Looking at the Western role

Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates in Rawhide
Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates in Rawhide

THIS WEEK IN 1988: Church silent on sex ring scandal

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So many modern TV programmes bore the pants off me, which makes we wonder why the powers-that-be don’t bring back the one type of show that seemed to appeal to everyone – the made-for-TV western.

They were so prominent during the 1950s and 60s that every evening there seemed to be a shoot-out in some frontier town or other.

Bronco Layne starred Ty Hardin, who, according to the theme song, dreamed of shoes and rice.

Along with Bronco there was Cheyenne Bodie starring the massive Clint Walker, who later appeared as Fancy in The Dirty Dozen. He also played Tarzan in a 1954 adventure.

Tales of Wells Fargo, the stagecoach company, featured Dale Robertson as the company security agent.

Wagon Train, every adult’s favourite, with Ward Bond as the boss and Robert Horton as the scout, was not to be missed on a Wednesday evening, along with the much-loved Rawhide which brought Clint Eastwood to everyone’s attention. These westerns were a staple diet for mid-week watching and all in glorious black-and-white.

Gunsmoke, or Gun Law as it was known in Britain, for a while starred James Arness as sheriff Matt Dillon.

I wonder how many of you can remember Laramie, the tales from a stagecoach horse-exchange station? It was shown on a Saturday evening about 6pm as I remember. It starred Robert Fuller, John Smith and Spring Boynton.

A lesser-known series was Sugarfoot starring Will Hutchins. He was a cowboy who was not quite up to it. This was a comical character and this is why I think he was not around for long. The British like their cowboys to be as true to life as we imagine cowboys must have been.

Laredo, starring Neville Brand, was another that was not around for long, unlike the great Range Rider which starred Jock Mahoney and his sidekick Dick West played by Dick Jones.

In the opening credits West used to fire his pistol from underneath the horse’s neck at full gallop. I used to think he was the bee’s knees. Mahoney, like Clint Walker, also later went on to play Tarzan.

Boots and Saddles was a show based around the tales of the Fifth Cavalry and starred John Pickard, a long-forgotten television star.

Sunday afternoons were the time everyone sat down after lunch to watch Bonanza and the Cartwright family seemingly sort out every problem in the mid-west.

Finally we come to the most famous of all western heroes. A programme that even today, when the title music is played, reminds viewers of this man.

Even concert orchestras cannot play Rossini’s William Tell Overture without the conductor referring to the one and only Lone Ranger.

It started off as a radio play and I have an LP of the whole show.

It was first screened on American TV in 1949 with Clayton Moore and his horse Silver along with Jay Silverheels as Tonto, a real Mohawk Indian and his horse Scout.

Did any lad worth his salt go out on a Saturday after Grandstand had ended without first watching the latest edition of The Lone Ranger?

I don’t think so. He even had his own silver mine and made bullets from the silver mined from it.

Hi Ho Silver, awaaaay.