Monday 27 February 2012, 07:28
But as he sat in my office in his frock coat, excitedly jabbing the air and then my arm with his quill pen it became clear that this was just the tip of the Victorian iceberg.
Evans talked of how in our modern digital world we had lost touch with the television-making techniques that had made Victorian television the toast of 12 continents.
One cask of Madeira later, as I watched him stumble into his horse-drawn carriage he had convinced me. We would shoot The Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff exactly as it would have been filmed in Dickens' own day.
Coming up in The Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff
Evans lent me his leather-bound first edition of Ephraim Sprout's Televisioning For Gentlemen and this was to be our bible.
Sprout was the producer of the biggest shows on Victorian Television, some of which are the precursors of today's hit shows, including The Empire Has Ability, The New Things Road Show and The Only Way Is No Sex.
I read with excitement his description of one of Brunel's steam-powered television cameras at full pressure. I read with delight about the rich colours of hand-stitched leather video tape. And I read with growing interest about a Victorian television crew working for sixpence a day plus gruel.
My producer's instincts all told me this could work. Six months down the line I feel exhausted but immensely proud.
The worst moments? Sound was always a challenge - no audio tape in Victorian times of course, and wax cylinder sound-recording was still some years in the future, so we had the misery of weaving all the audio in wool onto a sound loom.
Seventeen thousand feet of intricately woven Harris Tweed, all destroyed by a couple of hungry moths.
But on the plus side, I think the programme is certainly richer, even if the crew themselves are not.
And sticking rigorously to Victorian Health and Safety rules - "Where possible - fatalities to be kept in single figures per day" - meant a lot of time saved on risk assessments.
Would I do it again? As I sit in my huge house waiting for my butler to bring me my morning brandy I have to say that speaking as a producer, the past looks very much like it could be the way forward.
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Thursday 23 February 2012, 06:55
Tuesday 28 February 2012, 11:06