Our round-up of films with links to Beeston…
Not only was Richard Attenborough’s family from Beeston (well, that bit to the South with all the water), but Gandhi himself came a waltzin’ here way back in the 30’s to have a look round. The late Dickie somehow left this crucial moment out of the blockbusting biopic. A remake perhaps, mostly set round the Rylands?
Right this is a big one, so strap in. You’re probably going to assume that as the latest Batman (not the one with him pointlessly fighting Superman) was filmed up at Wollaton Hall, we’re going to go for that. Nah, too easy. We’d like Wooly Park and Hall to be part of Beeston, but selfishly Wollaton rather prefers to keep it. So we won’t go with that.
Perhaps the Gotham link, then? Just over the Trent is the village where Batman’s home city was named (it’s a long story, but it’s not a coincidence: all about fools, kings, and nicknames for New York). Maybe we can ride on the coattails there? Too easy.
So perhaps, we could look at the 1989 film version of Batman, directed by senescent withered goth Tim Burton? As everyone surely knows, the crook who becomes the latex-friendly vigilante’s first victim is played by the actor Christopher Fairbank. That’s Christopher Fairbank, who played Scouse carpenter Moxey in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. Which, as previously reported here, was filmed in Beeston. But no. He was also in Alien 3 and The Fifth Element, so too easy.
Let’s instead look at Alfred, Batman’s butler. Michael Caine covers the role, but beneath that oaky cockney veneer lies a secret. Caine is a secret aficionado of avant-garde chill out tunes. No really. On Desert Island Discs a few years ago, he chose as a favourite track ‘Swollen’ by Beeston band Bent, who we featured a couple of years ago. Caine also released an album of chill out music called, wonderfully, Cained. Go on, check. Have a look at the track listing while you’re there. Oh, see track 14? Beeston through and through.
There are other links but unfortunately we only have 16 pages so we’ll leave it there.
THIS IS ENGLAND / DEAD MAN’S SHOES / ETC:
Beeston hasn’t directly featured in any of Shane Meadow’s major films (though a chunk of TIE was filmed in Bramcote), but the director has made this place his home and regularly turns up at local events. Vicky McClure, who has gone stratospheric is also a local lass, living close to the terminus the tram named after her frequently pulls up at. Rumours that This Is Beeston, an epic feature about the adventures of the staff on a local magazine, are not yet founded.
The Movie: Sitcoms that aspire to movie form are always crap. The recent, turgid attempt to put Dad’s Army on the big screen is the latest example in a long line of rubbish. On The Buses. Are You Being Served? The Inbetweeners. Admittedly the first two were crap anyway, but rather than even attempt to polish the proverbial turd, the films just added more turd. Porridge: The Movie is a very rare example of excellence, a film that instead of throwing a ton of gimmicks into the mix, actually has an engrossing story. It’s grittier than the series, and has the ironic device of prisoners trying to break in to jail underpinning it. Ronnie Barker and Beeston’s Richard Beckinsale shine, their chemistry fizzing. Sadly, Beckinsale’s film career was thwarted by a fatal heart attack that killed him suddenly aged just 31, a fortnight after filming was completed. However, the name lives on….
Kate Beckinsale is of course a brilliant actor in her own right and the Underworld series proves it. She’s had an astonishingly successful career, but took time out from filming a few years back to visit Beeston and unveil a blue plaque in memorial of her father. She also bought along her friend David Walliams, the father of her child and top-notch thespian Michael Sheen, and her then husband, the Hollywood producer Len Wiseman. That’s Len Wiseman, not Len Goodman. If a certain former editor of this magazine actually got the two mixed up when he met him, then we’re not going to talk about that here.
RUSH HOUR / TROPIC THUNDER /SMALL SOLDIERS/ LOADS MORE:
All used the ultimate protest anthem “WAR” by Edwin Starr, a resident of Chilwell until his death in 2003.
LORD OF THE RINGS:
Yeah, it was filmed down the Weir Field, wannit? No we’re joking, but we do have a connection: the film’s star, diddy Elijah Wood, released a single with Beeston band The Sound Carriers a few years back, the psychedelic “This is Normal”. It’s rather long, but unlike those films with the little lads running round on hairy feet, quite superb.
WITHNAIL AND I:
Every person whose life has ever lurched towards the dissolute is a fan of this staggeringly funny period piece. The tale of two unemployed actors at the arse end of the sixties who go on holiday by mistake is one for repeated viewings. Little known is its connection to Beeston. Y’see, Withnail was based on a real character, the actor and ‘splenetic wastrel of a fop’ Viv MacKerrell. Many in Beeston still recall the times MacKerrell would stalk the pubs of Beeston, never shy to give up his opinions or accept a drink. Sadly, the drink caught up with him, and he died in 1995 aged just 50. Also, the film stars Michael Elphick as a Cumbrian poacher – that’s Michael Elphick who starred in Boon, largely filmed in Beeston.
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY:
This supremely tense and talent-stuffed film version of John Le Carré’s novel is a must see, and as well as starring This Is England’s Stephen Graham, was also released in a limited edition reprint of the novel designed by Beeston stripe-specialist Sir Paul Smith. Also, Barry Foster, aka TV’s Van Der Valk, was in an earlier film about the spy unit in 1982’s Smiley’s People.
Come on, did you really think we weren’t going to mention this underrated gem? Written by Lord Beestonia and his faithful whip Christian, masterfully directed by Melvyn Rawlinson, and starring Beeston’s answer to Jonathan Meades, Jamie Claydon. It took us a year to make. That’s twelve months of; dragging around camera equipment; chasing sunlight like we had vitamin D deficiency; fighting with the public, carpark security guards, and ducks (we’re still not sure which was worse); smacking our heads against an editing suite; and of course having tons of fun as well! The sequel is coming. No amount of family, paid work, or global annihilation (Trump?!) will stop us. 3-5 years tops!