22 Sep 2009
Filming with Michael Portillo in Totnes
Michael Portillo passed through Totnes yesterday, filming part of his upcoming series of ‘Great British Rail Journeys’, which follows in the footsteps of George Bradshaw, the Victorian travel writer, who visited the town in the late 1800s. Portillo’s trip, which began in Swindon, took him to Dartmouth, then up the River Dart to Totnes, from whence he will head further west, ending up in St. Ives. A taste of Totnes was laid on for him, meeting and interviewing me, initially in Totnes High Street (where the level of interest and fascination was such that another location was quickly chosen), and then in St. Mary’s churchyard. We talked about TTT and the Totnes Pound, and then Michael and the film crew headed off to buy and then spend some Totnes Pounds, and get ferried back to the station by Pete Ryland of the Totnes Rickshaw Company, in one of the town’s biodiesel-powered rickshaws.
One funny thing happened while we were waiting for filming to start. I was stood chatting with his researcher, and I gave her a copy of Transition Handbook to give to him. As we were talking, a somewhat gruff elderly gentleman who was passing by stopped and looked over his shoulder. “What’s the name of that book?” he said. She showed him, and he said “I have something to say, but carry on”. We continued our conversation with him standing right next to us, following the conversation, clearly with something important to say. It made me feel very nervous, expecting him to say, “let me tell you young lady, this Transition thing is all a load of old rubbish”, and to launch into some great tirade about what a malign influence TTT is on the town. Eventually we finished our conversation, and she turned to him and asked him what it was he wanted to ask.
“I’m from Braidwood, New South Wales in Australia”, he said, “I am part of the steering group of Transition Braidwood, can you tell me where the TTT office is please?” Instantly from making a potentially dreadful impression, instantly she had a sense of the scale of interest being generated in other places, and how people visit the place because of its Transition status! ‘Great British Rail Journeys’ is due to air January/February next year.