“No, I had never heard of Ken Loach at the time, who had gained a reputation on BBC TV with what was then known as ‘The Wednesday Play.” His celebrated TV film, CATHY COME HOME wouldn't have featured on many young teenagers radar, including mine. My interests were mainly sporting at the time – unlike Billy’s.”
What did you have to do to learn how to hold and instruct a real kestrel? Or was that a bit of camera trickery? Was it more than bird?
“I do recall it; a memorable evening at the Royal Albert Hall. Jack Hawkins (who was recovering from throat cancer) announced the nominations / winner in my category, with Princess Anne presenting a beautiful statuesque award – unlike the ‘mask’ they present these days. I also remember that all the previous winners before me barely gave short shrift to their guest announcers, whereas I made a point of shaking Jack’s hand and thanking him; and after receiving the award I went back over to him to walk off stage by his side. At this point the capacity audience gave us both a standing ovation that went on and on. A leading newspaper of the day reported that this was the moment when the BAFTAS became something meaningful rather than hyperbole. Jack Hawkins: what an honour and a privilege for a young working class lad from Barnsley! I keep the statue in her Perspex case for safekeeping; she still looks as good as new, and of course it’s a prized objet d'art in our family.”
You must have had a great time filming, do you have any amusing anecdotes you can share?
Wow, I thought… and my mind started wondering, thinking of those scenes… Thinking of watching this film as a child, and as an adult, showing it to my child for the first time and wishing I could feel that exhilaration of watching it for the first time too…