Friday, 27 March 2015

Padstow 3 - Lucy goes to Hollywood

Lucy goes to Hollywood? I'm exaggerating, of course. It's just a way of linking 'Lucy' with 'Hollywood' - something that will probably never actually happen! And yet I'm not completely messing about. The film world did feature in my recent visit to Padstow in Cornwall.

The first hint of Something Going On was seeing this in the town's main car park as I arrived:

A third of the car park was being occupied by big white trailers, presumably hired, with MOVIE MAKERS written on them. Just as well it was March, and before all this car park space would be needed for holidaymakers! Each trailer had side-pieces that extended out, making for a generous amount of accommodation inside. Each trailer sported a couple of orange propane gas cylinders, suggesting that they really were for the cast, the production team, and the technicians to sleep in, keep warm in, and use as costume-changing and make-up-application facilities. In any case, if you are shooting at strange times of the day or night, or waiting for the right weather, or the right light, you want everyone on standby in one convenient spot.

I saw a chap in a Volvo who seemed to have something to do with all of this. So, having parked Fiona, I walked over to him and asked him about the filming. He was happy to explain, but what he said conveyed nothing to me. It was the film of a BBC3 TV comedy series starring Jack Whitehall, a rising comedian completely unknown to me, and the name of the film (at least at this stage) was Bad Education Movie. It was being filmed at the local manor house, Prideaux Place, which was open to the public in the summer. I thanked him, feeling none the wiser. However, I gradually learned more, and saw more, as the day proceeded. Naturally the arrival of the production company and its equipment, and all that was being done, was the talk of the town. All the locals were agog to see what next might happen.

Well, for the next couple of hours I was posh-noshing at Rick Stein's Café, and then studying those seats with plaques on them. After finding George Thomas's former home, I saw that the three people who had told me about him were making their way up Fentonluna Lane towards Prideaux Place. A man carrying some item of electrical equipment was as well. I followed them all, curious to see whatever might be seen.

At the top of Fentonluna Lane was The Dower House, a stone building of personal significance to me. Here it is:

Back in February 1983 it was called The Nook Hotel, and this was where I spent my honeymoon in the week or so after the wedding ceremony on St Valentine's Day. Externally the place didn't seem much changed. The Hotel had eventually been sold and had become a private house. Then it was The Dower Guest House. The present owner now wanted to change it back to being a private house. Posted up outside was a Planning Application dated May 2014. It looked as if the local council weren't entirely agreeable to whatever structural alternations he had in mind.

Turning right now into the road that led past Prideaux Place (and then onwards to Tregirls Farm and eventually Stepper Point) there was a big lorry, from which cables ran.

Of course: the film sets would have to be lit up, and there would be all kinds of electrical equipment to keep powered. There was more than one lorry. At the entrance to a field opposite the entrance to Prideaux Place was an impressive switchboard, and some portable lighting. Its positioning looked a bit dodgy, however, because a gutter filled with running water ran at the base of all this:

Out in the field was a film set contrived to look like part of a garden, with shrubs and other things plonked into position. Clearly for some scene in the film. Men were carrying things to and fro. I wasn't sure whether they were dismantling the set, or just changing it.

The manor house - which I have never yet visited on its open days - had a bit of character. Its gateway was open. I sashayed up to it, and looked inside. I could see a fairground set at one end of the house, with a merry-go-round and a helter-skelter.

A youngish security man strode towards me. He was pleasant but firm. I couldn't come in.

My apologies for intruding. I quite understood. But what could he tell me about what was going on in the field? Well, he'd come onto shift only at breakfast that morning, and knew nothing first-hand, but apparently they'd filmed a long garden-party scene out in the field very late on the previous night. In fact, they were doing it at 3.00am! The entire area had been brilliantly lit up for the cameras. It was meant to be an evening party at the height of summer, but of course it had actually been filmed in the small hours of a very chilly - in fact frosty - March night. The male actors had mostly been wearing jackets or at least jumpers, but the actresses had been very lightly clad in skimpy summer dresses (or less) and must have really suffered! All the town would have seen and heard the filming. He didn't know what the fairground items signified. Never mind: I'd got some information, and demonstrated to myself once again that asking questions gets results.

I joined a growing band of curious locals, and we swapped what little we knew. One couple had actually seen the filming from their house. They had been very sorry for those poor actresses! Then a taxi arrived, and Someone got out. He might have been a Star, so I took this shot:

That's him, on the far right. The driver gave me a warning look, which reinforced my opinion that this was, at the very least, a Big Cheese on the production team. After this, some lorry had to get out into the lane, and could we all move along? So we all drifted off. I now noticed some location signs like this, attached to walls and posts:

That was really all there was to see. Two weeks later, once home, I looked up the TV series on the Internet, and studied the information at these links:

Bad Education seems to be a 2015 take on what it's like to be a teacher of a challenging set of teenage kids. Except that in this version, and unlike the late 1960s TV series Please Sir! (!) or the one-term-only1993 TV series Bonjour La Classe (which M---, herself a teacher at one time, liked very much - see the teacher in Bad Education - Jack Whitehall - is totally incompetent. Which presumably must be funny.

I'm not into comedies, in particular school comedies, and this new film really doesn't look like my cup of tea. But I have been touched by the tinsel, and I am now fated to give it some time once it is released. I draw the line at paying good money to see it at a cinema. I will defer the pleasure until it turns up on some TV channel, having done the cinema circuit. I want to spot the Cornish locations, and perhaps especially watch that chilly garden party scene!

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