Mini adventure at movie premiere

4:24pm Thursday 23rd October 2003

By Paul Welsh

Another trip to Leicester Square and another premiere, but, as always, it was in aid of a worthy charity.

This time the ticket price went to the NCH children's charity and the film was The Italian Job. In reality, it should have been called The Los Angeles Job, as most of the story revolves around a robbery in Hollywood.

The stars of the film turned up in the shape of Mark Wahlberg and a young actress named Charlize Theron, who I must say scrubs up pretty well.

The not-so-distinguished guest list included Jay Kay, Kian Egan, Jeremy Edwards, Bryan McFadden and Nell McAndrew. ‘Who?' I hear you say, but that is par for the course these days at such occasions.

Still, myself, Simon, Katie and the hair gel king Robbie Dodkin managed to give the event a touch of Borehamwood class.

We had to walk the walk into the cinema watched by tourists and fans, fenced off behind crowd control barriers, and were faced with a battery of Fleet Street photographers and camera crews.

It is a daunting experience the first time, as you feel thousands of eyes weighing you up as to whether you are worth a scream or flash of a camera bulb.

The film, as you can guess, is based on the famous Michael Caine thriller, but it is not a remake. Earlier in the day they did some stunt two-wheel driving with Mini cars, which feature in both films.

However, the stunt driver revealed that the cars were adapted with a special front axle, disabled safety systems and a customised handbrake, so I won't be trying it myself next time I visit The Venue.

The next day I went down to watch filming at Allum Hall, for a 15-minute short being made by a group of local university graduates, any of whom who could turn out to be the next Spielberg.

The film is called The Telephone and is directed and written by Furzehill Road resident Robert Finlay.

He was being ably assisted by Neil Copland, as director of photography, and Rory Collins, as story board artist and boom operator, with help from Beth Collins and Daniel Tilly.

They have persuaded two up-and-coming stars to appear in the movie. Jacqueline Wigglesworth is already an experienced young actress who has the advantage of talent and good looks, much like myself.

Philip Winchester is a 22-year-old American who is staying near Elstree. He came from Montana to study at drama school in London and has landed the role of Scott Tracy in a new multi-million pound movie based on the television series Thunderbirds.

The Thunderbirds movie is all but completed and it is likely to propel Philip to stardom on its release next year.

He told me: "It is a live action version of the series and was great fun to make.

"When the lads approached me with the script of their film it really impressed me and I am more than happy to become involved."

Philip has openness and charm and I hope Tinseltown does not spoil him, Jacqueline or the lads when the success they deserve comes their way.

I hope Philip also remembers to keep his promise and say ‘hello' to me at the premiere of Thunderbirds in Leicester Square next July but I suspect by that time the Hollywood machine will have taken over making it unlikely our paths will cross.

I also await a screening of The Telephone with interest and it is good to see Borehamwood still producing home-grown film-making talent.

Finally, I hear that veteran actor Robert Vaughn has been signed up for a new BBC series, being produced by the makers of Spooks, which was partly filmed in Borehamwood.

Older readers will remember Robert as one of the two stars of the Hollywood television series of the 1960s called The Man From Uncle. I recall he nearly ran me over when driving out of Elstree Studios in the early 1970s, when he was filming The Protectors. I was not even a member of the crime syndicate Thrush that the Men From Uncle were always fighting.

I accidentally almost returned the compliment when I nearly ran over his co-star of that series David McCallum, as he was walking across Eldon Avenue years later while filming Sapphire And Steel at ATV.

Let us hope the BBC shoots the new show locally, so I might get to say ‘hello' to Robert, but only if we both meet on foot.

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