Lynda Warren

Location: Swindon, Wiltshire
About me...

After I left Bentley Grammar School in Calne, Wiltshire, all I knew was that I wanted a job that was different.  My mother, like many in the late 70s, suggested I take a secretarial course, which I did.  When I left college there were two new businesses that interested me, the Wyvern Theatre and Wiltshire Radio.  I applied to both and luckily they both offered me a job.  I chose the Wyvern Theatre and it was there that I met my husband.
The theatre and then finding props, locations and even animals for television filming has led to several of my talks, although I had begun public speaking at the age of 16!  I am now in my early 60’s and have a range of 24 talks, both autobiographical and based on those things that I am really interested in.
I have spoken to groups including, but not limited to, Women’s Institutes, Ladies Circles, Probus, Retirement Homes, Day Centres, Church Groups and U3A’s.  I am available, morning, afternoon or evening, and, if the diary permits, at short notice.

About my talks...

I do not use any slides, but some of my talks do involve music, I bring along a small pa system so my only requirement is a table and access to a power point.  These talks are marked ♫. A table is also useful for those of my talks that require props.  Talks usually last for 45 minutes, with questions if required, but I can shorten or lengthen any of my talks to suit.  I have given talks of 2 hours but suggest a coffee break in the middle!
Talks have been given to small groups of around half a dozen up to an audience of 1,000, and all stages in between!
I hold a PPL licence authorising the public performance of sound recordings, full public liability insurance, and have completed a risk assessment should one be required.

Fee:

From £50 plus travel expenses of 30p per mile if more than ten miles from my home address in Swindon, Wiltshire.  I regularly give talks in Avon, Bristol, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire.

Subject to availability, I am happy to attend at short notice.

My Contact Details:
Phone:

01793 771453 Mobile:07974372666

My Talks

3. ’Funny Way To Make A Living (in Wales)’ - Part One

3 Funy way to make a living wales (1)

Working on television dramas and comedies.

Covering three drama/comedy programmes filmed with S4C and BBC Wales in the 80’s.  Following a brief introduction to the evolution of S4C (the Welsh Channel 4), this talk features details of programmes seen mainly in Wales and Patagonia (where there is a strong Welsh speaking community)!   It covers the challenges of finding props, locations, even animal training and special effects.

Launched on S4C on Christmas day 1983, ‘Henllys Fawr’ told the stories of William John Griffiths, from Williams the shop to the hedgehog-faced Ivan the mole catcher.  Set in the 1920s we spent nine months filming this series on and around the Lleyn Peninsula and included many unusual props.  ‘Gwydion’, was a series about a private detective set in the 1960’s.  Accurate research was required for this programme, particularly as it was within living memory, so we had to make sure that each aspect of every day life was correct.  Specific challenges included a dog that could stop breathing; setting a house on fire and hanging a man from a tree.  ‘Arrivederci Rhondda’ describes a BBC comedy pilot filmed in their Cardiff studios, but set in a Welsh Italian Café in the South Wales Valleys.   The stars included Ruth Madoc as Kinki Katinka ‘the stripper with the snake’; Welsh club singer Jonny Tudor as the ‘next Tom Jones’ and Windsor Davies as their very dodgy agent.

4. ’Funny Way To Make a Living – Part Two’

4 Tortoise

Animals, props and locations for corporate video

Although not intending to be an animal trainer, Part Two of ’Funny Way to Make a Living’ tells about auditioning and training tortoises; encouraging a turkey to walk on a lead; transforming a white pet rat to a wild rat and finding homing pigeons, trained chimpanzees, dogs, horses and a trained fox.

It also includes details of the many locations and props we have been asked to source and/or make over the years, including vintage and antique items, murder weapons and more!

6. ‘Location, Location, Location’

6. Location, location, location

Life as a Location Scout/Manager

This talk begins with some of my personal experiences as a location scout and location manager including sourcing castles, stately homes, private houses, shops, farms, restaurants and bars and even sewers!  It also tells how we burnt someone’s house down, produced rain and the necessity of providing decent portaloos!

Followed by details of the locations behind some of following popular past and present television series’, depending on the length of the talk.

1. A Spoonful of Herbs

1.HERBS

Their history, practical and unusual uses of herbs

For thousands of years, humans have used herbs in hundreds of ways.  My talk begins with an investigation into the people who taught us about herbs, from the Ancient Egyptians and Romans, through to the Indians and Chinese, the European physicians of the Middle Ages and own British herbalists.

 

We will then explore herbs as used in: flavouring foods, perfumes and beauty products, household applications and medicines.  Four plants will be covered in detail: Mint, Rosemary, Bay and Lavender with a free recipe sheet for each member.

