Four Episodes In To John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, Series 9

Well, since you ask me for some kind of diagram drawing all the events of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, Series 9 so far... over four episodes we now have had a hundred years of family history. The Noons, the Nightingales, the Wilkinsons, the Goldings, the Goldfarbs – here's my best stab at creating a chronology so far. Don't read if you haven't listened to the show so far, it really is the best thing the BBC have put out all year, and it is available free, globally streaming right now. But when you have listened, come back, and tell me all the things I missed, then we can listen to episode five this Thursday, together. And sing "woof woof woof, goes the wolfhound" all together.

John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme – BBC PR
John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme – BBC PR
  • 1921 – Near Spetwith – Uncle Newt  (real name O. Nightingale ) has no stories for Vanessa Noon. He lives with her mother Susannah Noon and Susannah's "companion", Gallie Nightingale and dog Monty. Newt is not Vanessa's real uncle. Or is he?
  • 1927 – Scarborough – Vanessa Noon preparing for Midnight At Noon – the Susannah Noon and Gallie Nightingale double act singer/songwriter Musical Hall performance.
  • 1929 – Whitley Bay, Susannah Noon and Gallie Nightingale as Midnight At Noon, with Vanessa Noon. Performing "Cello fellow" with "Susannah on piano".
  • 1934 – Paris to Lyon, Vanessa and Walter Wilkinson have married, on honeymoon, deducing observations about other passengers. Meets Mr Clearing on the train.
  • 1936 – Susannah Noon, dies.
  • 1935, 8th October – Jeremy Wilkinson is born to Vanessa and Walter Wilkinson.
  • 1939 – Spetwith – Vanessa joins a sewing circle. Gallie Nightingale has just died, bombed in Leeds. Is Gallie Nightingale Vanessa's biological mother?
  • 1940 – Leeds, Vanessa gets diagnosed applying to join the Ministry. Is she a spy?
  • 1942 – Grand Union Canal, Vanessa, and companion, on the boats.
  • 1943 – Spetwith. Jeremy – now known as Jerry – living with Uncle Newt. Newt promises a paean. "Sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite" first use.
  • 1943, 8th October – Spetwith – Jerry living with Uncle Newt. Learning poetry. Newt delivers a paean of praise to Jeremy Wilkinson, who turns 8. Vanessa, home from the boats.
  • 1945 – Coventry – Jerry talks to Vanessa in hospital. She has been "hit by a bridge". Has she? Jerry is going to be a poet.
  • 1948 – Long Buckby – Jerry, Vanessa and Walter as Jerry goes to school. Origin of "half a glass" phrase.
  • 1951 – March – Cliff Golding born, with mole.
  • 1954 – Badenhausen – Jerry meets Hella. Jerry in British army, Hella working for her father, Solomon Goldfarb.
  • 1957 – Kentish Town – Hella, Jerry, and baby Deborah Wilkinson.
  • 1960 – Long Buckby – Jerry talks to Vanessa about Midnight And Noon songs. "Fellow with the cello", "Woof woof woof goes the wolfhound" with a nightingale singing.
  • 1962 – Reading. Uncle Newt, tells Deborah and brother Benjamin a bedtime story.
  • 1963 – Reading, Christmas, Vanessa and Walter, Newt, Hella (now Mutti) and Jerry, Deborah and Benjamin, "Onwards and upwards". Ripping up party hats came from Auntie Gallie and Uncle Newt knows why they did it.
  • 1966 – Reading, Jerry, and Hella. Pancakes with family, everyone performative.
  • 1967 – Leamington Spa – posh restaurant. The Wilkinson family. Deborah, Benjamin, Vanessa, Jerry, and Hella. Force 5 table manners.
  • 1969 – Soho, London. "A Nightingale Barked In Soho Square" ad pitch by Jerry. "Woof woof woof goes the wolfhound" for Soho Sound Systems. Based on Midnight At Noon song,
  • 1972 – Bradford On Avon – spying and deducing, Deborah and Vanessa, like Vanessa and Walter used to.
  • 1974 – Colchester – Vanessa badly parked.
  • 1976 – Ferry from France to Dover – Deborah meets Cliff Golding, working on the ferry.
  • 1976 – Reading – Deborah aged 18, engaged to Cliff, tells her parents, Jerry and Hella.
  • 1980 – Dover – Deborah and Cliff Golding, getting Cliff a passport.
  • 1982 – Long Buckby – Vanessa helping Walter watch movies, he may be blind, mentions Edna's lemon curd.
  • 1984 – Dover – Deborah sings "Woof woof woof, goes the wolfhound" to baby Russ Golding.
  • 1985 – Reading – Jerry's birthday, Hella, they have seen Deborah. Mentions of "Sack the juggler" and "Sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite"
  • 1990 – Birmingham – TV quiz with Vanessa. She is wonderful.
  • 1990 – Long Buckby – 5/6-year-old Russ with Deborah at Vanessa's funeral. Level 5 behaviour. Meets great-great Uncle Newt.
  • 1991 – Hook Norton – Uncle Newt – O Nightingale – funeral at 99. Read by nephew by Jerry.
  • 1994 – Dover – Russ has guitar stolen by Craig. "Half a glass".
  • 1994 – Hastings – booking holiday. For Jersey?
  • 1997 – Reading – Deborah, with her father Jerry, who is recovering from a stroke. Her sister is in Torremolinos. "Backwards and forwards"
  • 2001 – Hastings – Russ comes out to Deborah. Mentions Alan.
  • 2003 – Hastings – Russ gets crocodile jawbone tattoo, he is in the band Pier Pressure. Also the name of John Finnemore's favourite episode of Arrested Development.
  • 2004 – Hastings – Pier Pressure, Russ (nicknamed Jawbone) suggests "Woof woof woof goes the wolfhound".
  • 2006 – Larmer Tree Festival – Pier Pressure perform their version of "Woof woof woof woofs the wolfhound", Russ on drums.
  • 2008 – Reading – Jerry's family are sorting his things out, with Deborah and Russ who empties Hella's lilo. "Half a glass". "Cockers" used as a swear word.
  • 2010 – Lanzarote – Russ and Alex – explanation of a lower jawbone of crocodile tattoo.
  • 2012 – Banbury – Deborah giving fencing instruction.
  • 2018 – Hastings – Russ Golding, member of Pier Pressure – funeral gig for Mr Nogg and possibly Annabelle Nogg.
  • 2020 May – Hastings and Hook Norton – Russ and Deborah on phone. Toby and Alex are okay. Mentioned of Deborah's friend Navaneen, and their old Dover dentist.
  • 2020 Christmas – Online – Family Zoom Christmas – Jerry Wilkinson (GGJ), Deborah, Deborah's son Russ, Russ' partner Alex, their son Toby, Oswald the dog. "Cockers" has become "spaniels" as an acceptable term of abuse.
  • 2021 – Aylesbury – Jerry Wilkinson gets vaccinated, he is 86.

