Time Goes By -- Season Nine
Click on the Photo to go to the London Tripper Photos
Season Nine -- Taping Schedule --
Episode # 1 -- Friday, May 31st
There will also be a Retrospective Episode
Note to all the ATGB London Trippers
who attend the Tapings ...
Meg W. from Virginia, USA -- attended the May 31st Taping -- Episode # 1
Meira, USA -- attended the May 31st Taping -- Episode # 1
Here ya go- the spoilers get more detailed as you go along. The first couple things are general and I don't think give anything significant away. Read on at your own discretion.
A more detailed account of the May 31 taping:
We were let into the studio at around seven. The sets were set up so that to the audience's far left was the entryway and stairs. To the right of that was the living room/office set. To the right of that was the kitchen and the furthest right was Judith's bedroom, which has never been seen in full before (there was a glimpse in season 8 when Penny and Stephen stayed over and Jean and Lionel were squeezing into Judy's bed, but which was a different bed in this episode). Behind the kitchen set, out of our view, was Jean and Lionel's bedroom and somewhere back there was a bar set. My mom and I were seated towards the front on the right hand side, so only part of the living room and none of the entryway was visible to us, except the top of the stairs.
The audience warm up was basically the same as in the accounts from the season 8 tapings. The cast was introduced. Geoffery introduced Judi, both of whom made similar comments as in those accounts. She did add, however, along the lines that she had been in a play for a few months and neither Geoffery nor Sydney (Lotterby) had come near her the whole time, which got a laugh from the audience.
The cast in this episode consisted of Jean, Lionel, Judy, Sandy, Alistair, Harry, and a bartender. I didn't make scene by scene notes of action or dialogue but here's the basics of what happened. A few days pass over the course of the episode.
Some have said that this picks up immediately from the end of season 8. I disagree with this, though I don't think it was a large fast forward (the alternative is that it was meant to pick up immediately but continuity was way off). I disagree because, if you recall, at the end of season 8, Harry has broken his leg and given up rugby for the whole season. Well, when Harry comes into the house, his leg is not broken and he is playing a new position on his rugby team. Sandy also makes a comment about having not seen him "in ages".
Judy and Alistair are back together when the episode starts, but Judy is frustrated with Alistair's globe trotting- in his efforts to chase the big bucks and become a big player again.
Harry comes by the house to see Sandy but she and Judy are out shopping (there's a location scene with them in a shop where they find themselves looking at baby clothes, sort of wistfully). He has news- he's now a detective sergeant, he's just passed his exam, but there's something else too and despite Jean's efforts, she can't get him to spill it to her. He only tells them that it's a "do I, don't I, crossroads kind of a thing". In order to find this other piece of information out, over the course of the episode, she makes up one of her infamous stories that gets somewhat but not entirely out of hand (compared to other stories she's made up). She thinks maybe the news is that Harry wants to marry Sandy, though Lionel points out that a proposal is a question and not news.
There is a knock on the door late at night- the girls are asleep and Jean and Lionel are in bed. Jean is convinced it's Harry (detective sergeants keep odd hours, don't they) and tells Lionel to wake Sandy up. Actually though it's Alistair, back from his latest trip. He's very happy, though Sandy's not at being woken up because of it, and Judy comes down as she goes back up. The big news is that Alistair's done it- he's a big shot again, on top, and so he's ready for the big M- marriage. The subsequent exchange is along the lines of:
Judy: because you're on top again?
And she storms out of the room.
Then there's a scene with Jean and Judy in Judy's bedroom.
So now Jean is worried about Sandy (in relation to whatever Harry's other news is) and Judy. She and Lionel got their happy ending- she wants Judy and Sandy to have happy endings too.
There's a scene of Alistair at a bar. He's trying to get the bartender to understand his position. He was globe trotting and chasing the money FOR Judy, because he loves her. He's not quite understanding, though he's about to after the conversation with the bartender, that Judy doesn't care about the money and just wants him.
Harry comes again to take Sandy out and tell her his news. He tells her that he's been offered an attachment for one year with the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police). He doesn't ask Sandy to come with him, and she is clearly disappointed. They leave to get a drink, and on the way out Sandy tells Jean Harry's news and she can see how disappointed Sandy is. This leads to conversations with Lionel along the lines of "what's wrong with that boy". What struck me about Jean's reaction to this was that given how she's reacted every other time Sandy has mentioned moving out of the house, I expected her to be freaking out over the possibility of Sandy going to *Canada* for a *year*, rather than unhappy with Harry's not asking her to go. Granted, this could occur in a later episode, if Harry does ask her later. So I'm not sure if this is a flaw in character consistency or if it just shows that Jean's first instinct is Sandy's happiness over her own happiness in having her close by.
While Sandy and Harry are out, at least I think Sandy was still out, Alistair comes back saying he has a big announcement. Judy comes into the room. He starts to talk and his mobile goes off- he puts it on the floor and stomps on it. He asks Lionel for a dustbin. He holds up papers and says they are the contracts worth the big bucks, but he doesn't want them if Judy doesn't want them- he had been doing it all for her but he finally gets it. He throws them in the trash can and lights a match. At the last moment, Judy blows the match out and hugs him, accepting his proposal, at last. Jean looks thrilled (one happy ending down) and tells her so. After Alistair is out the door (he and Judy are going out to eat) Lionel tells Judy that he's happy for her too, except…he can't help but wonder whether those papers were the real contracts. Judy says it ok because the same thought crossed her mind too, but she couldn't very well go down on her hands and knees to read them and ruin the moment, but it didn't matter because somewhere in there the real Alistair managed to say the right thing. She leaves. There's one more scene finishing a joke from the first scene, but it's not important to the plot.
A few random things: they do pay attention to the clock in the kitchen. It was set to appropriate times for the scenes and when there were retakes, the clock was moved back. The clock on the microwave was not set. Lines were flubbed and scenes re-shot, but I didn't think that many times on the whole, not that I have anything to compare it to. The only time Judi appeared to be impatient was in the bedroom scene. Otherwise they all seemed relaxed and looked like they were enjoying themselves.
It was an amazing experience and I can't wait to see how much of what we saw ends up in the actual episode and if anything comes out feeling different than how I interpreted it.
Joan from the UK -- attended the June 7th Taping -- Episode # 2
PLEASE ALSO WATCH OUT FOR THE SPOILER NOTE BELOW!
Have to say I was so excited at the prospect of seeing a recording of ATGB. I'd been wanting to do this ever since I started following the series which was, in fact, shortly after the taping in February 2000.
After queuing outside the BBC at White City we were finally let into the room adjacent to the studios and then had to wait a while before being let into Studio 8. A synopsis of the episode + cast list for the evening was left on all the seats. Penny and Stephen, Mrs. Bale and Lol were appearing in addition to the usual main cast of Jean, Lionel, Judi, Sandy and Alistair.
It was fascinating to see the set layout. The Living Room was on our left though the far end was obscured from our view. The Country House Living Room was in the centre and the Kitchen on the right. We could also just see a staircase and door on our left and the pub sandwiched between the Country House set and Kitchen.
Bobby Bragg came out to do the warm up and kept us entertained as much as the actors throughout the evening! He briefly introduced the main cast and Geoffrey spoke to the audience for a few moments; Judi also said a few words.
SPOILER - Please don't read any further if you don't want to know the plot for this episode!
We were also shown some snippets from previous episodes, including the first recording from this series, to set the scene for us. We were shown Alistair's proposal and him about to set fire to all his contracts; also Harry telling Sandy that he would be going off to Canada for a year.
The first scene took place in the Living Room. Jean is in the room and a man arrives with two dummies from the charity shop which Jean can't remember asking for, she's then at a loss as to what to do with them.
The next scene is in the pub with Lionel and Alistair that we had to watch on the monitors. Lionel arrives with his suit and hat for the wedding. The more Alistair hears about the wedding the more spaced out he becomes until finally he faints! Other people in the pub rally round and one of them suggests they should call in the paramedics! Finally Alistair is revived. The first part of the scene had to be shot again as there was something in the shot that shouldn't have been there.
Back to the Living Room and Jean is moving the dummies about. When Lionel expresses surprise about their appearance she says she is using them to determine how much floor space the wedding guests will take up (shades of the preparations for their own wedding!). Sandy and Judi arrive and Judi asks to speak to Jean alone. She gently says that she would like the wedding reception to take place at the Country House and she hoped that Jean had not already started making other plans. Naturally Jean is clearly upset.
Next there was a filmed insert with Jean and Lionel driving to Rocky's. The ensuing scene in Rocky's Living Room, discussing catering for the wedding, was hilarious, not just because of the dialogue, but because they had to do several re-takes due to Jean, Alistair, Judi and Mrs. Bale all fluffing their lines! Janet Henfrey caused the biggest laugh, when she made a mistake she looked up and said "sorry Sydney" (referring to the famed Producer, Sydney Lotterby)!! Finally the scene was complete and Philip Bretherton said "thank God for that"! Afterwards when Lionel is alone with Alistair talking about the wedding, Alistair faints again.
Back to the Living Room in Holland Park. Stephen and Penny arrive to tell everyone that they may not be able to make it to the wedding due to Stephen being in line for an OBE for his services to dentistry! The presentation will take place the week before the wedding but Penny wants to keep their social calendar free the following week in case they get any special invites, perhaps to Buckingham Palace again! This scene is also a very funny one as Stephen ends up sitting between the two dummies, making silly remarks. Penny also questions Sandy about Harry saying 'poor Sandy' when she hears that no wedding plans are in the pipeline. Lionel and Stephen finally take the dummies from the room with Stephen remarking that he hadn't swept a woman off her feet like that in years!
The first scene in the Kitchen starts with Jean preparing a meal and then with Judi discussing her concerns about Alistair's exuberance about the wedding with Jean. Alistair is having some crazy plans like hiring the London Symphony Orchestra! Judi just wants the day to be a simple affair. Moira can't get the line 'flights of fancy' out properly so they have to do a retake. Judi Dench also caused a laugh when she said afterwards did the whole kitchen move forward when I leant on it! Someone remarked that the kitchen must have been from MFI!
Finally there's another scene in the Kitchen with Jean and Lionel eating a meal together. Jean is also preparing a guest list for the wedding and admits to Lionel that she has added Harry to the list. The girls arrive and Jean asks Sandy if there has been any phone calls (thinking of Harry naturally). Sadly Sandy replies, "no".
Also in the Kitchen Jean presses Lionel about why Alistair has gone to see a Harley Street Consultant. Lionel just says it is for a small problem about his toe. When Judi Dench mentions about the problem later she says "tumb" instead of toe and breaks down into a fit of giggles. Geoffrey Palmer then tells us she has been getting that wrong all week!! Apparently he had been teasing her about it.
The last filmed insert sees Alistair looking at a street busker, putting some money in his cap and then getting very emotional. He gets in his car and cries. Incidentally the scene is filmed in the same location where 'Type for You' was set.
The last scene is back in the Living Room in Holland Park. Alistair tells Lionel that he is taking some medication prescribed for him for his wedding nerves but it seems to make him very emotional. He even breaks down crying in front of Lionel! The episode ends here.
The whole episode was very very funny and I am sure you will all love it when he comes to our screens. Hope I've remembered everything correctly, as things were getting a little blurred by the end of the evening. I've not included every detail as this report would become far too long. There was one other filmed insert that took place in the Country House conservatory but I'm not sure where it was slotted in now. I know Mary Lynn is also putting up a report about the evening so she may remember some things that I haven't. As Meira said in her report about the first taping, all the cast clearly seemed to be enjoying themselves, it was a great atmosphere!
http://www.geocities.com/televisioncity/satellite/9476/atgbindex.htm - ATGB Locations
Mary Lynn T, USA -- attended the June 7th Taping -- Episode # 2
Dear ATGB Friends: The following is a SPOILER
I know Joan has written up a briefing on ATGB for this episode, but since I've finally gotten about 8 straight hours of sleep, I thought I would put my "spin" on it.
THe BBC and DLT were nice enough to give us production seats, which meant third row, dead center. We could not have asked for better seats. And everyone in the cast, except for Harry was present. I believe it is only the second episode where Stephen & Penny and Rocky have been in the same episode, but not the same scene. We were shown several scenes from season 8, and some scenes from Season 9 episode 1. One was when Harry tells Sandy he is accepting a job as a Royal Canadian Mountie in Canada, the other is where Alistair proposes to Judy in front of Jean and Lionel. After Bobby Bragg (the warm up guy) introduced Jenny, Moira and Philip, Geoffrey came out and he was all excited about England beating Argentina in the World Cup! You could tell he was really into the sport. He thanked people for showing up to the taping rather than being in the pubs celebrating. Geoffrey asked everyone if they had seen the game and David Beckham's goal. Then he joked that the ATGB crew were a little worried about tonight's audience. "If we had lost, the audience wouldn't have a lot to laugh about." Then, Geoffrey said that they have someone in their cast that's as talented as David Beckham, she knows how to run the field, but when it comes to lines, well, she mixes those up pretty well. She's our little captain..."Judi Dench." Judi came out, thanked the audience for coming, and told us that "we really need you tonight. Thank you so much for coming." I have to say, all the cast looked just wonderful. Moira Brooker has lost a good deal of weight, and Moyra Fraser's new hairdo is very nice.
The sets set up from left to right were, the front hall, the living room, the country house living room, and Jean's kitchen. (Behind Jean's kitchen was the pub) I'm trying to remember everything...so please forgive me if it's NOT spot on. This is the best I can do.
