I arrived at the building where Sean works for our 3 o’clock meeting, and he came down to meet me. On the way up to his office, he asked why I was so into “Arthur of the Britons”: was it Oliver? I said, no it was Michael. “Even then?” he said. Perhaps he thought a teenager would be more likely to fall for Oliver, though he did think that Michael was a very attractive man.

By way of background, Sean said that in the early 1970s, the smaller TV companies like HTV weren’t expected to do drama, especially on this scale, but Sean’s father, Patrick Dromgoole, decided that they should start. They had two crews, which produced a lot of great drama over the next 20 years, including "Children of the Stones" and “Robin of Sherwood.” “Arthur of the Britons” - along with “Pretenders”1 - was the start of this in many ways.

The story of Arthur, and the conflict between the Celts of Wales and Cornwall, and the Saxons in Wessex, was a natural choice for Harlech TV, which was based in the middle of those territories.

As we settled down to watch “The Gift of Life” together, Sean proved himself a man after my own heart by expressing approval for the 4:3 aspect ratio! He also said he loved Elmer Bernstein’s epic theme music.

Every now and then, as we watched the episode, he would press ‘pause’, and tell me something he remembered about what had just transpired.

The first thing he commented on was the horse Michael was riding. He said that either Michael wasn’t a natural rider, or the horses he’d been given weren’t up to the task, because he had been through about 3 horses without finding one that suited him. The horse wrangler, Ben Ford of Stroud, brought in the big dark horse with the wide irregular blaze, and named it Merlin because “if this works it will be a miracle.”

vlcsnap-2014-07-20-12h43m49s226

As it turned out, this horse did suit Michael, and was very … stable.

As Krist and Elka stick their heads up on the boat, Sean drew his colleague’s attention to his first appearance: “I’m in show business!”

Longboat (24)

He then pointed out that much of the conversation between Arthur and Kai about what to do with the Saxon children – nearly a whole minute – was filmed in one take.

Then when Kai is getting ready to leave the village with the children, he drew my attention to a great shot of Michael.

vlcsnap-2015-08-21-22h40m18s911

He said there would have been huge polystyrene reflectors just out of shot, directing bright lights at Michael’s face; he would have been bravely keeping his eyes wide open to avoid squinting.

The riding scenes were filmed near Woodchester. Sean could ride already, as his mother had been very keen that he and his siblings should learn. It was alright for Tamzin riding in front of Michael, but very uncomfortable for him, riding at the back, where there was no saddle. Bumping along when they were cantering was agony!

The Journey (8)

The conversation between Krist and Kai about the scar on Kai’s neck would have been filmed by a tracking camera mounted on a vehicle, driven alongside the horse.

I mentioned how tall the bracken was, in the scene where Krist and Elka go missing. Sean said the problem was, trying to make sure the crew didn’t trample it all down!

The Journey (36)

When Kai was calling for the children, Sean said, “I did find Michael slightly scary – there was a threat about him. He was tall, distant, and rather magnificent.” He was also “moody” but Sean also recalled that he was “very kind, very patient.” He and Tamzin often screwed up a shot by, for example, looking straight into camera, but Michael understood that they were just learning. “In dealing with me and Tamzin, he was brilliant.”

When Kai teaches the children the secret whistle, Sean admitted that he couldn’t do it; that was the only part of the sound that wasn’t recorded live on location, but looped in a sound studio. The sound recordist, Mike Davey, a close friend of Sean’s, is deaf in one ear!

During the next scene where they were riding, Sean pointed out the vehicle tracks where the horse was trotting. I protested that they were cart tracks, but he said carts didn’t make tracks like that!

Where the children are sleeping, he said he remembered the feel of the sheepskin against his cheek.

I commented on Kai’s furry boot-covers, and Sean revealed that they were a lot of trouble, as they were always coming off.

As they walk into the Saxon village, Sean said that Heather Wright, who played Hildred, was a lovely girl. He commented once again on the wonderful cadence of the theme music.

Welcome (18) Celebration (11)

He wondered what was the point of “putting fur on a guitar” (the minstrel’s lute).

In the scene where Kai is sitting in the hut, tied up, Sean pointed out that the wattle and daub panels, from which the walls were made, were actually moulded plastic! They had one real panel, and poured plastic onto it, then peeled it off, painted it, and poured some more on. They looked terrible in real life.

In the hut (9)

He thought Stephan Chase was a good actor; “You need to know who your villain is.”

Celebration (29) In the hut (46)

When Kai springs out of the bracken to break the Saxon villager’s neck, Sean said he would have had his face smeared with Vaseline, to make it look as if he were sweating. By the time they filmed these scenes, they were losing the light.

Escaping (53)

Sean remembers being fascinated watching Peter Brayham organising the stunts, and by just how simple they were, up close. When Horgren surprises Kai, near his horse, it was Peter who buried the axe in the tree trunk, not Stephan Chase.

Escaping (79)

He remembers feeling the sticky “Kensington Gore” (theatrical fake blood) on his face after Kai palms his cheek as he rides away.

During the scene where Kai is lying on his sickbed, we speculated on where Arthur would have obtained the huge bunch of grapes Kai has in front of him. Sean suspects the cameraman was referencing Carravagio’s “Boy with a Basket of Fruit.”

Boy_with_a_Basket_of_Fruit-Caravaggio_(1593) Welcome home (5)

The fire would have been made using a gas tube under some stone that had been painted to look like logs.

After the credits had rolled, Sean asked whether I had any other questions. I started by asking how he got the job!

He had acted before, in school plays and the like, but never in front of a camera. As soon as word got out about a new production, people in the business would be looking out for roles for their children. There was an audition: five boys and five girls, and a lot of those auditioning, like the Nevilles, were family friends.

The episode Director, Pat Jackson – a lovely man - must have auditioned them, but as the audition was held in Patrick Dromgoole’s office, Sean, and his younger brother Dominic and sister Jessica, were at something of an advantage. Sean himself was credited as “Sean Fleming” – his mother’s maiden name – because they didn’t want to give away the fact that he was in his dad’s production!

Sean got the part of Krist, partly because he was blond, which made him a better fit as a Saxon boy than his brother, Dominic whose hair was dark. Dominic got the part of Col’s son Frith, in “The Slaves.” He didn’t like the fact that at the end of the episode, he had to be lifted – almost thrown – high in the air by Dave Prowse. Jessica appeared in another episode as an extra.

They took the men Dominic

Sean took it very seriously; he remembers rehearsing at the kitchen table with his mother. “I was the little pro – turned up with all my lines learnt!”

