Tuesday, 17 July 2012

"Bert and Dickie" - Matt Smith interviewed in the Radio Times

This week's Radio Times has an interview with Matt Smith ahead of the transmission of "Bert and Dickie" on BBC1 on Wednesday 25 July 2012.

Matt talks about the character of Bert Bushnell together with Bert's prickly relationship with Dickie Burnell.

"Our story explores their relationship and the fact that they didn't get on. But in rowing terms they formed quite a formidable partnership. That's one of the interesting things about the film, with the context of the war and the aftermath. The fact that these games went on at all was a bit of a miracle. There was this sort of cameraderie then - couldn't we do with a bit of that now."

The film climaxes with the pair's race against the Danish favourites for the double sculls. Without giving the game away, you'd best be armed with a box of tissues as they row for 'Chariots of Fire'-style glory. "Even reading the script, I found myself cheering them on," smiles Smith.

Matt also explains that he didn't strive for an impersonation of Bushnell:

"I've had to use more artistic licence," says Smith. He sees Bushnell as someone with an axe to grind, a working class hero with an oar in his hand. "Without causing offence to people who are close to him, the story goes that Bert was chippy. But my grandad, my dad's dad, was a bit like that. He'd been in the war and he was a bit chippy too. I think there was a sort of toughness to people in England at that time but I think that was because you had to be. There was no nonsense," he says.

Matt says that the effort of training and huge amount of food the Olympic Rowers eat was the biggest shock to his system. He also admits to concerns about his back injury:

"The thing that worried me was my back. I had a very bad injury playing football as a kid so I was quite concerned," he says. "But in a weird way rowing actually was good for my back. You are using your arms and legs as a pulley, not your back."

His spine may have stood up to the test, but he admits the rest of his body took a beating. "Look at my hands, look at my legs," he says, displaying his war wounds. "I've got blisters on the hand, cuts and bruises everywhere. Calluses. Your bum is the worst thing because those old wooden seats are pretty grim," he smiles. "It is like everything, it is the tiny details. I loved it, although it's taken it's toll physically."

It really is the best of the many TV Magazine "Bert and Dickie" articles that's around at the moment and I do highly recommend you pick up a copy. It's the Radio Times Pick of the Day for Wednesday and Alison Graham, the Radio Times reviewer admits that the drama "made me cry". The Radio Times is on sale now priced £1.40 from all good newsagents.