SCENE 1 begins with with Jean opening the door to a man who is holding 2 naked mannequins. This puzzles Jean. Jean: "John - what is this?" John: "You did offer to mind these while the charity shop is being renovated." Jean :"Did I?" John: Yes..you did. Jean and John carry the mannequins into the living room. They place them on the sofa. Jean looks perplexed by these mannequins. Jean: "John...did I have a glass of wine when I said I'd watch these?" John: "Actually...three glasses" (audience laugh) Jean: "Oh...then I guess I got what I deserved." (end of scene)
SCENE 2 opens in the pub. Allistair and Lionel walk into the pub to talk about the wedding plans. (HINT - while they are doing this scene - the props dept guys are staying on the living room set. The mannequins are being placed on the living room floor, upright, and look to be having a chat. This threw me until I realized why in the next scene.) While Allistair and Lionel talk about the wedding, where Lionel will be walking Judy down the aisle, Allistair faints dead away. Lionel jumps up to assist Allistair, but Eirwen, the floor manager, calls cut because beside Philip's head in the shot is an X on the floor for the camera. Geoffrey does NOT break character., he is showing no emotion at all. Philip takes it in stride and they pick up the scene from a different angle so Philip doesn't have to faint again. The scene continues with a bus driver offering assistance, but Allistair insists he doesn't need it. He tells Lionel its happened before. It's panic attacks about the wedding. Lionel shakes his head. End of scene.
SCENE 3 - While the
mannequins are set up, Dame Judi pops onto the set and tries to squeeze
between them. It's very funny. She is laughing at herself as well. When
one of the mannequins fall onto her backside, she says "Uh...excuse
me?!" She pushes the mannequin back, and to keep it from falling,
she grabs it around the chest area and cups one of the breasts. Judi
looks embarrassed, but comes up with a great line.. "Oh...I'm ever
so sorry madam." This causes a great laugh and the stagehands
finally come out and help Judi out. Anyway - Jean is marking the floor
around the mannequins when Lionel walks in holding a suit for the
wedding. He tries to suppress his glee at finding Jean in this position.
She looks like she's been caught. Lionel: "What on earth are you
doing?" Jean: "I'm measuring to see how many people I can fit
in here for the wedding reception." Lionel: "You did that when
we got married. I helped you." Jean: "No, you were no help.
All Judy and Sandy did was muck about. I thought this would be
easier...and quieter." Jean asks Lionel to see his suit. When she
asks him to put on his top hat, he takes it out and puts it on the
mannequin. He asks the mannequins if the took the tube or a cab to get
to their home. Jean tells him he's silly. He reminds her of what she's
just been doing. At this point, Sandy comes in and sits down while Jean
is measuring the floor. Judy walks into the room and asks if she can
speak privately to Jean. Lionel says "I think I will go have a
scotch." (I found this odd since Lionel had just come from a pub in
the prior scene.) Sandy leaves hurriedly, and Judy sits down to talk to
Jean. They had to reshoot this scene because Moira stepped on Jenny's
retreat line. They reshot the scene, and Judy goes on to tell Jean that
she's like to be married in Rocky's country house. Jean looks
disillusioned. She wanted to have Judy and Allistair's wedding in her
home. Of course, she tells Judy that she can have her wedding anywhere
she likes. Judy: "You haven't been making any plans for it
anyway." Jean: "Oh...no...no." (Judith looks at the
mannequins, and the cut paper next to Jean) Judy: "What is all
this?" (Jean sinks into the couch and lays on the paper.) Jean:
(lying): "Oh....this is something Lionel's been working on."
SCENE 4 - This is an location scene. Lionel and Jean are in the car driving to the country house in Hampshire. Jean is wearing a very pretty long light blue linen shirt that a few women in the audience really like. While they are driving, Lionel knows how hurt Jean is that Judith wants the wedding in the country. They talk about it, and at the end, Lionel tells Jean that she'll need to buy a new hat. Jean's reaction is one that Lionel knows well. She is up to something.....
SCENE 5 - The country house living room. Judith is sitting in the chair, on the left, by the window. Jean and Lionel are on the sofa. Rocky walks in with Allistair and tells him that they will turn this wedding into a grand party. Allistair is flitting about...talking about the wedding plans...having fireworks, the London Symphony Orchestra., etc., etc. Judith looks horrified at the ideas he is coming up with. Jean looks smug, because she knows that sooner or later, Judith is going to want Jean to save her from this three ring circus. Since Lionel is the only one who knows about Allistair's panic attacks., and being fearful for his health, he tells interrupts Allistair and tells him to sit down. Allistair, like a little puppy, obeys Lionel, and sits on the armchair beside Judith. Both Jean and Judith find Lionel's commanding Allistair to sit down a bit odd. Rocky yells for Mrs. Bale.....by calling her a "barmy old bat." Now...during this whole scene, Philip Bretherton has screwed up his line twice, and Janet Henfrey is about to make 4-5 mistakes...in a row. At one point, Judi feels so bad for Janet, that she reaches over and pats her hand. During about the fourth retake, Philip says very loudly...."This house is haunted!" This makes everyone laugh to break the tension, and the rest of the scene with Mrs. Bale is finished. When her part ends, Bobby Bragg announces her name, and Janet Henfrey waves to the audiences and flaps her apron, which I think was actually a tea towel that had the emblem of the English World Cup Football team on it. Very with the times, Mrs. Bale. Lol comes into the room to offer Judy and Allistair congratulations...but instead says "My condolences." They all look perplexed, and Lol says "Oh...that's not the right word....then he offers his "felicitations." and stutters when he says it. (loud laugh from the audience) ...
SCENE 7 - Location shoot in Rocky's conservatory. Jean and Lionel are standing out there. Jean asks Lionel about Madge. Lionel tells her that Madge will miss the wedding because she is off on an expedition in Egypt. Jean asks Lionel why Rocky didn't go with her. Lionel replies: "He didn't think it was right to have one old fossil digging up other old fossils." Jean reminds Lionel that they are becoming fossils. They sit down and Lionel tells Jean that he knows she's still not happy about the plans for Judith's wedding. It is turning into something of a circus. Judith walks out and asks Lionel and Jean if she can sit down. She wishes that Allistair and Rocky wouldn't get so worked up about the wedding. She doesn't want all the pomp and circumstance. She wants a nice, quiet, country wedding. Jean tells Judith not to worry, Lionel will have a talk with Allistair. Lionel looks shocked and defeated. He knows Jean is going to put him right in the middle of this. Judith beams, and thanks Lionel by kissing him. As she happily leaves the conservatory, Lionel looks at Jean, shaking his head. END OF SCENE
SCENE 8 - In the country living room, Lionel and Allistair are talking about the wedding. Lionel watches Allistair getting hyper and orders Allistair to sit down, again. Allistair does, but wants to know why Lionel keeps doing this. Lionel reminds him of his panic attacks. Allistair says "Shhhh!" So Lionel leans in close to Allistair to whisper it...then realizes how uncomfortable he is this close to Allistair...and sits back. He tells him point blank that Judith doesn't want fireworks, the LSO, or 5000 people at her wedding. Alistair finally realizes that Judith should get the wedding of her dreams and says.. Allistair: "I only want Judy to have the nothing she has always dreamed of." (Laugh from audience) Allistair makes a face at Lionel like 'what did I just say?' Lionel looks at the Allistair, trying to understand what he just said. Allistair shrugs and says that a smaller wedding will be better for him because he won't have a panic attack when he sees Lionel walking Judith down the aisle. Alistair:" I will be calm. When I turn to see Judy looking so beautiful ..I know that.." AND he faints dead away on the couch! Lionel jumps up walks over to him and holds his look of concern. About 15 secs goes by, and Geoffrey leans down to Philip like he is about to kiss him. They both laugh. Sydney wants to do the scene again because he thinks part of Philip's flop was out of shot. They do the scene again, and Philip flop's perfectly. (His faints are really well done!) This time, as Lionel stands over Allistair, Geoffrey cocks his arm back like he is going to punch Philip, and Philip does the same to him. The scene is cleared, Philip gets up, and Geoffrey puts his arm around Philip. Its quite clear that Geoffrey really is fond of Philp and vice versa. END OF SCENE
After we leave the country home, we are now back in Jean's living room, where Sandy is trying to keep her cool with Penny.
SCENE 9 - Sandy is sitting in the chair by the fireplace, pouring tea for Stephen and Penny. Penny is sitting in Lionel's chair. Stephen is sitting between the two naked female mannequins on the couch. He has his arms around them, looking very content. He tells Sandy that he feels like he is back in his frat house at college. He tells her that when he was in college, he used to go out with lots of pretty girls, and that Sandy is just as pretty as those college girls. Penny is disgusted by his behavior, and also by the fact that he keeps turning around the conversation. Then Penny starts to grill Sandy about Harry. She tells Penny that he is going to Canada. Penny asks her if Harry invited her to go, and she tells Penny no. Penny then starts to feel bad for Sandy and says "Poor Sandy.." Stephen tells Sandy that Harry must not have a brain in his head if he didn't invite her to go with him. Sandy feels reassured by Stephen's words, until Penny asks her if she wanted him to ask her. I do forget her response...but it elicits another "Poor Sandy.." from Penny. As Sandy is about to tell Penny a thing or two, Lionel and Jean enter. Sandy (looking relieved): "They're home!!" Jean and Lionel see Penny and Stephen, and Jean says.. Jean: (Not thrilled) "Oh...what a lovely surprise." They chat about Judith's wedding, which Penny announces they can't go to. Stephen tells them since he is getting an OBE for Dentistry ... Penny thinks that they will now become popular and will have too many invitations to society parties. When Penny talks about the "investiture" ceremony, Eirwen, the floor manager stops the scene. Apparently, Sydney Lotterby didn't like the way she said the word, because she struggled with the pronunciation. Moyra Fraser apologizes, and they try to continue with the scene. As the scene ends, one of the best outtakes occurs. Jean asks Lionel and Stephen to take the naked mannequins out of the living room. Lionel hauls one up, but Stephen picks his up like he is carrying her in his arms. He says it's been a long time since he's carried a woman like this. Penny: "Do all men become latent perverts?!" (Huge laugh - the scene is still rolling, and Ms. Fraser sticks her tongue out at Judi - - which makes Judi laugh loudly) Moyra then realizes that her antics were part of the scene....and she apologizes. They have to do it all over again! After a brief technical mistake, they have to do it again. Judi gets up briefly, leans over Moyra and whispers something in her ear. Moyra gets the giggles. This lasts for about 10 secs, and then they finish the scene with Penny's pervert line again. (Moyra delivers it in another way, which makes the audience laugh even louder. I think you will be quite surprised by Moyra's new haircut. And Aunt Penny's tacky jewelry is no where to be seen.) END OF SCENE
SCENE 10 - This is a scene in the kitchen. Jean is standing by the countertop preparing dinner. She pats butter on top of pork chops, again. Lionel walks into the room with a tray of empty tea cups. Lionel: (sarcastically) Oh...isn't it a shame that Penny and Stephen couldn't stay for dinner?" Jean: "Yes...I'm all broken up about it." They have a conversation about the wedding, and Jean wants to know why Lionel kept ordering Allistair to sit down. Jean moves over to the sink to wipe her hands, and accidentally pushes the sink and dishwasher about a foot forward. No one notices and Judi does NOT stop the scene. Judith walks into the room and tells Jean that she needs to talk about the wedding. Jean asks what's wrong. As Judith talks about Allistairs "flights of flancy"....she stops. Moira apologizes for saying "flights of flancy." Judi proudly announces that it's okay, did you see what I did? I moved the entire kitchen counter forward!" The audience laughs because no one noticed. Sydney checks the tape, and indeed, Judi did move the entire counter forward, so they have to do the entire scene over. The continuity person comes up to Judi and fixes Jean's dishtowel just right so that it will match the last shot. They start again and Judith tells Jean that she still wants to have her wedding in the country, but that she needs Jean's assistance. She wants her mother to help her have a nice country wedding. And now, Alistair has to go to a Harley St. consultant because he has a problem with his toe. As Judith leaves, Sandy walks into the kitchen and tells Judith that she's ready to leave for their night out. Jean looks over at Lionel as if to says that she knows Lionel is keeping Allistairs "toe" problem a secret. Judith leaves and as Sandy follows, Jean calls her back into the kitchen Jean: Sandy, have their been any....calls? Sandy: You mean did Harry call? Jean: No...no...I mean any calls in general. Sandy says no and leaves the kitchen. Lionel tells Jean that he doesn't want her to start interfering in everyone's lives again. Jean tells him that she wants everyone to be as happy as they are, and she doesn't care if it is butting in. She also reminds Lionel that he is butting in by keeping Allistair's "thumb" problem a secret." Judi looks stunned...and everything is quiet for about 2 seconds. The audience knows it is a "toe" problem. Geoffrey tries to stay in character, but can't and he breaks up laughing. Judi is having fits of giggles, and now so is the audience. Judi apologizes and says that she really thought she had the line. Geoffrey says "No you didn't...and announces to everyone that Judi hasn't gotten that line right all week!" Judi then defends herself. "No...no ..you did it on purpose!" Judi looks out to the audience and pleads..."You all can't see behind the counter, but Geoffers has his hand in his pocket except for his thumb, and during that line, he was wagging his thumb at me under the counter!" Geoffrey shakes his head...but he know's he's been caught, and they all have a good laugh and the scene ends with Jean's reference to Allistair's toe problem and the hope that he doesn't faint from the pain of it at the wedding. Lionel at first is surprised to hear Jean say this...but then he smiles devishly at the thought of Alistair doing just that. (END of SCENE)
SCENE 11 - This is a location shot on Addison Ave., in front of the Type for You office. You won't know it, but for small group of us who went to the taping, before we went to the BBC, we visited Jean's home (which is now being renovated and has scaffolding all outside of it) Lionel's apartment and Type for You, which is now the Addison Ave Vet Clinic. The Prestige Imports Awning is in back of Allistair). Since Type for You is so close to Jean's home, it makes you wonder why she took all those cabs. It's literally 1 block away!! Anyway - - - Alistair is walking down the street and sees a street "busker" playing the violin. He gets very emotional over the musical piece. He puts a £20 note in his violin case. He get into his car and starts crying when he listens to the music. END OF SCENE
SCENE 12 - Jean and Lionel are eating dinner. Jean ignores Lionel and is writing things down on paper. Lionel tells her that it is very rude to write at the dinner table. Jean apologizes, but says she's just making a preliminary list of guests for Judith's wedding. Lionel asks her if she intends to tell Judith and Allistair about her guest list. She tells him it's just a preliminary thing and he asks her what name she's just written down. She tells him it's Harry. Lionel: Oh...well isn't that a coincidence? Jean: Why? Lionel: Well...Sandy will also be at the wedding. Jean: Lionel...don't be sarcastic! (There was a technical mistake here, so they do the scene over. Judi has been eating a little of the food while they reset the camera angles.) As the scene continues, the doorbell rings. Jean asks him to get the door since she is busy writing. Lionel does so grudgingly. He makes a comment about how nobody eats dinner at dinner time anymore. END OF SCENE
SCENE 13 - FINAL SCENE - Lionel and Alistair are in the living room. Alistair hopes he hasn't interrupted Lionel's dinner. Lionel lies and says no, of course not, they were finished. Allistair tells Lionel that this new drug the doctor has put him on makes him emotional. He tells him about the street musician incident where he cried over the music. It was so moving. Allistair starts to tear up. Lionel feels uneasy, but tells Allistair that he'll be fine. Jean walks in and says Hello to Allistair. He asks her what she's been doing. She says they were just eating dinner and she was writing out a "preliminary" guest list for the wedding. Allistair starts to cry. Lionel, you lied to me to protect my feelings. And Jean, my special lady...you were writing out a guest list for my wedding. Oh. .it's so beautiful!!" Allistair collapses into Jean's arms, crying. Jean looks over at Lionel, confused. He just shrugs and looks away. END OF SCENE
I hope I have not given too much away.