2. Sugar and Spice (and all things nice)

2. Warren

The Spice Trail

A spice is said to be a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetable substance primarily used for flavouring, colouring or preserving food.  ‘Sugar and Spice (and all things nice)’ follows the ‘Spice Trail’ from the Arab merchants who developed the routes through the Middle East and India, through to their arrival into Europe.

Spices were among the most demanded and expensive products available in Europe in the Middle Ages, the most common included many we use today, black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.   We will explore their general use in cooking, medicines, cosmetics and perfumes and consider seven spices in more detail: Brown Mustard Seed, Chilli Powder, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cumin, Garam Masala, Tumeric and close with a look at the one spice in everyone’s cupboard – Sugar!  A free handout for each member gives practical uses for spices, including cookery, beauty, first aid and household.

5. ’Theatre Memories’

5 Wyvern Theatre logo

Behind the scenes

‘Theatre Memories’ takes you behind the scenes at the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon and touring productions by the Southern Exchange Theatre Company which was established to provide regional theatre for civic theatres without resident repertory companies.  It includes famous names and faces, popular plays, and lots of ‘how they do its’.  The Wyvern Theatre began life as a building site in 1967, and I joined in the summer of 1971.  We begin with details of the Theatre’s ‘soft opening’, a visit by Royalty, some of the best remembered productions – from pantomime to ‘straight’ plays, musicals to magicians, Shakespeare to steam engines and even the use of theatre to make political and religious statements.

We then move on to life in Touring Theatre, with repertory companies, living out of a suitcase, theatre landladies and a variety of theatres from Poole to Peterborough and includes lots of backstage secrets.

7. ’He’s Behind You’

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Pantomime – history and personal reminiscences

‘He’s Behind You’ tells the history of pantomime, characters, costumes and special effects.  We see how it started in Ancient Rome and Greece through to the European Comedia dell Arte and finally onto the English stage.

We close with the stories, and my personal experiences, behind some of the most popular family pantomimes including Cinderella, Aladdin, Dick Whittington and Jack and the Beanstalk.

8. 'The Mystery Of Agatha Christie' - talks a and b

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Her life, books and writing techniques

Agatha Christie, the Queen of Crime, is the world’s best-known mystery writer.  In a career spanning 60 years she wrote more than 70 novels and 120 short stories as well as plays, volumes of poetry and an autobiography.   ‘The Mystery of Agatha Christie’ tells about her life including childhood, marriages, divorce and the time she ‘disappeared’; her writing style and the development of some of her most famous characters.

There are two versions of this talk, the first (a) is a mix of biography and writing styles, the second (b) concentrates more on her writing and is suitable for writing circles and book groups.   A suggested reading list is available for both.

9 ’Peter Rabbit and Friends’

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The life and works of Beatrix Potter, botanist and author

For more than a century ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ has never been out of print and the character of Peter and his friends, with their mixture of curiosity and mischief, are as popular today as ever.  The Peter Rabbit story began when Beatrix Potter was 27 years old.  A little boy she knew called Noel Moore was ill and to cheer him up she wrote an illustrated letter about a rabbit called Peter.  “My dear Noel, I don’t know what to write to you so I shall tell you a story about four little rabbits …”

‘Peter Rabbit and Friends’ tells the story of Beatrix Potter, her childhood, her work as a famous naturalist and illustrator of fungi, her relationships and her interest in the Lake District and – strangely – sheep and the legacy she gave to the National Trust.  We also see how Beatrix Potter’s books reflect everyday life and are as current today as when they were first written.  A suggested reading list is available.

10. ’Treasure Chest Of Words And Sayings’ a and b

10a and 10b words and sayings

The background to some well known words and sayings

During ‘A Treasure Chest of Words and Sayings’ the audience is invited to choose sayings at random from a treasure chest.  Explanations are then given of their origin.  Often, more popular tales of a word’s origin arise.  Sometimes these are true; more often they are not.  Explanations also vary depending on their time in history and geographical location.  While it can be disappointing when an explanation turns out to be untrue, almost invariably the true origin is just as interesting, and sometimes hilarious!

Due to the popularity of this talk two versions are now available.

11. The Man Who Invented Winnie the Pooh’

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The life and works of AA Milne

AA MilnePoet, writer, playwright, and journalist Alan Alexander Milne was born in London.   He earned a BA in mathematics at Cambridge University before moving to London, where he worked as the assistant editor at Punch for eight years.  Milne served as an officer in the British army in World War I, after which he devoted his career to writing.

After his only child, Christopher Robin, was born, Milne began to write the children’s books for which he is best known: two poetry collections, When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six, and the story books Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner.   My favourite AA Milne/Winnie the Pooh saying is: “It’s more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?”   A reading list is available.

