GREAT EXPECTATIONS BBCTV I'm off down to the mud flats of the West Country on another version of this Dickens story. Again I'm playing an old time copper and there are another dozen of us Supporting Artists to help out with the filming for a few days. On the first early morning start we all sit down to breakfast in the hotel. The Wardrobe dept insist that the coppers all have large napkins placed on their laps and fronts to keep the pure white and red uniforms in pristine condition for the filming.. (It's a bit like we don't know how to eat breakfast without making a mess down ourselves).. After breakfast it's onto the coach for the two mile drive to the mud flats and the dialogue goes ''Sit straight boys, don't crease those trousers, don't smoke on the coach in case you get ash over yourselves, hang your jackets up etc'' (Now here's the rub) John (The Grunter) Cannon and I are to be in the first shot which consists of getting Magwitch (Stratford Johns) out of the water and mud in the tidal river (I've sure I've done this before) Terry Plumber is stunt double for Mr Johns and weighs in at about eighteen stone (dry). On the word ''ACTION'' Aitch and the Grunter are into the mud and water and wade out to get Magwitch and help him to shore.. When we reach Terry and try to lift him we start to sink into the mud.(napkins and creased trousers come to mind) My large police top hat falls off and is heading for the coast as we struggle to get Terry to the bank.. When we are near to the bank Terry gets substituted for Stratford Johns for the close ups. He has to be muddied up. Because it takes a couple of hours to do the dialogue scenes (although on screen it's two minutes) the Grunter and I keep drying out and are asked before every take ''if you wouldn't mind getting back into the mud for continuity sake''. We finish off all the scenes by the river bank, then the three of us are whisked back to the hotel to get some clean dry clothes. The coach driver doesn't stop tut tutting all the way back about the mud we're spreading in his nice clean coach. (He should have put us on the roof rack) The Grunter and I were cold and wet and the first thing the jobs worth assistant wardrobe person said was (flapping) ''Where's your hat, where's your hat''? I looked at the clock on the wall, turned to him and said ''In the English f***ing Channel by now The rest of the shoot went to plan and I can laugh about it now. (I still think David Lean's 1946 version of this story can't be topped)
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