Woodbine Place is 30!
Made in the 1980s by Wendy McEvoy (director of Siren Films) for Channel Four , Woodbine Place is more poignant now than ever. With children rapidly disappearing from our streets the film leaves plenty to think and talk about. This fascinating documentary will give anyone who works with or is interested in children, an insight into children’s social lives.
Filmed over the summer holidays, the result is a revealing study of the street play of young children (3 to 7 years) living in a cul-de-sac in a North-East town. Through their games, fantasies and interactions we get a revealing and unsentimental view of children’s society, showing the importance of the peer group in shaping the child’s social development.
As the film develops, sometimes moving, sometimes enchanting and often sad, it reveals certain aspects of childhood which may dislodge some cosily held views amongst grown ups. It presents us with a powerfully honest series of events which takes us as close as we are likely to get towards seeing the world as a child.
This is a real life tale of love and hate, betrayal, car thefts, where fighting is “just good exercise” and, after dark, wolves stalk the streets. This documentary studies the children of one street in the north east of England as they spend their time together, outside in the tree-lined cul-de-sac during the summertime , creating a composite ‘day-in-their-lives’.
This compelling film allows the children plenty of time to give us all a rare glimpse of them in an environment comparatively free from adults. Not so much fly on the wall as cat on the fence, it is a lingering documentary to savour, containing scenes that are genuinely moving, clearly showing the daily struggle of growing up, the nuances of the interactions between each other, their fantasies bound in reality – challenging us to look again at some popularly held opinions of the nature of childhood.
What did the papers have to say?
Filmed over six weeks one summer, with school and parents safely in the distance, this fascinating documentary is a study of the street play of young children living in a comfortable Victorian cul-de-sac in a North-eastern town. Through their games, fantasies and interactions we get a revealing and unsentimental view of children’s society – of it’s morality, minefields, power struggles and unspoken rules – and of the importance of the peer group in shaping the child’s social development.
THE DRAW OF WOODBINE… Scheduled rather unsympathetically in the middle of a slack weekend afternoon, WOODBINE PLACE is a superb piece of television social anthropology – as interesting a programme as any this week. It consists of several weeks’ fly-on-the-wall observation of a group of children from NorthEast England as they play, bicker and torment each other during a long summer holiday. If these weren’t kids but furry animals instead, this would be considered brilliant wildlife filming.
Woodbine Place was a nature programme whose subjects happened to be human. Prying on a group of children playing in the streets of Gateshead, the camera bore unsentimental witness to the psychological and physical cruelties which four-year-olds inflict on one another. Much of their time was spent in capricious negotiations about who was a friend of whom. As they sat back on a sofa to discuss the matter, they looked suspiciously like fat-cat salesmen posing for the Press…