I have to say a very humble thank you to the BBC and DLT Entertainment for their generosity, and their kindness. We all felt so honored to be there. And it was very nice of Bobby Bragg to mention to everyone in the middle of the taping their were 8 Americans in the audience. I look forward to the next episode!
Maree W. from West Wales -- Attended the June 7th Taping -- Episode # 2
I had always planned to go to the June 14th taping way in advance. I really wanted to meet some dedicated fans of ATGB from over the pond, but when I had the chance (thanks to Mary Lynn T.) to go to the June 7th taping it was an offer I simply couldn't refuse!!.
It was a 4 hour journey from my home in West Wales to London and surprise surprise the train arrived on time. I was staying at the same hotel as Mary Lynn so it was great to meet her
Mary Lynn, Joan S. (ATGB Locations site) her husband Chris, Joni & Daryl from Ventura & I went around Holland Park to see Jean & Lionel's house, Type for you (which is a vets) & Lionel's flat. They are all in very close proximity and as Mary Lynn said its strange they didn't meet before! Lionel & Jean's house at the moment is under renovation!
We then went to White City tube stop where we met up with Mary Lynn's friend Helen and Sara eventually, as she had only just got off the plane she was little confused. There was a great queue to go into the studios but I discovered that at least three other shows were being recorded that night.
I was really looking forward to this, I had never been anywhere near a TV studios in my life, as we were ushered into Studio 8. We had seats in the center row 3! GREAT! From left to right the sets were as follows the hall, Lionel & Jean's living room, Rocky's living room, & L&J kitchen.
Bobby Bragg introduced Jenny, Philip, Moira, then Geoffrey, who took the mike, he was really excited about England beating Argentina in the world cup and then introduced Judi as the David Beckham of ATGB, our own little captain.
I have to say that I thought that everyone looked great and Geoffrey very tanned, he had just celebrated his 75th birthday on June 4th.
I didn't take any notes, I just let the whole thing wash over me. Mary Lynn's account is excellent what a memory!!. Basically the plot is Judi & Alistair are finally getting married and that Judith wants a country wedding, Alistair is suffering panic attacks! This was a really funny episode as Philip was wonderful. It was great to see all the cast Penny & Stephen, Rocky, Mrs Bale & Lol.
There were a few flubs, my favourite was when Judi moved the entire kitchen counter forward, the audience didn't really notice but it was funny to see the prop guys putting it back together again. Also when Alistair was trying to hide the panic attacks by saying he was going to the doctors for a toe problem, but Judi says thumb, Geoffrey tells the audience that Judi had not got that line right all week, but it transpires that Geoffers was wagging his thumb under the counter! It was great fun.
In all the taping took about 2 hours, of course being used to going to the theatre, it was strange to see the very stop start nature of a TV recording, and I think that this must be a difficult form of acting and everyone has to stay in character while so much is going on around them.
Bobby Bragg was an excellent host and he did mention that there were 8 Americans in the audience, I didn't mind being an honorary American that evening or next week!
from just outside of L.A. (Ventura County) -
My husband and I planned our belated honeymoon around the taping on the 7th. Yes, we really did. Even though we are only ½ hour from the studios in L.A., we flew halfway around the world to see our favorite cast and meet other dedicated fans of the show. Penny and Stephen just crack me up and seeing the entire cast (only minus Harry) was a real treat. You could tell that every actor on stage was having a marvelous time (Judi especially--what a wonderful sense of humor).
I totally agree with Maree. I also enjoyed just taking in the feeling of being there and letting "the whole thing wash over me." She couldn't have put it better. I felt that evening that we were sitting and watching people (Judi, Geoffrey, et al. who were part of our own family and it was a very warm feeling. We invite them into our homes whenever we are lucky enough to have the chance, and they make us feel welcome and that all is right with the world. That's what ATGB does for me at home, and I felt exactly the same at the taping.
Our sincere thanks go to Mary Lynn for putting this all together, for her graciousness in taking us around Holland Park as well as other shooting locations (a big thank you to Joan, for scouting these out and putting them on the web-I had my printouts in hand) and for her incredible memory of the taping. Because of her memory, as well as Joan's and Maree's, I can now say, oh yes, I remember that scene! Thanks to her also for hitting me numerous times on the shoulder (my doctor says it will heal up fairly well) when she spotted a cast member sneaking through the windowed door onto the set or behind it prior to the taping.
Truly wonderful memories and wonderful people!
Joan from the UK -- attended June 14th Taping -- Episode # 3
We had a good evening
on Friday. Trouble is it all seemed to pass too quickly. I
made a few notes but not as many as the previous weeks taping. Am hoping
Mary Lynn will put up a report, her memory is quite amazing, much better
Cindy Lou F. from the USA -- attended the June 14th Taping -- Episode # 3
Though I scribbled down notes throughout the evening, using the front and back of three envelopes which had held our tickets, there were times when I just had to stop writing and watch the action. (Not necessarily hear what was being said, mind you, because frequently what was not being said was more fun to watch than what was.) At times I would also stop to savor the experience: the pleasure of seeing Judi Dench once again, feasting my eyes on Geoffrey Palmer in person, and watching them together, both as Lionel and Jean and as "Geoffers" and "the Dame." I didn't want to be so intent on recording everything that I missed the spirit of the evening in the process.
So there are gaps in my notes and, no doubt, errors as well. I wish I was blessed with Mary Lynn's memory! So for better or for worse, here they are.
First of all I have to say that it was a totally enchanting evening and one that I will never forget. I sensed after reading impressions from the taping of two years ago that some people were a little let-down afterwards, in that their illusions had been burst in the light of reality. I admit to being a little apprehensive myself about that possibility, but can now truthfully say that it hasn't in any way detracted from the aura of reality that so many of us attribute to the series.
I found myself one of the first to enter the studio, which was huge and very impressive. It made the PBS stations at which I volunteer for their fundraisers look positively primitive. There were two large monitors hanging above the seats on either side, with four much smaller TV-size ones hanging in-between them. Though I was closer to the smaller screen, I stretched my neck to look at the large monitor to my left because it was so much nicer, not to mention visible!
Walking down the steps we followed the directions of the BBC personnel who pointed us to begin filling in the second row. I ended up in the 6th seat of that row. (The seats were stadium-style so the viewing was excellent.) Joan of UK and her husband Chris sat to my right. In front of us stretched the wonderfully familiar sets from the series: to my left was the living room of 21 St. James', in the middle was the sitting room of the country house, and to the right was the Hardcastle kitchen. Far off to the left and a bit behind the living room of 21 St. James' was the famous front door, which extended (unseen) into the hallway and up the stairs to the landing with the window behind it. (Judi made one entrance from that landing.) I couldn't believe I was seeing the real thing -- the green cookbook holder in the kitchen, the bread crockery jar, the wooden kitchen table, Lionel's famous chair, that wonderfully comfortable-looking couch, and so many other things. I felt at home with the sets as if they were all real.
Blue-folded sheets were laid across the back of every seat which listed the episode guide. We had hoped the episode would be Alistair's wedding to Judith and it was, which meant that every person we've grown to love would be in the taping at some point! That meant Rocky, Mrs. Bale, Stephen and Penny, Lol, Harry, as well as the main cast of course. I couldn't believe our luck and wondered what were the chances that we would attend a taping at which everybody appeared like that.
There was also a nice acknowledgment in the program as to our presence that evening:
* * * *
AS TIME GOES BY
"As Time Goes By" has achieved the rare distinction of being popular on both sides of the Atlantic. It is said that television does not always "travel" well but this is one situation comedy that is widely watched in the United States.
Tonight for a second time we welcome to the studio a party of American fans who watch the series on the Public Broadcasting System's stations across the United States. There fans chat among themselves on a U.S. website to discuss the series and its characters. We are delighted to have them here in the audience this evening.
Appropriately, this week's programme is a very special one. Jean Pargetter and Lionel Hardcastle found happiness and married late in life; tonight it is Alistair Deacon and Jean's daughter Judith who marry and bring another happy chapter to the series.
* * * *
Apparently that was very unusual for the BBC to write something like that.
Various crew members were dashing about on the sets, and at one point, Jenny Funnell hurried across the set as well. If we were lucky, we could see some of the cast walking in and out of the door to my left which apparently was the main door to the set. Through the glass window in the door I saw Penny once, and Philip Bretherton made more than one appearance, as well as coming into the studio and disappearing behind the curtain. At one point someone behind me (and I apologize that I don't remember who it was) tapped me on the shoulder and said she thought that was Geoffrey Palmer standing inside the studio now. Excitedly I looked and though his back was to me, I recognized his bald spot! (Sorry Geoffrey!) Even from the back I enjoyed seeing him for real. He had a light blue long-sleeve shirt on, and yes, when he turned, I saw a tie; always a tie (because Lionel is a "proper English gentleman" as Geoffrey and Judi both explained during the Q&A afterwards as to why Lionel is always wearing one).
The host of the evening was Bobby Bragg. He's a comedian and though his material was identical to what he used at the June 7th taping, according to those who attended that taping, it was all new to me and I thought he was wonderful. He kept up a running commentary that was at times hysterical, and the men in our group especially seemed to enjoy his commentary. Though I admit to tuning him out a few times because I was observing what was going on behind him on the set, he was invaluable in keeping us entertained.
Bobby introduced Jenny Funnell first, then Moira Brooker. Both looked adorable though I prefer Jenny with her short bob haircut that she had in the first several seasons. Her hair was longer than it's ever been and her figure was just as curvaceous and enviable as ever -- damn.
Geoffrey was then introduced and of course, was loudly applauded. I'm sure I was grinning from ear to ear, and eagerly taking in every detail of him. (Rumor had it that Geoffrey's wife Sally was there for part of the taping, watching from the Green Room.) Geoffrey then took the mike and without making much of a speech, introduced Judi.
Though I had met Judi twice last year after The Royal Family, I still found myself reacting as if seeing her for the first time. There's something ethereal about her. She seems so vulnerable. She was wearing beige pants, an ecru-colored linen blouse (with a plunging neckline I have to say!), and those by-now-familiar comfortable walking shoes that you frequently see her wearing in various interviews. She took the mike and thanked "Geoffers" for the introduction, and thanked us for coming. I'm afraid I don't remember much else. I must've been in another world having seen first Geoffrey Palmer in the flesh and now Judi once again.
It was now time to start the taping!
(Before Scene 1, we were shown various clips from the June 7th taping to put that evening's story-line in perspective. It really was a funny episode with Alistair's emotional spells.)
Scene 1 This scene took place in the living room of 21 St. James'. Lionel was reading the newspaper on the couch while Jean was all a-panic about how he could be so calm with the wedding coming up.
(When this scene ended, Geoffrey did not leave the set but remained sitting quietly on the couch in the dark intently looking at the newspaper as if he were reading it. He never lost character. I also noticed that right before this scene started, someone handed Geoffrey a pillow which he placed under the couch cushion next to him, presumably so when Judi sat down on it, she wouldn't be quite so low!)
Scene 2 This took place in Judith's bedroom which was actually behind the sets in front. So though it was a live taping, we had to watch it being filmed on the monitors. I believe Judith and Sandy were discussing the wedding with Judith mentioning how emotional Alistair seemed of late, almost as if he were on the verge of tears.
