Sunday, 4 July 2010

Living the life

I fell asleep at 8.30pm last night and slept all the way through to the morning. I was so tired. I’m not sure I’ve ever fallen asleep that early. Perhaps it's a sign of my getting old.

Today was another successful day. The morning felt a bit stop-starty; rather long breaks followed by sequences that we were forced to shoot in limited time. The weather forecast predicted light rain all day but we were blessed with almost unbroken sunshine.

The day started at Hillsborough tram stop with the Yorkshire Saxophone choir who are a highly talented bunch and looked fabulous against the sandstone buildings behind them, saxophones of all shapes and sizes glinting marvellously in the clean, early-morning light.

We then transferred to the Park Hill estate, and for those of you who’ve been to Sheffield, it's the rather controversial set of buildinbgs which sit on the hillside behind the train station. Many people hate it. I find it beautiful in a slightly brutal sort of way. My first visit to Sheffield was as a teenager. I came up to interview for the university and I remember seeing the estate looming above me, and feeling a mixture of terror and awe. I was from a little town in Northamptonshire. I’d never seen anything so large and Orwellian. It looked like a castle and couldn’t imagine what it might be used for.

We filmed a string quartet, and then a rapper, who peered down on us from a stairwell as tiny pieces of paper floated from above. It was one of those shots that just worked.

The early afternoon was about the Sheffield trams and we ended the day in the hamlet of High Bradfield with the Stannington Brass Band, who were just superb. The shots we filmed of them up there are extraordinary. Despite ridiculous gusts of wind, we managed to set up a jib, and I think we were all incredibly pleased we went that extra mile. Once again the camera was able to simply drift about in space. Cameraman Keith is fast turning into a legend!

I have to say, I'm happier at the moment than I've been in a long time. This really is the life.

A busy day for Pepys 350 years ago. He took a boat from Westminster to London Bridge, dropping off his wife at the Whitefriars Stairs, which were just East of the Temple. After a meeting, he went to the Navy Office on Seething Lane to take a look at the dwellings that formed part of the complex. Pepys’ new job potentially carried a “grace and favour” residence in one of them, and he was thrilled at the prospect, chirping that even the worse houses were “very good”.


  1. Very glad you've got the Park Hill estate in there. Hard to miss it, of course..!
    Keep it up Benj
    F xx

  2. Many thanks for your kind comments about Yorkshire Saxophone Choir! It was great to be part of this exciting project. Check out our news item at