Thoughts of Betty Spital

My Penguin Book!

Recently on Twitter I came across this Manchester TV feature on Betty Spital made in 1990. I don’t remember ever seeing this, or even being interviewed for it – but I’m there looking much younger, and Jane Baker’s there too who so brilliantly portrayed Betty. Many thanks to Martin Wilson ( @martin_j_wilson ) for finding and posting this clip. Betty’s bit starts 10 mins in.

“Clearing out my homemaking junk ready for the next stage of my life I found a old postcard of Betty Spital and so discover she’d written a book! Through the wonderful portal of Abebooks I acquired a copy. I just want to say how much joy this volume has brought to me. Wonderful!”
– Email from Pam, a reader, 2017
Published by Yorkshire Arts Circus, then picked up by Penguin Books who published an expanded version of the book, Betty Spital started life in the mid 1980s, on stage at the Sheffield Friday Show, a topical weekly cabaret staged at The Leadmill in Sheffield. Betty, performed by Jane Jarman, was a radical pensioner with an uncompromising attitude to young, middle class, so-called lefties such as I. Betty appeared at the Edinburgh Festival with the much missed comedy genius Linda Smith, on Radio 4, Channel 4, and lots on Radio Sheffield. The book features images by photographer and artist Caroline Laidler. An expanded version was published by Penguin in 1989 and it’s still available on Amazon etc:



Years later Cindy Oswin and Chris wrote a pilot for a BBC 1 sitcom called The Twerlies, featuring Betty and her gang. A second episode was commissioned but by the time we delivered it the Head of BBC 1 and the Independent Commissioning Group had gone and it was never made. Mind you, whenever Betty looks like she’s gone and died, Spital tends to arise in a new form.