The idea of a school trip to Chessington World of Adventure for pupils of a number of schools one day last year may have already been an exciting enough prospect - but children were thrilled upon arrival to discover that one of their fellow visitors was none other than the Tenth Doctor himself, David Tennant.
David was there on an outing arranged by the producers of his new film What We Did On Our Holiday along with his onscreen wife Rosamund Pike and young stars Amelia Jones, Bobby Smalldridge and Harriet Bullmore who play their three children. The purpose of the visit was for them to bond like a real family, but Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin, who wrote and directed the comedy feature, hadn't counted on all the interruptions. Andy recalls, “He spent all day posing for photos and signed autographs, and was very patient about it. He still managed to have a family day out, but for the rest of them it was like walking around with Jesus.”
Guy notes that there were other benefits, “It was also quite a useful a photo-opportunity. All the photos you see in the family home were taken in Chessington.”
The creative team behind the popular BBC sitcom Outnumbered, spoke to The Scotsman about their directorial debut and the making of the movie which also stars Billy Connolly and Ben Miller. Like Outnumbered the film looks at family life, but here it is a family in crisis on a trip to Scotland to celebrate a family birthday. Scotland was always going to be the location, they say, even though it was suggested that they use Ireland, the Isle of Man or even Yorkshire to substitute for the rolling Scottish locations. Likewise, they always wanted Billy Connolly to play ailing grandfather Gordie - although at they time they were not aware of Billy's diagnoses of prostate cancer and Parkinson's disease.
Guy Jenkin says, “We heard his voice quite early in the writing stage, and that’s usually a good sign. The character was a mixture of the funny and slightly lyrical, and that’s Billy onstage. Fortunately, he was quite keen to do it.”
“We’re not doctors, we had no idea [about his illnesses]” adds Andy Hamilton. “All we noticed was that he was a bit tired some days, but he’d flown from New Zealand to New York, where he lives, and then on to us, so that was understandable.”
Billy has since had treatment for his cancer and been given the all clear.
Meanwhile, on location, David Tennant attracted attention of a different kind, this time from the clouds of midges that plagued the shoot.
“At one point Ben Miller asked if the midges could be seen on screen, and we couldn’t tell because of the midge clouds in front of our monitors,” Guy reveals. But Andy notes that even the midges had their uses.
“It did help in the ceilidh scene, where everyone is supposed to be upset anyway. Any time Ben or David are looking especially distressed, that’s them being eaten alive,” he says.
Find out more from behind the scenes on What We Did On Our Holiday on The Scotsman's website
What We Did On Our Holiday
Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) and their three children travel to the Scottish Highlands for Doug's father Gordie's (Billy Connolly) birthday party. It's soon clear that when it comes to keeping a secret under wraps from the rest of the family, their children are their biggest liability...
From the creators of the hit BBC comedy series Outnumbered - What We Did On Our Holiday is a heart-warming, uplifting comedy for all the family.
The film opens in cinemas across the UK and Ireland on Friday 26th September