Sunday, 19 March 2017

Lt Col Percy Fawcett, our long lost uncle

StudioCanal has been asking the question: Who was Lt Col Percy Fawcett?

He is actually a long lost relation of ours. I knew Agnes Fawcett married Charles Neville because they built Sheepscombe Church together. She was born in Bombay and had twelve children.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Photographs taken Behind-the-Scenes on the BBC TV drama serial 'Tenko'

Before the advent of digital technology, Polaroid cameras were used extensively on television drama productions. They were the best way of keeping records for continuity. I found these shots taken on the set of the BAFTA nominated BBC TV drama serial, 'Tenko' in about 1981:

As children apearing in costume, we wouold ask for any surplus or reject photos. Somehow a few of these have survived as a record of life behind the scenes. Stephanie Beaucham, who played Rose Millar, can be seen chatting to other members of the cast behind my sister in this continuity photograph.

Now and again, a few shots would be grabbed for fun. This captured a real birthday on location celebrated with Kerry Tovey who played Suzy in nine episodes. She now runs a casting agency.

In 1981 there were no restrictions on taking personal photographs on set. Pennant Roberts, the producer, can be seen here, standing behind the wire on the day the internment camp caught fire. 

We got to know the three Ping brothers, who all played Japanese guards. Their family had a Chinese Resturant in Bournemouth not that far from the location used for the internment camp. Although not members of Equity, the British actor's union, they had crucial roles in the story.

Thirty four years later, I came across George Ping at the Curious Arts Festival in the New Forest holding a camera with a very long lens. He was the offical photographer. 

Andy Priestner has collected fascinating reminisences of working on this exceptionally popular classic BBC Drama in his book 'Remembering Tenko'. Copies, signed by the author, are available from Classic TV Press

The photographs featured here can be found in the ebook version of 'Rembering Tenko', available on Amazon Kindle

A cast list and infomation about awards won by the serial 'Tenko' can be found on the Imdb page

The series can still be watched today.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Behind the scenes on the classic BBC TV drama series 'Tenko'

'Tenko', the BBC drama series is currently being shown on television in the UK. It was so popular that Andy Priestner of Classic TV Press published a book containing stories from behind-the-scenes. I provided him with photographs taken on location near Bournmouth in the early 1980's. He had already typeset the paperback, but these shots are included in the Kindle edition, which is available worldwide.

 We were there when the set was literally blown up. The re-creation of a real fire that had taken place in a WWII internement camp demanded a huge amount from costume and make-up departments.

Women emerged from the make-up rooms covered in wounds.

Preparation took some time but the effect was pitifully realistic.

It was a horrible event to reproduce.

The visual effects designer was also busy that day.

The results looked devestating, with both internees and the guards injured by the blast.

But morale on the day was high and everyone kept their spirits up.

 It was hot on set and dirty with the smell of smoke

but everyone on the crew pulled together.

The cast was of some size with notable actors taking part in the long-running series. This shot shows the wonderful actress Jean Anderson, who has sadly since passed away, with Daphne Neville and writer, Anne Varley.

My sister stopped at a fuel station as she was driving home. The attendant was terrified by her appearance. Although she seemed to be well and behaving normally, her face was covered in burns. She was still in full make-up, waiting to take it off in a proper bathroom.

You can find Andy Priestner's book 'Remembering Tenko' from Classic TV Press at online stores and to order from all good bookshops. These photographs are included in the Kindle edition, available in the USA here.

Further stories of our adventures appearing in film and television can be read in Funnily Enough

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Appearing in the BBC TV drama 'Tenko'

A few years ago, I was contacted by the publisher Andy Priestner, who was compiling the definative book on the making of 'Tenko', the classic BBC TV drama serial made in the early 1980s and gained incredibly high audience following - more than any television drama before or since. It is currently being broadcast on Freeview in the UK this Spring.

I was able to send him a whole series of photographs taken on set for the Kindle edition of his book. These included shots of the imfamous fire scene. The reason for this was that we appeared in the production as a family of girls.

Mum began her life on the set of 'Tenko' as one of Sister Ulrika's Dutch nuns.

She reckoned this was because she was too fat to pass as a civilian internee and was happy to be covered up in a habit. However, another year she appeared at the camp in a floral dress, seen here along with members of the crew in their distinctive 1980's demins.

