excellent TV 6 part serial was a real pleasure to direct.
All on film and all on location it was the
length of two feature films and occupied almost a year of my life. It was
written by a new and talented writer Charlie Humphries.
Sadly the producer, allocated by the BBC drama
department to this production, was less sensitive to Charlie's talent and gave
him a very hard time which culminated in the producer firing Charlie off his own
Amazing and a real shame.
He then employed another writer to finish the
story who arrived on location to ask me what he should write!!
The producer, who was perhaps not the brightest
light on the Christmas tree, sent us out to start shooting for all six 50'
minute episodes, with only one finished script - episode one, 95% of episode two
and a breakdown of episode three. With 50+ people out on location working hard,
frequently doing night shoots, he felt it was an unnecessary expense to have a
telephone in his London flat. I was told that 'office hours' were the time to
Towards the end of the filming process, I
finished a night shoot at 04.30 in the morning, went back to my hotel and
climbed into bed around 5.30 to try to get some sleep when I was telephoned at
09.00 (office hours) in the morning to 'discuss' the leading mans performance!!!
We were shooting for the last episodes!!! Not only a little late in performance
terms, as the character was already firmly established, I had only been in bed
for 4 hours and to me it was the middle of the night... But then who reads
Having viewed the finished version, with the
Head of Drama and our 'odd' producer, the show was approved and ready for
transmission. The day before the first episode broadcast I received a letter at
my home from the producer to say he had decided that he did not like some bits
of the production so he had personally re-cut the scenes! He had not asked me to
make these changes but had simply done it himself - on the qt!
A man with no understanding or regard for the
ethics of our trade. He also did not understand the process of film or a single
story told over several episodes. To be fair I think he was a little overwhelmed
by the size of the project. He had just received a Open University degree in
English Lit or similar and I think he was trying to put the 'academic
principles' he had learned into a show biz context?
It was a good production, with some very
talented actors giving excellent performances. Charlie understood the world of
Colin, Ann and Tracy together with their friends, enemies and the police. It
moves along well and was very well received by those who were not too shocked at
being presented with the reality of life as a small time villain.
If you ever get a chance it is well worth a
viewing. A little before it's time perhaps, it had a very high success score
amongst the viewers who did not find it too violent.
The photography by Elma Cossey is beautiful and
Nigel Slater's camera operation a real pleasure to watch.
Colin Wright is a London villain who decides to move his
wife Ann and their daughter Tracy to the beautiful Peak district of
To finance this he pulls one last job - diamond
smuggling and a bit of cheating on his mates
The neighbours in Yorkshire are friendly but inquisitive
Arnie the 'fence' is very unhappy and Colin's partner is
Colin's best mate does what he can
Some of the time love finds a way but the family cannot
live for long under the threats of violence from the folks back home in
Camden. The suppliers of the diamonds in Amsterdam want their money back.
None of this is good news for the family