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8th July 2003William Allan V.C. & the Antiques Ghost Show.
By John Young
I hope the readers of this forum will forgive my scepticism, but my own belief causes me to doubt the words of mediums.

What I saw tonight was, in my opinion, a marvellous piece of theatre.

However here's the crunch - why was it that when the researcher visited the Museum at Brecon, and Martin pointed out the engraving from 'The Graphic' of 20th December, 1879, pages 608-9, did the camera focus on Queen Victoria presenting the D.C.M. to Colour-Sergeant J. Smith, of the 90th (The Perthshire Volunteers) Light Infantry, rather than on the then Lance-Sergeant William Wilson Allan V.C., who is standing on Smith's right.

I know that the legend of the engraving is incorrect, but the Museum should still be in possession of a copy of 'The Journal of the Anglo-Zulu War Research Society', in which I pointed out the flaw, which also mis-identifies the then promoted Corporal William Roy D.C.M. & Private John Power D.C.M., both of the 1st/24th.

The presentation appears to have taken place in order of rank, commencing with Brevet Lt.-Col. William Knox Leet V.C., of the 1st/13th L.I.; Brev. Maj. Edward P. Leach V.C., R.E.; Lt. Reginald Clare Hart V.C., R.E (both 2nd. Afghan War); Colour-Sergeant Smith, of the 90th L.I. (9th Cape Frontier War); Lance Sergeant Allan, 2/24th; Cpl. Roy & Pte. Power both of the 1st/24th and completing the line is Trooper Robert Brown D.C.M., of the Frontier Light Horse.

Could someone, even the cameraman, please explain why Colour-Sergeant Smith, rather than William Allan was at the centre of camera's focus?

Hoping that this question causes no offence!

John Young.
9th July 2003Martin Everett
Dear John,
Your question suggests you wish a a response.
I was not the cameraman, nor even the producer of the programme, nor was I given an opportunity of seeing a preview before it was broadcast. I suppose it is inescapable in this TV age, like the British Forces in Iraq, we all have to expect comments from armchair pundits.

Lets not miss the object of the exercise. It is important that we use every opportunity to promote the museum, encourage everyone to visit the museum in Brecon and support it. And that we remember and uphold the courage of the soldiers who took part in the AZW campaign and many other conflicts over the years often in difficult circumstances.

I am never sure from your contributions what your real motives are? Hopefully I have explained mine above.
9th July 2003John Young
Dear Martin,

What are my motives? To seek the truth about a war fought in 1879 between Britain and the Kingdom of KwaZulu, and where possible to enlighten or further peoples' knowledge of the campaign. To this end the aims of the non-profit making society of which I am chairman are also directed.

I have no problem with you promoting the R.R.W. Museum, Brecon, through your office of Curator. However, what I do have a problem with that 'The Iron Duke' has been misled into believing that the image that was recorded at Brecon, was that of W.W. Allan V.C., rather than that of J. Bmith D.C.M. Now isn't something amiss there?

Do we deal in known fact on this forum? Or should we accept something that we see to be wrong as right, without question? I didn't stay the course of the programme to check the titles for any additional researchers, having seen the piece, I switched over to watch Richard Holmes - let us hope the museum and the exploits of the 24th in the American War of Independence, will feature in his work.

John Young
9th July 2003Pierre
I would say that you do have a problem. And that it's probably jealousy. That you weren't in a recent t.v show (I'm sure you've been in one in the past, so please don't worry to put me right, if you have) and that someone else is evident to the public as having something to do with anything connected to the Zulu Wars?
I think you need to come to terms that this particular interest is also an interest to other people in this world. It's not your private war. Other people research it, make mistakes about it, or just enjoy it. And other people are asked to do things for a t.v show and others aren't. Live with it.
9th July 2003Martin Everett
Dear John,
Compassion is good thing. Let us all be able to suffer fools gladly. It is important that production companies do continue to make programmes about the AZW. There will always be mistakes - life is too short to dot all the Is and cross all the Ts. Long may these production encourage wider interest in the AZW and reach new audiences. It is easy to imagine your reaction to 'Zulu' if it was shown for the first time today. I await with anticipation to your reaction to the forthcoming BBC TV Timewatch programme about the AZW.
9th July 2003Clive Dickens
Well spoken I could not agree with you more.anyway mistakes are always likely to be made more so with TV and Film companys, but it is nothing to get worked up over.
9th July 2003Simon Copley
Get a life people!
9th July 2003Dave Nolan
"let's be quiet now, you are upsetting the lads"
9th July 2003Mystic Reg
I'm still laughing.....!!!.If I ever get to make a remake of Zulu I have just got to get that "medium" guy in the front line of the first Zulu attack...."I'm a Zulu ooo ooo"...
Seriously...."Secrets of the dead" - with Zulu warriors stoned and..."Antiques Ghost Show"...for God's sake what next?
9th July 2003Mystic Reg
I'm still laughing.....!!!.If I ever get to make a remake of Zulu I have just got to get that "medium" guy in the front line of the first Zulu attack...."I'm a Zulu ooo ooo"...
Seriously...."Secrets of the dead" - with Zulu warriors stoned and..."Antiques Ghost Show"...for God's sake what next?
10th July 2003John Young

No jealousy here, too busy living my life in a real world to be at the beck & call of t.v. companies. I leave that to the experts.

