The Winterfood Diaries

The Winterfood Diaries

Thursday, 1 December 1988

Trip to Shepperton Studios


Visit to Shepperton Film Studio, London.

Depart 9.00am from front of college.  Return approx. 11.15pm.

Making of ‘ERIK THE VIKING’ and ‘HENRY V’.


‘Delicate Cutters’ – Throwing Muses


A demonic skull, staring at you in evil defiance…



Today, we of the Performing Arts BTEC boarded a coach to LONDON.  I sat with Donna on the journey there.


We arrived at SHEPPERTON STUDIOS three hours later and were guided around on our first ever tour of any type of film/TV studio by the Publicity Officer (whose father had won an Oscar for design work on Indiana Jones and a BAFTA for Return of the Jedi).  We were taken to the set of ERIK THE VIKING, and into the castle of the chief villain, played by John Cleese.  As we arrived, Terry Jones was there, wrapping up a scene.  He went off and Cleese came over to talk to us, telling us that he was very sorry to say they’d just finished shooting.  He is amazingly tall.  He’s huge.  He’s ginormous!


The castle set was amazing, full of corpses and skeletons hanging from the ceiling.  There was a table full of hands and a body roasting on a skewer.  It smelled absolutely gross, too, but it was absolutely splendid.  We were then taken to the icy, frozen wastes at the foot of the castle; lots of polystyrene + very huge.


Next stop: the water tank where the boat scenes were filmed.  There was a Viking longboat in there and, apparently, they’d had to scrap a whole lot of material they’d shot because someone had dropped a paper plate into the tank and no on had noticed until the scene had been shot.  We were also taken to see bits of the absolutely massive Dragon of the North Sea.  It was absolutely MACKER; a polystyrene construction, wrapped in detailed latex rubber.


‘Good Life’ – Inner City


At lunch, we went into the Shepperton canteen, where Kat and I were mistaken for actors for some advert or other.  Quite amusing really.  Here, we bumped into one of our TS colleagues, Ron Johnson, whose dad (there with him) was working there as a stuntman.  Mr Johnson is doing crowd work on Tim Burton’s new BATMAN film at Pinewood, too.  I was quite chuffed to also discover that he had played a major role in the FGTH video, TWO TRIBES.  I’m raight chuffed!


Our tour then continued and we went onto the set of Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V, which I found rather unimpressive.  The sets looked very cheap and basic, but I imagine that when they’re fully dressed they’ll look impressive on screen.  Both ERIK and HENRY will be out in late 1989.


In retrospect, I don’t think any of us actually milked the occasion enough in terms of getting information about the business and the processes involved in film-making.


We finished off in a pub – The British Lion – where I was chuffed to see Simon MacCorkindale of Quatermass (1979) fame.  He’s got a skill voice.


My No.1: ‘Hail!  The White Grain’ – Death In June



Next stop was the West End, where I managed to get Donna out of a slow-moving BTEC clump, which was arsing me off!  I spent ages in VIRGIN, looking at Sol Invictus + Death In June records, but didn’t buy any.  We then went to FORBIDDEN PLANET, because I wanted Alan Moore + Dave Gibbons WATCHMEN graphic novel.  When I asked at the counter for it, the counter-man handed me a purple-covered edition.  I said, ‘That’s not it – where’s the yellow one?’

‘Oh,’ he said, ‘that cover is now out of print.  It’s a collector’s item now…’

I thought, ‘Ho-ho-ho!  Why are there copies in King’s Lynn WH SMITH then?  Hee-Hee!’

[Don’t make me cry – Ritch ‘89]


So what did I come away with?






Donna and I ate in AMERICAN BURGER in Leicester Square, where she revealed to me what her problem had been the other nite.  She said she just didn’t want us to drift.  Neither do I.


I stayed at Donna’s tonite, after a lager binge.  Jonny + Kat also stayed.



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Next time: ‘Who watches Miranda?’

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