23 September 2009

25 years on, and all I remember about the day is baldness and chewing gum

Twenty five years ago today, Methuen published Our Masters' Voices and Granada Television began a new season of their World in Action series with the film Claptrap (which can be seen HERE).

The story of how the book came to be written, published and eventually used as the basis for a televised experiment is continuing in the Claptrap posts on this blog, and I'd been vaguely aiming at getting to to the end of it by today. But it's turned out to be a rather longer story than I'd expected and there are at least two or three more episodes that will be posted during the next week or so.

The curious thing about today is that the main things I can remember were two details in the way Ann Brennan and I reacted when we saw the film for the first time at the London offices of Granada for the press preview before the film went on air later that day.

Ann was upset by a close-up shot of her chewing gum just before going up to make her speech. She never chewed gum, didn't like the sight of people chewing gum and certainly didn't want people to think that chewing it was a normal part of her everyday behaviour.

The only reason she was chewing it was that Cicely Berry, then head of voice at the Royal Shakespeare Company, had given it her to help relax her jaw and moisten her mouth before making the speech. But that wasn't mentioned in the commentary and it was far too late to change anything before the film went out.

I experienced a similar shock about my appearance that was beyond repair. When congratulating her at the end of the speech, the camera brought the top of my head into view, revealing the beginnings of a bald patch - that has progressed a great deal further during the 25 years since then.

Apart from these two trivial details, I remember hardly anything else about what happened that day.

Given some of my posts criticising over-stated claims about the importance of body language and non-verbal communication, I find it rather depressing that, 25 years later, the only things I remember clearly about that day had to do with what we looked like, rather than anything either of us actually said in the film!

No comments: