7 Degrees West

A 1960s forerunner of Lesser Spotted Ulster from UTV

Ulster Television has always devoted time in the schedules to observing old traditions and customs from the far flung corners of Northern Ireland - and even beyond into the borders of the old province of Ulster. Travelling well off the beaten track, keeping away from the major towns and cities, series like McGilloway's Way and Lesser Spotted Ulster have spent decades documenting townlands and villages while recording disappeaing crafts, traditions and ways of life. But this was a process which started even earlier...

In 1966, UTV brought a new series to the air called 7 Degrees West. It was the nature of television at this time that studio scenes were recorded onto videotape while the more lightweight and portable film cameras captured location work. Sadly, all the studio scenes for the series featuring its host Murray Moore, which included folk song and guests, have been lost. However, the majority of the filmed location shoots around the Northern Irish countryside still survive and tell a valuable story of our recent past.

Charlie Witherspoon was already a familiar face on UTV with his roving reporter slots for the news. In an age before the Troubles and political and civil strife, he and UTV were able to devote time to tracking down unusual social interest stories or focussing on forgotten traditions or folklore. Witherspoon was therefore the ideal person to undertake the journeys into the beyond and for this series he adopted a special affectation - he would always cycyle into shot at each location on what was then the rather new-fangled Moulton-style bicycle. 

In all, there were three series of 7 Degrees West, in 1966, 1969 and 1970. We'll be adding more and more to this collection as we go forward so join us for a cycle with Charlie into the heart of Northern Ireland. 

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