Jane Houston describes working on Brideshead Revisited

Presumably fairly soon after you joined you went to work for the production managers. What did that involve?

See, nowadays, they would be called line producers. But then everything was very different and they did all of the scheduling and budgeting and finding locations, all of that. We didn’t have a location manager and a production accountant and a line producer. They did all of it. And there were 10 of them and two secretaries and they did all the dramas that Granada did. All the location dramas. And so my responsibilities were obviously all the typing and the general dealing with the location owners, booking caterers, booking any facility vehicles, coaches, all about the crews. And then I went to work on Brideshead, but not long after I joined the department, I just worked on Brideshead. I went on location with them. So I was at Castle Howard, and in Oxford, and sort of around the production office, really. So we did everything. Secretarial wise, we did everything other than dealing with scripts, because in those days the PAs dealt with the scripts under the producer secretary. So we did all the other administrative roles. And so even dealing with getting rushes back to the labs, all of that. We did all of it and obviously doing Brideshead, it was great. I can remember being in Oxford, I stayed at the Randolph Hotel in Oxford, which is one of the best hotels in Oxford. And I had a suite, because my room was also the production office. So I never really switched off because I couldn’t go to bed until everybody had finished work. And that’s where people watched rushes. I had to look after Aloysius, the teddy bear, because that was the room that was insured. And I can remember Anthony Andrews, who was married to Georgina Simpson. She was coming for the weekend with the family. And so I was rearranging furniture with Anthony Andrews so that the room was suitable for the family. It was ridiculous, really, the things that you had to do. Never get involved in all that these days. But script amendment, there was one script amendment in the whole of Brideshead. And I had to personally go around and knock on the doors and give it to the actors that were involved and apologise for the fact that there was a script amendment, and hand them personally to them. Just a bit different than nowadays where you can get a whole new script first thing in the morning and be expected to shoot it today.

Do you think they had the sense that that time that Brideshead was going to be so successful? It was more than the television programme really, wasn’t it? Now, people refer to it, you just kind of go “Brideshead,” and everybody knows what you’re talking about and have that impression.

It’s such a little book, and yet they made 13 and a half hours of television out of it. Really, it’s quite incredible. And people still watch it nowadays, and say they still enjoy it. So it has stood the test of time.

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