Julian Fellowes’ finest moment as an actor was playing Jerry, one of the hated Hullabaloos, in the BBC adaptation of Arthur Ransome’s book Coot Club, or that is how I’d cast my vote. He stood on the bows of the Margoletta, as she motored at speed towards the camera, relishing every moment as the leader of the callous and nouveau-riche baddies of the Norfolk Broads. He did so, wearing the most revolting mustache.
Julian was flanked on one side by the incredibly tall glamorous actors, John Harding and Sarah Crowden, and on the other by David Timson and Angela Curran who, it has to be said, are both on the short side.
Descending into the cabin of the Margoletta, and seeing them altogether in their fabulous 1930’s boating costumes was breathtaking and comic all at once. On the first day they were called, the Hullabaloos were all made-up and ready for a scene that we never had time to shoot. Andrew Morgan walked along the river bank at the end of the day, in his sweatshirt and jeans, to join us in the Margoletta, apologising deeply for putting them out. But nobody minded. We’d spent a lovely afternoon, moored in the reeds near Horsey Mere, just getting to know one another. David Dimbleby had come up to see how his son Henry was doing and everyone was full of chatter.
Julian Fellowes’ time spent bobbing about on the Norfolk Broads was pivotal, because, as I understand it, the working relationship forged with our director Andrew Morgan led to great things. In 1987 Andrew cast Julian as Brother Hugo in his Si-Fi adventure series Knights of God . John Woodvine and Patrick Troughton, who were with us on the Broads appearing in Swallows and Amazons Forever!, also had leading parts in this, but it was Julian who started to write.
In about 1990 Andrew and Julian began to work together as director and writer on a number of costume dramas for the BBC. Little Sir Nicholas was followed by an adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel Little Lord Fauntleroy in 1994/5. We had lunch with them when they were filming at Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire. I was mildly surprised to find a writer on location but it was clear Julian was adding more to the story than just typed pages of the script. When he held up an antique powder- compact and started telling Andrew about the cultural history of women applying make-up in public, I realised there was obviously a creative partnership in operation. They also collaborated on a similar BBC book adaptation, producing a six-part drama serial of Mark Twain’s book, The Prince and the Pauper, which was broadcast in 1996. For this, Andrew and Julian were nominated for a BAFTA Children’s Award. The success of these period dramas established Julian as a producer and screen writer. His next hit was the movie Gosford Park, 2001 for which he was rightly awarded an Oscar. Since then the screenplays have tumbled out: Vanity Fair, Piccadilly Jim, Separate Lies, The Young Victoria, From Time to Time, Romeo and Juliet, Crocked House and Titanic for television. Did it really all start on the Margoletta, up near Horsey Mere?
I have just learnt that Sarah Crowden appeared in Downton Abbey as Lady Manville in 2012. Isn’t it wonderful how things come round? If you go to see the film, Quartet, you’ll see quite a bit of Sarah sitting at various pianos. As the credits role they show pictures of the musicians in their heyday. A beautiful black and white photograph of Sarah comes up with the caption ‘Swallows and Amazons Forever!’.
Here is the Hullabaloos song:
13 thoughts on “How Julian Fellowes and Andrew Morgan launched a creative partnership in 1983 ~”
Interesting stuff Sophie, and what ever happened to all the children from this series?
Ahh, I’m still finding out. It is the question everybody asks. What I’m not sure about it whether the children themselves – who are now of course in their forties – want the question answered. I’ve been rather hoping that they will contact me.
Julian Fellowes made an incredibly good caddish baddie, didn’t he. ‘Makin’ Whoopee’ was one of American comedian Eddie Cantor’s famous hits.
Thank you! I didn’t know about Eddie Cantor. I’ll look up his dates.
Eddie Cantor was born in 1892 and died in 1964. He appeared on Broadway, including the Ziegfeld Follies series, and also in films, the most famous of which is probably ‘Roman Scandals’ of 1933. The song ‘Makin’ Whoopee’ appeared in the 1928/29 Broadway musical ‘Whoopee’ directed by Florenz Ziegfeld. It was made into a movie in 1930. Cantor also wrote songs including, I believe, ‘Merrily We Roll Along’.
That’s interesting. May I add that to a future book?!
Certainly. I will check on the ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ bit. If you would like to know any more I can easily look it up for you.
I’m not really an expert, I just have the right books! He was a great star though; try to watch one of his films, if you can. Although from the 1930s I think the best ones wear well in modern times.
Cantor was known as ‘Ole Banjo Eyes’ due to his bulging pupils! Other songs he made famous included ‘Ma, He’s Making Eyes at Me’ and ‘Ida, Sweet as Apple Cider’. He was, I think, a wonderful comedian and personality.
‘Merrily We Roll Along’ was written in 1935 by Charles Tobias, Murray Mencher and Eddie Cantor. It became famous as the theme tune to Warner Bros ‘Merrie Melodies’ cartoon series.
You are such an expert!
He must have been fun.