Questions to ask of John Finnemore – is Vanessa Noon the biological daughter of Gallie Nightingale, raised by Gallie and her partner Susannah, also known as Midnight At Noon? What role has Newt, or "O Nightingale"? Is he Gallie's brother and so Vanessa's biologically "real" uncle after all? Or possibly Vanessa's biological father? What happened with Deborah and Cliff? Was Vanessa a spy, working on the boats in Europe during the war, and that's how she sustained her injury? Was it Gallie's death that spurred her into action? Was the song "A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square" written in 1939, stolen from Gallie Nightingale of Midnight At Noon? Or composed in tribute to her death in the same year? What is the song's real origin? Did Jerry have a stroke? What is the origin of ripped-up paper hats? And what is Deborah's daughter called anyway?

UPDATE: John Finnemore has tweeted a reply "This is wonderful- great work! Thank you for caring so much about the show. Some of your questions at the end will be answered in the next 2 weeks; some I know the answers to, but aren't answered in the show…. and some have no answers! (One quick easy one: Deb has no daughter.)"

UPDATEx2: John Finnemore has been adding a few more details on Twitter:

Jerry's job is in Soho, but in 1959, with 2 kids and a third on the way, he and Hilla need more space than their Kentish Town flat, and Reading is commutable, affordable, and in the direction of his parents in Long Buckby, and Newt in Hook Norton.

If you know Long Buckby, you'll be able to work out how Vanessa came to know it, and what it was that made it attractive to her when she and Walter were deciding where to buy a house after the war…


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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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