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Posts Tagged ‘robin ellis’

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Ask any actor who has done time in repertory theatre what is the most frequently asked question by keen theatre-goers and I’d wager the answer would be:

“How do you learn the lines?”

I might have answered “with difficulty“, after drying on my first line (saying “Grace”) as the Vicar in Murder at the Vicarage on opening night at Salisbury Playhouse in the mid-60s .

It’s the nuts and bolts of the job–but never gets any easier.

Telly Savalas as Kojak had his lines taped all over the set and even–hard to believe–to the other actors’ foreheads!

Even if I’d been able to read them without my glasses, I couldn’t be shamed into that!

Samuel West‘s contribution to this article in The Guardian recently–actors’ advice to fellow actors–reminded me of the run-up to filming my two short scenes in the new adaptation of POLDARK*.

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To anyone learning lines for a day’s filming where there is NO rehearsal, he says:

Learn your lines with a friend the night before filming. Say them looking into your friend’s eyes. Your friend will be distracting you. You will think you know the scene because you can do it looking at the floor, but human contact is distracting – and you want there to be human contact when you film the scene.

Learning the night before? I’ve always needed time for lines to settle and stick (slow study it’s called in the trade)–but I know what he means.

Meredith volunteered  to hear my lines weeks before my first day’s shoot for POLDARK and eventually I took up her offer.

I’d been pounding them into my reluctant brain on my daily walk for weeks.

She suggested, like Samuel West, that I aimed them directly at her.

But for a while I was unwilling to engage with her spirited rendition of Captain Poldark–and continued doing exactly what Samuel West warns against–saying the lines, very convincingly, to nowhere in particular–sometimes to the floor.

In the end, I did engage. It was, as Sam says, usefully distracting–good preparation for when I had to project them across the chasm of the crowded, noisy courtroom.

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Meredith watched the shooting of the trial of Jim Carter [Me-lud presiding!] on a monitor in a freezing anti-room of the medieval hall where we were filming.

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In a pause while they were re-setting the lights she popped outside for a coffee to warm herself up.

There was Aidan Turner (aka Ross Poldark)…

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…pacing up and down, going through his lines.

They hadn’t formally met at this point.

So as not distract him, she discreetly tucked herself into a corner with her coffee.

Suddenly, becoming aware that there was just the two of them, he confided:

“This scene is important and I want to get it right!”

“I know it well,”  she said.  “I rehearsed the lines over and over with Robin–playing YOU!”

Aidan roared with laughter.

Meredith sensibly didn’t offer to hear his lines….

 

*The new adaptation of Winston Graham’s  POLDARK saga is being produced by Mammoth Screen for the BBC and PBS’ Masterpiece in the USA, to be broadcast next year.

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and Ross Poldark remounts…

Today the BBC announced the name of the actor who is to play the lead in the re-working of the series  first screened in 1975.

Irish actor Aidan Turner has bagged it.

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Just needs to add the scar and he’s away!

Congratulations to him–I hope he has as much fun as we did filming this wild and wonderful saga written in 12 books over a sixty year period by Winston Graham.

Forty years ago this November I went for the first of three auditions for the part, knowing little about Winston Graham and less of the books.

A brief glance at the first book of the saga, Ross Poldark, was enough–I seriously wanted him to be me or vice versa.

I had to go through two more nail-biting sessions in front of producer and directors before finding myself in the position Aidan is in today….

…Cast to play Ross Poldark.

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Now–two generations on–this great piece of storytelling will be enjoyed again by millions on TV and in book form.

The time is right. The wheel of fashion turns and Poldark, an unashamedly romantic tale, can be told again with a straight face.

The new series has the advantage of being adapted from original books written by an exceptionally gifted storyteller–Winston Graham.

The characters develop at their own pace and seem responsible for their own destiny.

No visible puppeteer, no obvious manipulation–just the telling of stories through the characters involved.

Aidan and I share a common debt to Winston, for giving us the chance to play a difficult, contrary, complex man often out of his time.

It’s a roller coaster of a ride!

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As part of the publicity for my new cook book, Healthy Eating for Life, I was interviewed  a couple of weeks back for the The Daily Express’ popular Saturday morning feature:

Whatever Happened to ???! 

Which puts me in mind of theFive lives of an actor”:

Runs like this:

Who is Robin Ellis?

What about Robin Ellis?

We must have Robin Ellis!

We need someone like Robin Ellis….

Whatever Happened to Robin Ellis…??

The good thing is that this sequence can recycle more than once!

(Click on the article to get a bigger, readable version.)
ExpressArticleJan'12(Apologies to those who have already been subjected to this on Facebook.)

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We are back in France after a week in London to launch my new book Healthy Eating for Life.

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Friends from N-S-E & W–some we hadn’t seen for years–came to Blenheim Crescent in Notting Hill on a rainy night last Thursday and were bemused and happy to meet others they themselves hadn’t seen for ages.

The publishing team from Constable and Robinson were out in force; marshaled by my editor Judith Mitchell they sailed round with plates of nibbles–cooked by resident cook Clara Grace Paul from recipes in my book.

It became more than just a launch party–it was a reunion.

In fact it was a blast!

Even the bookshop seriously underestimating the number of books they’d need in place–(they sold out just over half way through)–didn’t dampen the spirits!

Magician Meredith, the mistress of ceremonies, had surpassed herself–the book was on its way!

Next day I decided to give us/me a treat.

I bought Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s newish cookbook.