Scene 3 We return to the living room, Lionel still reading his newspaper on the couch. We could see Jean standing on the landing of the stairs. The phone rings and rings and of course, Lionel, who's right there on the couch reading, completely ignores it. (Why "break the habit of a lifetime" eh?) We hear Jean rushing down the stairs and as Lionel finally gets up and goes to answer the phone on the writing desk, Jean enters as well and pushes Lionel away just as he's reaching for the phone. The timing of their meeting was impeccable and Lionel gave a little hop as Jean gently shoved him out of the way.
Lionel returns to the couch and Jean comes away from the phone with a worried expression on her face. Sitting down in Lionel's chair, she reveals that the best man broke his leg. (I trust not on an exercise bicycle.) Jean suggests that Lionel be best man. Lionel remarks "But I'm giving the bride away!" They agree that it would be a bit obvious if he also was best man.
(When this scene ended, both Judi and Geoffrey remained seated on the couch in the dark. One time Judi said something to Geoffrey, who leaned forward to listen, then leaned back and laughed. As usual, he crossed his legs. They both seemed so relaxed.)
Scene 4 Unfortunately all I have under this scene in my notes is that it took place in Judith's bedroom again. Sorry! I think my lack of detail was because I was watching Judi and Geoffrey off-camera and since the scene was Judith's bedroom again, the action was going on out-of-sight anyway.
Scene 5 This scene caused the most retakes of the entire evening. I hope Mary Lynn remembers more of the dialogue that I did!
Jean and Lionel are in the kitchen. (You could see that Geoffrey was already in character. The whole time the shot was being set up, it was Lionel sitting at the table, not Geoffrey.) Jean is standing by the phone and Lionel is sitting on the right side of the table. Again my notes are sketchy because there was so much going on off-camera that I didn't want to miss that. Jean mentioned that Alistair had said something about coming "straight back." Lionel asked Jean what he meant by that. With a straight face and utmost seriousness, Jean says, "Straight can mean anything." One second passed, then two, there was total silence, then Judi cracked up, followed by Geoffrey. Then the whole audience and crew laughed, and Geoffrey looked up and said, "I wonder what Bob Larbey meant by that line??"
They did the scene again. Jean says the line, then pauses while looking at Lionel. Geoffrey loses it first this time and says, "Don't answer that!" More laughter followed by Geoffrey corpsing again and again until he reaches up with his right hand and slaps his left hand.
Even when they got the scene finally, you could tell that laughter was bubbling just below the surface. In fact I don't think they ever got the entire scene at one time. Rather, they did it several times and I thing Bobby explained that they would edit the various parts to complete the scene.
I think this particular piece of dialogue may have been preceded by Judith coming in to the kitchen to discuss the possibility of Rocky being best man. Lionel is aghast at the idea, saying, "he's halfway round the bend!" but Jean and Judith think it's a wonderful idea. Jean intends to call Rocky but Judith persuades her that the question should come from Alistair.
Scene 6 Alistair, Jean and Lionel are in the living room, with Alistair sitting in Lionel's chair. Jean asks Alistair about his toe and somehow it's revealed (by Lionel) that that was just a "harmless deception" to hide the true reason for him going -- he was having panic attacks. Judith comes in and sits on the arm of the couch next to Jean (who is sitting on the couch cushion that has the pillow underneath). Alistair reveals that he's taking medication that makes him swoon and emotional; and he wants to cry all the time. Judith remarks that she told Sandy she thought he looked like he was going to cry at any time. Alistair says that he's gotten over it and to prove it, looked at some puppy pictures (or something) and didn't get emotional over it. Somehow they get to discussing any other possible side effects of the medication, and Jean in particular is anxious about a possible unspoken side effect which Alistair admits is a "remote" possibility. As what that possible side effect is sinks in, Jean falls back against the couch and puts her right arm on Judith's lap who gently strokes it.
This scene was retaken more than once.
(After this scene, Judi and Geoffrey once again remained seated on the couch in the dark. They talked quietly while Geoffrey dangled a set of keys the whole time (they must've been in his pocket because I don't remember them being part of the scene). Judi also continued leafing through a copy of Interior magazine, looking through it in the darkness as intently as Geoffrey looked at the newspaper after the very first scene. It was on the coffee table and she had used it as a prop during the scene.
Then while the next scene was being taped, which included Rocky and Mrs. Bale, Geoffrey and Judi sat there in the dark at either end of the sofa. Geoffrey sprawled on the right side (from my viewpoint that is), resting both of his feet up on the coffee table, while Judi leaned back on the other end, with one foot up on the coffee table and the other tucked up on the couch. They both occasionally watched the TV monitor that was facing them, laughing with the rest of us at what was going on in the current scene.)
Scene 7 Rocky makes his first appearance, looking positively dishy in a scarlet military jacket, and black pants with a red stripe running down the outside leg. (In fact, it looked a lot like the uniform the young Lionel wore during the taping down at the country house, minus the waist sash.) He was going over his best man's speech with Mrs. Bale, and I couldn't help but laugh as I recognized the parrot joke once again! He asks Mrs. Bale if he looks alright and she smiles and says he looks quite dashing.
Lol knocks and enters slightly saying "the whole thing is off." Rocky asks "what, the wedding??" Lol says no, wearing his army uniform, then fully enters the room showing an hysterically small army jacket that he can't get nearly buttoned. He agrees to wear his Sunday best. He was supposed to say his mother is almost "finished knitting" something but comes out with "fittished knittish knittish fittished " before smacking his lips and cracking up. It came out the wrong way so effortlessly I think he was even surprised. They obviously retook that scene.
(After that scene was over, Frank (Rocky) crossed set to the living room as Judi crossed set on her way to the kitchen for Scene 8. They stopped to give each other a tender hug and Frank kissed Judi on the cheek. I hadn't noticed when Geoffrey got up and left. Frank then sat down in Lionel's chair.)
Scene 8 This took place in the kitchen and the only notes I have about this scene is that Judi goofed on the second take, saying, "I'm in the wrong place" meaning where she was supposed to be standing. She was holding a glass of wine and while the scene was being reset for another take, the camera caught Judi taking a sip from her glass. As she did so, she saw that she was on the monitor, stopped in mid-drink, put the glass down and grinned sheepishly, which only made us laugh more.
Scene 9 This was the first videotaped segment shown that evening (or "VT" as Bobby called it). It's the day of the wedding and Lol sees the wedding car pull up at the county house and quickly sets of a rocket on the front lawn. It's the only firework that Rocky's allowed to set off he explains. Lol's in his Sunday best, but with an outlandishly loud-colored vest. Jean sees Rocky in his military uniform and says he looks "marvelous."
Scene 10 (This scene took place in the sitting room of the country house. Before taping began, in the darkness a little old lady in a fancy hat came in and sat in a chair behind the door. Judi came in and crossed set, and when she saw the woman, went over to her smiling and gently squeezed her hand in greeting, then exited through the sitting room door. It was our first glimpse of Judi's wedding dress (as mother of the bride this time, that is) and she looked beautiful.)
The little old lady in a fancy hat turns out to be Mrs. Twillet. We all thought she was the "woman who came in to do twice a week" as Rocky explained to Mike Barbosa when Mike was checking out the country house for a potential location spot. But that role at least was never mentioned by anyone. Instead, as Mrs. Bale explained, she was the "flower watcher," a role whose origin no one could remember, but it was tradition.
Then, ladies take note, Geoffrey Palmer walked in, dressed in a black morning coat, with dark gray pinstriped pants, light gray double-breasted waistcoat and white shirt. My heart stood still. He looked absolutely gorgeous.
Jean entered much later, looking stunning in her dress and layered hat. At first I swore the dress was what Jean wore to her own wedding but was quickly talked out of that. It was the same color as her wedding dress (either pinky-beige, or beigy-pinky, or stone) and sort of the same style -- a knee length tunic top over another knee-length dress. I'll defer to Mary Lynn for the description of that.
There's a funny scene with Mrs. Twillet when Mrs. Bale announces to her that "not one petal has fallen from the flowers." Her job over, Mrs. Twillet stands up, goes to Alistair as the bridegroom and puts two fingers on his forehead and says something. Alistair gives that great confusing look of his and says afterwards, "What was that all about?"
What follows was one of my favorite scenes. Alistair and Lionel are sitting on the couch and Jean is sitting across from them on a chair. Alistair is reassuring them that his panic attacks are over, that he looked at some more pictures of kittens and puppies and didn't go to pieces, and was ready to get married. He then goes to stand up but can't. He says his legs are paralyzed; he can't move them; what's he going to do?? At this point Jean's had enough. She stands up, jabs the air with the second finger of her left hand, confronts Alistair with this nonsense, and orders him to "just get to the Church and marry my daughter!" It was magnificent. Unfortunately, the audience started to clap which Bobby had ordered us not to do under any circumstances. I literally had to sit on my hands so I wouldn't do it. Judi was great. Petite though she is, it was one of those instances where she appeared ten feet tall by sheer presence alone. Alistair stood up in shock, all of a sudden able to move, and marveled at Jean's "tough love" stance, asking where she learned it. She snapped back something about "long before it had a professional name!" But how we laughed when Alistair left the room, shuffling out like his legs were dead weight, though he protested that he was fine now.
There was a long pause after that scene and I rather hoped they were going to retake it. Judi remained seated in the chair by herself while discussions ensued. I had an unobstructed view of her from my seat and I could only marvel at how exquisitely beautiful she looked. Not only did she look stunning in that hat, there was something about her face, with its soft features and beautiful eyes that was so compelling.
Unfortunately they didn't retake the scene.
I believe the next scene is Lionel standing in the sitting room going over his speech, which also includes the parrot joke! (It's like Bob Larbey threw in all these little details from the previous episodes.) He's by himself and his back is turned when Judith enters the room. Lionel turns and says, catching his breath, "Oh, you're here." Judith says quietly, "I'm ready now." Lionel goes over to her and gently says, "Your father would be very proud of you." Slight pause. "I'm very proud of you as well." I almost cried as they walked out together. Judith looked beautiful in a very becoming off-white suit and skirt with a matching hat. Conservative (after all, this was her 3rd marriage), but lovely.
(While the next scene was being prepared, Paul Chapman and Moyra Fraser entered the set and milled about. I was tickled to see them. Paul looked so handsome in his morning coat.)
Scene 11 This was another VT segment of the actual wedding. On the set, Geoffrey stood to the far right and Judi to the far left. (By the way, Judi's shoes looked dreadful. They were mules, pointed at the toes like an arrow and looked miserably uncomfortable. When she walked across the set, she virtually tiptoed so she wouldn't fall. I don't know why she didn't insist on wearing other shoes.)
The wedding took place in the country church with the same vicar who married Madge and Rocky. Lionel walked Judith down the aisle and the pride on his face was touching. Alistair was beaming. Stephen happened to be sitting next to a little boy who was playing a hand-held video game. Giving the boy a stern look, the boy stops playing.
When the vicar asks who gives this woman in marriage, Lionel, who had returned to stand by Judith's side, proudly says, "I do." He continues standing there until the vicar nods for him to return to his seat. As he is about to sit down, Jean quickly reaches over and for a moment I swear I thought she goosed him! He stands up, a bit shocked at Jean's movement, and we see that Jean in fact had reached over to save his top hat from being sat upon. (Unfortunately, Geoffrey never actually put on the top hat.)
Rocky's caught off-guard when the ring is needed, so there's a funny scene of him feeling around in all of his pockets for where the ring is. When he pulls out a white handkerchief, all these white mints clatter to the stone floor. He's embarrassed but the ring is ultimately found.
I thought Alistair would hesitate before saying "I do," but he said it without a pause. There was another shot of Stephen, who is now playing with the video game himself!
Scene 12 This took a long time to set up, not least because about 20 extras entered the studio and had to be placed around the sitting room of the country house where the reception took place. I had a shock when I saw that none of that background chatter of guests is real. It's all pre-taped and piped into the studio. That meant that the background murmur at Rocky and Madge's reception, as well as Lionel and Jean's was not real either, and Penny and Stephen's anniversary party for that matter. I suppose doing it that way ensues that the volume will never drown out the live actor's voices.
(I also saw Judi leave the set and go over to the darkened part on the left where she took off her hat and a hairdresser touched up her hair, as she wouldn't be wearing the hat in the reception scene.)
Because there were so many people in this scene and at least two cameras were directly in front of us, I really had to watch the scene on the monitor. There were times when I couldn't even see Geoffrey or Judi on the set and they were definitely there.
A large part of this scene involves Jean, and in fact Rocky as well, trying to get Sandy and Harry together. (By the way, Harry, David Michaels, is a real hunk.) Jean brings Harry over to Sandy, and they have a rather stilted conversation. Harry says Sandy looks gorgeous (and she does -- she's wearing a royal blue formal dress with spaghetti straps); Sandy says it's the dress, but Harry says it's not. Judith comes over and wants to see Sandy. Rocky comes over and asks Harry why Sandy isn't going to Canada with him. Harry admits that he didn't ask her. Rocky says, "You don't look like a simpleton" and hands him another glass of champagne. When Harry tries to protest, saying he's not used to champagne, you sort of realize where that's going to lead.
Stephen and Penny aren't speaking to each other of course because Stephen "ticked" the wrong box, thereby refusing the OBE. Trying to get Stephen out of the doghouse, Jean and Lionel explain that it makes Stephen unique. If somebody asks why he didn't accept it, he can explain that he'd rather not talk about it. Stephen likes that idea.
Scene 13 Another VT segment and another of my favorites. It's outside the country house where the guests are waiting for Judith and Alistair to leave. Jean realizes that Judith hasn't tossed her bouquet yet and goes over to Judith to remind her. Making sure she sees where Sandy is standing, Jean tries to get Judith to toss it Sandy's way. It misses and Lol catches it!