Being one of the youngest cast members was, “terrific! Everyone spoiled me.” People fell over themselves to look after them, especially the make-up lady, Christine Penwarden, on whom he had a crush. She used to show them how to make fake scars with Bostick, and shock their families.

When they went for the costume fittings, they were fascinated by the axes with rubber heads, used during the actual fight scenes. Saying, “This is a real one”, Oliver picked up an axe, took a swing at one of the posts in the Saxon village, struck into it, and also hit one of the female crew members - possibly the costume lady, Audrey MacLeod - on the head! She was okay though.

There were very small crews in those days – 30 or so – so everyone was racing about the whole time, but because of people like the cameraman, Bob Edwards and the director, Pat Jackson, the atmosphere was relaxed and very friendly; there seemed to be plenty of time. “It was great fun – a real confidence-booster. They made it so easy.”

Nevertheless, not being a ‘morning person’, Sean was “beguiled” by how early in the morning they started work (dawn). They only shot 3 and a half to four minutes’ worth of film each day, unlike these days, when 8 minutes is the norm. It took about a week to film each episode.

When asked how much direction he was given, Sean said, “Not enough, watching it! I think the idea was to keep us as relaxed as possible – not do take after take, which would have been intimidating for a child.” He thought he could have given a better performance. It was hard to know how much direction any of the adult cast received, because a good director would speak to the actors privately.

He didn’t see the rushes. There would be a lab. report the next morning, and the rushes would be seen the following night. Some directors invited the actors; the more experienced ones didn’t, because they didn’t want them to be distracted by thinking about what they’d done before.

Sean thinks he was paid for the performance, but has no idea what happened to the money; it didn’t end up in his pocket! He was present for the filming of some other episodes but didn’t appear as an extra, which was boring: not like being the centre of attention!

It rained, half the time, and the cast and crew would either stand under tarpaulins, film indoors, or just got on with it, pretending it wasn’t there.

Tony Shaffer – the writer of “Sleuth” - suggested that John Hurt should play Arthur; the series would have been “different”. But Patrick cast Oliver Tobias, who they already knew really well. Oliver used to bring his Haflinger 4 x 4 to their parents’ place, and drive them up an almost vertical hillside, making them all scream!

Oliver was hugely popular, “an utter delight.” He maintained friendships with all levels of the crew, to the extent that, years later, when he played the villain, Bertrand de Nivelle, in the “Robin of Sherwood” episode, “Lord of the Trees”, and had to fight Michael Praed, who played Robin, the crew were all cheering for Oliver: “Come on – give him what for!”

Bertrand de Nivelle

When the episode was broadcast, on 13 December 1972, Sean’s whole cub scout troop – all in their uniforms – came to their house in Somerset to watch it. “I was a fucking star!”

Though he hasn’t been back to the locations where they filmed, Sean sometimes feels drawn to visit them. His involvement with “Arthur of the Britons” was a very intense experience, and his attachment to it is deep set. He asked me what I thought of the series when I saw it again on DVD after nearly 40 years; I said it was better than I remembered, and he agreed. The series has stood up well.

He wanted to take up acting as a career, until his first professional auditions, which were so ugly and intimidating, he wondered why anyone would ever put themselves through the process. He probably should have gone to drama school, but his parents didn’t believe in it. He flirted with the idea of becoming and engineer, but decided it would be too dull, so he studied Philosophy at University, where he also did 22 plays, and had his own punk band, The Ripchords.2

When he finished his studies, he spent a number of years behind the camera, working for his father as an Assistant Director.

1 A costume drama set in 1685, about two children during a rebellion against King James II.

2 Their sole release, an eponymous EP with four tracks, “Ringing in the Streets”, “Music is...”, “Peace artist”, and “Television television”, was championed by John Peel, and quickly sold out. "Punk 77" described their music as “Tuneful punk with sepulchral vocals and deep growling bass”, and "My Life's a Jigsaw" as “Great garage/DIY punk.” Sean Dromgoole was the vocalist.
On 28 and 29 August 2010, at a meeting arranged by Wendy Van Der Veen at the Imperial Hotel in Stroud, Oliver Tobias graciously gave his time to meet a group of fans of “Arthur of the Britons”, and share some of his experiences. His brother, Benedict Freitag, also attended.

After Wendy had introduced him, Oliver referred to “Arthur of the Britons” as ‘a memory which I had closed away …’ He said that someone – either an early director, or his agent – used to tell him ‘never look back’: advice which he took to heart. As a result, he has little in the way of momentoes, had never watched the whole series, and didn’t even see the ‘rushes’ when they were filming.

He recently started watching the series with his 7 year-old son Luke – who looks at him a bit differently now! They haven’t watched all of it yet, but Oliver’s overall impression is that the series stands up as a piece of drama; the episodes are sound pieces of work that have stood the test of time.

‘We gave good honest performances and that’s why they are still appreciated by loyal fans who remember the series from childhood. But I don’t suppose they would appeal to people seeing them for the first time now.’

One fan, who saw the series for the first time only a few months before, was able to set him right on that score, telling him ‘it engaged me instantly.’

When asked what he considered to be his best work, over his whole career – the work of which he was most proud – he said, ‘“Arthur of the Britons” – it was all downhill from then on!’ He was only half-joking. He takes pride in a job well done, but it’s not about him: ‘I do things to entertain people.’

Benedict remembered waking up on the morning after “Arthur of the Britons” was first shown in Germany, looking out of his window to see lots of little boys playing Arthur-and-Kai games on the football pitch across the way, with wooden swords and shields, and thinking proudly: ‘My brother did that!’
Read more... )
A.S., the daughter of one of Michael Gothard’s close friends, visited the set of "Arthur of the Britons" around the beginning of November 1972. Soon after this first visit, she received a letter from Michael, which included the following:

“I am so pleased you enjoyed your visit to Scruffy Camelot! … I write this at the end of another very long day. I am somewhat saddle sore and bruised, but this is great fun to work on and restores my faith somewhat in this very shallow business I find myself in. I do enjoy working with “The Boys”! It is all very hectic and we are losing track of what we are doing and where we are, what with swapping between episodes.

This week I have been involved in several fights, which of course I won, I have been tied to a tree...and very cold it was too, then we went back and did some knife throwing that if I remember rightly we did right at the beginning ... .which seems a LONG time ago. Oh, I have also thrown a glass of fake wine over Oliver (again) which I enjoyed. We have also done a lot of riding, hence me needing a squashy cushion whenever I sit down. … It will be an early start on Friday morning, and you will get to spend a little time with the horses, as we are scheduled to be involved in plenty of riding during that day.”

The fights he mentions being involved in may have been the ones in the woods at the end of “The Prize”, which was the episode in which he was tied to a tree. They may also have included some of the sparring from “The Pupil”, and the final fight with Corin.

