When Mrs Mumford and son joined the film stars

By Keith Newbery

Friday, December 27, 2013

 

When Mrs Mumford and son joined the film stars

Wendy Mumford is pictured holding her son, Richard, on the set of Something to Hide, with actors John Stride, left, and Peter Finch.

THIS ISLAND LIFE For a place which seems to have so much to offer film and programme-makers, the Island has been used only sparingly by this particular branch of the entertainment industry over the years.

The greatest deterrent is probably the prohibitive cost of transporting cast, crew and equipment across The Solent, because I suspect there would be an underlying willingness by most communities and organisations to co-operate in such ventures.

It would provide a boost to the local economy, provide an alternative to pop festivals as the reason for which the Island is well-known and, most important of all, give Den Clare the opportunity to scuttle around infiltrating as many crowd scenes as possible.

A few Islanders already know what that feels like, of course, including former Bembridge taxi-firm proprietor Paul ("I’m the one who drove the cab into the sea when the ferry hit Ryde Pier") Dyer.

He found himself in the role of driver, film extra and friend to the stars when Something to Hide was filmed on the Island 40 years ago. It starred Peter Finch — who went on to win an Oscar a few years later — Shelley Winters, Linda Hayden and John Stride.

Paul told me: "I ran a taxi firm in Bembridge at the time and was hired daily to take the stars and senior executives around the place. We were paid well but we had to be on call whenever they needed us.

"One of their catering tents for the cast and crew was behind the old Birdham Hotel, Bembridge, and we were always invited to join them at mealtimes.

"The food was excellent but the company was even better. I recall sitting next to Linda Hayden on one occasion and she was one of the prettiest and most popular young actresses in the country at the time.

"I told her it would be worth becoming a film star just to get in a clinch with her and she responded by saying: 'You don’t have to be in the film to get one of those’ — before planting a smacker on my lips in front of everyone.

"On another occasion, another cab driver and I had to take some of the cast and crew to a pub just on the Cowes side of the floating bridge to film a scene. They placed a false phone box outside and unsuspecting locals kept coming up to use it. We were also hired as extras that day and told to sit at the bar drinking pints. By the time they got the scene right, we had drunk so many we were in no fit state to drive our taxis home that night and someone had to come and fetch us."

Rod McCarthy is someone else with fond memories of collaborating with the Something to Hide crew.

He told me: "While working in the old workshops at Newport Police Station, I was involved with transforming a white Volvo car into a police patrol car for the film. I had to apply red and blue stripping and attach police signs using double-sided sticky tape to the outside of the car. We also had to fix a blue light on the roof.

"Some filming was done on the beach at Bembridge in an old house and appearing were local policemen Ray Rowsell and John Wills.

"Everyone concerned with the film was very pleasant — and it certainly made a change from our usual work."

Mrs Wendy Mumford also recalls being most impressed by the friendliness of the stars.

She said: "I appeared as an extra and have a photograph of me, holding my young son, Richard, while standing next to Peter Finch and John Stride."

Reach for the Moon was an eminently forgettable television series filmed mostly on the Island and gave Joe Penn the opportunity to feature as an extra.

He said: "My claim to fame is that I, literally, rubbed shoulders with Linda Bellingham at breakfast one morning.

"She was best known at the time as the Oxo mum in the famous commercial and when she asked what I was doing, I told her I just wanted to tell people I had rubbed shoulders with Linda Bellingham.

"She was great fun to work with and when the camera broke down on a night shoot at Norris Castle, she kept everyone amused by telling jokes until it had been fixed."

Stuart Stevens never quite made it on screen but his car did.

He said: "My Ford Escort Mk 1 (which I still own) was used in the movie, Hotel Paradiso, which featured Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson and Simon Pegg.

"I was allowed to watch while the filming involving my car took place over two days.

"I had to put standard wheels on it and remove the spot-lamps for filming.

"It was also fitted with a roof-rack, which the film company supplied."

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