The production needed a number of supporting artists for the exterior scenes including children. They rather enjoyed playing in the sand all day. The set was near the seaside town of Bournemouth on the south coast of England where, from a distance, the heath might look something like scrubland of the Far East.

We all ended up going along. For obvious reasons, filmming on location took place in the summer months and it was a great holiday job for students. We picked up quite a bit of experience of both what it was like to have been a civilian internee under the Japaneses during WWII and how scenes were put together for a BBC period drama. Days were long but there was great comaraderie on set and firm friendships were forged.

The whole series of 'Tenko' is currently being broadcast on Freeview Channel 20.

Andy Priestner's book 'Rembering Tenko: A Celebration of the Classic TV Drama Series' can be purchased online and at the all good bookshops. It is available worldwide on Kindle.

Further stories of our adventures appearing in film and television can be read in Funnily Enough

Monday, 10 October 2016

Appearing in 'The Crown' and other splendid dramas

Mum, who you'll find in the pages of 'Funnily Enough', somehow manages to appear in an alrming number of movies and costume dramas.

'I am a member of European royalty in 'The Crown'.
'Are you?'
'They don't actually know the name of my character - who was a real person of course - but I sit in a wheelchair, really rather close to The Queen. At her wedding.' The scene was shot on location at Ely Cathedral.

I can only see Mum's hand in the movie trailer of 'Absolutely Fabulous'. It is holding a glass of champagne at the late life lesbo party.

Mum is more visible, and certainly more audible in the official film trailer of 'The Invisible Woman'. She plays a Victoria lady accosting Charles Dickens on the steps of the Albert Hall:

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Scottish Mussel - featuring Rudi the Otter

A new British film is being launched on 23rd September starring Talulah Riley, Martin Compton, and Joe Thomas of In Betweeners fame, along with our tame otters. I travelled up to Dunoon in Scotland to help with the scenes that, in the story, entail an injured otter brought into a wildlife conservation centre set in a beautiful location outside Glasgow.
Sophie Neville with Beanie the Otter
Belinda the Otter with Sophie and Daphne Neville
The romcom is written and directed by Talulah Riley who also stars in what promises to be an amusing movie. Talulah was keen to feature our very energetic young male otter Rudi in a scene where the otter is released back into the wild.  To achieve this on film, without losing him altogether, was quite a feat but he enjoyed himself and the result looks endearing.
When one of the producers asked if I had worked on any other films featuring animals, I had to admit there have been quite a few. We had a baboon in the studio once and I became quite used to filming with trained elephants. I worked with a whole variety of exotic animals on the vet series ‘One by One’ from a pelican to a full grown leopard. In the mid 1980’s I was lucky enough to spend four months on Corfu making the first BBC adaptation of Gerald Durrell’s autobiography ‘My Family and Other Animals’ with Brian Blessed and a huge number of tortoises. As it happens, Rudi will appear in the next series of The Durrells, with filming due to start soon.
To see more about what the otters have been up to, please go to Daphne Neville’s website here.
You can read about living with tame otters in my book ‘Funnily Enough’ available in the UK here in paperback or on Kindle here
The DVD, which will be released on 3rd October, is available for pre-order here
One of our hand-reared otters who stars in ‘Scottish Mussel’

Monday, 15 August 2016

A Granny's Guide to the Modern World

'Does your mother mind what you write about her?'

'My mother? Not at all!'

People don't believe me, but she's up for anything. Anything that will make people laugh.

Mum, or Call-me-Daphne, as she is known in 'Funnily Enough', is currently starring in 'A Granny's Guide to the Modern World', presented by Barry Humphreys and screened on Channel 4 late on Wednesday evenings. This is true.

'I've gone viral,' she told me. 'The production company say I've received 9 million hits.' I'm not sure if this means programme re-plays. The clip, in which she appears, has already been viewed more than 153,600 times on Youtube. She an internet sensation no less.

Funnily Enough, her friend Trish Knight-Webb is also in my book. They are older now, but there is no stopping them. The secret is that Mum didn't inhale. She absolutely being in the cafe and felt 'quite horrible' after her hash cake, despite the scene on the swings.

Please note: the Youtube clip has an 'Adult Content' warning: