Ray Gosling

About Ray Gosling's TV Programmes

Ray Gosling OAP

"Ray Gosling OAP - not OBE, but OAP" muses Ray Gosling in this film, which follows the two previous films about his bankruptcy "Bankrupt" and "Pensioned Off". Ray was declared bankrupt five years' ago when he failed to pay his taxes, and now his house, his home of 30 years, has to be sold to pay the debts.

But he's not going to be easy to move out. The new owner has her work cut out for her in getting the desultory Ray to stick to the agreed completion date, not least because of the huge stashes of newspapers, archival material, books, teddies, clothes, loo rolls and fairy liquid bottles Ray has accumulated in every corner of his house over the years, and which he seems very reluctant to get rid of.

Even Ray realises he can't hang on to it all, and with the help of his long suffering friends, much of his beloved archive ends up in the skip outside his front door, until the local University arrives to save the day. But Ray knows he has to go, and where he's going to, there's not much space. For he has found himself a small flat in an old people's home, semi-sheltered accommodation, in his home town of Nottingham, where he will be living cheek by jowl with people of his own age and upwards.

And this is how Ray Gosling, eclectic writer and broadcaster of hundreds of radio and TV documentaries, ends up on a coach trip with his new friends from the "Unit", travelling to Bridlington in East Yorkshire for a jolly weekend away, playing bingo and singing along to the Andrews Sisters.

The journey, and the trip, set Ray off thinking about his past - the death of his partner, his big and busy career-that-was, about getting older - and looking around the bus he thinks to himself that he wasn't the only one to have a life, that everyone on that bus had had a life, had been something.

So Ray moves to his old folk's home - but rather than finding life has stopped, that he's in a waiting room for Death, actually things are getting busier than ever. Local Radio Stations want to know all about this novelty - Ray Gosling OAP! And he's started teaching, for free, at the University of the Third Age, where pensioners teach each other. Ray and his oral history group talk about their experiences of life, what shaped them as they were growing up - and for Ray, it was his Methodist Auntie Ada who set him on his path of seizing life - not "sitting, waiting to be called by God" as was the case with her.

So we leave Ray, in his new accommodation, happier than he has been in a long while, and still rebelling in his own quiet way - his makeshift trellis in his petite garden is three bits of string tied together - and his flat, well, it's filling up nicely, with very little floor space left last time we were there.

Ray pays a last visit to his long suffering local solicitor Vicki Stevenson. "When do I get the money from the sale of the house?" he asks - "not yet," answer Vicki as the trustees of bankruptcy have yet to finalise details. And as Ray leaves the building, he chuckles to camera one last time...

Director - Amanda Reilly
Producer - David Parker
Exec Producer - Peter Symes
Editor - Colette Hodges

Ray Gosling: Pensioned Off

"What can you do about it, getting old?" asks Ray Gosling, presenter of this BBC 4 film that continues the story of his bankruptcy. "I'm still here, and still skint." Declared bankrupt, Ray did nothing while the debts mounted, and now things are coming to a head.

But Ray's experiences have opened his eyes to the similar situations that other people are finding themselves in. "I'm not alone in a financial mess," he says, when he visits the Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth in 2003, where he watches the demonstrations by workers whose company pension schemes have folded, leaving them with the prospect of a miserable old age.

Many people have lost out recently as stock markets faltered and schemes went under. But as Ray points out, those who invested in precipice bonds or endowment mortgages had a choice. Like him, they took a risk, and lost. The workers on the beach at Bournemouth had no choice. They had to put money into the company pension, and they thought that their future was secure. Ray sets out to discover their stories, and in the process to return to his own in an effort to resolve things.

First stop on his journey is the steelworks at Sheerness, where he meets up again with Phil Healy, last seen naked demonstrating on the beach at the Party Conference. He is introduced to John Hayter, prominent campaigner, who tells him how it all began with the company being taken over by another company that then went into receivership. It was a shock for all concerned to discover that although existing pensioners had some protection, those about to retire had none at all. John was suddenly faced with the prospect of having no pension. It galvanized him into action, and he became a central figure in the battle to change things. Ray discovers a similar story in Hemel Hempstead, where he meets James and Hazel Mackie. James used to work for Dexion, the famous shelving firm, but being a manager with a loyal history made no difference.