The Prize 65 The Prize 134

The knife-throwing and wine-throwing scenes which were re-shot were from the beginning and end of “Daughter of the King.” However, only the new version of the knife-throwing scene was used. Judging by the appearances of the actors - especially Michael Gothard's hair - the wine-throwing scene broadcast was clearly the original one, filmed during the same period as the bulk of the episode.

Longhouse scene (58) Friends (24)

There were not many whole episodes left to be filmed by this time: “The Prize”, “The Games”, “The Girl from Rome”, “The Swordsman”, and “The Treaty.” None of these involved substantial amounts of riding for Kai. However, the racing scenes in “Arthur is Dead”, which were also used in the credits, were definitely filmed in autumn – there are autumnal trees, hips on the bushes, dead thistles, and lots of fallen leaves on the ground – so these must be the scenes to which he was referring, when he says they are scheduled to be doing a lot of riding when A.S. visits next time.

vlcsnap-2016-08-15-10h30m53s763 vlcsnap-2016-08-15-10h30m18s497

vlcsnap-2016-08-15-10h30m05s056 vlcsnap-2016-08-15-10h29m51s565

It is good to see that Michael found filming “Arthur of the Britons” such a positive experience.

1 More recollections from A.S. can be found here.
Gerry Cullen, who was employed as an extra on "Arthur of the Britons", offered these insights to the filming of the series.

By a series of total coincidences, I was running low on money in Bristol when I heard that Harlech TV was having open casting sessions, to find extras for "Arthur of the Britons." I was hired, and worked until the end of the series. I remember often being there six days a week. Extras were only used when they need villagers to “fill in” of course, but I was very lucky; I seemed to get most work, probably because I looked the most scruffy.

When I came in, I was told they were making some changes (I don’t know what they were) and the series was half done. When I watched the DVDs, I saw that I was in some of “Season Two” and not in any of “Season One.”

Gerry centre

In this scene from "Rowena", Gerry is the person in the middle, standing next to Arthur.

For me, it was paid graduate school. The demanding schedule called for rotating directors, so I was able to observe their different styles and methods, and how they interacted with the actors. Most of the talk that I had access to was about blocking, director/DP discussions on camera placement, and lighting. I also got to see some of the very good character actors who bolstered the roster. That experience gave me solid confidence throughout my modest career as a camera production person.

The set was always very calm and orderly; very professional. It seemed to me that they were trying to keep to filming one episode per week, so there was a lot of pressure to hit the short deadlines for a quick turn-around; the actors and crew had a lot to do to make a half hour weekly action show. We worked long days; the extras would meet early, often about dawn, or before, at HTV Bristol, and usually come back late in the day, sometimes in the dark. The filming was extremely well organized and all the crew and actors created a friendly, but always moving forward, atmosphere.

Shooting wasn’t always in sequence; there was definitely some overlap between one episode and another. I remember hearing sometimes that a B crew was shooting cutaways and other footage at different locations, to help keep things moving.

Since it was all 16 mm film back then, all the good takes would have to be developed, and the dailies would have to be looked over. Film editing was very time consuming back then; the editor was dealing with many, many, short clips of film that would need to be physically spliced together, then the music mixed in the audio department, and titles added in the lab. I would guess a month at least from shoot week to air. If I remember rightly, it was airing during production, but I didn’t have a TV, and I only saw one broadcast episode while I was there.

Back then it was a big deal to have Arthur in the more primitive environment, rather than the glossy concept of shining armour and big gleaming castles and such.

I remember two main buildings, and some smaller ones to make the village for the Celts. The make-up area was in a tent; wardrobe was in there too. The Celts main building was often converted back and forth between sleeping quarters and also used for inside banquets. The series won some awards for the location set designs and costumes. The food was real, but no alcohol; the wine was grape juice. As I recall the boars were real but don't remember anyone eating them. I was a strict vegetarian for the about 5 years back then so I didn't pay to much attention to them even though I sat right near them in some scenes!

Speaking of the dining tent, the food was great but what I found intriguing was the afternoon tea break, where everyone had banana sandwiches; I had never heard of such a thing but they were very good.

With regard to stunts – from what I observed it was always Oliver and Michael doing everything; I don't recall any stuntmen standing in for either of them. When there was a group of riders I believe some of those were stuntmen. Oliver and Michael always did their own riding, and they both were very good at it.

Extras would get an additional £2 per day if they were involved in any stunts, or got pummelled. They probably don’t allow that today – too many lawyers – but it was fun then. In one episode, “The Marriage Feast”, a scene called for Mark of Cornwall (Brian Blessed) to storm off, mad because Arthur had just embarrassed him. It must have been my turn that day, as the director picked me to be thrown over Brian Blessed’s shoulder as he rampaged through the village, knocking people out of his way. We did at least 5 takes where Blessed literally threw me over his shoulder and into the air; he was a strong guy. Lucky for me, I studied jiu-jitsu in high school, so I knew how to land in hard falls, but it was still somewhat rough. I was disappointed when I watched the DVD; the take they used was the only one where he did not do that; instead, they used the one take where he just throws me down.

The Fight (143) The Fight (145)

I was involved in inside banquet scenes in two different shows. One was “The Marriage Feast”; I am sitting next to Brian Blessed, on his right. You can only see me in a quick wide shot at 14:45, and some back and forth over the shoulder shots in that scene, one is at 16:15.

The Feast (18)

In the other, I sit next to Arthur in a scene where Arthur and an opposing group, I cannot remember which one, decided to make a treaty and be peaceful with each other, so they hold a feast to celebrate.1

While Arthur and the leaders of the opposing group are inside at the banquet, some of the villagers from both sides have a knife throwing contest at a target. There is an accidental death when a knife misses the target and kills one of the villagers, and things get tense. A messenger rushes into the banquet to tell everyone, and things get tense. I remember that one well. It was shot of course out of sequence. In the filming of it, first the outdoor scene was shot, in that shot I am standing near the target when the man next to me gets killed by the stray knife. Later the banquet scene is shot and the messenger comes in and tells Arthur what happened, when he does everyone gets tense and I was told by the director to slowly start pulling out my knife as if a fight was about to happen. Normally I wouldn’t say anything to the director but I thought I better tell him I was in the previous outside shot and he might have a continuity problem if I was noticeable. But he wasn’t worried so he probably had plenty of coverage. 2

At an outside feast in “Rowena” at 19:48 I am sitting down in front of the table and throw wine at a villager, who falls down.

