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Famous Five


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Filming's Fun Say The Famous Five!

Bild: Timmy springt über die Kinder
The dank, airless tunnel seems to have run for miles, twisting and turning beneath the limestone cliffs. Panting breathlessly, their eyes wide in the flickering torchlight, Julian, Dick, Anne and Georgina - better known as George - slither to a halt and listen. Even Timmy the dog has his ears cocked apprehensively. At first, only the steady drip of moisture from the rough-hewn walls… but then, horror of horrors, the distant footfalls of pursuit; the far- off mutter of voices, weird and sinister in the echoing gloom! "The smugglers are still after us," breathes Julian… And then - "Cut!" bellows the director. " Lights, please!" The actors relax, another fragment of Famous Five in the can!
Bild: Jenny Thanisch (Anne), 
Michelle Gallagher (George), Gary Russell (Dick) und Marcus Harris (Julian) Every youngster (and that actually includes plenty of adults as well) loves the world of make-believe. And these actors are no exception to the rule. Marcus Harris, who plays Julian in Southern Television's popular series, based on the evergreen Enid Blyton books, admit that there are times when filming can be hard going. "The waiting about between takes. Things that have to be done over and over again until the director is satisfied." But when it comes to being trapped underground, or chased for their lives, or acting spooky sequences, then all five - yes, even the dog - are in their element. "If only life was really like this," grins Michelle Gallagher, who is the tomboy George, "children would never get bored!"
Both Marcus and Michelle were new to acting when they passed their auditions for The Famous Five, so it could be argued that they'd naturally find it all a lot of fun. In fact, their colleagues Jenny Thanisch, who plays Anne, and Gary Russell, who's Dick, agree with them. Jenny has appeared in The Sweeney, and also played the young Lorna Doone in the BBC production, while Gary has appeared in The Phoenix and the Carpet and several other plays.
Bild: Timmy Part of the magic for them was living in a farmhouse together, with a walk down leafy lanes every morning to begin filming at Exbury House, the location for the series. Set in huge estate down near Southampton, Exbury House belongs to the millionaire Rothschild family, and was taken over by Southern TV as a complete studio complex. Cellars and kitchen were transformed into winding tunnels, rocky coves, and a mine - and so delighted were the Rothschilds with the sets that they asked to keep them after the production ended! Add to that the natural surroundings - moors, woodland, remote beaches - and all the formula for high adventure was right on tap. The estate, famous for its rhododendrons, was still open to the public during filming, and the young actors were often amused at the surprise on visitor's faces as they unwittingly came upon the Famous Five in action!
Working amongst such a mass of flora posed problems for Michelle Gallagher. She suffers with hay fever, and it plagued her so much during the first series that she always tended to sound husky. Viewers commented on the fact - and so for the second series, it was deliberately written into the scripts that George was a hayfever victim. " I felt better knowing that the audience wouldn't forever be imaging I had something wrong with my throat," smiles Michelle.
Hand-in-hand with flora goes fauna - and though not exactly wildlife, Timmy the dog ( played by a black and white border collie named Toddy) gave the series his share of laughs during shooting. There was one scene where Timmy was supposed to jump up into a basket carrier on the back of one of the youngsters' bikes. The problem was, could Toddy be trained to do it? Owner Ben Woodgate wasn't sure, and there were long discussions about it. "We'll see how it goes on the day," was the eventual verdict. Everyone thought the script would have to be changed. Everything was set up, and then - without the slightest coaxing, and with no training at all, Toddy pricked his ears - and leaped nimbly up into the carrier! Could be that dogs are smarter than humans think!
Source/Quelle: Look-In-Magazin