‘Look, John! Steamer ahead!’ ~ Near disaster whilst filming ‘Swallows and Amazons’ in 1973

Ronnie Cogan having a cigarette and a drink with one of the Supporting Artistes. Terry Smith the Wardrobe Master is going below in the background. photo: Martin Neville.

It was a glorious day to film on Windermere. Conditions were perfect. My father had been asked to appear as a Extra in the scene in the film of Swallows and Amazons when the the crew of Swallow narrowly miss colliding with a steamer, that transports tourists up and down the lake, on their voyage to Wildcat Island. He was the tall dark native in a blazer and white flannels aboard the very elegant Lakeland steamer, The Tern. A lovely way to spend a sunny morning in the Lake District.

MV Tern on Windermere was built in 1890 with a steam engine, converted to diesel in the 1950s, and is still operating today.

Simon West, Suzanna Hamilton, Stephen Grendon and I were in the Swallow, which at the start of the day was attached to the camera pontoon so that Claude Whatham, our Director could capture the dialogue on film. In the script Roger is down to say, ‘Steamship on the port bow’.  I think what came out was, ‘Look John!  Over there – Steamer ahead!’

The screenplay of David Wood’s 1973 adapation of Arthur Ransome’s classic book ‘Swallows and Amazons’ set in the Lake District in 1929

My mother had been obligued to go to Bristol as she presented a weekly programme for HTV with Jan Leeming in those days, so Dad must have been in the dual role of chaperone.  A sailor with years of experience racing on the Solent he took a keen interest in all our sailing scenes.

Three men of Cumbria who were happy to have short-back-and-sides haircuts in 1973 on the deck of the MV Tern on Windermere in 1973 ~ photo: Martin Neville

And the next day… 

‘Carry on Matron’. I wonder what near disasters they had on that film.

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Filed under 1973, Acting, Arthur Ransome, Autobiography, Biography, Cinema, Claude Whatham, Cumbria, David Wood, Diary, Dinghy sailing, Film, Film Cast, Film crew, Film History, Filmaking, Lake District, Memoir, Movie, Movie stories, Richard Pilbrow, Sophie Neville, Swallows and Amazons, truelife story

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