joined the club. One Glenn Alford reported various experiences in learning to fly, including contact with a pilot who had flown in New Guinea, “a modern day Biggles”.

On 1/1/2012, a presenter of the BBC sports programme donned a flying helmet & exclaimed “look, it’s Biggles” & a Radio Times Quiz had Biggles as one of multiple choice answers.

Empire of the Clouds; when Britain’s Aircraft ruled the world by J. Hamilton-Paterson, Faber & Faber, 2010, was reviewed in The Aerospace Professional. The reviewer referred to the “Biggles-like title & dust wrapper”.

Flygirl Adventures: an autoflyography by Anita Mayes, 2011, wrote of “Mad Rob” with his Biggles helmet.

Microlight Flying, Dec. 2011, had an article “Biggles & the Chav” with illustrations of book covers.

Best of British, March 2009, had a feature on Joe Meek, who produced a pop record sung by John Leyton, the actor who appeared in the TV Biggles serial.

Model Aircraft, Jan. 2012, reported the International Plastic Modelling society’s meeting, with photographs of some models made by the Biggles Special Interest Group.

Thank you to all who sent items and please keep looking.

link to 2011 Press Cuttings

link to 2010 Press Cuttings

link to 2009 Press Cuttings    

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