‘Week on the Island’ was a bit feeble, but it’s still a shame it never went out. I seem to remember a large lady, I can only recall as ‘Big Fee’ having a certain je ne sais quoi……. A natural. It would have given her a few other parts.
I was nervous of working with Horace Ove on ‘The Garland’. I’d looked at his previous drama and was alarmed. Like Mozart’s king, who said, ‘Too many notes’, this had ‘Too many shots’! and he did ‘The Garland’ the same way! He was a distinctive figure in his leather jacket…..If I’d squeezed in every angle he’d covered, it would certainly have looked too fussy, so I spent a lot of the time saying, ‘Horace, do you really think we need that shot?’ Then one glorious day, about a month into editing, he said ‘Oliver. Just do what you want to do’. I could then RELAX and use three shots out of four! He brought us mangoes from Southall, and I still have his Dracula mug.
There was a room of his fine photographs at the National Portrait Gallery about eighteen months ago.
I regard this film as a personal triumph!
Gangsters Series 2
I did the film inserts into this studio-based production, and, as the material seemed to dictate, I cut it fairly sharply….. Alastair Reid seemed happy with what I showed him, but he was often very tired after a day’s filming, and I recall he was probably asleep when I said, ‘Is that ok?’! We had to get it off to the lab. Come transmission, I was appalled! Alastair had done the studio bits in long, elaborate Takes lasting MINUTES! So when you came to a film bit, you were hit over the head by a plethora of five second shots. By the time your brain had adjusted, you were back to the studio. But he was a jolly nice chap.
There were wonderful ‘studio skills’. I remember being at Gosta Green in 1962 and seeing a chap turn a polystyrene column into a satisfactory tree in under 30 seconds, with a soldering iron, and an aerosol. And how disappointed the public were by the Henry VII costume exhibition. There was a wide strip of Copydex glue down the front of one dress, with pearls every twelve inches or so. The costume lady knew the pearls would show up, but not the adhesive… Wide aperture lenses, so the background was the background! Michael Edwards wonderful set for ‘Great Expectations’ sticks in my memory.
What happened re ‘Match of the Day’? Stephen never appeared on the first day he was expected – he’d gone to Switzerland, and not told anyone. I phoned him at Gstaad, and he said, ‘Start at the beginning!’ What a waste of time. Of course, he wanted it all changed. After a month it was ‘pulled’. The ‘looking at the wedding presents’ gag is easily my favourite rude joke……..