Friday, November 18, 2016

Working on 'Hale and Pace'

In the early 1990s I managed to sign up with an agency in London run by Ray Knight. I had heard that he was taking on new people to go on his books and I wrote to him. Long before email, you had to actually put pen to paper and I enclosed headshots, because if you're going to do walk-on work in television they always need to have recent photographs to go on their books. Nowadays they would be uploaded onto a website. His office was somewhere in north London, and I visited for an interview and I was accepted. As a result I got no end of work, and was doing jobs on such programmes as 'House of Cards' (the original B.B.C. production with Ian Richardson.) and did several days on that, some at the B.B.C. Elstree studios and various locations in and around London. This is described in far more detail in an earlier blog post on here.

Over one weekend I had jobs on two shows for London Weekend Television (LWT). On the Saturday I did work on 'Hale and Pace'. I was to go to a location somewhere in the East End of London. I can't say I remember where it was exactly. Some sketches were filmed in and around the area, but the interiors were done in what looked like a disused office block and they made various rooms within the building to be such places as a dentist's surgery and a sitting room.  I have never ever seen any of the shows when they were originally transmitted back in the early '90's, but having done some research on the internet, particularly I.M.D.B and YouTube, I have at last managed to track the episodes I was in. Hale and Pace had  several continuing characters, particularly Bobby and Billy, who were sort of kids television characters, the sort of characters you'd have in such shows as 'Play School' or 'Play Away' with the two boys dressed in bright coloured bib and braces. In this sketch I was in they were supposed to be policemen and I am a mugger! I must say it's odd seeing it now, some 25 years later! It's all in series 3 of the Hale and Pace show, which was originally broadcast on a Sunday at 10 p.m. and some of the material is what you would call adult, although probably considered somewhat tame by today's standards. I was a man living in a box, a sort of tramp or something. To this day I have no idea what that sketch was about. I hope I manage to find it in one of the episodes on YouTube. Another I was supposed to be a patient in a dentist's surgery and one of the boys sat on my legs on the dentist's chair. I'm not sure whether it was Hale or Pace and I can't remember what else happened in that sketch. They were done in such quick succession, there was very little time in between set-ups and they didn't do a lot of takes. I do remember that one of the production crew, a cameraman or lighting assistant, I'm not sure which, took a liking for the pins I wore on the hat I was wearing. I used to collect pin badges, the sort which are metal enamel with a separate pin which you put inside your clothes and the pin sticks through the fabric and the other main part pins to it. Well, he was determined he was going to have them all, but I insisted they weren't for sale or even barter. Strange what you remember and it wasn't clear whether he was being serious or merely trying to annoy me. Some people are difficult to decipher.

On the Sunday I went back into central London.  I was working on location at Smithfield Market and St Bart's Hospital on an episode of 'Poirot,' the episode which was done for the centenary of the publication of the first Poirot story by Agatha Christie,' The Mysterious Affair at Style's.' It was an extremely hot day I seem to remember, but we were dressed in extremely thick and heavy Edwardian suits and there was no way you could keep cool on the set. It was so warm the tarmac on the road we were working on began to melt in the heat. It was the opening sequence, done with the titles. They used a crane to do a wide shot. As it was a Sunday it meant they could close the streets to traffic. We were supposed to be the walking wounded, back from 'The Front' in France. Some people had plaster casts on their legs and were wheeled in wheel chairs, others had their arms in bandages and I think I had my head bandaged. We were walking in through the entrance to St Bart's Hospital. They did no end of takes, and we had to go back to original positions several times for fresh takes. There was a particularly bossy unit manager (or production assistant or assistant director, I'm not sure which he was.) who kept hasstleing us to get it right. On another set-up they had traffic in the street, all vintage vehicles, cars, busses and bicycles. I was supposed to be on a bicycle, but at the last minute I was taken out from the scene. Perhaps because I was going to be used as walking wounded as it would be odd to have me in two places more or less at once, one minute on a bicycle and able-bodied and the next as a wounded soldier. I don't in all honesty think it would have mattered because you are usually in the background in a scene, although  there is always somebody who will point such things out. 
Post a Comment