Monday, 30 April 2012

"Bert and Dickie" - New Article and Preview Screening

There's a new article in the "Henley Standard" regarding Matt Smith's forthcoming drama, "Bert and Dickie". The article is below - and it DOES mention a preview screening that will take place at the Kenton Theatre, Henley on Sunday. Please note that this screening is by invitation only so there are no tickets available to the public.

THE story of two Leander Club rowers who won gold at the 1948 Olympic Games has been immortalised in a new BBC drama.

Bert And Dickie tells how Bertram Bushnell and Richard Burnell paired up to win the double sculls event after a chance meeting at Henley Royal Regatta.

A preview of the 90-minute film, written by William Ivory, will be shown at the Kenton Theatre in Henley on Sunday.

Bushnell is played by Doctor Who star Matt Smith while Dickie Burnell is played by Sam Hoare, who has had roles in Captain America: The First Avenger, Doctors and EastEnders.

Much of the filming took place in Henley last July, when Smith could be seen wearing round-rimmed glasses, an Olympic vest and a white sculling hat.

Six Leander rowers were used as body doubles for the actors.

The drama will reveal how the rowers were paired up just six weeks before the Games and had to overcome class differences to achieve their dream on the Olympic regatta course in Henley.

Despite losing to France in the first round, Bushnell and Burnell won the repĂȘchage and the semi-final.

They then beat the favoured Danish duo of Parsner and Larsen by two lengths to take the gold medal with Uruguay coming third.

The film also explores how London coped with staging the Olympics, which were known as the “austerity games” as they took place just three years after the the end of the Second World War. The capital was still being rebuilt and rationing remained.

A total of £760,000 was spent on the Games, all of which was said to be recouped in ticket sales and advertising. No new venues were built and athletes were housed in existing accommodation instead of an Olympic village.

Yesterday (Thursday), the boat used by Bushnell and Burnell was lifted into the New Street theatre, where it will be displayed during the screening. Members of the two men’s families will attend.

Susie Bushnell, the youngest of Bert’s three daughters, has already seen the film.

She said: “It is wonderful and really heartwarming and Matt Smith gives a fantastic performance. The rowing scenes are beautifully shot and I think the film is going to be a huge success.”

Miss Bushnell, who lives in Wimbledon, remembers playing with her father’s gold medal as a child.

She said: “During the Olympics we would invite our friends round and would play games in the garden, handing out the real gold medal as a prize to the winners.

“Dad was very casual about the actual medal and he did not talk about the Olympics much until the last few years of his life. He would talk about the training.”

Miss Bushnell said her father was a determined man, adding: “He was quite a character and quite bolshy. He loved his sport.”

Her daughter Molly, 17, was Bushnell’s youngest grand daughter.

She said: “Although Bert was a very untraditional man, he was a traditional grandfather. Unlike most men of his generation, he was not allowed to go off to the war because of his job, so his stories were about when he won the gold medal or spending time in Portugal.

“He didn’t speak about the Olympics and he was blasĂ© about it as if it was something that everyone did.

“Being a sportsman was something that he was proud of, though not to the point of arrogance.”

Edward Simons, chairman of the Kenton Theatre trustees, said: “This is the equivalent of Chariots Of Fire for rowing. Whenever it has been shown there has not been a dry eye in the house. For the Kenton and for Henley this is a big deal and we are very excited about it.”

Bert And Dickie also stars James Frain as five-times Olympian Jack Beresford Jnr, who officiated at the 1948 Olympic regatta, Douglas Hodge as Bert’s father, John, and Geoffrey Palmer as Dickie’s father, Charles.

It will be screened on BBC1 later this year.