What would be involved in working on a drama?
Well, you get the first script – the first one was the white script, then the pink script came, then you got the blue script, which was the final one, and then you wrote down – they do it on a computer now, I believe – every scene, you know, what was going on in every scene, the date, probably the weather if it was outside, and you broke it down like that. And if they needed wigs and things you took them down to London to get wigs – well, they were probably already in London – and it was prep like that for about three or four weeks first. Principally, it was the PAs (Production Assistants) we worked with at that stage. I always thought that the PAs were never appreciated, because they were the fountain of all the knowledge on the programme!
How would you link in with the PAs?
Well, you would get addresses from them for all the actors, and phone numbers and what we were doing on what day… we didn’t do budgets with them, we did budgets with the producer, but we were told, “This is the budget.” But I never had a problem with budgets.
So when you would meet the actors?
At the read-through.
And assess what they needed?
Yes. In those days we used to use a room behind the Taxi Café in Brixton and we would all sit around… it was funny because the actors used to be so nervous that they would greet you like a long-lost lover. I used to think, “For God’s sake! You’ve only met me once before!” “How are you, dahling? How lovely to see you!” and all that crap. Haha. And then you would arrange, when they were free, to take them to wigs and things. Sometimes they needed prosthetics, but not very often. Yes, that’s how it went.
And if you were doing a period drama, was there ever any research involved?
Oh, yes – always.
How would you go about that?
Well, you would just look through books and things. This was before computers, you know. And you would also talk to the producer and the director and ask them what they wanted, and we worked very closely with the costume people too.