The realisation that the concept of Valda was based on that of Wilson from The Wizard hit me between the eyes many years ago. The similarities are so persuasive. Let's look at them. The title of the first Wilson story in 1943 was The Truth About Wilson, which neatly matches up with the first Valda serial The Truth About Valda in 1968. In both cases the protagonist turns up unannounced at a a sporting event, takes part without permission and triumphs convincingly. The sports officials present are at pains to point out that they cannot be awarded any prizes, but none are wanted. Both the miler Wilson and the ice skater Valda only wish to test their skills and abilities against the very best in the world. This approach is maintained throughout the serials.philcom55 wrote:from what I can remember she was originally presented in Mandy as a mysterious sports star (very much like a female Wilson), and 'The Girlhood of Valda' which followed it could just as easily have been seen as a straightforward historical tale - at least until the point at which the heroine steps Ayesha-like into the Fire of Life.
A further match can be seen between Wilson's second series The Further Truth About Wilson, which tells the story of Wilson as a child, his growing up and his life in a cave on the moors with the old hermit Matthew, and The Girlhood Of Valda, which takes the reader back to Valda's childhood and her upbringing in a caravan at the hands of the gentle Dorcas, a Romany gipsy, who teaches her all about herbs. Matthew and Dorcas both die in these serials. The principal part of Wilson's legacy is the knowledge of herbs and how to prepare the elixir of life. From Dorcas Valda finally learns about the fire of life. In both cases these are to keep them alive long beyond their normal span but, given that Dorcas and Matthew die, they clearly do not promise eternal life. Wilson does not age in the same way that Valda does, but he does sometimes seem to be dead after a particularly gruelling athletic feat. However, he is deliberately allowing his body to recuperate and he is soon back on his feet, seemingly none the worse for wear. He does nevertheless return frequently to the moors around the fictional Yorkshire town of Stayling to refresh himself and take on board some elixir. Valda, on the other hand, often does age, appearing literally like an old woman. At such times she needs to immerse herself in the fire of life, after which she emerges young again and bursting with health. After such 'refreshment' both are ready to take on the best in sporting challenge. The sports change too. Wilson attempts to get world records in virtually all athletics events and even takes on the Aussies at cricket in two series, Valda certainly succeeds at ice skating, diving and tennis. The fire of life, incidentally, is something of a moveable feast because Valda does have her underground caves in various places. In the first series she is in the Austrian Tyrol but in her second series The Amazing Valda she is near the Mediterranean. This highlights a problem that does not seem to disturb Wilson quite so much. Fortunately Valda is eventually able to harness some of the power of the fire within a gem that she can then carry with her in a locket round her neck. The issue of age is crucial. We learn that Dorcas was born before 1587, and that Valda defended a family from Napoleon's troops over 150 years earlier, about 1820 therefore. This information about Valda appears in The Amazing Valda. We already knew that Wilson was born in 1795.
A third parallel can be found if we compare It's Wilson Again from 1947 with Valda In The Secret City from 1972. In both instances the protagonist discovers a lost tribe of Ancient Greeks in Africa and gets involved in their politically-motivated Games. Wilson helps the Pythians under Zinos defeat the Argites under the ruthless Icarus. Valda helps the Athenians against the Spartans in a society ruled by women. There are numerous repeats of these Valda stories between 1973 and 1978 but later tales such as Valda, Girl Of Mystery in 1979, Valda And The Survivors in 1980, Valda And She Of The Shadows in 1983 and Valda And The Baby Prince in 1984 owe little if anything to Wilson.