The Magazine of Lenton Local History Society

The Filming Of Saturday Night And Sunday Morning - 1960


Nottingham Evening News
Saturday 16th April 1960

A Very Important Mum



Mrs Sillitoe with Shirley Ann Field

When it comes to composure, Mrs Sylvina Sillitoe takes the biscuit. Her little home in Beaconsfield Terrace Nottingham was in a positive uproar when I went to see her the other day. There were men hanging out of her bedroom screaming " Action" ... film stars relaxing and a continuity girl pounding a typewriter in her tiny sitting room ... the and living room were packed; with more people just standing around ... her grandchildren were clamouring to talk to her. All this against a background of classical music blaring full blast from a record player.

And still she had time to talk to me—and tell what it’s like to be a Very Important Mum. For Mrs Sillitoe, a 57-year-old widow, is the mother of the brilliant young author, Alan Sillitoe.

The racket at her home was caused through the filming of her son's best-seller, "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning." For days the house she has lived in for about 22 years became known as "location."

Mrs Sillitoe took it all in her stride. The housework it all created? "Oh, I'm not, worrying about that," she said, sitting down for a few minutes to smoke a cigarette. "I'll catch up with this lot when the excitement is over."

While hordes of film folk were galloping through her entire house, she kept out of the way as much as possible, made endless pots of tea and thoroughly enjoyed herself.

She is intensely proud of her famous son, who was the second of her five children. And, she confided, she has always had a feeling that he would add up to something special.

"When Alan was a little boy, he was always writing little pieces of poetry. And he used to tell me: When I'm 16, I'm going to travel the world.' His bedroom walls were covered in maps so he could sort out the places he was going to," she told me.

Alan was always a highly intelligent child, she added, and it was a great disappointment to the boy and the whole family when he failed to win a scholarship to go to a grammar school. "He only failed by about two marks," she said.

Though Mrs Sillitoe rarely has the time to read, she has read both her son's books (the second is a volume of short stories called “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner"), she thought "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" was "lovely.”

She leads a busy life. She works at Raleigh as a viewer and keeps house for her youngest son, Michael, aged 22. She does all her own housework and cooking and most of her laundry. She makes a regular trip to the laundrette. "You can't dry white shirts here; they get so blacked up” she said.

Most of her free time she spends watching television, but she goes out on a Saturday night, enjoys a drink and takes home for her supper half a cooked chicken.

Life behind the gay floral curtains at 5, Beaconsfield Terrace is settling back to normal now after one of the most exciting weeks in Mrs Sillitoe's life.

She's thinking . . . did it all really happen? There was she and her four children and one of her four grandchildren, film extras … reporters and newspaper cameramen knocking on her door … television cameramen turned up as well . . .

And there, standing on the television set beside a green table lamp is a photograph of the dark-eyed boy of who started it all. Her poet son who has been hailed as one of the finest modern writers.

It was a year ago next month that Alan Sillitoe told his father on his death bed: "I’ll make your name famous one day, dad."




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