Look at her (14) Look at her (15)

In "Some Saxon Women" I am in quite a few shots but more interestingly there are good shots of the young woman that Michael Gothard was seeing. She is most easily seen in the scene starting at 7:00 where the two men look over the Saxon women who are chained up. In the shot where the two men stop and shake hands “to make the deal” was Michael’s girlfriend; she was German, and had a young child.



On set, Oliver was always the quietest of the three main actors, and was always very courteous to everyone. He was the youngest, and – as the lead – he had the biggest responsibility. While waiting, he seemed to keep it very serious. He was perfect for the role of Arthur, and he did a great job, even though he was not that experienced.

Jack Watson was the most laid back. Having previously worked on TV productions in New York, I already knew never to bother the actors; always wait until spoken to, and stay on business unless someone else brings up a topic, because they need their space to think about their lines, and get into the character, but while waiting for his part, Jack would often stand on the side among the extras, chatting amiably. He usually had fewer lines to deliver than the others, so I would think that made it easier to be relaxed, plus he had the most experience.

The most serious I ever saw him was on the occasion when, in a nice manner, he scolded me. It was very cold on some of the early mornings, so I had gone to a second-hand shop and bought the warmest overcoat I could find: a long dark blue wool coat, that only cost three pounds.

While we were watching a scene being prepared, Jack, who was standing next to me, said, “Are you a medic?” I answered, “No. What makes you think I would be?”

He explained that I was wearing a Navy medic’s coat; it still had the patch on it.

I told him I didn’t know what it meant, I just bought it because I was trying to keep warm.

He wasn’t mad or anything; he was just very worried that if there was an emergency, it would cause confusion. I couldn’t imagine anyone would think I was a medic, since – other than the coat – my clothes were those of an impoverished medieval Celt, but I realized later that he was a WW2 Navy man, so I could understand his concern.

Michael Gothard was probably the most physical actor. Even standing still, the man seemed to be moving. I noticed that whenever he was in a scene that was being shot, the energy on the set went up; I think he was the sort of actor who made everyone rise up without their even realizing it. Somehow, Michael began talking with me, and found out I had just been travelling about Europe, much as he did some years earlier. During that period, we hit the pubs a few times.

Whoever cast this series really knew what they were doing. The contrast between Oliver and Michael made for good interplay between the two. Oliver was sturdy, emanated inner strength, and kept his cards close, while Michael was lanky, had his energy “out there”, and was often edgy.

It was my impression that the three lead actors liked each other very much.

It is amazing how popular and long-lasting Arthur of the Britons has been. Many of the Brits and Aussies that I have known here in the US remember the show very fondly and vividly. It is an incredible testament to everyone involved.

1 “The Treaty.”

2 This indoor scene, where a messenger comes in to tell the assembled chiefs about the death, does not appear in the episode as shown on TV; the footage must have been discarded.
Roger Pearce was the camera operator on many episodes. He was kind enough to share some memories of the times, and supplied some of the photos seen elsewhere on this archive.

I was the camera operator on much of the series – some 26 weeks in shooting – which began in a place called Woodchester Park in Gloucestershire. This is where the first village was constructed on the bank of a lake.

Woodchester was actually a far better place [than Woollard] to shoot Iron Age Britain; it’s a vast park, and though managed and farmed, is allowed to live and decay naturally and so pictorially looked more convincing. But it proved far too expensive to travel the cast and crew from Bristol and surrounding area every day, and the company couldn’t afford the accommodation for maybe 100 or so people, so it was decided to build a village much nearer to the Bristol base, and the chosen spot was the top and eastern side of Wollard: a large and steep meadow which slopes down to the river Chew. I remember a bridge was constructed over the river; perhaps the remnants might still be visible.

The disadvantages of this location were the rather restricted view for big wide shots, domestic dwellings, electricity poles and cables, clearly defined farm land with cultivated hedgerows, and the fact that Woollard is on the flight path to Bristol Airport though that not so busy then.

Two other locations you might recall, where two brothers were fighting in a wood, then spill out into open countryside, (one actor was Ken Hutchings; can’t remember t’other) and during the title sequence, 3 or 4 horsemen are following at speed the camera. We pass a telegraph pole: it’s still there, and was in shot! These two locations are on public ground, very near a pub called, ‘The Compton’.

Our unit base was at the top of the field where vehicles and large marquees were erected, one of which was the dining area. During really bad weather, of which there were many instances, we had to raise one side of the tent to allow a flow of water through and out the other side down to the river.

It being the 70s, many of our extras were student types who – apart from their every day clothes – quite looked the part. Some took to hiding at the end of each shooting day to evade crew; they would then re-emerge, occupy the better made huts, co-habit under furs and skins to the warmth of wood fires, and be ready for filming next day! Shall we say security was not what it is today! There was one security guard, and all he did was lock the gate when he thought the last person had gone. When the extras showed up early in the morning, the crew just thought they were really conscientious.

With regard to weaponry: most of the time it would be moulded rubber spear tips and daggers; only when the camera was close in would we switch to metal, although blunted, fake items could still inflict a wound. For any close up work or ‘no combat’ scenes, Kai’s axe would be genuine, but for hand-to-hand combat, an identical rubber axe would be substituted.

I have a vague memory of Ollie being injured. I think it was late afternoon and the result of a spear being thrown; it would not have been metal but a solid rubber tipped one. But with the weight of the wooden shaft behind it, it could still wound. I seem to remember Ollie was taken off by ambulance to be checked over and there may have been a few stitches to boot! Was filming halted? No, just rearrange the call sheet and press on! Nothing has changed.

When you are filming a series, you are like family, for the time you are together.

Additional information from Roger:

The scenes where people were riding were filmed from Range Rovers; they were very new at the time, so the crew was very excited about that!

The rock in “Arthur is Dead” was actually made of cloth, over a wooden frame. At one point, you can see a hole in it!

When filming “The Challenge”, they rolled down the bank a couple of times to practice, but they couldn’t get their costumes wet or it would have been all over. The scenes where they ride through the bracken were filmed in the Mendips.

The rock on which Arthur was tied to be flogged in “The Slaves” was in that position already. Black Rock Quarry has been used as a filming location many times.

When asked about filming "The Pupil", Roger says, "the only thing I do recall since you mention Peter Firth is, filming him under a stone bridge or culvert very close to the weir. He would have been hiding from someone, perhaps Kai?1 We chatted about girls between takes! ... As to the fight in the Long House, I can’t remember why we remained inside. It may have been scripted that way or, indeed if the weather was poor, a decision would have been taken to do it there."

The series photographer was Stuart/Stewart Sadd.

Director Sid Hayers was a tall fat jolly man – nicknamed the Michelin Man.

