THE day that Colin Firth almost broke his nose while filming his infamous “lake” scene in Pride And Prejudice was told with great relish by the series director at a meeting in Henley this week, writes Janine Rasiah.
TV director Simon Langton, who lives at Christmas Common, revealed behind-the-scenes secrets during a question-and-answer session at the annual general meeting of the Henley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society at the Studio in New Street on Monday. Mr Langton, one of the society’s vice-presidents, admitted that filming the 1995 series wasn’t all plain sailing.
First of all, Firth very nearly missed out on the role that made his name. His agent had suggested he should concentrate on films, and the actor disappeared to a log cabin in Canada.
But producer Sue Birtwistle managed to track him down and persuade him to take the lead role in the series.
Mr Langton also revealed that Alan Yentob, who was then BBC1 controller, did not approve of Firth being cast in the leading role as he “didn’t think that he was sexy enough”.
Another calamity which threatened to derail production was the filming of the iconic scene where Darcy dives into the lake, which was filmed in a tank in Ealing. Langton had asked the production assistant to remove four blocks on top of the tank but he left one on.
While the first two shots went well, Firth misjudged his third attempt and banged his nose. Mr Langton said: “I thought it was game over — but luckily his nose was not broken.”
Mr Langton plans to watch the HAODS’ musical production of Pride And Prejudice at the Kenton in November.
He said: “I think the thing that is most apparent is that the society has an enormous enthusiasm and that is evident in the productions. The theatre also has a wonderful history.”
Actor Simon Williams, who is president of HAODS, and lives in Bix, chaired the meeting.
He brought a poster and photograph from the 1936 theatre preduction of Pride and Prejudice which starred his father, Hugh Williams, and mother-in-law, Celia Johnson, in the lead roles.
Williams, who lives in Bix, said: “I have been involved in the theatre for 50 years and my first memory was being taken to the theatre by my father,” he said.
“There is something about this particular group which reminds me how much I love it.”
*Tickets to Pride and Prejudice- The Musical cost £15 (£14 for concessions or £8 for children under 16 years old) and available by calling (01491) 575698 or visiting www.kentontheatre.co.uk