How I created the Follyfoot website or my life in webpages by Louise
Back when Follyfoot was first broadcast in the UK, I was still living there in Goring-by-Sea, Worthing. We only had a black and white television but that didn't take away my enjoyment of watching Follyfoot in the least.
For me it embodied all the element my pre-teen adolescent wanted – horses, romance, adventure, horses, stables, horses and horses. We didn't leave the UK until after the series finished it’s run, then when we arrived in NZ I got to watch it again, this time in colour (NZ was at least three years behind the rest of the world with television series and only had two channels – eek). It didn't play on New Zealand television again until the mid 80's at which time I had acquired a VCR (with a corded remote) and recorded, what I thought, was nearly all the episodes. Of course, there were no episode guides to check against or even an encyclopaedia of TV shows to refer to.
Time slipped by and the late 90's arrived. By this time I had a substantial video collection, including 37 episodes (not all complete) of the series. At this time I was also lucky enough to have a computer given to me running Win3.5 (oh my gawd I'm old).....when it was ungraded to Win95 I was finally able to get online and start exploring the net. By now I was divorced with two small girls and no money, but lots of time once they were in bed to entertain myself. My video collection came into its own and after a marathon re-watch of all my Follyfoot episodes (which I didn't know exactly the right order to watch in) I felt the urge to write a story about the characters, one that carried on the story after the final episode.
I had already cut my writing fanfiction teeth on another childhood television favourite – Land of the Giants – and felt confident enough to write a Follyfoot story, especially as I felt inspired by watching the series. 'Missing' was the first, a direct sequel to "A Walk in the Woods"...only twelve pages, but it satisfied a need I had to bring Dora and Steve together. Hot on the heels of this short story was a longer effort - "Worst Nightmare" - this time 33,000 words and 57 pages. With two stories under my belt it was time to create a place to store them.
As any Follyfoot fan will tell you, in those early days of the new millennium there was little to find on the internet about the series other than a few words on the Follifoot village site and the occasional snippet here and there. Having already created a popular and extensive Land of the Giants site on Bravenet, I felt up to the task of creating something for my second favourite TV series and the Follyfoot site was born, opening its pages on the 22nd November 2003.
I had a couple of the annuals, the paperbacks and a love of googling and research. Fairly quickly I had everything I could find uploaded, thinking it was just a personal hobby that no one else would ever notice.
Sometime over the next year I was contacted by several fans of the series, one of them Nik. At around the same time a book was being published that claimed to be an encyclopaedia of the Golden Age of children’s programming in the UK. Between Nik and myself it came to light that the episodes of Follyfoot could possibly have been destroyed, meaning that my NZ collection was quite probably the most complete collection of episodes in the world – good grief. Nik was keen to put together a fan compilation as a present for his sister, so I sent him copies of the episodes I had to be transferred onto DVD together with his own episodes sourced in the UK. Others were now coming on board, and Nik offered to host the website, giving it its own domain name, as well as hosting my other fan websites as well (wonderful fella **hugs**)
Nik was now off on his own sourcing information about starting a campaign to get Follyfoot released on DVD, while I was beavering away on a new fansite for another childhood obsession – Peter Pan – with the release of the 2003 live action movie which I fell in love with. **sigh**
Many more fans came on board and started sending me images and memorabilia, scans of comics and collectibles. The fanfiction archive was growing in leaps and bounds, the image galleries looking great, information on the actors was expanding and the comic strips more complete. With the advent of the forum and the push to get Follyfoot onto DVD the number of fans now joining our merry band increased almost daily, coming from all corners of the world.
At some point Nik stepped back and Colin took over the hosting of the site, while I now owned the domain name, but still the site got bigger and more complete with special birthday celebrations, numerous visits by fans to the farm itself with accompanying reports and photos to thrill and entertain (and now are a valuable record with the partial demolition taking place). The campaign to get Follyfoot on DVD was a blistering success; the forum was thriving and even planning a Follyfoot convention, with an opportunity to meet the stars. (I'm so envious).
By 2010/2011 the site was reasonably complete with regular if widely spaced additions like the new books being re-issued of the original Monica Dickens’ stories, better scans of the comic series (thanks to Shaqui) and fanfictions now being available in illustrated PDF formats – all keeping up with the times. My participation on the forum was limited to occasional visits to catch up on news like the release of Jane Royston’s book and its launch with a visit to the original farm, add new artwork from new members of the forum and list the latest updates to the website.
Mid 2012 the server hosting the website was hacked, meaning that nasty stuff was being seeded on various webpages, triggering visitors virus software to sound an alarm. As a result the server had to wipe all my websites, including their own, and initiate a rebuild. A year later and the fall out was still being felt with the server unable to make the websites accessible online. With nearly a year gone by I reached the decision that instead of faffing about any longer I should hand the entire collection of fanfiction and image galleries into the capable hands of Jane and Nick, and let them rebuild a new website together with the transfer of the original domain – Follyfoot-tv.co.uk.
So there you are....the journey from idea to fully formed website was an interesting and instructive journey, with several crashes and rebuilds along the way but always coming back stronger each time. Many friends were made in the process and a beloved and never forgotten TV series was given a new lease on life and a second chance.
Which in a way was what Follyfoot was always about – giving horses and people another chance at life. In this case, life was truly imitating art.
I take pride that what started out as an effort to keep my own memories of a classic series alive, eventually became the biggest and best archive of all things Follyfoot on the internet, together with a forum that is one of the longest running and most active also on the net. (and I've seen a few come and go in the last decade). I know now that Follyfoot will live on for a very long time thanks to the combined efforts of a great many fans from around the world – from the furthest point on the planet (New Zealand) over to Australia up to the USA, through Europe to the centre of all things Follyfoot in England (Yorkshire) .
Stay Calm and keep on trotting
All the best
aka squeezynz - former webmistress (2003-2013) prolific fanfiction writer and current steampunk enthusiast.