1The weir featured in "In Common Cause". The scene where Peter Firth was hiding would have been the one in the flashback, when he saw Arthur kill his father, Mordor.
Back to school for King Arthur’s knights

Stars of stage and screen have been going back to school in Stroud over the past few weeks, to polish up their riding skills.

They have been going to a riding school in Beeches Green to become accomplished horsemen for a TV film about the legendary King Arthur.

Involved

Among well-known actors involved are Jack Watson, who lives in Biddestone, near Chippenham; Rupert (Maigret) Davies and Oliver Tobias1, who takes the name role in the commercial TV film.

Also very much involved is Mr. Bernard Ford2, who owns the carriage museum and stables.

He has been recruited as horse master in charge of 22 horses required for various battle scenes.

His niece, 21-year-old Maria Tolwinska, has also been riding, and acting as serving wench during filming in the West Country.

Battle

Mr Ford’s sister, Mrs. Dorothy Tolwinska, told me the horses are changed most evenings.

“If they get supposedly hurt in a battle scene, or wet in the water, the television people have to use new ones in the next scene or they would be recognised,” she said.3

Work in the 24 episodes continues until December.


1 This is probably inaccurate. As the Saxon leader, Cerdig, Rupert Davies is never seen on horseback in the series, and Oliver Tobias was already an accomplished horseman, as seen in the film, “Romance of a Horsethief.”

2 This probably refers to Ben Ford.

3 In fact, this happened on just one occasion: in “Rowena”, when horses ridden by Arthur and Kai have supposedly been stolen in an ambush, Arthur is seen riding a dark horse for the only time in the series, as well as a white horse who is never seen again in the series. There are other occasions, such as in, “The Gift of Life”, when Kai is seen riding two different horses, when he should have been on the same one throughout the episode.

Further details on the Equine stars of "Arthur of the Britons" can be found here.
TV Today 17 August 1972

This photo in this news article giving advance publicity for the series, shows the heroes wearing a prototype costume, some elements of which were abandoned before filming began. For example, Llud is never seen wearing a jacket like this in the series, and - in colour versions of this picture - Arthur and Kai are shown cross-gartered, whereas in the series, this is an element of the Saxon and Jute costumes.

costume clip

Advertising poster

Sunday, 13 August 1972 08:00 pm
This poster must have been made up after the filming of "The Penitent Invader", which took place during the second week in August.

HTV publicity 3 small

Featured scenes, left to right are from "Daughter of the King" (two scenes), "The Penitent Invader", "The Gift of Life", "Arthur is Dead", and "The Challenge."
This call sheet, kindly provided by Mrs Barbara Hatherall, establishes the date on which the two main battles scenes for The Penitent Invader were filmed: 10 August 1972.

Scenes of general melée were filmed first, at 6:30, while the main actors were in make-up. Some of the Celts and Picts were played by stuntmen; presumably they were involved in fights, or had to fall in the river.

Someone called “Maria” is listed among Arthur’s Cavalry, though there doesn’t appear to be a woman among them. This is thought to refer to Maria Tolwinska, the niece of Ben Ford, who supplied the horses.1

Artists from the Animation department, a chestpad, blood and a knife were needed to simulate Arthur’s knife wound.

Call sheet Penitent Invader 10 Aug 1972 small

For the scenes filmed at 11:00 – the fight between Rolf and the Picts – a total of 16 horses are needed. Also listed, and underlined, as if they were of high importance, are towels – presumably to dry off the extras or stuntmen who had been in the river – and brandy, which the wisdom of the time said would warm them up afterwards!

At 12:30, the scene where the abbot goes about the battlefield, blessing the dead, was filmed.

Jack Watson only took half an hour in make-up, as did Michael Gothard, but it took 45 minutes to make up Oliver Tobias; Michael Graham-Cox, and Hedley Goodall, who played the abbot, took an hour and a half.

Oliver Tobias was staying at St Mary’s House, Wrington, and was brought to the location in a taxi. Once again, George Cook supplied the catering, but for this day’s shoot, there would be about 110 people.

1 See this article from the Western Daily Press, 11 September 1972: "Back to school for King Arthur’s knights"
Meic Stevens is an acclaimed Welsh folk singer. This is a photo from 1972.

Stevens, Meic

He appears in “Arthur is Dead”, playing a Celt named Cabot, who is also Arthur’s Minstrel; in "The Gift of Life" as Ulrich's minstrel; in "Enemies and Lovers", as the minstrel who accompanies Goda, and at the end of "The Penitent Invader", when he sings for Arthur once more.

Arthur is Dead (64) Victory (14)

He was kind enough to set down a few memories.

Thanks for the letter and pictures. I’d almost forgot all that stuff, long time ago.

HTV had built an ancient village in the Forest of Dean. It was brilliantly built and the hall (Arthur’s) was real, thatched roofs etc, stockade.

It was a beautiful spot, but very muddy! The production had started off trying to look authentic, of the period (Dark Ages), but the weather wasn’t kind, so we rejected the original shoes, which were not waterproof because they were made of hessian-like cloth. We finally got leather boots which were modern. We could have done with wellies!

My hair was long and dark brown then, and they wouldn’t let us shave.

Patrick Dromgoole was the producer, and they hired actors who were quite well known like Hillary Dwyer, Brian Blessed etc. We all stayed in the Unicorn Hotel, Bristol. 1

Anyway, Oliver Tobias was an up and coming actor; good-looking. Some of the others had been members of the Old Vic, Royal Shakespeare Company, RADA, etc.

It was a bit of a soap really – a historical soap!

The instrument I played was a mandolin, disguised as a Welsh crwth. I remember quite well, I did it myself. I also wrote the lyrics of the songs.

Aftermath (8)

In one of the pictures, I am playing a Saxon, and the instrument is a dud, just a board with ordinary ‘strings strings.’ I recorded the musical bits (songs) in a studio in Bristol, and mimed.

Celebration (11)

It was a wig I was wearing as Athel’s minstrel. 2

Magic (3)

Anyway, can’t remember much more, it’s pretty boring on a film set in the middle of nowhere! Sometimes we’d walk (me and some of the actors) down this earthen track about a mile or two to the road, where lay a country pub. We were in there one afternoon, playing darts, when some American tourists came in to find half a dozen Celtic warriors playing darts and a pile of swords and spears in the corner. They didn’t make any comment, but left rather hurriedly.

1 Call sheets 35 and 36 show Clive Revill being collected from the Unicorn.
2 This instrument seems to be the one Meic Stevens described as a dud. The one he plays as Ulrich’s Saxon minstrel looks like the same one he uses when working for Arthur, with a bit of added fur!
This article, courtesy of composer, Paul Lewis, from an unknown publication - probably a paper produced for the Bristol area - describes how Oliver Tobias was injured by a spear while shooting the episode, "The Challenge."

