Monday, 16 July 2018

Hard work that went into making TV film

TOM FORT didn’t much enjoy making the documentary River Of Dreams, which was shown on BBC 4 on Tuesday last

TOM FORT didn’t much enjoy making the documentary River Of Dreams, which was shown on BBC 4 on Tuesday last week.

The film was based on his 2008 book Downstream: Across England In A Punt and followed his 170-mile journey along the River Trent last year.

Tom, 61, a Sonning Common parish councillor, says: “It’s an account of the river, which is the second longest river in England after the Thames and is actually bigger than the Thames in volume.

“The film starts with a trickle coming out of the ground north of Stoke and ends with the Trent where it joins the Humber near Hull.

“We followed all the way from its tiny beginnings and by the time it finishes it’s a huge river.”

Mr Fort said the weather caused problems during filming. “I kept saying to the BBC people that if it rains a lot the river will get very high and you can’t put a lot on it,” he said. “We filmed it between May and July and the summer was appalling so the river was in flood for most of the time.

“If you look carefully there’s a sequence where we put the boat in the water and the river is small and clear but then there’s a tremendous deluge so later on it has gone a brown colour.

“The water was bearable but it was bloody cold. I’m hopping around in a pair of canvas shoes with my trousers rolled up.

“The film was terribly hard work and incredibly boring to make. The days are long and it involves doing things over and over again.

“At the end of it you think ‘that was terrible’ but you look at the edited film and think it looks fantastic. It is a thing of beauty. I’ve got the DVD of it and have seen it a few times with my friends so I’m getting bored of it now.” Tom, a former journalist, featured in another BBC documentary last year based on his book, A303: Highway To The Sun, in which he charted the history of the 92-mile road from Basingstoke to Honiton while travelling in a 1967 Morris Minor.

He says: “I had never done any TV before but it was remarkably successful. It got a big audience and has been shown 12 times.

“I think a lot of people in Sonning Common saw it. Some people stopped me and said, ‘I saw you on TV’. I’d be surprised if this one is as popular.

“The problem with TV is it’s on and then it’s history but a book has a much bigger life, although it’s read by fewer people.”

The father-of-five is currently writing a book about the Channel. What’s the betting that will also be made into a documentary? Watch this space.

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