This excellent TV 6 part serial was a real pleasure to direct.
All on film and all on location it was the length of two feature films and occupied almost a year of my life. It was written by a new and talented writer Charlie Humphries.
Sadly the producer, allocated by the BBC drama department to this production, was less sensitive to Charlie's talent and gave him a very hard time which culminated in the producer firing Charlie off his own script!!!!
Amazing and a real shame.
He then employed another writer to finish the story who arrived on location to ask me what he should write!!
The producer, who was perhaps not the brightest light on the Christmas tree, sent us out to start shooting for all six 50' minute episodes, with only one finished script - episode one, 95% of episode two and a breakdown of episode three. With 50+ people out on location working hard, frequently doing night shoots, he felt it was an unnecessary expense to have a telephone in his London flat. I was told that 'office hours' were the time to call him.
Towards the end of the filming process, I finished a night shoot at 04.30 in the morning, went back to my hotel and climbed into bed around 5.30 to try to get some sleep when I was telephoned at 09.00 (office hours) in the morning to 'discuss' the leading mans performance!!! We were shooting for the last episodes!!! Not only a little late in performance terms, as the character was already firmly established, I had only been in bed for 4 hours and to me it was the middle of the night... But then who reads shooting schedules?
Having viewed the finished version, with the Head of Drama and our 'odd' producer, the show was approved and ready for transmission. The day before the first episode broadcast I received a letter at my home from the producer to say he had decided that he did not like some bits of the production so he had personally re-cut the scenes! He had not asked me to make these changes but had simply done it himself - on the qt!
A man with no understanding or regard for the ethics of our trade. He also did not understand the process of film or a single story told over several episodes. To be fair I think he was a little overwhelmed by the size of the project. He had just received a Open University degree in English Lit or similar and I think he was trying to put the 'academic principles' he had learned into a show biz context?
It was a good production, with some very talented actors giving excellent performances. Charlie understood the world of Colin, Ann and Tracy together with their friends, enemies and the police. It moves along well and was very well received by those who were not too shocked at being presented with the reality of life as a small time villain.
If you ever get a chance it is well worth a viewing. A little before it's time perhaps, it had a very high success score amongst the viewers who did not find it too violent.
The photography by Elma Cossey is beautiful and Nigel Slater's camera operation a real pleasure to watch.