Sunday, 25 June 2017

Rudi the Otter appearing on BBC TV Natural World

Our hand-reared otter Rudi appeared on the BBC TV series, 'Natural World' this week, in an episode entitled 'Super-charged Otters' presented by Charlie Hamilton-James.

The footage was recorded in a studio where they had constructed a tank with glass sides. They filmed Rudi underwater so they could see exactly how otters swim by slowing down the film. The accedemically ground-breaking sequence towards the end of the documentary showed how otters smell underwater by making an air-bubble and then re-imbibing it. Fascinating.

Rudi appears in the opening sequence and in later scenes that can be watched in the UK on BBC iplayer by clicking here:

The first time Charlie Hamilton-James saw an otter was when we took our very tame Asian short-clawed otter Bee to his primary school about 33 years ago. He said he has been 'an otter fanatic' ever since.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Our tame otter, Rudi, appearing in 'The Durrells' on ITV

Blink and you will miss him on this trailer, but Rudi-the-Otter has been appearing in the new ITV series 'The Durrells' starring Keeley Hawes, Josh O'Connor, Callum Hughes and Daisy Waterstone with Milo Parker as Gerald Durrell. He appeared in quite a few sequences in the first episode and was seen playing both himself and his mate in the second episode and finally produced two babies in the last episode.

Milo Parker behind-the-scenes with Rudi-the-Otter and Daphne Neville

 Author Sophie Neville, who is a Patron of the UK Wild Otter Trust, gave a talk about her book ‘Funnily Enough’ at the Tavistock Festival, which made it to the front page of the Tavistock newspaper:

Her talk included a little about living with otters. Rudi came along to meet the press who joined festival goers at the glorious Bedford Hotel.

Those living in the UK can watch the first episode of 'The Durrells' on ITV  hub
Others can watch a short taster scene here:

Keeley Hawes, as Louisa Durell with Callum Hughes as Leslie

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 online 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