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On nearly being run over by Robert Vaughn, nearly running over David McCallum, and why civil servants should be kept away from film studios
Updated 9:45am Wednesday 9th July 2014 in Paul Welsh
Can you believe it? I had just finished typing this column on my computer and accidentally hit the wrong button and it vanished. I hate writing the same thing twice but here it goes.
As I write, I am recovering from a hectic weekend. I was forced by Nick, a young green-fingered friend, to spend nearly five hours gardening, much of the time in the rain. The result is some lovely plants and aromatic herbs to enjoy this summer, so I guess it was worth it.
I then had to fly off to help judge the Tried and Trusted short film competition at the Ark Theatre with Suzanne and Josie.
We agreed with the audience and voted David Welsh’s animated film Nothing To Lose as runner-up and the winning entry was The Letter by James Sharpe. It was a good evening and there was a lot of talent on show.
My only other comment is that I wish we could have more comedy entries, and that applies to the student films at the University of Herts. They are so often about gloomy subjects like crime, suicide and drugs. About a year or so back, I was invited to the premiere of a lottery-funded film, costing about £1million, that had started life as a short film. I doubt it made a penny and was not only downbeat but committed the cardinal sin for me in that I found it boring.
It was nice to see The Venue swimming pool on nationwide television with scenes featuring Danny Dyer’s character in EastEnders learning to swim. I bet you don’t know that The Venue was named by the caretaker of Fairway Hall, the late Ross Earwood. In 1991, the town council, took over the old civic hall and held a competition to rename it and Ross won. We surrendered the building back to Hertsmere Borough Council in 1996, and, as you know, the sports centre was built, but not the theatre. I hope the short film competition can find a new home when the Ark is demolished as we need to encourage talent.
I was sad to read that veteran star Eli Wallach has died just a few years short of his 100th birthday. You probably best remember him as the villain in the great movie The Magnificent Seven. I guess that leaves only Robert Vaughn left from the cast.
Robert’s car nearly ran me down in the early 1970s when he was starring in the less than happy TV series The Protectors at Elstree Studios. It was no doubt my fault, but a few years later I nearly knocked down his Man From U.N.C.L.E co-star David McCallum when he was crossing Eldon Avenue from ATV Studios. At the time he was starring in Sapphire and Steel. David now lives in America and we have been in touch with each other so all must be forgiven.
Don’t forget to visit the special Centenary of Film Production exhibition now open in the Borehamwood Museum. It’s free and visitors get a free car sticker, magazine and leaflet about the local film heritage trail. I know space is very limited but it’s well worth a visit. Hopefully one day we will have a local film and television museum that can do this unique legacy justice.
I remember 20 years ago sitting down with representatives of the British Film Institute to discuss the idea of a visitors centre at Elstree Studios. I think these grant-funded organisations live in a bubble. I told them from the outset that ideas such as glass corridors on sound stages so you could watch filmmakers at work were totally unrealistic. They spent £60,000 only for everyone to conclude it was dead in the water. Heaven save us from a mix of civil servants and academic types. It is enough to drive me to drink, albeit not actually a long ride.
Until next week, take care and thank you to you kind folk who come up to me and say you enjoy my weekly rambles. I dedicate this week’s column to you.