Alistair and Judith pull away in a small car (not Alistair's Land Rover). Jean is subdued as she watches them leave. Quietly she says to Lionel, "They've gone." Lionel says, "It's what you wanted." Jean says, "I know." He puts his left arm reassuringly around her, gives her a gentle squeeze, and then lowers it. On their way back inside, Jean reaches behind her with her left arm and pushes Lionel's arm back up around her. He keeps it there while Jean tightly wraps her arm around Lionel as they continue walking. It brought a tear to my eye.
Scene 14 We're back inside the sitting room. (At this point, in desperation, I started taking notes on the blue episode guide we were all given.) Lionel and Jean are on the right, sitting I believe, when Mrs. Bale comes in and says she's prepared a room for Lionel "and Mrs. Hardcastle." They hadn't intended to spend the night but are quickly talked into it. Rocky comes over and asks Mrs. Bale to tango. She says "but there's no music." They leave and Lionel asks Jean is she'd "like to shuffle." Jean says, "only if it involves smooching."
But before they leave, Jean sees Sandy and Harry sitting next to each other on the couch, and excitedly goes over, only to have Sandy sigh and say that Harry's passed out.
The lights dimmed and it was all over.
Rest assured, this will be the shortest section by far. I finally gave in and decided to stop writing and to just enjoy seeing the actors as themselves.
Although I have the distinct pleasure of saying that Philip Bretherton and his girlfriend Sherri Baines came over to greet me first thing afterwards! Those of us in the second row were asked to move down to the front row because the front row (with the exception of a few of our members) were not from our group so they left immediately after the taping. I was sitting there looking to my left toward that exit door when Mary Lynn jabbed me in the ribs with her elbow. I turned to look and there was Philip and Sherri! The three of us hugged and kissed each other over the rail. They remembered me from the Einstein's Bagels meet-and-greet a year ago this month in suburban Maryland, and that evening's fundraiser at the studio. 800 fans had shown up, only 750 more than MPT studios had expected, and poor Philip had to stand for hours signing autographs and posing for photos. For all those other Capitolhardcastle members who attended, I hope this makes you very happy. I was pleased to point out to Philip and Sherri the presence in the studio that evening of JoAnn Avants and Janet Smith who were also at Einstein's (and Janet was at the studio as well). I think it helped that I had taken some pictures from that event and sent them to Denny Rahn who had then forwarded them on to Philip and Sherri. (The photos and impressions are on Bonnie's website.) The funny thing is that the question I had planned to ask Philip at the Q&A was if he remembered Einstein's Bagels from a year ago!
It was delightful to chat with them, and I do believe Mary Lynn was excited to meet them as well (admit it Mary Lynn). When Philip left to join the rest of the cast on the set, Sherri came and sat down in the front row with the rest of us. I asked her if she thought Philip was practicing his wedding vows for the two of them. She laughed and held up two fingers in a cross shape, like you do when warding off vampires or something evil!
Before long Jenny, Moira, Philip, Judi and Geoffrey came back out, all dressed in street clothes now and sat on the bar-stool type chairs that were set up in front of us. Judi had her bag with her and looked distinctly tired. Geoffrey had a short-sleeved shirt on, casual pants and brown suede shoes. Oh alright I admit it -- he looks sexy no matter how he's dressed.
Bobby Bragg was still the MC, and would call on people who raised their hands. Mary Lynn started off with a few questions and comments for the cast and I'll let her tell about that. That'll be a real treat. Someone mentioned having come to see Judi in "The Royal Family." Judi looked at Geoffrey and smirked, "That's more than Geoffrey did." He was clearly used to being teased about that. (I believe she made that same comment at the June 7th taping as well.)
When someone asked Judi if she preferred stage or television, Geoffrey hopped down from his chair and tried to stare Judi down, daring her to answer the wrong way. He seemed really playful.
Judi was asked about her next projects and she explained that she was taking time off for awhile, before doing David Hare's new play with Maggie Smith. She didn't know anything about plans for the play to come to New York after its London run, saying "that's not in the contract."
I was called on at last to ask my question for her: I know she intended to take time off, but I also read a few months ago that she was considering appearing in the movie "Calendar Girls." Alas she isn't. That would've been a great movie for her. (It's based on that WI calendar of those "older" women who posed nude, but discreetly so, for a calendar to raise money for leukemia research after one of the women's husband's died of it. The success of that calendar and the book which was written about it (I have both) went off the charts. Penelope Wilton, Annette Crosbie, Helen Mirren and Julie Walters have already signed up for it.)
There weren't many questions asked frankly; as Mary Lynn commented, it's like people became shy all of a sudden. That being said, I can think of really nothing more to say. It wasn't a long Q&A, and you could tell Judi in particular was tired.
We applauded the cast once more and then they left. We were ushered out soon afterwards, but a bunch of us went over to the Thistle Kensington Gardens Hotel (where I was supposed to stay) and had a drink (or two) in the lounge while we all chatted about the evening and what we had seen. It was a wonderful way to end the day.
Three cheers for Mary Lynn, who worked tirelessly to ensure everything went smoothly and worked out!
Lynn T. from the USA -- attended June 14th Taping -- Episode # 3
Note: Due to a mixup with the tickets, my friend and I almost had to watch this taping from the Green Room. Luckily, the BBC gave us two more tickets. I should have taken up on their kind offer, because I learned from the ATGB Script Supervisor Val Letley and the Production Secretary Jane White that there was food and liquor in the Green Room! And also watching the evening's frivolity was Mrs. Geoffrey Palmer. Oh well...timing is everything in life!
Bobby Bragg. the MC, introduced Jenny Funnell, Moira Brooker and Philip Bretherton first. All three of the younger castmembers looked very fit and very happy to be there. After they waved to the audience, Geoffrey Palmer was introduced. He talked about how the last taping would be filled with laughter and tears, but that tonight was a special occasion. He talked about how lucky he has been to have a costar like Judi Dench. I believe Linda Morrison and some of the people around her gave Judi a standing ovation, to which she acknowledged them with a thank you. After that, Judi thanked "Geoffers." She was wearing a pair of khaki pants and a lovely long white linen shirt with an open collar. I didn't think her shirt had a plunging neckline. (I've seen nuns wear more daring things!) Judi also thanked the group of Americans who flew over to see the taping.
Scene 1 Lionel is sitting on the left side of the sofa in the livingroom of the 21 House. He is reading a newspaper quietly. Jean rushes in with papers in her hand and sees him relaxing. She stands by the desk.
Jean: "How can you be so calm? The wedding is tomorrow." Lionel: (teasing her) "Oh really? I had almost forgotten." (Jean makes a face at him.)
This is where the scene stopped. Geoffrey spins around to look at Judi behind him. He announces happily "That was early..even for you!" Everyone in the studio laughs. Judi has made a mistake...or "corpsed" as she calls it, in the very first seconds of that evening's show! They reshoot the scene, Judi hits every line, and Jean ends up on the couch beside Lionel. They talk about Allistair's toe problem and the fact that he is right now visiting his Harley St. doctor about it. (Judi did say "toe" and NOT "thumb.") Lionel wishes Jean would just calm down. END OF SCENE
NOTES: I believe over the years, many fans went near Holland Park to find the facade of Jean's house. Many of us discovered it. Some never found it. Well, in real life, it's 21 St. James Gardens, technically it's in Notting Hill Gate, not Holland Park. But it is closer to the Holland Park Tube Stop) Also, due to the fact that so many extras would be needed for the reception scenes, and had to go through make-up and wardrobe, Judi and Geoffrey decided to stay in the livingroom set for a good deal of the evening. It was wonderful to see them relaxing and interacting with everyone when they weren't on the set. They talked quietly, read, and actually watched the other actors go through their paces on the monitors overhead. They laughed with everyone else when Rocky and Lol made mistakes in their scenes.
SCENE 2 Judith and Sandy are in Judith's bedroom, quietly packing a suitcase for the honeymoon. They are talking about how peculiar Allistair's behavior has been of late. Sandy makes a remark that Allistair's always peculiar, but Judith says that he's more emotional lately. She's seen him with tears in his eyes. Eirwen Davies, the floor manager of ATGB stops the scene because when Jenny is pulling the shirts out of the closet, the camera catches the opening at the back of the closet, where there are chairs and studio equipment. The continuity staffers put the shirts back in the closet, and unpack some of the clothes Moira has just folded into the suitcase. Their is a brief discussion between Eirwen and Sydney Lotterby. One of the camera's must shoot the closet in a tighter frame. They reshoot this sequence. As they finish their chat about Allistair, I believe Jean hurriedly pops into Judith's room to discuss some more wedding matters. Sandy can't believe the state Jean is in over the wedding. The phone rings a few times downstairs, and Jean springs out of the room quickly to go answer it. END OF SCENE.
SCENE 3 The phone on the desk in the livingroon is ringing. Lionel is still sitting on the couch where we left him in Scene 1. He is reading the paper. You hear Jean barreling down the stairs before you see her come into shot. Lionel, fed up with the ringing phone, gets up to answer it as Jean rushes in. She cuts off his path to the phone by giving him a little shove. Lionel stops and jumps back, realizing that his efforts are now futile. Jean answers the phone as Lionel retreats back to his spot on the sofa. Jean's facial expressions and tone on the phone makes you realize that something has gone wrong. She walks over to Lionel's chair and plops down. ( The following exchange may have been what they said...my memory is starting to fade.)
Jean: "That was Gaston, the Best Man. He can't come to the wedding. He's broken his leg! What an idiot!" Lionel: "Well, I'm sure he didn't do it on purpose. Isn't he a ski instructor?" Jean: "Yes...but he's still an idiot!"
Jean suggests to Lionel that he be Allistair's best man. Lionel looks at her and reminds her that HE is giving the bride away. He can hardly give Judith away and be Allistair's best man at the same time. Jean is worried. What are they going to do? Jean tells Lionel that she had better tell Judith. She stands up, walks out into the hallway, looks at the stairs and shouts "Judy? Judy?" END OF SCENE
SCENE 4 - Judith's Bedroom. Judith and Sandy are still packing for the honeymoon. You can hear Jean calling Judy. Sandy remarks "You know...for a small woman, she has a very loud voice!" Judith goes to the door and yells back down "I'll be down in a few minutes." Judith hopes that her mother has no more instructions for the wedding. Judith and Sandy talk briefly about Harry. Sandy remarks to Judith that she seems very calm. Judith announces that she is very calm. It's Jean that is having the nervous breakdown and trying her patience. Just then, Jean again calls up to Judith. Judith loses her temper, swivels around and yells back "Oh..for heaven's sake....I'm coming!" Sandy makes a remark like "My God.. this is a loud family!" END OF SCENE
SCENE 5 - The kitchen. Lionel is sitting at the table, on the right. Jean is leaning on the back counter over the little refrigerator. Judith is standing by the kitchen door. They are talking about Gaston's accident, and who will be his replacement as best man. Jean then suggests Rocky. Lionel replies with a sour expression on his face. Judith nods her head and thinks it's a good idea. Jean says she will now call Rocky, but Judith reminds her that the invitation should come from Allistair, shouldn't it? Jean reluctantly agrees, and looks at Lionel. Jean: (a bit miffed) " Well...where is Allistair?" Lionel: "He had an appointment. He said he'd come round here straight away." Jean: "Well, straight can mean anything." Judi tries not to laugh, but can't help herself. Geoffrey at this point, who really can't hold his Lionel stare at her, breaks up too. At this point, all the cast, crew and audience are laughing. Geoffrey lifted his head up toward the overhead boom microphone and said very loudly "I wonder what Bob Larbey meant by that?" They pick up the scene where Jean asks Lionel where Allistair is. Jean says the straight line again, and this time, it is Geoffrey who can't keep it together. He hits his own hand because you can tell he was thinking of "straight" in a different context than Bob Larbey had intended it to mean. You can tell that Judi and Moira love to see Geoffrey outtakes, because, usually, he stays in his Lionel persona until the whole scene is through. Finally, they pick up this scene and run it through. As Jean says " Straight can mean anything..." there is a pause. Geoffrey knows everyone is waiting for him to make a remark. He looks at the audience and says "Don't answer that!" Everyone laughs, at last, the scene is in the can. END OF SCENE
SCENE 6 - The living room. Alistair is sitting in Lionels chair, to the left. Judith is sitting beside Jean, on the couch end. Jean is on the left side of the sofa, and Lionel is on the right. Alistair is happy that Rocky has agreed to be his best man. Jean asks Alistair about his doctor appt. What did he say about the toe? Allistair looks confused. He forgets for a moment that Lionel made up the toe story to cover up his panic attacks. Lionel stands up at this point and stands in front of the fireplace. Allistair realizes his mistake then tells Jean...oh...you know...it's just a toe thing. Jean starts to become suspicious of both Alistair and Lionel. She looks at Lionel. "You already knew about Alistair's toe, didn't you?" He says yes...I 'm the one who told you about it. Jean asks Lionel what foot is the toe on? As Jean and Judith wait for Lionel's response, they can't see Allistair crossing his leg to give Lionel a clue. "The right one." Jean nods, yet you can tell she doesn't believe him. "Which toe was it?" Lionel starts to sputter, he looks at Alistair, who is about to put his fingers up, but he's caught by Judith and Jean. Its at this point where Lionel tells the truth about his part in this ruse. I believe this is where they had a technical error, and they had to reshoot the scene. Allistair tells Judith and Jean about his panic attacks. But he's now on new medication, so he's not crying as much as he did. However, there could be a slight chance that he may develop one other side effect. Jean doesn't like the sound of this and wants to know what he means. It gets very quiet. Jean realizes that the honeymoon could be affected by this side effect. She sits back into the cushion, shakes her head gently, and rubs poor Judith's arm. END OF SCENE
SCENE 7 - The country house livingroom. Rocky lives here once again. Mrs. Bale, is sitting on the couch, inspecting Rocky's best man outfit. He is going to wear his scarlet pensioner's uniform, including medals and ribbons. Rocky and Mrs. Bale are talking about his best man speech, and he wants to tell a joke about a parrot. Frank blow's a line or two, and everyone laughs.