The End Column

Extremely mortifying for King Arthur

It wouldn’t have done for Tennyson. King Arthur would never have been put in such a mortifying position.

But television is a different matter. Which explains why a hero of chivalry had his wounds treated by the National Health Service yesterday.

King Arthur, played by actor Oliver Tobias, was filming a scene for a Harlech TV series at Compton Dando, Somerset.

As he fought a desperate duel with the war lord Kai – played by Michael Gothard – Kai aimed a spear thrust at Arthur’s head. The king parried with his shield, but slipped and the spear cut open the back of his head.

The Master of Camelot was carried in an ambulance from the field of conflict.

“I can’t understand it,” said the crestfallen champion at Bristol Infirmary later. “I must have parried a thousand blows during the filming.”

Producer Peter Miller, said “We take every precaution, but this is supposed to be a fight to the death, and it has to look good. Obviously there is some risk.

We will have to film the last piece again. At the moment we have the wrong man winning.”


There has been some use of artistic license in the article. Arthur should not have been referred to as "King", nor Kai as a "war lord." Also, according to Oliver Tobias, it was not Michael Gothard (playing Kai) who threw the spear which he failed to dodge, but a javelin expert who had been brought in for the shoot.

What is true is that Oliver was hospitalised, and the article plays down the seriousness of the injury he sustained. At a meeting with fans in 2010, Oliver Tobias said of the accident: “When it hit me, it was like a ship running aground.”

Though - according to cameraman Roger Pearce - the spearhead was very hard rubber, and not metal, it was nevertheless very dangerous with the weight of the huge spear behind it, and being hit was no laughing matter. Oliver was knocked unconscious. He needed quite a few stitches, and time away from filming to recover, though he returned to work as soon as he was able to.


The End Column small

Injury to Oliver Tobias

Thursday, 13 July 1972 05:00 pm
Oliver Tobias was injured while filming “The Challenge.” The exact date of the injury is not known, but a feature in Western Daily Press on 19 July 1972 states that it was during the previous week. At a fan meeting in 2010, Oliver described the incident:

“Christ I’m lucky to be here – I nearly died during filming.”

For the sequence where Arthur had to parry spears with his shield, they had a champion javelin thrower from Bristol University standing beside the camera, hurling spears at Oliver. He thought he was young and athletic enough to jump out of the way in time, but on one occasion he didn’t make it. A spear glanced off the inside of his shield instead of the outside, and hit him on the back of the head.

“When it hit me, it was like a ship running aground.”

He remembers Michael holding his head in his lap while they were waiting for the ambulance, and waking up in Bristol Infirmary, thinking he’d died and gone to heaven, and that the very pretty nurse bending over him with a gold cross dangling from her neck was an angel. He remembers being out of action for a fortnight with concussion.

“You feel terrible and can’t focus on anything.”


Producer, Patrick Dromgoole was very worried about the injury to his star:

“Oliver's spear injury terrified the life out of us, and might have been quite serious although he tended to play it down and got out of hospital and back to work as fast as he possibly could.”


Cameraman Roger Pearce was rather more sanguine:

“I have a vague memory of Ollie being injured. I think it was late afternoon and the result of a spear being thrown; it would not have been metal but a solid rubber tipped one. But with the weight of the wooden shaft behind it, it could still wound. I seem to remember Ollie was taken off by ambulance to be checked over and there may have been a few stitches to boot! Was filming halted? No, just rearrange the call sheet and press on!”


And in the Western Daily Press, the incident was played down:

“In a battle scene shot in Compton Dando last week Arthur was clobbered in the back of the head by a spear. Celtic remedies for the wound were dismissed and Oliver Tobias spent two days in the Bristol Royal Infirmary recovering. Arthur was soon back in charge of his warriors, and next time the battle scene was shot he won.”
In July 1972, composer, Paul Lewis was briefed to compose the score for "Arthur of the Britons." He remembers his experiences well.

One afternoon in 1972, Executive Producer Patrick Dromgoole rang me and asked me to be in his office the following morning [3 July 1972], so I got up very early and drove across the south of England to Bristol with no idea why Patrick wanted to see me. While I was waiting in HTV's reception area the commissionaire mentioned that they were making a series about King Arthur.

A Celtic-style melody immediately sprang, fully formed, into my head; I took an envelope out of my pocket and wrote the tune on the back of it. The melody became The Fair Rowena, and I still have the envelope.

Envelope small

I was asked by Producer Peter Miller to compose a library of music to cover every possible eventuality, including battles on foot and on horseback, children playing and dramatic chords, for Arthur of the Britons, the series.

Luckily, having also been an archaeologist with a special interest in the medieval, I knew a lot about the period, for nothing had been shot1 and only two scripts had been written. I didn't even know what the lead actors looked like! I discussed with the producers the various situations that music would have to cover and thereafter used my imagination and historical sensibilities to gauge the musical style, embarking upon the composing of a score that is considerably more terse, energetic and astringent than my music is wont to be, in order to reflect the barbarity of the age.

I also orchestrated Elmer Bernstein's Title Theme from his pencil sketches, ignoring his suggestion to use a bass guitar. (I think he was confusing the West of England where the series was filmed with the Wild West of America!)2

I remember the intensity of composing so much music and scoring it for orchestra in such a short time, working every day from six in the morning till midnight and often one the following morning. I still have Arthur dreams: another series is going to be made and I'm back in Bristol to see the shoot and talk about more music ... Strange really - it's not as if I've done nothing exciting ever since!

I do it all. I always compose in pencil, orchestrate - (the sound of the orchestra is in my head as I compose) - and finally conduct the orchestra and produce the recording sessions. The only thing I delegated was the copying out of the parts from my orchestral score for the individual musicians: I employed had a professional copyist.

I never underestimate the importance of the viewer; after all it is for you as much as for the director or even myself that I have composed so much TV music. I wrote many years ago: "I have never regarded television as a lowest-common-denominator medium, or indeed as the poor relation of cinema, but have always regarded as a challenge and an honour the opportunity to compose the best possible music for the largest possible audience."

I could have said "the best possible music that time allows" … The timing was very tight indeed. From briefing, I had only 25 days to compose and orchestrate 80 minutes of music, mostly for full orchestra, before a 3-day dash to Brussels for two days recording with what was basically the National Symphony Orchestra of Belgium3 on a day off. And all on a budget of £3,000!

At the first session, on the evening of 28th July, we recorded the Celtic homestead music, including the recorder and harp piece I jotted down in HTV reception.

The next day there were two four-hour full orchestral sessions; the orchestra was superb, and Studio Fonior and its recording engineer Walter Coussement were magnificent. No re-mixing of any sort was required.

