Our real lives were quite different from the impression given to the world ~

Sophie Neville in Bowness, Cumbria

Sophie Neville, Simon West, Suzanna Hamilton and Stephen Grendon in Bowness in the summer of 1973

When I see press photographs like this one I sigh with resignation. Why were our lives presented to the world thus? It was of course just because they asked us to pose and the pony and trap added interest, but the ice-creams? It must have been taken the day we went exploring Rio. Our real time off from filming was spent quite differently.

23rd June - my diary

http://www.amazon.com/Sophie-Neville/e/B005DEVKQQ/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Why did they make me take school exams, when I had the responsibility for a feature film on my shoulders?  My friends later wrote to asure me that the  exams were quite easy, but they were an added stress and a bore.

The letters, these little notes scrawled by friends at school, were a great support. It’s funny that Catherine wrote to me as Titty – none of the others did, but nicknames were a great thing, as was the fact that they were thinking of me that long summer term.

Suzanna had a blast of a day. Her diary is, as ever, quite different from mine.

23 June - Suzanna's diary

23 June - Suzanna's diary page two

One of the secrets of the film is Lesley Bennett, who played Peggy, was actually older than Kit Seymour, who played her elder sister Nancy Blackett. I don’t think it mattered in the least. Claude Whatham, Ronnie Cogan and Gareth Tandy came to Kit’s Birthday tea with the actor Ronald Fraser, who as Suzanna noted, was a little bit drunk. This can only mean he’d been drinking all day. It was a foreshadow of things to come.

Meanwhile I had more letters to reply to. My friends were wonderful, but it was up to me to keep my relationships in the best possible order. Returning to school after the filming was slightly daunting – but I had so much to catch up with that I was soon busy and fully integrated. I made a point of not talking about the film at all unless I was specifically asked. This wasn’t easy, as I was bubbling over with stories, but I knew that it wasn’t on. Almost anything that I said about ‘Swallows and Amazons’ or even the Lake District, could have been construed as braggish. I did not care to imagine the consequences of this. As it happened I didn’t have to.

4 Comments

Filed under 1973, Acting, Autobiography, Biography, Claude Whatham, Cumbria, Diary, Film, Film Cast, Film History, Lake District, Letters, Memoir, Movie, Movie stories, Sophie Neville, Suzanna Hamilton, Swallows and Amazons, truelife story

4 responses to “Our real lives were quite different from the impression given to the world ~

  1. Jill goulder

    It’s great to have your and Suzanna’s diaries side by side, day by day – love it! And our views about R Fraser are confirmed….. I can’t BEAR his patronising performance in the film. Hee hee.
    Actually, I was going to ask – what did your schoolmates think of your being in a film? I’m sure lots were thrilled and supportive, but did you get any flak?

  2. Barry Riddiford

    Thank you again. I do hope you publish a full account in some format in the future.

    • In answere to your supportive comment of 1st June ~ We have started to format these entries for an e-book – I am going to have to type up the diaries. Will everyone want them word for word – or edited extracts?

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