It was interesting researching the different characters. Having to play one real historical character (Reverend Maurice) and two ‘nameless’ characters (navvy and chickweed seller) meant that I knew a certain amount of specific detail was absolutely true about the Reverend Maurice, but nothing specific about the navvy or the chickweed seller. It was fun to make up stories for the last two – and it was also possible to change things as I found more and more interesting stories. For example at one point I killed the navvy’s brother, Charlie, when I came across the story of a terrible tragedy when building a tunnel. For the Reverend on the other hand, I couldn’t suddenly change things, but nonetheless he ended up as my favourite. I don’t know why—perhaps because he achieved so much and was so generally liked; perhaps because I feel he was a little like me.
The filming was very enjoyable. The crew were all highly professional, but also as excited as we were. When we discovered that the chickweed seller’s basket would be visible in the film—we had thought it wouldn’t—everyone contributed to finding the basket, filling it with stuffing and making a little harness for it like in the picture. Fortunately I had brought some flowers from my own garden at home—which like the chickweed seller himself I had picked early that morning – just in case. They now have a starring role!
Tess and I perform the navvy and the temperance lady live regularly at the Art Gallery. They have changed a bit, I think, since the filming. The navvy is a little bit more cheerful than in the film, although he still gets sad about his wife if she comes up in the conversation. However, he’s getting increasingly fed up with being told not to drink by the campaigner. How has she changed? Well, you’d better ask Tess, or pay a visit to the gallery. Perhaps you’ll meet us…