South says ‘sorry’ to the people of the REAL Grunty Fen

Broadcaster and writer Christopher South (centre) travelled to Grunty Fen on Wednesday for the first

Broadcaster and writer Christopher South (centre) travelled to Grunty Fen on Wednesday for the first time to say sorry - and to launch his new book. - Credit: Archant

Writer and broadcaster Christopher South - after decades of being too terrified to set foot in Grunty Fen - finally visited the imaginary community to apologise for over 30 years of ridicule.

In reality, Grunty Fen is a real Fen village in the fields between Ely and Wilburton, but Christopher has been taking his BBC Radio Cambridgeshire microphone to interview an imaginary Dennis, played by entertainer Pete Sayers at an imaginary dilapidated railway carriage, for over 20 years.

Their meetings became a cult hit, garnering thousands of fans all over the world and despite Pete’s death ten years ago, Dennis and the fake Fen village attracted new followers through CDs and books.

Christopher said: “I always felt uneasy about making Grunty Fen sound so squalid, hopeless and all round awful but I blame the public – it’s what they wanted.”

Then only a few weeks ago in Ely, Mr South had a chance encounter with Mrs Barbara Davenport – a resident of the real Grunty Fen.

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“When she found out who I was, I thought she’d hit me with her handbag but instead this charming lady invited me to tea,” he said.

“The meeting sprang the idea that Grunty Fen would be the ideal place for the official launching of my latest travesty of the whole fen area, ‘Who’s Who in Grunty Fen’, which is the sequel to my ‘Guide to Grunty Fen’ which was among the local best sellers last Christmas.”

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The launch became an inadvertent ceremony of reconciliation between Mr South and the people of Grunty Fen, as the writer met with resident Mrs Davenport and her neighbours.

Teacher Mrs Katherine Nation, her tennis coach husband David and their daughters Abigail, Harriet and Madeleine forgave Mr South on viewing the sweet peace-offering he had brought – a cake iced with the word ‘sorry.’

Mrs Davenport said: “No hard feelings - it’s all just a bit of fun.”

Following the people of Grunty Fen’s clemency, Mr South is hard at work writing his third book - The Fencyclopaedia.

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