Ray follows the campaign from Bournemouth, to Sedgefield (the Prime Minister's own constituency) and finally to Parliament Square, as the demonstrations and lobbying increase. He meets up with Ros Altmann, an independent pensions policy adviser, who has been helping the pressure group without charging them a penny. As she says of the Government, "I hope that they will start to realize that with all the pressure that's building they're going to have to compensate these people", and as the campaign gathers pace and a majority of MPs come on side, her prophesy is fulfilled. Eventually, in May 2004, the Government backs down and offers a compensatory package.

As Derek Wyatt, MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, and a prominent campaigner, says: " The reason why we're in politics is to change the world... and here we are, a case has been made... and to be fair, we've done it."

But for Ray things are not so rosy. His situation has deteriorated since the last occasion we filmed him, and he now discovers that his debt has risen dramatically. Worse follows. The tenant who was in part responsible for protecting him from eviction finally reaches a settlement with the Trustee in bankruptcy, and goes. Ray is now exposed, and must decide to leave. He visits a local charitable trust, and applies for sheltered accommodation, something he might be able to manage on his newly acquired pension of 62 a week. Meanwhile his patient and friendly local solicitor, Vicki Stevenson, continues her tireless quest for a solution.

As he says, " well, I've still to sort out where to go, what to take, how to move... but I'm going to do it"... before he adds a wicked little extra: "am I?"

Director: Peter Symes
Producer: David Parker

Ray Gosling: Bankrupt

"I'm not stupid" say Ray Gosling "I do know everyone must pay taxes. Late-payers will be penalised!"

At the end of 1998, Gosling for 40 years a prolific and successful writer and presenter on British radio and television, suddenly found himself at the Official Receiver's office in Bloomsbury. He had entered a new world, an Alice-in-Wonderland world where things were no longer what they seem, and where events take over... a world where men can call you up on Boxing Day to arrange a visit to discuss the order to vacate your house, for instance.

At the end of 1999 the order to possess the house finally arrived, from that time on he was at the mercy of the Trustees in Bankruptcy. This is Price Waterhouse, based in Gloucester - distant masters, who charge for every letter sent, every call made... we are in the world Dickens described so well, a world where the debt spirals out of control, and what money you do have disappears down a very professional drain. As his solicitor, Victoria Stevenson says " At the end of the day, that's big business, it means there's a real problem."

This film is about the period that followed the arrival of this letter, and of the efforts Ray made to avoid eviction. It is a deeply personal and honest film about something that could happen to any of us.

Ray had kept putting off paying bills, doing tax returns, claiming expenses in favour of more creative pursuits. As he says "it has always been a rule of life not to open, necessarily, mail when it arrives". In a changing television world, he had found himself and his art side-lined, and had spent his energies on unpaid new proposals and the preparation for interviews for jobs that did not materialise. Workaholic rather than cavalier he failed to keep on top of his life.

When, at the end of 1999, the order to possess his house was finally served, events had taken an even sadder turn in Ray's life. His life-long partner, Bryn, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and everything else was put on hold while Ray devoted his time and energy to coping with this new and devastating situation. Both work and bankruptcy took second play. "I didn't know everything would collapse like it did."

This is a very intimate portrait of a man who though completely on his uppers is never totally on a downer. We'll follow him through a life now fraught with dilemmas which to Ray and many in his position are the stuff of life. Should he queue up at the Post Office first thing in the morning (there's a collective paranoia/superstition amongst the unemployed: if you don't cash your cheque quickly, they'll find a reason to deny it to you) or rush off a last minute job application? These tortuous dilemmas which change day-by-day, hour-by-hour will unfold throughout the film.

But the ultimate decision is not in his hands: Ray doesn't yet know whether he'll be evicted from the home he shared for so many years with his late partner Bryn. We see him devising a legal strategy with his solicitor Victoria and a coping strategy with his friends. We learn how much this house means to him, with the memorials it contains to Bryn. But ultimate, none of this may make any difference as the great and impersonal wheels of the State grind on.

Waiting for his eviction, Ray returns to Ebbw Vale at the end of the film. Revisiting the memorial to Nye Bevan, a site that he filmed in 1974, he meditates on the condition that brought him down: "The little debt I owed to them they have made enormous... and increasingly as my class, the self-employed, become more and more the norm, what's happened to me will happen to more and more."

This is Ray's story... but it could be yours.

Director: Peter Symes
Producer: David Parker