Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome, adapted by David Wood

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BBC Radio 7, 13-14 April 2009
Louise Sturdy's two-part adaptation of Ransome's work from 1998 focused on childhood as experienced in the Lake District in the early 1930s. Told from the point of view of Old Titty (Jean Anderson), looking back over six decades, it showed a group of children creating a world of make-believe, transforming their mundane lives into adventures of derring-do inspired by classic works such as Robinson Crusoe. In their version of events the boys are clean-cut heroes while the girls become damsels in distress, or domestic servants making sure that their boys are well turned out. Ransome explores the childish mind - perpetually inquisitive and open to new ideas, yet vulnerable whenever danger Although cast in the children's fantasies as a peripheral figure - responsible for providing occasional refreshments - Mother (Penny Downie) also functions as an emotional rock, providing a source of stability and comfort whenever necessary.
Swallows and Amazons conjures up a world that no longer exists, that predates computer games and other electronic media providing visceral satisfaction. In Ransome's book the children give full rein to their imagination, secure in the knowledge that they will be safe from attack by perverts or others seeking to corrupt their innocence. Lakeland in the early 1930s provides the setting for them to run wild yet still be home in time for tea. Listening to this enthralling adaptation, one could not help but share Old Titty's sense of nostalgia for a lost world.

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