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Westway (ITV Family Drama, Ivor Salter)

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In seven part family drama Westway, Len Saxby and his three kids answer an advertisement to join a commune at a big old house called Westway. Their welcome isn’t quite as warm as they expected not least from the elderly sitting tenant Miss Marlbury. Young Mark Saxby is convinced the old lady is hiding a secret.

An interesting concept for a kids series, although Mark Saxby thought Miss Marlbury was up to no good or even knew the location of some hidden treasure, that wasn’t the main thrust of the series, other plot lines revolved around the kids at the commune setting up their own school after a run in with the residents of the new nearby estate.

The commune youngsters also prove adept at market gardening – one of the chief sources of income for the commune residents. There was also talk of the tensions arising from commune living. Finally the search for the possible hidden treasure became a pressing concern when it looked like the commune would have to be sold.

Reviewing the drama in The Stage (27 May 1976) Jackie Dyson said: “The situation fives plenty of scope for the children’s adventures without being yet another school story. Guy Slater knows how to write convincing dialogue for children, and the acting was of a high standard… The most sympathetic character, apart from the kids, was the outsider played by Tim Preece, who had no family of his own. He is the only one really able to put the interest of the community first as he has no conflict of interest.”

Actress Ann Lynn, who played Jan Ryder, was living on a commune when the series was filmed.

Production details
UK / ITV – HTV / 7×25 minute episodes / Broadcast 28 April – 9 June 1976

Writer: Guy Slater / Production Design: John Biggs / Executive Producer: Patrick Dromgoole / Producer: Leonard White.

Cast: Ivor Salter (Len Saxby), Simon Gipps-Kent (Crispin Ryder), Sylvestra Le Touzel (Samantha Ryder), Chris Range (Anna Saxby), Ashley Knight (Phil Saxby), Nigel Rhodes (Mark Saxby), Dean Lawrence (Ron Harvey), Jane Lowe (Paula Harvey), Daphne Heard (Miss Marlbury), Ann Lynn (Jan Ryder), Sarah Sutton (Sue Harvey), Tim Preece (Graham Lawrence),Donald Morley (Pete Ryder)