Arthur finished off a love affair with a Russian artist who complained that I hadn't told her I loved her for two weeks – “I HAVE been rather busy” was my reply - and made way for a love affair with a Chinese art student who was more understanding!

Paul & Hiang 1973-4
Paul Lewis with Chinese art student, Hiang

I took the music tapes to HTV the following week. To my surprise and delight, Oliver Tobias sat with us and listened to the entire score. Not only was he a lovely man, but I had never had a star take such an interest in the music before, and I haven't ever since.

A week later I was asked for a further 20 minutes of music, mostly variations on Bernstein's theme, and had a week to compose those before dashing back to Belgium!

A composer's responsibility is huge: the right music can make a film, the wrong music can ruin it. We also have to thank the Arthur of the Britons film editors. I had composed a large suite of music – themes, underscores, action music etc. After I had shown the editors how to score a couple of episodes – how to use the music, in other words – they did the rest without me and all did a wonderful job.

Some of them soon found favourite pieces and used them repeatedly; one actually reversed the tape and played a music cue backwards. It was a long sequence of sustained string tremolos punctuated by drumbeats, rising in pitch and intensity to a big climax. There was a fight in the mud which got slower and slower until the combatants dropped from exhaustion, so editor Alex Kirby played the music backwards so that it gradually sagged away to nothing! So resourceful, and the joke is I never noticed! So much grunting, clashing of weapons and muddy splodgy sounds!

The first time I saw a photo of the three lead actors was August 1972, a couple of weeks after I recorded the music. Luckily, they matched the picture I had in my mind as I composed!

Paul Lewis

Paul Lewis

1 Filming was scheduled to begin during June, and Director Peter Sasdy remembers that it started on time. Also, a news article which mentions an injury sustained by Oliver Tobias while filming "The Challenge" pins the filming of that particular episode – the third to be filmed - to the second week in July. It therefore seems likely that much of the first episode, "Arthur is Dead", was actually filmed during the last week in June, prior to Paul Lewis' meeting with Patrick Dromgoole. However, it was far from complete, which might explain why he wasn't shown the footage.

2 It was suggested that the fact that “Arthur of the Britons” was partly financed by a company which produced many Spaghetti Westerns - Heritage Enterprises of New York - might have helped get Elmer Bernstein on board to do the theme. Paul Lewis replied: “Indeed you’re right … When Elmer sent me the short score (a detailed sketch) of his theme to orchestrate … I said straight away to the English producers that it sounded like a Western. “You should see our opening film” was Executive Producer Patrick Dromgoole’s only response. (He had a very dry sense of humour).

Years later, Producer Peter Miller told me it was an unused theme Elmer wrote for a Western, that Heritage had knocking around in a drawer! So Elmer didn’t write it specially after all. What he was paid, if anything, I never asked and was never told.

Of the Bernstein theme, Paul said, “it was rousing but totally unsuitable. After I recorded my incidental music I was put to work again to write some tracks based on Elmer’s theme. In the first, “Apotheosis”, I attempted to take the theme as far from its origins as its opening phrase would allow, hoping that this would become the opening title music, but as you know it didn’t! Actually … what I really wanted was for the opening section of track 8, now called “Kai the Saxon”, to be the theme tune, and not use Elmer’s at all! Should this sound like sour grapes, I should reiterate that I appreciate all the qualities of EB’s tune – except its cowboyishness!!!

3 For contractual reasons, Paul invented a name for the orchestra - “The Belgian Studio Symphony Orchestra” – for use on the CD.

The incidental music, beautifully written and orchestrated for the series by Paul Lewis, was released on CD in Summer 2013, and is available here.
This fascinating glimpse into the early planning stages of "Arthur of the Britons" was kindly supplied by Paul Lewis, who preserved the article.

HTV to spend £1/2 m on King Arthur series

HTV West is to spend more than £500,000 one a new adventure series, a 24-part saga devoted to the exploits of King Arthur.

The story of the West Country’s own legendary hero will be filmed on the locations actually associated with Arthur, among them Cadbury Camp, the reputed site of Camelot, and holy Glastonbury.

Filming will begin in June.

“This is a very exciting project by any standards and reflects our confidence in the production team, led by Patrick Dromgoole, we have created at Bristol,” said managing director Tony Gorard last week.

The series will be done by the same team who produced the 13-part series, Pretenders, and the play Thick as Thieves, which was the winner of the Royal Television Society’s “Pye Oscar” as the best regional production of the year.

HTV has found an American distributor, Heritage Enterprises, for the new series. Mr Arthur Steloff, of Heritage, said, “There is enormous interest in a programme based on King Arthur and I am confident we can achieve world-wide sales.”

Lord Harlech, Chairman of HTV said, “The series will be as historically authentic as we can make it. Arthur was a young and powerful fighter who fought savagely and successfully to defend the remnants of Roman Britain against the invading Saxons.”

“We are tearing up the cosy Victorian water-colour picture of Arthur and showing instead the hard tough cavalry leader he must really have been,” he added.

The series will show how Arthur moulded the splintered British tribes into the force that repelled barbarian invaders bent on conquest, and moulded still more – the shape of a kingdom to come.

The role of Arthur will be played by Oliver Tobias, star of the London production of Hair. Michael Gothard, well-known for his appearance in The Last Valley and in Ken Russell’s The Devils plays Kai, a loyal follower of the King.

Jack Watson who starred in Pretenders is cast as Ludd The Silver Handed, a powerful Celtic warrior who rides as Arthur’s right hand. Merlin will be played by Maurice Evans.

Peter Miller is the producer and his team includes Roy Baird, the executive producer for Women In Love, Henry VIII and If.

Writers engaged include Terence Feely, Robert Banks Stewart, Jack Seddon, David Purcell, Stuart Douglas and Bob Baker and Dave Martin the Bristol playwrights responsible for both Pretender and Thick As Thieves.


It is interesting that at this stage, they were still referring to Arthur as "King Arthur", though he is never referred to as such in the series. Also interesting is the fact that nowhere is it stated that the series is for children, though in the UK, it was shown late afternoon, when children would be watching after school.

Early plans to film at sites connected with the little we know, or think we know, of the historical Arthur - including Cadbury Camp and Glastonbury - must have been abandoned at an early stage.

Also abandoned was Merlin, whom the article says was to be played by Maurice Evans - Dr Zaius in "Planet of the Apes"(1968). As Patrick Dromgoole has said: "It was difficult to stick to a realistic theme of an available gang of pro-British professional soldiers available where needed, without losing the mystical aspects of Merlin."

