Tuesday, 26 May 2009


Bank Holiday Monday morning and off to Hay. Remarkably civilised journey - train deserted and able to stretch out, do e-mails, read the paper and screen a load of Arts Council films. Get to Hereford and take the scenic route (i.e. bus). Saved a fortune in terms of Taxi fare which is good. Arrive on site just as the music for the Hay-on-Sky show starts from the studio. Not so good. So, sit in the press portacabin to watch the show on a monitor instead. Show's entertaining and goes well.

Get my crew pass, my swanky Sky Arts wellies and am ready to go. But something's not quite right... yep, the sun's out and it's not raining. The previous two year's it's been like the Somme given the rain and mud and now it's sunny. Dump my bag in the Sky Arts house, bid farewell to four colleagues who've been here the weekend and, leaving wellies in the Sky Arts hut, don sunnies and set off to explore the festival before the filming of the final What the Dickens?

Before the recording there's a really cool 3D demo - unfortunately an audience member close by doesn't have the necessary (and coolly retro Ray Ban Wayfarer-style) 3D shades so I give her mine. Audience love the 3D reel.

The show's hilarious. Sandi Toksvig's hilarious as are the team captains Chris and the lovely Sue Perkins. Great Picasso gag at the end which Sandi seems to love more than anything - she even manages to get it into her interview the following day on Hay-on-Sky...

Evening session - the legend that is Tony Curtis... Saw him earlier in the year at the National Film Theatre for a Q+A following a screening of Some Like It Hot. He's 84 next week and built like a bull. Albeit a slightly fragile one. In a wheelchair. I know what I mean. Without his wig but wearing a white stetson he pulls himself forward with his feet to the front of the stage to revel in the applause from the full house. The next hour flies by as Francine Stock tries to get a word in and keep him on track. As you'd expect from someone who's made 155+ movies and had a 50 year career in Hollywood, the anecdotes fly thick and fast. Marilyn, obviously, is discussed and Tony puts to rest once and for story about him being quoted as saying kissing her was 'like kissing Hitler'. His full reply when asked 'what was it like kissing Marilyn?' was along the lines of 'like kissing Hitler, what d'you think?'...

There's time for his Cary Grant impression and, despite two power cuts, this living legend has the audience enthralled. Francine Stock may have regretted mentioning his conquests and, in particular, two stars who don't come off well in his new autobiography - Shelley Winters and Joan Collins. Stock asks if this is because they turned him down. 'They didn't turn me down, They weren't invited' is Tony's reply.

His anecdote about why he isn't a member of the Joan Collins fan club turns the air rather blue as he describes filming an ep of 'The Persuaders' with her and being forced to wait while she got herself ready despite the cameras being about to roll. Ms. Collins didn't take kindly to Curtis saying 'Joan will you stop being a c**t'. Collins then leaned out the window calling to the director 'He called me a c**t!!'. The audience crack up but Tony apologises for the language.

Later as I'm walking back to Hay I walk past a dad talking to his son who's about 10 or 11. I catch a snippet of their conversation as the dad say '...I guess he just didn't like working with Joan Collins...'

Then it's the wrap party for What the Dickens in the Three Tuns pub - low ceilings I discover on at least three occasions... ouch.

Tuesday - it's still sunny. What is going on here?

After breakfast off to the site bookshop to pick up some books for my son, then head into Hay to take some photos for the Hay website and the blogs. More books for Jake, a few cups of coffee and buy a giant promotional Lego figure for Jake. Forget that I've got to lug all this (and virgin Sky Arts wellies) back home. Doh! That said, my collection of promotional hessian bags is growing so maybe they'll be useful after all...

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