I've been filming down in Cornwall this week. First stop was Padstein … sorry, Padstow, the little Cornish fishing village that has been totally overtaken by the TV chef Rick Stein. We ate at his famous Seafood Restaurant, which lived up to the hype and was absolutely fabulous. Our hotel, on the other hand, left a little bit to be desired. Our director of photography c hecked into his room before quickly returning to the front desk to complain that somebody had clearly died in there over the past three days. The receptionist looked shocked, not at the accusation, but as to how he had found out. Meanwhile, I tried to get on the internet. It didn't work. I turned on the telly, but only got one channel. I gave up trying to access the 21st century and had a shower … or tried to. I turned on the hot water and somewhere in the bowels of the building, something ancient and mechanical stirred. I managed to lather myself up with soap before whatever it was gave up and died. The water turned into a cold trickle and I was left having to wipe myself down with a 5in towel.
The next day, we were filming at a rather lovely stately home. The owners had made it quite plain to our location department that, given the choice, they would rather not have public riff-raff wandering around their property, but lack of finances had forced their hand. This didn't stop them from behaving like minor royalty.
I was all made up, in character and in the middle of filming, when they came down among us like a royal visit. Despite clear indications that we were in the mid-shoot, they stopped to chat with me before embarking on a circuit of our "hidden" cameramen, standing next to them and engaging them in a "so what do you do?" kind of interaction. I'm very much of the view that if you have a fabulous house and can afford it, then good for you. But if you're broke and have to open it for the great unwashed to tramp around, maybe it's time to sell up.
Next up was a rather spooky drive down misty lanes to Land's End. When we arrived, the fog was so thick we could barely find our hotel, the downstairs part of which looked promising. But upstairs it was back to Fifties Britain. Tom, one of our cameramen, best summed up the general view. When he left his room the following morning, he hung one of those signs on the door, having changed the wording so instead of "Please Clean My Room", it read "Please Update My Room." Things like this keep you going on location.
Even better was news at breakfast that one of the rooms was haunted. At first, we presumed it was the one given to Jools, our dour soundman, who had been shown into a room that even Terry Waite would have taken one look at and refused. It looked as if they had taken one booking too many and rapidly converted a broom cupboard. It turned out the ghoul had been allocated to Jess, my make-up girl, known as "Teeth" as she is the keeper of my false gnashers on set. She had not spotted the ghost, but had left her telly on all night to scare it away. I was just jealous that she had television.