(Judi and Geoffrey are still on the couch in the livingroom scene watching them, and they are laughing, as well.) Rocky asks Mrs. Bale "How do I look?" Mrs. Bale replies that he looks very good. Rocky is taken aback. He makes a crack like..." A compliment from you, Mrs. Bale? Will wonders never cease?" Lol walks into the threshold of the room, sheepishly. He tells Mrs. Bale and Rocky that it's off. They looked surprised. The wedding is off? Oh..no..no...no...he says and walks into the center of the room. The idea of him wearing HIS military uniform is off, because it's too small. Lol has a big belly and his jacket only fits about half of his upper body. The pants fit him like knickers. Mrs. Bale suggests to him that he wear his best Sunday suit...but please...don't wear the tie with the lady on it! Rocky replies: "I gave him that tie!" Lol was telling Mrs. Bale and Rocky about the wedding gloves that his mother had finished knitting for Judith, but Tim Wylton kept on saying fittish knidding. He tried to stutter over it, in Lol fashion, but everyone knew it was a mistake, so they reshot the scene two more times before finally getting it done.
SCENE 8 - The kitchen. NOTE: I watched Geoffrey walk quietly over to the kitchen set, as did Jenny Funnell. I remarked to Kathy Hopple, who sat beside me, that Sandy's tights had runs on the left leg. Well..since their were no scenes of Sandy's legs, I'm sure it wouldn't have made a difference. When the previous scene in the country house was given the cleared tape sign....Frank walked over to the darkened 21 House Living room set and spoke with Judi for a minute. He hugged her, kissed her on top of the head, and sat in Lionel's chair. Judi walked back to the kitchen set, crossing over camera cables. Lionel is standing up by the kitchen table on the right hand side. Sandy is sitting across from him. They are talking about what a state of pandemonium Jean is in. He asks Sandy if she would like a glass of wine. She is agreeable to that. Jean then comes into the kitchen with a papers and a mug in her hand, and tells them that she wants this wedding to be just perfect. She walks over to the sink and puts her mug on the strainer. Lionel tells her to sit down and have a glass of wine with them. Jean walks over to the table and sits down on the chair in front of the microwave. Lionel pours Jean a glass of wine. Sandy asks Jean about the interlocking hearts on the sheet she is carrying. Jean says that represents Sandy and Harry. Just as Sandy tells Jean that she can't make Harry and Sandy fall in-love...their is a technical glitch, and they have to a little of the scene again. The continuity staffers pour the wine back into the bottle so it will match what they've just shot. The do the scene again, and as Jean walks to the kitchen sink, Judi realizes that she has missed her mark. She shrugs and says "I'm in the wrong place!" As the technical staff, Eirwen and Sydney discuss what should be done, Judi sat back down at the table and lifted the wine glass to sip it. I don't know if it was wine or not....but the cameraman zoomed in for a close up of Judi drinking the wine. This caused the whole studio to laugh because Judi didn't know she was on the monitor. Judi looked up to see what was so funny, realized that she was on the monitor, put the glass down, and laughed loudly.
END OF PART I ............................. AFTER A BRIEF WORD WITH OUR SPONSOR ...... PART II ...
SCENE 9 - The Wedding Day. This exterior scene was pre-taped. It takes place on the front lawn of the country home. Lionel's car pulls up with Jean, Judith and Sandy in tow. Lol, in his Sunday suit...which is still on the hysterical side, sets off a firework on the front lawn to trumpet their arrival. They all get out of the car and look perplexed. Rocky reminds them that he was only allowed to set off one firework...and he chose this time to do it. Jean tells Rocky that he looks wonderful in his scarlet pensioner attire. Lol walks up to Judith and Sandy and presents the knitted wedding gloves that his mother made to Judith. They are either bright red or orange...it was tough to tell from the monitor. Sandy and Judith try not to laugh at the absurd gloves. Judith graciously says thank you to Lol for them.
NOTE: The country home used in this episode was NOT the vicarage of the St. James Church in Aldenham, Buckinghamshire, which had posed as Rocky's home in the previous seasons. Apparently, the new owners of the vicarage refused to let ATGB use their house for this season....so the remotes you see are from another home in the country....made to look like the original.
SCENE 10 The livingroom in the country home. Stagehands worked fervently to make the set look like a wedding reception was going to take place. Beautiful decorations and flower arrangements with star gazer lilies were put on every table top, in the windows, on the mantle. An older woman had been ushered onto the set and seated right behind the door in the livingroom. She must have sat there for 10 minutes under the hot klieg lights. (I personally thought she may melt at any minute!) Philip and Geoffrey walked out in their morning coats, and Cindy Lou swooned and giggled! Janet Henfrey appeared wearing a dark flowered dress. Judi looked resplendent in a gray (oyster) dress topped off with a matching hat. It reminded some people of the outfit Jean was married in, however, this dress was definitely more fitted to Judi's body and had a shorter skirt. The shoes were mules with a tiny spike...which I believe may have been pinching Judi's toes throughout the upcoming scenes. (Judi would pull faces and take one off and then the other during the breaks.) Her hat was grand enough to look like something a woman would wear at Ascot or the Derby. But alas, it didn't have any long plumes. As Judi walked across the set, she spoke to the older woman and gently squeezed her hand. As the scene begins, Jean walks into the livingroom. She is adjusting her hat and fidgeting around. As she turns near the mantle on the left, she sees the old woman. Jean looks surprised, then says hello and asks her "who are you?" The old woman tells Jean her name, Mrs.Twillett, and that she is 86 yrs old and she is the flower watcher. Jean nods, looks confused and says something like "How nice." Lionel and Allistair walk in chatting about something. I believe Allistair tells Jean she looks lovely. Jean does her head nod move toward Mrs.Twillett, and Lionel and Allistair turn and look at her. One of them asks Jean who it is. She says Mrs. Twillett. They both smile uncomfortably at Mrs. Twillett, because they have no idea who she is. Jean sits on the comfy chair next to the fireplace on the left, while Lionel and Allistair sit on the couch, Lionel being closest to Jean. At this point, Mrs. Bale, appearing with a gong, stands in front of Mrs.Twillet and hits the gong loudly three times. Lionel and Allistair nearly jump off the couch and Jean looks totally bewildered. Lionel and Allistair turn around on the couch to hear Mrs. Bale announce that no petals have fallen from the flowers since Mrs. Twillett had been on watch. Then, Mrs. Twillett walks over to Allistair and asks him if he is the bridegroom. He replies yes, and Mrs. Twillett puts her finger in the middle of his forehead and runs it down his face, while reciting some kind of rhyme. She says goodbye and leaves abruptly. Lionel looks at Jean and says something like ..."Does the Witchfinder General know about this woman?" Mrs.Bale tells Mrs. Hardcastle that Jean must leave for the church shortly. After Mrs. Bale departs, Allistair reassures Jean and Lionel that he has fully recovered from his panic attacks. He is cool personified. In fact, to test his emotions, he looked at more sentimental photos of puppies and kittens today and he didn't shed one tear. He has everything under control and he's ready to marry Judy. Just then, he tries to move his legs. He looks panicked. He looks at Jean and Lionel and says.. Allistair: "I can't move my legs! I'm paralyzed! I can't walk! What am I going to do?!" Jean shoots up from her chair and says something similar to this....
Jean: " Allistair Deacon, I'm sick of this nonsense and I'm not going to allow your whining to ruin this day! You're legs are not paralyzed. Now, you are going to get up, march yourself over to that church, and marry my daughter!"
As the entire audience roared with laughter (and many of us had to restrain ourselves from clapping) Allistair immediately jumped up from his seat upon hearing Jean's order. Lionel, knowing firsthand what Jean is like when she's on the warpath, watches Allistair with a bemused smirk on his face. Allistair asks Jean where she learned how to dish out "tough love." Jean told him she had been doing it "Long before it had a professional name!" Allistair tells them he is fine now, and solemnly walks out of the room, still making sure his legs are working okay. They stopped the scene here because they needed to do the Mrs. Twillett scene again and also, they needed to get more reaction shots of Jean while Mrs. Twillett was reciting her words to Allistair. After this part of the scene is reshot, Jean and Lionel are left in the living room. Jean is still standing after reading the riot act to Allistair. She tells Lionel she must leave for the church. As she walks to the door and his back is to her, Lionel says loudly.. "Will you marry me?". Jean stops. She turns...tilts her head, thinks about his proposal for a few seconds and says "Oh.....all right." Lionel smiles. Jean leaves. END OF SCENE.
SCENE 11 - The living room at the country home. Lionel is standing by the mantle to the left, going over what he needs to say at the reception. His back is to the door. He is still talking about the parrot joke when Judith appears in the room. He turns and sees Judith in her wedding dress. Her hair is up and she is wearing a small tiara. She has a very tastefully fitted off white coat with a long off white skirt. She is holding a bouquet of flowers. Lionel doesn't lets his guard down and says softly "Oh...you're here." Judith tells him that she's ready and he walks over to her and says "You're father would have been proud of you." Judith takes Lionel's arm and he says "I'm very proud of you too." They walk out of the room arm in arm. END OF SCENE
SCENE 12- An exterior shot. Inside the church. The music softly plays. Allistair and Rocky are standing on the left at the altar. Lionel escorts Judith down the aisle. He is beaming. Sandy, as the maid of honor, is dressed in a dark blue long gown with a flower over her left ear. She sees Harry in the crowd, he smiles back at her. After the congregation sits, Stephen is sitting beside a boy who is playing a Gameboy. He gives the boy a look of disapproval, and the child stops playing the game. I believe Penny was standing beside Jean in the front row, not beside Stephen. (By the way, the vicar is the same man who married Madge and Rocky.) When the vicar asks the question, who gives this woman to be married to this man? Lionel proudly says "I do" and keeps standing up for a few seconds beside Judith. The vicar gives him a look that means...sit down. As Lionel goes to sit beside Jean, she quickly pulls his top hat off of the pew before he sits on it! He hesitates for a moment, because he has no idea what she is doing. She shows him the hat, he sits down, and she hands it to him. During the service, the little boy next to Stephen is still playing the game. Stephen gently confiscates the game from the boy. When the vicar asks Rocky for the ring, he has trouble finding it in his uniform pockets. He thinks he has found it in his trouser pocket, and as he pulls it out, all these white mints spill out onto the stone floor. He looks embarrassed, but he's relieved he's found the ring. Alistair and Judith exchange I do's. They are now man and wife, but in the meantime, there is a shot of Stephen now playing with the little boy's Gameboy! END OF SCENE
SCENE 13 - The reception in the country house. This scene had to have at least thirty extras in party attire. There were hord'oeurves on trays, but due to the fact they had to be sprayed with flame resistant retardant, nobody could eat them! They were their for decoration, only. The crowd noise was pre-taped and piped in to make it seem like it was live action. They must do this so the actors who have dialog can be heard. Jean is trying to put Harry and Sandy together, much to Lionel's dismay. When she finally gets them together...she hands them two glasses of champagne and walks away. Harry: "You look beautiful." Sandy: "Oh...it's the dress." Harry: "No ..it's not. Jean's pleased with her matchmaking until she notices that Judith asks Sandy for some assistance. Rocky walks over to Harry and tells him that if he were younger, he'd make a play for Sandy. Why isn't Sandy going to Canada with him? Harry says he didn't ask her. Rocky tells Harry that "you don't look like a simpleton." Harry admits that Sandy is too good for him, and that he's only a "copper." Rocky remedies the situation by giving Harry another glass of champagne. Harry tries to turn it down, claiming he's not a drinker, but Rocky won't hear of it. Jean is standing beside Penny and Lionel on the right side of the room. Stephen walks up to them and I think he asked Lionel if he likes those pocket video games. Penny says "Will you stop following me?!" Jean and Lionel look weirdly at Penny. Stephen says how can he be following her, he came from the other side of the room. Penny tells Lionel and Jean that she isn't speaking to Stephen because he stupidly turned down the OBE. They ask him why he would turn down such a prestigious honor. Stephen sheepishly admits it was an accident. He put a check in the wrong box on the form! Lionel and Jean make suggestions to Stephen. They tell him to say that he turned down the OBE for personal reasons, and let people think of him as a man with convictions, and that way, he will be truly unique. Penny likes this idea. She looks at Stephen in a new light. But you know that won't last. Harry is drinking yet another glass of champagne. Jean looks at Lionel, tells him he must rescue Harry from Rocky and put Harry together with Sandy. Lionel finally realizes that his wife is going to play cupid with or without his help, and his resistance is just delaying the inevitable. He walks over to Rocky and in effect tells him he's needed elsewhere. Lionel take's Harry's empty champagne glass and replaces it with another one and someone (I think it's Jean) ushers Sandy over to Harry's side. Harry is feeling a little tipsy, but just as he's about to tell Sandy his true feelings, that he is ....Someone announces that the bride and groom are about to leave for the honeymoon! Sandy looks desperate. Harry looks defeated. And Lionel says "Just hold that thought!" END OF SCENE
SCENE 14 - A pretaped scene in front of the conservatory at the country house. As Judith and Allistair prepare to leave for their honeymoon, Jean tells Judith to throw the bouquet ..but make sure Sandy catches it. Judith turns around, so her back is to the crowd of women and throws the bouquet. But Lol is standing beside Sandy and HE catches the bouquet. He is delighted! As Allistair and Judith drive away, Jean looks all choked up, like she is about to cry. Lionel notices this, and softly says "It's what you wanted." Jean nods and says "I know." As they turn to walk back into the house, Lionel puts his arm around Jean. Jean puts her arm around his back, too. Lionel removes his arm, but Jean pushes it up higher around her. END OF SCENE.
