WHEN Glenn Chandler, Edinburgh-born creator of the long-running crime drama Taggart, first stumbled across an old newspaper cutting from the 1930s, reporting how Lord Baden-Powell and Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler’s London ambassador, instigated exchange visits between British boy scouts and Hitler Youth, he knew it too good a story to pass up.
“I came across the article a few years ago and didn’t quite believe it myself.
“It was something that seemed to have been washed from history, so I visited the National Archives where I found files on the exchanges.
“There was a list of all the Hitler Youth who had visited, instructions to Chief Constables in areas through which the boys were cycling to keep an eye on their activities, and a very long report prepared for MI5.
“There was also a document detailing worries about the scouts who went on exchange visits to Germany - would they come back indoctrinated with Nazi ideology, and maybe even as spies?” reveals Chandler.
Set in Bassington, England, the local Scout troop play host to a cycling party of Hitlerjugend - but are the German boys cyclists or ‘spyclists’?
For Will and Jacob, two Rover Scouts on the cusp of manhood, it is a visit that will change their lives forever.
As war looms, a heart-wrenching, darkly humorous drama about espionage, a scout’s honour and forbidden love unfolds.
This timely story, explores a secret corner of British pre-war history.
Chandler continues, “I thought the whole story too good to pass up, especially as fascism is again on the rise in Europe. It seems we have learned nothing from history.
“The Hitler Youth visits were called ‘Peace and Friendship Tours’ - ironically.
“Years later, those good intentions were just hollow words ringing in the devastation of Europe.
“I was disgusted by the Brexit Party turning their backs on the European Parliament. It’s just what the Nazis did in the Reichstag.”
The Good Scout is the latest in a number of acclaimed show’s to be brought to the Fringe by Chandler’s Boys of the Empire production company, previous hits include Sandel (2013), Lord Dismiss Us (2017), and Kids Play (2018), which won an Award for Best Play on the Fringe.
The Good Scout, The Space, Surgeons’ Hall, 8.20pm, 2-24 August (not 13), £12, 0131-510 2384 , firstname.lastname@example.org