12.‘The Secret World of Nursery Rhymes’

12 The Secret World of Nursery Rhymes

Nursery rhymes are important for young children because they help develop an ear for our language.  Both rhyme and rhythm help kids hear the sounds and syllables in words, which helps kids learn to read!  But have you ever thought about the stories behind the rhymes.  For example:

“Georgie Porgie pudding and pie, Kissed the girls and made them cry
When the boys came out to play, Georgie Porgie ran away.”

The origins of the lyrics to “Georgie Porgie” are English and refer to the courtier George Villiers, 1st duke of Duke of Buckingham (1592–1628). King James I took Villiers as his lover and nicknamed him “Steenie” (a reference to St. Stephen whom in the Bible describes as having the “face of an angel”). Villier’s good looks also appealed to the ladies and his highly suspect morals were much in question!  Who would have thought Georgie Porgie was such a naughty boy!

13. ’The People of the Titanic’

13. The People of the Titanic

One hundred years later …… true stories of the passengers and crew aboard the ship they said would never sink.

This talk tells the tales of some of the 2,200 men, women and children, who became part of history simply by stepping on board an ocean steamer, bound for a routine crossing of the Atlantic on hundred years ago.   They had not the slightest notion that they were going to be the participants in what was to be the world’s worst maritime disaster, claiming the lives of over 1,500.

This talk does not intend to retell the story of the ship, from the laying of its keel, to its final plunge on April 15th 1912.   Rather, instead it is designed to remember those people who travelled on board the Titanic and who shared her brief life.   A fact sheet with statistics about the Titanic is available.

14. Wartime Kitchen’ - talks a and b

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Cookery, evacuees and other aspects of daily life during World War 2.  Although enjoyed by any age, this talk is particularly suitable for day care centres and retirement homes.  ‘Wartime Kitchen’ covers the activities of civilians in Britain during World War 2.  It includes a recipe sheets and many facsimile artifacts of the time.  It is based on the memories of my father and the many people who have kindly allowed me to use their recollections of this difficult time.

Talk b may be more suitable for gardening clubs and garden centres and concentrated on the rationing and resultant gardening that came into force in January 1940, which meant that imported items including meats, sugar, tea and coffee were divided equally between all adults and children.   Imported non-food items such as textiles, soap and petrol were also rationed.  Everywhere, Home Front posters exclaimed “Dig for Victory”, “Don’t Waste Bread” and reminded us that “Careless Talk Costs Lives”.  Wartime recipe sheets are available for both.

15a. ’Dicken’s Of A Christmas’

15a and b Dickens of a Christmas & What the Dickens

Charles Dickens, his life, his work but mostly his contribution to the Victorian Christmas.  It includes Victorian traditions behind decorating the house, the custom of singing carols and sending Christmas cards, and some interesting and unusual recipes, copies of which are available to take home and try out on unsuspecting families.   Victorian Christmas recipe sheets are available.

15b ’What the Dickens!’

Talk about Charles Dickens by Lynda Warren

‘What the Dickens!’  An alternative version, appealing to lovers of Dickens at all times of the year.

Whilst telling the life story of Charles Dickens, particular attention is paid to his two visits to America and also the way in which he based his fabulous characters on people that he knew.  From close friends and families, to workmates and neighbours, ‘What the Dickens!’ tells how these ordinary people were turned into literary characters that have lasted through the years.   A reading list is provided for both talks.

16. ’Lest We Forget’

16. Lest We Forget

Male and female war poets of World War 1

‘Lest We Forget’ looks back 100 years to the soldier and civilian poets of World War 1, for the first time, a substantial number of important English poets were soldiers, writing about their experiences of war. A number of them died on the battlefield, most famously Rupert Brooke, Edward Thomas, Isaac Rosenberg and Wilfred Owen.   Others, including Siegfried Sassoon, survived but were scarred by their experiences, and this was reflected in their poetry.

There is also a strong but neglected tradition of women’s poetry written in response to the events of the First World War. Many of these poems are the products of direct experience of the processes of war — making weapons; nursing the wounded; the loss of brothers, sons, or lovers in the trenches — by women on active service in the battle areas as well as by women involved in the war effort at home.   ‘Lest We Forget’ features the work of some well-known and some rarely heard war poets, written in a variety of styles and emotions.   A reading list is available.

17. ’The Golden Age Of Musical Theatre’ ♫

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From Oklahoma to Hair

‘The Golden Age of Musical Theatre’ is generally considered to have begun with ‘Oklahoma’ in 1943 and to have ended with ‘Hair’ in 1968, and it is just a handful of musicals from those 25 years of history that we will look at today.  And I’m the lucky one, because I get to choose the songs I love, I just hope you love them too.  Please feel free to join in, singing, humming, clapping, or just reading through the words.