SCENE 15 - The country house sitting room. During the set up for this scene, Judi removed her hat and teetered back and forth on those darn shoes. She walked over to Ann Rayment, the makeup person, who was standing in front of the 21 house living room set. Ann tussled Judi's hair a little to fix it. I also think Geoffrey took his jacket off. The wedding crowd is still milling about. Jean and Lionel are standing off to the right speaking to Mrs. Bale, who tells them that she has a made up a room for them. Rocky walks in and asks Mrs. Bale to tango with him. She has a perplexed look on her face and says "But there's no music!" Rocky doesn't seem to care, and they exit. Lionel asks Jean if she'd like to dance. She tells him yes .. but only if it involves smooching. Just as they are about to leave, they notice Harry and Sandy on the couch. Jean asks Lionel to wait, and walks over to see how things are progressing for Sandy and young Harry. As Jean comes up behind the couple, Sandy looks at her. "He's passed out!" Jean's mouth drops open. She looks at Harry and shakes her head. She may have patted Sandy on the shoulder. She walks over to Lionel, and they walk out of the room. END OF EPISODE.
the USA -- attended the June 14th Taping -- Episode # 3
First, the dinner at Porter's the night before. It was nice to see some "old friends" again--and finally put some faces to "old names". I most enjoyed the ATGB trivia contest that Mary Lynn and Cindy Lou (the Dynamic Duo) put together. I managed to win a bottle of brown sauce for being the first to answer the question as to what Madge's full name was. (For those of you still mulling that one--it's Madge Evita D'Arbly--you hear it when she takes her wedding vows to Rocky.) As far as I'm concerned, Lionel can add my bottle of brown sauce to his other two--it looks decidedly unappetizing.
As for the taping, it was great to be invited to the social event of the ATGB season where all the favorite cast members were present. We listers all had some of the wedding cake passed around to us as we were waiting for the Fab Five to change into street clothes and come back for the Q&A session. I had been hoping they'd open the bottles of champagne for us--one string of the announcer's banter kept saying that Sydney Lotterby would buy us a drink afterward if we laughed enough--I'm guessing they were opened last night when the last scene was filmed. Personally, though, I would have preferred that the social event were Lionel and Jean's wedding anniversary so that there would have been more scenes with just those two. My favorite scenes and my favorite episodes are very heavily weighted toward the amount of solo Lionel and Jean time in them. I'm still hoping they'll dance to "As Time Goes By" in the last episode. Also, if I recognized him properly from the Feb 2000 taping, Lotterby was, in fact, on the floor at the end and, to me, looked like he was hoping to have been introduced.
We saw Frank Middlemass as we were leaving the studio. He, too, has lost a bit of weight and seemed shorter to me than I expected until I remembered that I think he's very tall because I think GP is tall--and he is--but only in relation to someone as short as JD. (I'm guessing FM is 6 foot even.)
I'll make a few comments comparing the taping experiences from the two different seasons--that way others who've been only to these recent ones can add more of the specifics on the new episodes. I enjoy reading about all those little details that different ones of us are able to remember. Also, I'm hoping some of you will go into more detail on the Q&A--what was asked and how it was answered.
The biggest difference to me in the two Q&A sessions was that the younger cast members all seem much more relaxed and open talking to us--with Phillip, it was like night and day between the two sessions. I had been so stunned to see how shy he was in real life in the Feb 2000 session given the over the top character he portrays so well. GP still looks much younger in person than on tape and did look quite dashing in his formal attire. I'm not one of those in love with him--so it is a more objective compliment! (For my money, though, no one can beat Cary Grant in a tux. Just watch him with Ingrid Bergman in Indiscreet!!) JD was very reserved--almost preoccupied it seemed (actually, I was going to say "absentminded" but I think some of you would get too upset!)--and tired. Having now had the opportunity to meet her in her dressing room and see her in these larger sessions, I really understand her comments about how difficult she finds it to speak as herself in front of large groups. (Almost) one-on-one, she's so incredibly more at ease.
Another difference I noted between the seasons was that this time there seemed to be much more camaraderie among the cast. Of course, that may simply be due to the fact that this time they spent a lot more time staying on the set in another room when they weren't taping--but I don't think so. Like Cindy Lou, I kept finding myself more interested in what the "real" people were doing off tape rather than the scene being filmed. JD and GP were as comfortable with one another as ever, but there wasn't as much off tape physical contact as in 2000. Again, GP tends to stay in character much more and the scenes that they were breaking from didn't lend themselves as much to the physical contact.
The one thing that was the same for me in both seasons was that I kept hoping they'd make mistakes so that I could see the scenes again and again--I didn't want the taping to end!
I'll add my thanks to Mary Lynn for all of her efforts and a "Rock on!" to those who attended the taping! Honey
P.S. For those AFR fans among you, the hotel I stayed in, The Westbury, happened to be down the block from the Bruton Galleries. I went in--but there wasn't a display on African masks and, fortunately, Harry didn't pop in either. The closest I came to any ATGB sites is I did notice a trumpet hanging in a stall at Portabello Market!!
Maree W. from West Wales -- attended the June 14th Taping -- Episode # 3
ATGB TAPING JUNE 14TH 2002.
This was the weekend, I had been waiting for! Three nights in London! I had not recovered from the 7th Taping! Those of us that were staying at the Lincoln House Hotel met round 6 o'clock we were all busy introducing ourselves, I will never remember everyone's name!
Mary Lynn started to hail some taxis to take us to Porters, in Covent Garden, I shared with Ralph & Sheila Banks from Toronto, And Sve & Judy Brodie from Boston. Trust our cab to get stuck in traffic! We seemed to be the last to arrive at the restaurant. Our group was to the back on the ground floor, God we did make some noise!! To be honest I cant remember what the food was like, I was so busy chatting, It must have been difficult for people to understand me because of my Welsh accent which is VERY different to the English accent. I also remember it was very hot in there, several people were taking photos, I was so pleased to meet Cindy Lou who has similar taste in actors to me, also June Bingham from the UK who had seen several ATGB tapings. We then had a quiz, Cindy Lou & Mary Lynn set some excellent questions I was surprised how well we all did there were also some great prizes custard tarts, tea etc etc all ATGB related, great fun. I think that a lot of people must have been tired after there long journey so a lot of people had left by about 9.30, I went with Ralph, Sheila, Sve & Judy for a drink outside, in one of the open air bars near the actors church in Covent Garden.
The next morning a lot of people staying at our hotel went to the Holland Park area, I went again! We also went to the park itself this time where a lot of scenes for the show had been filmed, saw some other fans of the show at the café in the park.
Our group of 60 had arranged to meet outside the White City Tube station at 5.30. then we queued outside the studios, the time went so quickly I don't think that I have talked so much in my life We met up with Joan &Chris Street again, I think that there were 5 Brits in all. We were allowed in the studio at 6.00.the foyer was not as crowded this time.
The announcement came for the American guests t take their seats first, as we walked down the corridor to the studio there was a film crew, FILMING US. Oh God I hope that they don't stop me or June, Thankfully no, but some of our group were interviewed. Again we were allowed to take the best seats in the middle, the sets were the same for the week before, again it was fun to see some of the cast before the show! I could see Geoffrey from the back, yes his bald patch is quite distinctive! People seemed longer taking their seats this time.
Bobby Bragg introduced ,Jenny, Philip, Moira, then Geoffrey, who went on to say that if the actress who was originally supposed to do ATGB (Jean Simmonds) it would have only lasted 13 shows at the most, He introduced Judi as every actors dream to work with. Judi came on to much applause and thanked the American guests. Judi thanked the Americans for coming.
The plot which, has been written about so beautifully elsewhere concerned Judith & Alistairs wedding, It was lovely to watch, there were a few glitches but that's what makes it so much fun! Judi went wrong on the first line Geoffers said that was quick even for you! It was interesting when other scenes were going on J & G just sat on the sofa quietly talking to each other.
Bobby Bragg kept everything moving along, and even though I heard the material last week, some of our group really enjoyed the jokes. My own favourite scene was with Lionel & Judith, Lionel says that your father would have been proud of you the added I 'am proud of you. It was so touching and they did it in one take. I have to say they all looked great at the wedding, the men especially! The reception scene took the longest as it was a complicated scene, in total the whole show took two & half hours to film
As the show finished, the American guests were told to stay where they were for the Q & A. I was surprised to see that Philip seemed to know some of our group. The film group then started filming the Q & A , I don't know if this was off putting for the group as there were not that many questions.
I have to say that I thought that Judi looked tired, they had been there since 9 o'clock that morning! and they had to be in the next morning for rehearsals for the last show! Geoffrey seemed thrilled when someone said that there were proposals of marriage for him. The cast posed for a photo with our group. So it was over.
Some of our group went on to the Thistle Kensington for a drink, It was way past midnight when I arrived back at the hotel. What a lovely evening.
The Saturday was spent mainly chatting to people staying at the same hotel about ATGB, I know some of our group went to Buckinghamshire to see Where Rocky & Madge got married.
I met up with an old friend and went to see a play, On Sunday it was rather sad to say goodbye to my new friends from over the pond, Arrived back in West Wales at 4pm switched on the tv, What's this Greer Garson & Ronald Colman in Random Harvest!
Joan S. from the UK - attended the June 21st Taping - Episode # 4
It seems strange to be writing this from Germany but I will try to give as best account of the evening as I can. Am also writing this on a German keyboard so excuse the odd typing errors!
The cast for the last taping was smaller than previously, sadly without Penny, Stephen, Rocky and Mrs. Bale. However, Harry was there, also a new character, a woman called Dave (yes that is correct!) played by Lara Cazalet.
From the audience 3 sets were visible, the Living Room, Kitchen and the Pub. Judi and Lionel and Jean´s bedroom were hidden from view, also the hallway.
After a warm up by the host, Denny Hodge and some cast introductions, Geoffrey Palmer came out and said how sad it was to be recording the last show. He said that after 10 years everyone had got to know each other very well and it would be sad not to be working together again. They almost had the same crew as when the programme first started. He then introduced Judi and kissed her on the cheek. She only said a few words saying that Geoffrey did this sort of thing so much better!
Scene 1 - This took place in Judi's bedroom - Jean is tidying it up for the last time. As she tries to open one of the bed cabinet drawers it gets stuck and they have to do the scene again. Judi corpses this time so they have to go for another take. Jean says to Lionel that he could have this room now. He asks `are you talking about us having separate rooms'? Of course she says no, but suggests he could use the room as a study. The scene ends with Jean finding a note from Judi under her pillow. Apparently she used to leave notes for her mother there when she was a child.
Scene 2 – The Kitchen - Sandy says that perhaps she should leave the house and find a place of her own now that Judi doesn't live there anymore. Jean is horrified at the thought. She says that Sandy can run the agency now that Judi won't be there. Lionel points out that this could mean more money, in fact a lot more money! How could Sandy refuse!
Scene 3 – The Stairs - Jean is still maudlin at the loss of Judi. Lionel kisses her saying Judi's life here was part of yesterday and she must look forward now.
Scene 4 – Video insert - Lionel goes to take his wedding suit back to the hire company and sees a woman sitting on the steps outside the house. She is shoddily dressed and has a ring in her nose. Her name is `Dave'.
Scene 5 – Living Room - Jean and Lionel are sitting in the Living Room. Judi is called on the phone by the police to ask her to come along to an identity parade to try and pick out a prowler (fictitious, her excuse for trying to find Harry in an earlier episode apparently). Lionel remarks that she will get herself into these things. Jean says she must change to do this which Lionel can't understand.
Scene 5 – Video insert - Jean returns from the Police Station to find Dave sitting on the steps again. To her surprise she is reading `The Times'.
Scene 6 – The Living Room - Sandy is thinking about Harry. It starts to rain outside and it seems like there is going to be a storm. Jean is so worried about Dave sitting outside on the steps that she invites her in, much to the horror of Lionel. A point of interest here – there now seems to be a window to the left of Lionel's chair which Judi looks out of. I'm sure I don't remember this from the other series but please correct me if I'm wrong. Lionel reads from the Radio Times (what else!) saying what dreadful programmes that there seems to be on nowadays (so true, with the exception of `ATGB' of course!).
Scene 7 – The Kitchen – the following day As Judi Dench sits down in the Kitchen ready for the next scene the crew spot that the brand name, Flora, is visible on the camera and move the label out of shot. Judi immediately turns it around again and laughs! Lionel reprehends Jean, saying that he thinks she has invited Dave in because she wants to replace Judi. Sandy answers the front door and says to Jean and Lionel that they'd better come out into the hall as there is a surprise for them.
Scene 8 – The Hall - Alistair is standing in the doorway carrying Judi. He says that they have decided to take a break from their honeymoon, before going to Barbados, so they could come and see Jean and Lionel. Philip fluffs his lines so has to drop Judi. In all I think the scene has to be re- shot 3 times as Judi and Jenny also have a fit of giggles whilst waiting in the Living Room. Moira says good naturedly "I haven't eaten all day'. Philip also jokes about having to lift Moira up again.