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These two cooks, born on opposite sides in the divided city (one Israeli, the other Palestinian), met in London and have created a revolution in dining and eating.

Their food manages to be sumptuous and simple at the same time–and eminently cookable at home.

On Saturday the treat was extended to lunch at their small restaurant in Islington.

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They don’t take bookings so you wait in line;

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Forty minutes in our case–but we didn’t mind.

We passed the time staring at the heaving counter of prepared salads, trying to make up our minds what to eat–a mouth watering, morale-boosting exercise!

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“Please come forward–we can seat you now”

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We’d made our choices–here are mine–and settled down to enjoy our treats.

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top left to right: char-grilled broccoli with chili, butter bean hummus with caramalised red onions, green beans and mangetout with red salad leaves, grilled aubergine rounds topped with tahini!

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one happy punter sits opposite another!

…and did we!

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…heralding my new book, Healthy Eating for Life!
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(My first book  Delicious Dishes for Diabetics is alive and well and readily available.)

Healthy Eating for Life is published by Constable and Robinson,  on January 8th, 2014– and is available for pre-order. If you’d like a signed copy and live near London, I’ll be at Books for Cooks in Notting Hill on Thursday, January 16th, from 4pm-5pm. (If you can make it to Books for Cooks, please reserve your book with them ahead of time.)

From the Intro:

“Healthy eating for life”

What’s this?

Sounds like something handed down by a crusty old judge–a life sentence of eating humble pie for past sins.

“Prisoners at the bar, you have sinned most grievously, eating too much of the wrong stuff for too long. Bad habits must be punished! I therefore have no alternative but to sentence you to—HEALTHY EATING–FOR LIFE—take them down!”

Ouch!

But NO! Emphatically no!

This book is not promoting a diet of worms, grapefruit or any of the strict rule-ridden diets that are so guilt-inducing and hard to stick with.

It’s a book for people who love good food and enjoy cooking it or at least are willing to try. All manner of food, cooked in all manner of ways—a balanced diet, avoiding extremes.

“No one is born a great cook one learns by doing.”–Julia Child

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The UK’s Home Secretary, Theresa May, has revealed that she was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

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It was a real shock and, yes, it took me a while to come to terms with it,” she said. “It started last November. I’d had a bad cold and cough for quite a few weeks. I went to my GP and she did a blood test which showed I’d got a very high sugar level – that’s what revealed the diabetes.

“The symptoms are tiredness, drinking a lot of water, losing weight, but it’s difficult to isolate things. I was drinking a lot of water. But I do anyway. There was weight loss but then I was already making an effort to be careful about diet and to get my gym sessions in.”

The Home Secretary says she has been told that she will have to inject herself with insulin twice a day for the rest of her life–but she has no fear of needles and intends to carry on in her Cabinet post.

Mrs May’s determination to get on with her life reminds me of my mother, Molly Ellis.

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June 1955. Brother Jack in Molly’s arms. Her doctors overcame their doubts about letting her proceed with the pregnancy despite being a Type 1 diabetic.

Molly was diagnosed with Type 1 aged 38 in 1953.

She too injected herself twice a day for the rest of her life.

Eventually she died of a sudden heart attack linked to her condition–but she made it to 67–almost 30 years with Type 1 diabetes–and in those days treatment was not as advanced as it is now.

Molly was not a professional politician–and the cabinet she loved best was hanging in a corner! But she carried on leading a full life, running the household and raising three boys.

The last six years of her life were spent in a Buckinghamshire village called Brill–not too far from Oxford. She and Dad retired there from London. They threw themselves into village life and were much appreciated for it.

I’d wager that not many in the village, apart from her doctor,  John Spence, knew she was diabetic–and few would have understood what it meant.

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Molly relaxing in Brill–after preparing lunch I’d guess!

She never liked to make a fuss.

Her heart attack happened one morning as she was finishing dressing to go shopping. Her heart finally gave up after years of struggle.

Her gift to me was an understanding of how damaging diabetes can be if ignored. When I received my diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes in my mid-fifties, I took it seriously, thanks to witnessing my mother’s journey.

There’s still a shocking ignorance surrounding the condition.

Theresa May’s high profile and very public admission that she is Type 1 helps focus attention on and heighten awareness of this ruthless and insidious menace.

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The second group of Bravehearts (participants in my cooking workshops here) are enjoying an aperitif in the sunshine, on the terrace of the magnificent and aptly named B & B, La Terrace de Lautrec.

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We are about to sit down to a well deserved final meal (prepared by us of course).

Lunch, al fresco, overlooking the historic parterre–newly-clipped and  immaculate.

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Suddenly we hear a ruckus from inside the house. The sound of a voice that has a familiar and unwelcome ring to me–is of a particular timbre.

Loud, angry and Scots! 

It triggers unpleasant memories and I find my overall sense of well being and satisfaction at completing a second workshop is swiftly turning into a feeling of anxiety–as I realise I am about to be nabbed!

Like the dour Scot he was back in the days of Poldark, dear old Captain McNeil never gave up the chase, it appears! His persistence (some would say his obsession) has finally paid off for him and I am cornered by a red faced redcoat on horseback!

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Donald Douglas as Capt. McNeil

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IevZBj6Yisw

Happily for all concerned, the redoubtable Captain (aka Donald Douglas), after agreeing to hang up his musket–sits down, at the head of the table and charms us all with his highland banter.

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Old enemies bury the past.

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