Clive & Martin,
Isn't that just sloppy fare that we accept mistakes, because they are made by t.v. production companies. Should we condone their mistakes, rather than condemn them, or worst still ignore them?

Whose mistakes are we permitted to take issue with then? Or should I now forget the words research or study, and accept without question everything I see, read or heard on the subject of the Anglo-Zulu War? On Martin's advice 'to suffer fools gladly'. Sorry but that is not in my nature.

I'm with 'Mystic Reg' here, 'what next?'

John Young
10th July 2003Julian whybra
It seems to me that TV documentaries can be a real pain. They are often fronted by 'celebrity' historians - often working outside their specialism - with the background being done by TV researchers who have an eye for what constitutes good television rather than historical truth. Michael Wood's current Life of Shakespeare is a good example - entertaining but riddled with faction - it's the same with all TV documentaries. All too often, if you are invovled in a production, you don't have a chance (like Martin) to see the finished product and make corrections. It's just something viewers and contributors have to put up with but where there's a glaring error I see nothing wrong with pointing it out on a website devoted to the accuracy and sharing of information on the subject. Isn't that what the website's for?
11th July 2003Dave Nolan
John, Thank goodness you aren't at the beck and call of the T.V. companies like the experts are, else we might not get your valuable insights here on the discussion board so often. Dave
12th July 2003Trevor Finney
I think the question put forward by J Young was put in a reasonable and polite manner. Most of the replies put forward by this forum seemed to be a smokescreen to hide the fact that the programme "cocked up"
And I beleive that would have been the short and simple answer to J Youngs question! "Cock up"
All of the flack thrown at him was unwarrented. He just asked a question! I thought that was what this forum was for?
12th July 2003CLIVE DICKENS
the answe is"NO" we should not condone the mistakes TV companies mistakes in historical subjects ,but my point is it is always going to happen unfortunately,I know from a friend of mine who lives in South Africa
that a recent TV film unit flew out from the UK a well known expert on the Anglo/Zulu war at great expense only to ignore his advice so I hope from this you wll see what I am geting at in this instance I must agree the programme was compleat "RUBBISH" but we cannot blame Martin for this had he been with them the entire time no doubht they would still not have listened to any advice he would have given and we only have to look at the way the film company distroyed the character of Harry Hook VC in the film "Zulu th see what I mean.
12th July 2003John Young

I don't believe I have blamed Martin for any of this. But someone, as Trevor puts it, so well, 'cocked up'. Two well-known authors on the subject of Rorke's Drift, have cocked-up on the self same engraving, 'no names, no pack drill' - but seek and you'll find them.

The uniform in the print is the giveaway, Colour-Sergeant Smith, is wearing a single coloured tuft on his shako, green to signify rifles or light infantry. He is also wearing light-coloured facings - buff, on his collar although not clearly defined are the arms of Perth.

Lance-Sergeant Allan's tuft on his shako is white over red, and he and the two other members of the 24th are clearly wearing the Sphinx on their collars, and their facings match.

The same programme also made another mistake, whilst Martin and the programme's family history researcher were talking over the diorama. I assume that the same cameraman was not told which building was the store, and which the hospital. As he filmed the store when the hospital was mentioned!

I've heard the same comments made about the filming that you have. I'll reserve my judgement on that production until I have seen it, hopefully before it is broadcast.

John Y.
12th July 2003Clive Dickens
Point taken and I apoligise ,it seems I misunderstood what you where gettig at
Sorry mate
15th July 2003neil aspinshaw
Bit late into this one as I din't see the repeat until sunday.
Technical detail aside, anybody who has see Derek Acora (the medium) on the "most Haunted" series, also on living TV,will know that the bloke is either a freak or fraud, If he is a freak then he is bloody good at it!. To get the accuracy of the detail from what one could presume is an unmarked object is truly remarkable. However I must admit to being sceptical myself and I think he has got to have been "tipped off".
As regards to the TV being entirely correct, last year I appeared as top feature on TV's "collectors lot" programme, on my main hobby of digging up victorian refuse dumps for the bottles and artefacts in them, we did 8 hours of filming for 10 minutes of TV. As Martin suggested you do not see the programme until it is finished, and, they almost certainly get the whole thing completely wrong, they miss the best bits, get pictures completely out of context and generally make thing "viewer freindly" rather than "expert pleasing".
Arguably the most classic case of leaving the best bits on the cutting room floor is "zulu Dawn", as the main zulu chest smash into the tents, there is a panoramic peice where you can see the smoke from the martini fire as the companies retreat to the tents but it suddenly goes off into something else, In reality this peice of footage would have been the nearest to reality as could have been.
The final note would be that if the Antiques Ghost show was a historical fact file then It would be sadly wanting, As a peice of TV I actually enjoyed it, although I did cring a bit when they claimed to have to research if Allen did exist!.

15th July 2003Alex Rossiter
What programe was this? and will it be repeated?

16th July 2003neil aspinshaw
It was the "antiques ghost show" on living TV, it is on tuesday at 9pm, repeated sunday at 9pm. mind you if you are like most of us we should be watching Richard Holmes on BBC2!.
Sorry I spelt Allan, Allen..before JY 'as a go.