My talk gives you behind the scenes information on the development of a musical, from idea to finished production.  This is followed by the background behind some of the most famous musicals, and some of the most popular songs from the shows, song sheets are provided although singing is not compulsory!

18. ’The Musical World of Cameron Mackintosh’ ♫

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Modern musical theatre

For nearly 45 years Cameron Mackintosh has been producing more musicals than anyone else in history, including the three longest-running musicals of all time, ‘Les Misérables’, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ and ’Cats’, which are still running extraordinarily successfully across the world.

As well as original musicals, Cameron enjoys producing new versions of such classics as ‘My Fair Lady’, ‘Oklahoma!’, ‘Carousel’ and ‘Oliver!’ – all of which have been worldwide hits.   ‘The Musical World of Cameron Mackintosh’ tells the stories, gives the facts, and a ‘behind the scenes’ insight into some of his most famous stage musicals.  Again, song sheets are provided.

19. ’Disney Magic’ ♫

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Walt Disney’s music, films and theme parks

During the past 17 years I have been privileged to produce educational events at Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World Florida which have allowed me to research the background behind this great man and his fantastic legacy.

‘Disney Magic’ tells of work as a film producer and a popular showman, as well as an innovator in animation and theme park design. He and his staff created some of the world’s most well-known fictional characters including Mickey Mouse, for whom Disney himself provided the original voice.

During his lifetime Disney received four honorary Academy Awards and won 22 Academy Awards from a total of 59 nominations, giving him more awards and nominations than any other individual in history.   As well as developing world famous theme parks.  The audience are also invited to join in some famous Disney songs with song sheets provided.

20. ’Heroes and Sweethearts of World War 2’ ♫

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A mixture of music and heroism

‘Heroes and Sweethearts’ tells of the music of World War 2, together with the history behind some unusual Heroes.  It features the chance to sing along to the forces sweethearts Anne Shelton, Vera Lynn, Doris Day and other World War 2 Sweethearts, with song sheets provided.

The Heroes are just a small selection of famous men whose military history we might not be quite so aware of.  For the generations who lived through these wars it brings back memories and for the rest of us it reminds us of an era of great courage.  The talk closes with a brief look at some of the often forgotten ‘animal heroes’ of World War 2.

21. Beside the sea

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British seaside holidays

Most of our current perceptions of the British seaside are all the stronger for having Victorian roots.  ‘Beside the sea’ looks back at childish innocence (buckets, spades and sandcastles), nature (starfish, rock-pools and gulls as well as the power and tranquillity of the sea itself), simple ‘old-fashioned’ fun (donkeys, roundabouts.

We also hear about entertainment with Punch and Judy and Pierrots, beach entertainers, and tasty, informal seaside food, eaten out of the bag while on the move, in defiance of conventional table manners (fish and chips, ice cream, candy-floss, cockles and whelks).

22. Tots TV

22.Anette Mills and Muffin the Mule

The TV that entertained our tots, and maybe ourselves.

From the start of children’s TV with Muffin the Mule in the late 40’s, via Pinky and Perky, Camberwick Green, Bagpuss, Sooty and Sweep and the Clangers, through to the Wombles and Super Ted of the 80’s.  We follow the development of children’s television from jerky marionettes, through to stop frame animation and live action.

 

‘Tots TV’ considers some childhood friends, and looks in detail at just a couple of favourite programmes from each decade.

23. Natures Poisoners

23. Natures Poisoners

Pretty but deadly!

Deceptively attractive, some common flowers and plants can give you headaches, cause convulsions or simply kill you. Most plants are safe, but there are some you need to know about. They might be in your own garden or even in the house.

 

Foxgloves, belladonna, poppies, laburnum and varieties of aquilegia thrive in the British country garden. Those who work with them should treat the plants with the utmost respect, wearing gloves and washing thoroughly afterwards.  ‘These Plants May Kill’ should not be taken lightly by anyone, for with familiarity comes contempt, and from contempt – danger.  A list of these poisonous plants is provided.

24. A Century of Women and the WI

24. A century of women in the WI

Exploring the changing role of women and celebrating one hundred years of the Women’s Institute, from the arrival of the WI in the UK and the woman’s suffrage movement, through to two World Wars and the new generation of women and WI’s.

This talk tells of how the WI helped to breakdown social barriers, encouraged women to work in agriculture and ammunition factories, their fight for education and training and dispels the myth that it’s “all jam and Jerusalem”.