steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Among Schoolchildren

In a weird time-twist, yesterday’s task was to go and do the ‘meet the teams’ bit for the Codex quiz – which is to be broadcast before the main part of the programme (as maundered about in a previous post). As my team is made up of children’s writers, the crew decided that the obvious setting for this encounter would be a school. (They will be sticking our foes, the archaeologists, in a rainy Hebridean hole some point soon, I think, even though two of the three actually work in an office in Reading – but that’s show business.) So, yesterday I was mostly on trains, going from Bristol to Maidstone and back – but for about 2.5 hours in the middle I was with my team-mates and half a dozen TV people, being filmed in my ‘natural environment’ – i.e. reading bits of books to primary school children.

They’d drafted in a class of 8-9 year olds specially (yes, these were genuine children, not diminutive members of Equity), and very good they were too, considering how lengthy and – from their point of view – bizarre the whole proceedings were. At one point, for example, I was being interviewed in one corner of their classroom, while in the back of the shot my two team-mates, Linda Strachan and Mark Robson, were keeping the children entertained with readings and questions. Except that it was quite a small room, and their voices interfered with the interview. So, for twenty minutes they had to entertain the children at a whisper while pretending to do it at full volume, while the children (who could barely hear them) pretended to look enthralled. Meanwhile, I was having to pretend to look forward to the quiz, speculate about our chances, and so on, even though it all happened two weeks ago. So much pretence, so many lies…

Later we were lined up in the playground for a series of shots, where we were asked to look alternately happy and smiley, or else aggressive and menacing (think Bodie and Doyle, with me as Gordon Jackson). Meanwhile the children were ordered to ‘play naturally’ behind us – setting off a bout hoop-whipping, hop-scotching, rhyme-chanting, and rope-jumping such as has seldom been seen in that part of Kent since the days of good queen Vic. An odd experience, to be sure. But it was fun, overall – and it was good to see Mark and Linda again.

But how will/did we do in the quiz? It’ll be broadcast next/last September some time, and I can’t wait to find out.
Tags: real life
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