£500,000 was a great deal of money to spend on such a series at the time, so it isn't surprising that selling it to foreign networks was a high priority. This plan came to fruition, with "Arthur of the Britons" being shown, in various forms, sometimes under a different name, and either dubbed or subtitled, in France ("Arthur, Roi des Celtes"), Germany ("Konig Arthur"), Spain ("Arturo de Bretaña"), many Eastern European countries, Australia, the USA ("King Arthur") and South America ("El Rey de los Guerreros").



TV Today 15 June 1972 small

Early drawing

Thursday, 1 June 1972 02:00 pm
HTV publicity 1 small

This early piece of artwork was preserved by the series' composer, Paul Lewis. It appears to have been produced before filming began, though clearly the main characters had been cast. Also, it had already been decided that Arthur should ride a white horse, and the font used in the series had been designed.

Arthur is seen carrying a shield of a type he only uses in the first episode - a round shield with a boss, which he later identifies as being of Saxon design. Also, we never see a Saxon longboat as shown in the poster - in full sail - in the series.

The picture of Kai - with a stubbly beard, which he doesn't wear in "Arthur of the Britons" - must have been drawn from stills of Michael Gothard playing Hansen in "The Last Valley", with which the producers were familiar.

The Last Valley 16
Michael Gothard as Hansen
Patrick Dromgoole, the Executive Producer of "Arthur of the Britons", was kind enough to answer some questions about the show. Here is what he remembered.

Arthur: a fresh take on the legend

You ask where the idea to do a realistic series about Arthur came from – I think probably Geoffrey Ashe the historian was one of our main influences. I read his books before we set about putting it together and although I was working with an American co-producer who wanted shining armour and galloping horses along with the Malory version, I stuck to my guns and insisted we would have something more original if we set it where it belonged – in the 5th century with Arthur, as a Dux Bellorum but not as an actual king. That's actually why we called it "Arthur of the Britons" – when it went out in America they renamed it "King Arthur", despite the fact none of the stories bore the title out.

We tried to take a lot of the main incidents from the romantic history of Arthur and turn them into realistic occurrences that could have created a myth. You may remember that the myth of Arthur being the only person who could pull a sword from a stone was re-interpreted in our version as his inviting all the competing and disputing chiefs and kings to pull a sword from under a huge rock and then persuading them all to push the rock while he pulled it out himself – neatly emphasising his point that they must all band together to keep the Saxons at bay. Corin was an echo of the evil Mordred, underlined by the choice of his father’s name. The jealousy of Arthur and Kai over Eithna is a common dramatic triangle, as in the original Malory.

It was difficult to stick to a realistic theme of an available gang of pro-British professional soldiers available where needed, without losing the mystical aspects of Merlin.

Scripting

Putting the brief together for the writers would have been done by myself and Peter Miller the producer, after a great deal of discussion. Ideas grow in lengthy conversations with authors.

The scripts were not written before filming started. We had enough to start filming, but made a lot of changes according to the performances of the actors and what seemed to make a successful episode as we went along.

Characterisation would have been maintained by the editing of the series in Peter Miller’s office and in mine, and I think most of the episodes fitted in pretty well. Any leader at any time will be likely to rival President Bush in his use of the phrase "for the greater good" and this might well have been Arthur’s justification when putting Kai at risk. [In the episode, "In Common Cause."]

The Actors

Oliver was a good friend, and a splendid star to work with.1 I had seen Michael in "The Last Valley"; he was an artist of high standards. Jack Watson was the most cooperative man you could ever wish to work with. Brian Blessed I knew well.

Practicalities

Most of our costumes were made by our own wardrobe department, and although some were hired, probably from Berman’s most of them were made to our requirements; nearly all our photographs were taken by a staff photographer.

Most of the accommodation found for the actors would have been in Bristol. They would have stayed in hotels or indeed apartments leased for them for the duration. I don’t think anyone has ever spent the night in the location caravan. Not officially anyway.

Filming

We shot the episodes out of sequence, and the B unit would have been working on any filming or re-filming necessary from previous or future episodes as well as on the episode currently being filmed by the A unit.

Filming all the episodes of Rowena and Yorath would probably have been "bunched", as a result of the artists’ availability. Gila [von Weitershausen] was only available for a limited time, as far as I can remember; that may well have influenced our looking elsewhere. [for new love interest: Catherine Schell as Benedicta in "A Girl from Rome.”]

I think any of those directing could have handled any of the episodes – I don’t think we chose directors on any grounds other than availability once we had settled on our teams.

As far as I can remember there was a break between the two series, and certainly the long house that we built and used was adapted for a number of different episodes.

[In the episodes filmed later on] the village was the same, but in deference to their architectural taste we shot it from two different points of view in long shot according to whether it was Jute, Saxon etc. or Brit – the Germans favoured, as far as I can remember, a rather longer roof than the Brits did. I believe Brandreth’s camp [in "Go Warily"] was in the Blackdown Hills.

Incidents

Funny stories – well. I don't remember many. Oliver's spear injury terrified the life out of us, and might have been quite serious although he tended to play it down and got out of hospital and back to work as fast as he possibly could. One particularly touching scene I remember was where Gila von Weitershausen was emphasising her maidenhood in a love scene when we had to stop shooting because her baby started squalling in the background.

At the risk of sounding cruel, one of my happiest memories is of a particularly pompous German actor who was taking part2 (mainly because of the co-production arrangements) who usually spent an incredibly long time in make up and one occasion after keeping us waiting a long while, arrived looking quite splendid and fell flat on his face in the mud. We lost even more time as a result while his costume, make up and persona were repaired, but it was worth it.

Dubbing

When the series was sold to a new market the dubbing would be left to them – or indeed, the subtitling, if that was what they preferred. The German market was a slightly different situation as we were working in co-production with them, and some moments were actually filmed in German as well as English.

Tales not told

In the manner of our kind we probably hoped for another series – and of course we were in a good position to proceed from where we left off. But there was never a third, fourth, fifth series made simply because the competitive difficulty of scheduling one drove the series out of existence. Dozens of scenes must have ended up on the cutting room floor, but I gravely doubt if any record of them remains.

~~

1 In a magazine interview, Patrick was to say of Oliver: "He has about him an atmosphere of brooding power. He is dangerously quick in his movements, an expert horseman and sword fighter, with the added qualities of charm, humour and wit. If we'd searched the world we couldn't have found a better actor to play King Arthur."

2 This was presumably either have been Georg Marischka, who played Yorath the Jute in a number of epsiodes, or Ferdie Mayne, who played the Greek trader in "Some Saxon Women."

Profile

Arthur of the Britons

August 2015

S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
9101112131415
161718 19202122
23242526272829
3031     

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Monday, 23 October 2017 06:18 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios