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Friday, January 16, 2015

Working on 'The Golden Oldie Picture Show'

Somewhere around about 1986-7 I signed up with a walk-on agency based near Birmingham, I think it may have been Dudley or one of the out-lying towns to Birmingham, called Lee-Evans (not related to the comedian Lee Evans. The name was from the surnames of the two ladies who owned and ran it.) I did quite a few bits and pieces of 'walk-on' work for various television dramas. One of the best things I did was for a show called 'The Golden Oldie Picture Show' which was shown on BBC1 and made up of short videos set to pop music but before pop videos became popular when they were originally released. I was booked for two days and the first day was on General Election Day 1987 so that gives you a good idea when it was. I recall driving to Pebble Mill studios in Edgbaston, Birmingham and having to park outside the studios in the road and because of the election having to get through some tight security before going into the reception area to report that I had arrived. The filming I was working on was to be on location somewhere in central Birmingham, in an empty office block alongside the canal which runs through the centre of Birmingham.

On arriving at the location I learned that I was working with one other 'walk-on' artiste, a young lady and that we were involved in a short video which was going to be made for 'The Golden Oldie Picture Show' and using the Gerry and the Pacemakers number 'I like It.' The director of this piece was called Laura Simms. We were kitted out in our costumes and I had to wear a grey suit several sizes to big and because of this it had to have safety pins to keep it together at the back. I was to be the boss and the sound lady was supposed to be my secretary and I'm something of a male chauvinist pig which upsets her. It starts out with me alone in my office and I'm plying with a model railway layout. At one point the secretary puts my tie into her typewriter (I know, thinking about it, how many offices today have typewriters in use? I think they have all been replaced by computers using word processing.) She is supposed to wind it down so that my head is almost touching the keyboard. Actually quite uncomfortable. In another sequence I'm staring at her (more like boggling.) to such an extent that I spill the cup of coffee I'm drinking down my shirt. This has to be re-short several times so I have to change my shirt and tie for each 'take.' Later on, for some reason which I forget, the secretary throws me out of the window. I can't think how, but outside there is the canal and there's a sort of ledge outside the window, and I'm supposed to climb up and look through the window at which the secretary winds down the venetian blind and I have water thrown over my hair to make it seem I've fallen in the canal and got wet. This bit it done several times. Another bit has the secretary put a rubber stamp on my forehead which reads 'wolf' or something and, again, this has to be shot several times. The video is shot over two days so we come back the following day to finish filming.

It was great to be treated as 'The Star' of this little mini-movie! It was raining during the filming, and when we went for a lunch break during the day we went to a local pub and had umbrellas held over us by assistants on the way! Although the video only lasted about two minutes I was the central character, very prominent throughout, although the character I was playing wasn't particularly nice. I just wish I had a tape or DVD of it. It was on You Tube, but unfortunately it was removed because it contravened copyright.

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