Saturday, 5 May 2012

The Truth About Walter...

Early 1980: Geoffrey Hooper's Walter chats to Amos Brearly (Ronald Magill).

Late 1980: Al Dixon's Walter says nowt.

This blog has some amazing fans! No sooner had I posted the previous article on the three Walters (one and the same character?) than I got this e-mail from Sheila:

I well remember Geoffrey Hooper as Walter and liked him a great deal. When Al Dixon became the new Walter in the early '80s, I couldn't accept him as the same character because he was so silent and odd. He was nothing like the previous version. Around 1981, when it became obvious that Al Dixon's version was not going to speak, I wrote to the production team asking if the two Walters were meant to be the same character, because they seemed so different. Clive Hornby and Jean Rogers had been cast as Jack Sugden and Dolly Skilbeck in 1980, but they resembled the previous actors and the characters were the same. The reply stated that the production team, headed by Anne W Gibbons, the producer, liked the tradition of a Walter at the Woolpack, but in casting Al Dixon, they had no intention of adhering to the character of the previous Walter. They wanted to create something fresh and original and so the idea came about that he would be silent.

The letter said that viewers could use their imaginations as to whether he was the same person as the previous Walter or not, so I decided that Amos, depressed by the death of his old regular Walter, had been happy when a new Walter turned up in Beckindale (Walter was a common name amongst aged men in those days) and had taken him under his wing, not at first realising how odd he was.

I wrote to the cast and production team several times in those days and have some lovely souvenirs. I'd be happy to scan some for you. I really enjoy reading your site and am always on the lookout for updates, which are all too rare!

Thanks for that, Sheila! It's amazing!  Thanks for your compliments, too. I'm a great fan of Al Dixon's highly distinctive Walter - he was the only SILENT Walter - and I'd love to see your souvenirs! I'll be in touch.

9 comments:

  1. Al Dixon was the only silent Walter, and he's the one I remember. Al Dixon was a truly great comic actor and it's wonderful that he finally got recognition on TV as silent Walter.

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  2. Geoff (Leeds)6.5.12

    When people think of Walter, they tend to think of Al Dixon sitting at the Woollie bar being silent. Al's Walter was a unique creation, the only silent Walter as you say, and stands alone.

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  3. Benjamin.7.5.12

    Hi Andy, as always I love reading your Bugle and you do with my Emmerdale Wiki. I think the Geoffrey Hooper Walter and Al Dixon Walter were two different people. The first one spoke on occasions and looked a bit younger. The second Walter first appeared a few months later and looked older and was silent so my theory is it was two Walters. Not like the recasts of Tom, Pat, Jack and Dolly who were always the same characters despite a changeover of actors.

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    1. Hello! Good to hear from you again. I agree - there was one only silent Walter! If you watch Geoffrey Hooper's Walter, he can often be seen in the background in the Woolpack chatting to other customers, as well as making comments to Amos, Henry, Annie (at the village hall dance) and others, cheering at a football match and so on. It's good to hear from Sheila what the production team said on the matter back in 1981 too. We're free to use our imaginations on the matter, and silent Walter isn't the other Walter by any stretch of the imagination.

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  4. Anonymous8.5.12

    I've been watching 1980 episodes and Al Dixon's Walter first appears in an episode about Bogle Bog. I think Al's Walter was a bogle who took over the old Walter and had come to keep an eye on Beckindale! :))

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    1. LOL! That's very funny! I loved the Bogle Bog story-line.

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  5. Darlene8.5.12

    We all remember Silent Walter, not Geoffrey Hooper's Walter and they are different characters because Al was so much older than Geoffrey and didn't speak. Everybody remembers Silent Walter, Silent Walter was Al Dixon. End of story.

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  6. Benjamin.8.5.12

    I have the Bogle Bog episodes on DVD. I think Al's Walter first appeared a few episodes in after the short summer break from mid July to early Sep.

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  7. Al's first episode as Walter was 597, shown in September 1980 (exact dates/times varied).

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