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.


I was able to send him a whole series of photographs taken on set, including these 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.

Further stories of our adventures appearign 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
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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:




Friday, 8 April 2016

What Sophie did next

Sophie Neville and wildebeeste
Sophie Neville leading The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2016

My dream of riding through the game reserves of South Africa became a reality. In February 1992 I flew to Johannesburg and became a horse safari guide in the Waterberg, a beautiful upland region where I was able to live in the Africa bush and spend time painting.  
Zebra by Sophie Neville
Even now, twenty-five years later, I grab the chance to return to Africa whenever I can. This March I persuaded twelve experienced British riders to take up the challenge of raising £1,000 each for Save The Waterberg Rhino and local community projects.
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The idea was to traverse 175kms of remote country while taking the opportunity to learn about rhino conservation and discover more about the Waterberg.
Sable at Ant's Hill
Since the horses live out on the reserve the wild animals allowed us to get unusually close.
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We spotted quite a few wildebeest along with warthog, zebra, giraffe, buffalo, hippo and many different species of antelope including sable, nyala and rare Livingstone eland
Sophie Neville watching rhino
Meeting white rhino was an extraordinary experience, especially since I was on horseback. They are accompanied by armed guards 24 hours of the day and have had their horns saturated in poison to render them worthless in an extreme measure to prevent their illegal killing.
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Riders were given an update on the poaching situation and urgent needs for extra protection in the Waterberg, which is home to the second highest population of white rhino in the world.
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While there are a number of complex issues to take on board, we all determined to do what we can to protect this iconic species. If you would like to get involved or find out more The Waterberg Trust have a Facebook page here. I am raising sponsorship on Justgiving.com here
Sophie Neville meeting several rhino
Sophie Neville at Ant's Nest in the Waterberg
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Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Get Well Soon!

~ FUNNILY ENOUGH: A GET WELL SOON BOOK by Sophie Neville ~
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Suspecting Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Sophie’s doctor at the BBC prescribed an extraordinary treatment: write a diary. Although her family, friends, dogs and otters tended to get in the way, she  found an old set of watercolours and set out to record her journey back to health.

This 30-page abridged hardcover version, comprised of humorous anecdotes, colour illustrations plus pen-and-ink drawings, is designed specifically to cheer up those currently in the doldrums of ill health.
With everyone fighting off this tenacious flu, it makes a great present.
Colour illustrated hardcover exclusive to Lulu.com worldwide
"This charming, funny and beautifully illustrated book would make anyone feel better" ~ Jilly Cooper
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