Wiltshire Publications

Westbury & District U3A

Westbury & District U3A recently found out about “a funny way to earn a living.”

We met on a cold afternoon but were warmed and entertained by a talk from Lynda Warren.  She explained how she came to work in the world of television by beginning in the theatre and willing to undertake any job.

Both Lynda and her husband Malcom became adept at finding locations, props and anything else needed for productions and eventually decided to go freelance.  This happened at the same time as Welsh Channel 4 was launched.  Most of their work can be seen on Welsh television and on Patagonian television.

Lynda and Malcolm worked on several series for Welsh television.  One featured a detective and was set in the 1950s.  The right locations have to be found which then involved driving around the area, in this case Chepstow and Cardiff, and then knocking on doors and asking people if their building could be used.

Room sets must be in period and furniture, crockery, ornaments and all the other accoutrements of a room have to be sought out, bought or borrowed.  Cars may also be needed and in one instance an old Ford Anglia was purchased.  The producer needed it to backfire on starting and they put a potato in the exhaust pipe to achieve this!

Producers often need animals and for one programme they needed a dog who could play dead and stop breathing.  Amazingly Mary Chipperfield had one such animal who on a whistle cue would lie down and play dead, he also stopped breathing for some twenty seconds.  The dog was a great success.

Another dog was required to give messages to people but didn’t understand when he had to stop. and continued to deliver any piece of paper he found to Lynda until the end of the shoot, so they had very little litter to clear up.

Lynda gave us various other very funny instances of work with animals, birds and fish and the problems of obtaining unusual ones and the difficulties involved in filming.

Lynda then explained how to set fire to a house but without actually burning it down and finally explained how one programme, which had flash backs to a previous age, needed a man to be hanged.  A harness was found via a pantomime company and the actor was duly “hanged” from a tree.  He was left there for a time until someone remembered him and when asked why he didn’t call out replied that he didn’t have a speaking part.

Lynda finished by saying that a lot of effects are now achieved in the studio and computers used to find locations so weeks are no longer spent driving looking for suitable locations.

It is planned to have a trip to the SS Great Britain in May; details from Anne Thompson or committee members.

Please do join us next month when our speaker will be Jane Arnold and her subject is “Nude but not rude” (life as an artist’s model).”