Mr.Stink Immortalises Hemel Hempstead.
Eyewitness Account of Television Film Being Made.
By Alan French
Originally published for my blogspot on the Hemel Hempstead movie makers website
MR STINK IMMORTALISES
This town, throughout the centuries, has had many famous people living and visiting it. Yes! Hemel Hempstead has been visited by royalty of different nations. Famous characters, such as Michael Miles, Hughie Greene, Wild West star Tex Ritter, Professor Bernard Quatermass, Doctor Who, Alf Garnett, and even The Daleks. But the latest character who put Hemel Hempstead on the map over the 2012 Christmas television schedules was none other than a tramp called Mr Stink.
The first I was aware of this was when Gadebridge Park and Hemel Hempstead’s town centre were utilised for location film work for a story titled MR. STINK. It was based on something David Walliams had written for children.
Now the book was being transposed to the motion picture media.
I did witness some of the town centre sequences being made. One empty shop had been done up to look good, and was supplied with items from the branch of Poundland opposite. A false sign, RAJ STORES was put up. Unfortunately I do know someone who not realising that the shop had been set up for a film, went inside to purchase a newspaper just prior to the shooting session.
We general public were able to watch, but not stand beyond certain points. Glamorous actress Sheridan Smith, walked around dishing out what were supposed to be electoral leaflets to film extras, with scripted insults to those who in the story were supposed to be ignoring her.
Although a dog named Pudsey, who had appeared on BRITAIN’S GOT TALENT, was the animal star of the production. My memory goes to a lady from the crowd who had a Chihuahua. In between takes, Sheridan Smith could not resist coming over and with the owner’s permission, picked up the tiny dog and fondly held it as she walked around the set. Eventually, she returned the dog the owner when she was required for another shot.
The last time that Sheridan had to shout some insults she was quite near to where I was standing outside Boots the chemist. I hope that it was coincidence that she had to look in my direction (in fact, right at me) as she shouted, “YOU MISERABLE OLD…”
We also saw a limousine carrying Hugh Bonneville, and Pudsey. Hugh Bonneville was in the title role of the tramp named Mr. Stink and Pudsey was his faithful dog called The Duchess.
Work continued for a few days after, but was hampered by rain.
At the time of writing, I did not know where the external shots of the houses were filmed.
The programme was broadcast on BBC One December 23rd and 27th and also on BBC Three on December 30th.
Hemel Hempstead has also recently been used for some location work for a cinema film in which Naomi Watts portrays Princess Diana.
So it is not only HHMM making productions that immortalise our town. We can now be remembered evermore due to Mr. Stink!
Mr Stink-Hugh Bonneville
Prime Minister-David Walliams
Chloe-Nell Tiger Free
Sir Derek Dimble-Steve Pemberton
Prime Minister’s Aide-Danny Lee Wynter
I have heard through the grapevine that Sheridan Smith was not feeling well during the making of this production.
According to the local press, a former work colleague was an extra in the film. I did not meet him when I witnessed the production. I did not spot him during the broadcast.
Happy New Year!
Copyright Alan French 2013