Scene 9 – The Kitchen - Alistair invites everyone for Champagne in the pub. Lionel remarks that he can't go too as it will mean living Dave in the house who is still asleep upstairs. Judi thinks it will be perfectly okay and that they can trust Dave. She leaves £40 under the jug kettle to test if Dave will actually take it or not. Lionel thinks it will definitely disappear.
Scenes 10/11 – The Hall/Kitchen - Dave gets up and goes into the Kitchen. She sees the £40 under the kettle, picks it up but is distracted by someone calling at the front door and leaves the money on the other side of the Kitchen. Harry is standing on the doorstep and is somewhat surprised by the strange person who answers. He asks for Sandy and Dave tells him that they have all gone to the pub.
Scenes 12/13 – The Pub/Hall - Judi Dench sees the product label in view on a bottle of champagne and moves it. Harry goes into the pub. Everyone starts to talk about the weather so Harry can talk in privacy to Sandy. Instead Harry whisks Sandy away and proposes to her in the house.
Scene 14 – Living Room - Harry is sitting there in a state of shock. He can't believe that he and Sandy are finally going to get married. Lionel, Jean, Judi and Alistair join him. Jean and Judi rush around trying to help Sandy with her packing as she will be leaving for Canada in only a couple of hours. Harry suddenly realises that he doesn't have an air ticket for Sandy. Alistair comes to the rescue as always, phoning a mate of his and asking for two first class tickets so Harry gets an upgrade as well. His friend is Gary Pearson and Alistair bribes him slightly by saying "remember Xanadu"??. This is quite a complicated scene and they have to do a couple of pick-ups. Philip can't remember what hand he had the phone in the first time but they sort it out.
Scene 15 – The Hall - Everyone says their goodbyes. Jean and Lionel suddenly wonder what has happened to Dave.
Scene 16 – The Kitchen - Lionel goes into the Kitchen, sees that the money has disappeared from under the kettle and replaces it with another £40. Jean comes in, sees the money and says to Lionel, "see, we all get it wrong sometimes". Lionel just smiles, indulging her. Then she notices the other £40 on the other side of the kitchen and says that Dave has left them some more money for their trouble too!
Scene 17 – Jean and Lionel's bedroom - Jean remarks on how quiet the house seems and it is clear how much she is going to miss everyone. Lionel says we have our love and each other so things will be fine. Jean says when you put it like that everything seems okay. Lionel kisses Jean goodnight. Lionel is snoring but Jean is still awake. Jean says that of course there will be grandchildren and they will come and visit. She also says that perhaps they should do something exciting like trekking in the Andes. Lionel remarks that this sounds like something Rocky and Madge would do, not like them at all. Lionel goes back to sleep but Jean opens a holiday brochure with the heading "Trekking in the Andes"!!!
Our show ends here, the very last one……. I thought the last scene was so lovely, a perfect ending, though, of course, I feel so sad that there will be no more Jean and Lionel adventures for us to enjoy. Still we do have 64 episodes for us to reminisce on!
Geoffrey and Judi came out at the end, still attired in their nightwear, thanking everyone for coming. Geoffrey gave Judi a hug. They both said how sad that they were that the series had come to an end and thanked all the rest of the actors and crew. Judi, in particular, really did look sad! Geoffrey said that perhaps they would get a chance to work together again one day. We can but hope. They then went off to the farewell party but we weren't invited of course.
By the way, there were many invited guests in the audience, I guess that they were all people that had had some involvement with the programme. We spotted Stephen, Rocky, and Sherri (Philip's girlfriend).
Hope this report makes some sense and it isn't too much of an epic. Hard to concentrate here as so many distractions. My poor friend can't understand what on earth I must be doing!
http://www.geocities.com/televisioncity/satellite/9476/atgbindex.htm - ATGB locations
P.S: There was another small scene where Jean goes into Judi's bedroom to see how Dave is doing. Dave is sound asleep and she tucks the covers around her.
Sandy from Indianapolis, USA -- Meeting with Geoffrey Palmer
Coming back from two jam-packed weeks in London has been a big bummer for me, plus I had a family reunion last week, plus my computer has been acting up, plus there were plenty of accounts of the last two, tapings, so I didn't bother to post much about our trip. However, both my computer and I seem to be feeling better today, so I decided it was time to share with the group that made it all possible: Through a remarkable set of circumstances, we met Geoffrey Palmer while we were in London!
Just before the taping of ATGB on 14 June, in the BBC gift shop in the waiting area, Ron discovered his Visa card was missing. The next day, after we'd seen the Queen on her way to Trooping the Colour, we went into The Ritz Hotel so he could use a phone to call Julie's Bar, where he had last used it. While he was on the phone, Sandy picked up some reading material, wherein I read that GP, along with a lot of other actors, would be appearing in a reading of The Charge of the Light Brigade by John Osborne at fundraiser for the Royal Theatrical Fund the next night at the Honourable Artillery Company, Armoury House, City Road. No address, no phone number, rather beyond our budget.
Next day, in the words of Jean Pargetter, we decided, "Oh blow it" and after a looooooooong trek along City Road (thanks to an underground employee who told us to get off at the wrong tube station) in the part of London called Islington, we found the aforementioned Honourable Artillery Company. We were hot, sweaty, exhausted, and determined.
The guard didn't know about the event but he knew where the woman was who did and went to find her. After saying that she really was supposed to have shut reservations down but that they really did want Americans to come, she agreed to let us attend. This woman was exceedingly friendly and helpful; plus she cracked us up when she said, "I mean no disrespect, but you will have to change your clothes. The dress is smart." She even whipped out her cell phone and called a cab company, which was bringing someone to the event, to ask for the driver to take us back to our hotel since we were in a bit of a time crunch: only slightly over an hour to get back to Paddington, find an ATM to withdraw enough loot to pay for the shindig since we didn't bring any checks and they didn't take credit cards, return to our hotel and change, find a cab, and zoom back for the pre-reading cocktail hour. Anyway, the cab didn't come and didn't come, so we finally hopped the tube back to Paddington. Fortunately, we had smart enough clothes with us, even if we couldn't take the time to do much besides just jump into them. I, in fact, ran downstairs carrying my shoes, which I put on in the cab. For three people who had been practically sleeping on their achy feet, we'd become astoundingly energized.
Anyway, we arrived back at Honourable Artillery Company, Armoury House, slightly before 6:30, thanks to a friendly cab driver who knew exactly where we were going. There was a big "marquee" on the lawn, where we assumed this soiree would be, but it was inside. We flashed our invitations to someone who knew all about "the Americans." We met two couples of bigwigs in the reception line, bought the program and CD, which was made only for this fundraiser, and finally made it into the room where the free champagne was flowing. And almost immediately spotted Geoffrey Palmer, who was talking to a gorgeous, young blonde--who, after we had a look at the guest list, we surmised was his daughter.
We were practically GIDDY!! Since we didn't know anybody there but ourselves and the very busy Sharon, we stood off in a corner, sipping and giggling and letting our perspiration evaporate. GP walked by us a bit later; I don't honestly recall how we attracted his attention, but we told him we'd been at the ATGB taping "with the Americans", read about the reading, tracked the place down, etc. etc. He kept saying things like, "Really?" "You didn't!" and "I can't believe it!" Since it was almost show time, we asked if he'd be around after the reading for the supper; he said yes, so we agreed to talk more later.
The Charge of the Light Brigade was originally done for BBC Radio, then someone had the brilliant idea that it would make a smashing fund raiser for The Royal Theatrical Fund, a charity for actors who can't act any more (www.trtf.com). Except for Ralph Fiennes, who was replaced by Toby Stephens, all the actors who'd participated in the radio program also participated in this reading. Like the play Rosalind by J. M. Barrie with DJD on BBC Radio, this reading included the author's descriptions of the characters and stage directions. In addressing everyone in his opening remarks, the chairman started off by saying, "Your Royal Highness . . . ", who I was hoping would be Princess Anne but we later found out was the son of the Prince of Brunei, who--according to someone who professed to be a friend of his--wanted to meet "the Americans" but he had to leave. Bummer.
Anyway, GP played General Airey, a supporting role; he adjusted his tied the moment he sat down! We enjoyed the reading immensely. (One of the dozens of connections and intersections on this trip was that earlier that day, Sandy and I had gone to the Florence Nightingale Museum, where we learned that FN arrived in the Crimea only four days after the actual charge of the light brigade. And while we were looking for the FN Museum, three young men stopped us and asked if we knew the way to the Imperial War Museum!) Sad that ego, arrogance, tradition, and misunderstanding led to the loss of so many, many lives.
OK, show's over, on with the elegant buffet supper and free-flowing wine. GP, his wife, and daughter sat at a table that filled up immediately . . . darn. We stood around, balancing our plates and wine glasses whilst we chatted amongst ourselves and with a woman who turned out to be the sister of Mary Archer, environmentalist and author, who is married to Lord Jeffrey Archer--rich author, politician, and jailbird (for perjury) of some renown, whose former mistress's marriage we read about a couple days later. Connections, connections. Guffaws galore.
Oh, back up a little bit--before the reading, we noticed that four men were wearing ties of the same bright pink and mint green striped fabric: the chairman, GP, and two others, one of whom was staggeringly handsome. I kept thinking we'd ask GP about these ties when we talked to him later on, but then I noticed Mr. Staggeringly Handsome and decided to ask him. Turns out these men are members of The Garrick Club, named for David Garrick, a famous British actor hundreds of years ago. The club used to be just for actors but now is for men "with a lot of patience and a lot of money." Turns out this (happily married) man has been the attending physician for many, many theatrical productions and volunteered to arrange for us (to purchase) house seats kept aside for Cameron McIntosh (Hey, Mr. Producer) at any of several plays; we chose My Fair Lady, which was terrific.
We had hoped to talk with Toby Stephens, whom we'd seen in The Royal Family in January, but he left before we got around to it. We did talk with the young actress in the reading, Charlotte Emerson, who was very good, and found out she'll be in a play at the National in October when we go back to see Breath of Life.
The crowd was thinning out, so it was time to zoom in on GP. He stopped by, but only briefly, because he was off to another room for something or other. Then he came back and we asked him about tickets for the last episode of ATGB. We thought it was to be a closed set and found out at the taping on 14 June that there were some tickets available, but we knew they'd be scarce. GP said, "Oh, I wouldn't know anything about that" but he agreed to see what he could find out. We didn't have our hotel's phone number with us (lesson learned) but I did have a note card and pen, on which I wrote our hotel name and address and my name. I was so dumbstruck and wired by this whole entire exciting serendipitous experience, I don't honestly remember much about our conversations with him. I do remember thinking at one point, "Oh, he only seems tall because Judi is so short." He's average height, looks just like he does on TV -- handsome and tan and younger than 75. Every time we mentioned his name to someone who'd met him, the response was invariably, "He's such a lovely man."
Anyway, except for a couple comments about the Garrick Club and the fact that he had to get up to go to rehearsal for ATGB the next morning, that was pretty much that. Every day I'd return to the hotel, hope soaring that I'd hear from GP, only to have those hopes dashed to bits. Called the BBC, got nowhere, dropped his name, was switched to the production office, got nowhere. Friday came and nothing. We decided we wouldn't be happy unless we tried everything we could think of, which meant hopping on the tube and going to the BBC. There we spoke with a guard, who directed us to Audience Services, where we encountered an incredibly friendly, helpful employee, who volunteered to call the ATGB production secretary, who'd just been there five minutes earlier. When she got the answering machine, she told us to wait and she'd try until she got her in person. Meanwhile all these people are queing up outside on the hot sidewalk, and we're lolling about inside on upholstered chairs in air conditioning! This BBC employee even let us in to go to the loo, to which she escorted us, chatting all the way. She mentioned that she'd been in America, where she thought customer service was so much better than in England. We almost fell down laughing.
She finally got hold of the production secretary and told us she'd be bringing two tickets down for us in a bit, to just wait. Oh, man, it was so hard not to break into a tap dance, right there in the BBC lobby. There was an extra ticket that she could have had, but she'd been up very early to watch England lose in the World Cup, so she was tired and went on home. Obviously her priorities were very different than ours.
The production secretary finally arrived, with an envelope with two production tickets (which meant we were guaranteed entry) for us. After much profuse gratitude on our part, she said, "You took a big risk coming all the way out here without tickets. I called your hotel on Monday and never heard back." Turns out GP had asked her the very next day after The Charge of the Light Brigade to contact us--such a lovely man!!--but our hotel never gave me the message!! ARG! All's well that ends well, so I decided not to tear off somebody's head back at the hotel. I might want to stay there again in October.
We were never even able to catch GP's eye before or after the taping to wave and blow him thank you kisses, let alone speak to him, so we sent him a note while we were still in London. (Can't think of much to add re: the tapings except that DJD wore a BLUE blouse in the first couple scenes of the last episode but then switched to her standard beige and white, and that Jenny Funnell, who had slipped into a blue and silver sparkly tube-like party dress, was in tears after the last scene wrapped and hugged and spoke to DJD as she exited the stage.)
So, we met Geoffrey Palmer and attended the taping of the very last episode of As Time Goes By, all because the waitress at Julie's Bar neglected to return Ron's credit card! The two weeks in London was one "monster" event after the next, the most exciting time of my life, but this amazing, serendipitous string of circumstances and coincidences takes the prize.
And none of it would have happened at all were it not for this list, which is how Sandy and I met and how we learned about the tapings. So, to the list mums and posters who ferret out life-enhancing information, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!
Sandy in Indy
Sincere Thank You to everyone who has