It’s incredibly hard to come by original ‘behind the scenes’ photographs of filming for The Two Ronnies. But we are spoilt for choice when it comes to their classic serial ‘The Worm That Turned.’ Definitely one the Ronnie’s larger-scale serials, they clearly caused quite a stir wherever the filmed. Luckily for us, it means there were lots of people who witnessed the filming, and lots more people who were allowed to take part.
We recently made contact with the Treorchy Male Choir who filmed a segment for the final sequence of the serial when Ronnie B & Ronnie C (as ‘Janet’ & ‘Betty’) escape the Secret Police by heading over the border to Wales… and freedom!
The piece which finally made it to screen shows a long-shot of miners (actually members of the Choir) singing ‘We’ll Keep A Welcome’ and as the shot zooms out we are greeted by Janet & Betty – now in mining uniforms (instead of dresses!) singing along on a nearby hillside.
(members of the Treorchy Male Choir, in full costume, during the end sequence to The Worm That Turned)
We have been given these wonderful photographs – taken on set – by members of the Treorchy Male Choir when the scene was filmed.
(Choristers pose outside the Treharris Boys Club after being fitted with their costumes for the day)
(Ronnie Corbett poses for a group photograph during lunch)
(taken during filming; members of the Treorchy Male Choir gather on a hillside for a photograph)
(Ronnie Corbett poses for a photograph)
The segment was filmed at the Deep Navigation Quarry, Treharris (now a nature reserve) on Saturday 9th August, 1980. We’ve been lucky enough to speak to Treorchy Male Choir member Roger Morse, who was present on the day.
Roger, who (as of typing) has been a member of the Choir for 43 years, was lucky enough to be on of the 35 choristers required for the filming. He told me how they were requested to mime to their track ‘We’ll Keep A Welcome,’ whilst walking alongside the pit. ‘The weather that week was appalling,’ tells Roger ‘it poured down with rain Monday to Friday. But as we got up on Saturday it was beaming with sunshine. We couldn’t believe it!’ When asked who seemed to be in charge, Roger exclaimed ‘we walked on set and Ronnie Barker came over to introduce himself, it was immediately clear that he was in charge – we all thought ‘good God, he’s the boss around here!”
Costumes were not needed, as the BBC supplied them. The local Treharris Boys Club had been commandeered for the day, and filled with an assortment of typical Miner clothing – steel helmets – some with torches, grubby overalls, waistcoats and the like.
(as the camera pulls out, we can see the Deep Navigation Quarry)
Roger told us how although the filming took a large part of a day, it was a very simple process. After they’d been fitted and supplied with their costumes, the Choristers were sent off to do a rehearsal on the hillside. Their ‘We’ll Keep A Welcome’ LP was played via speakers hidden just out of sight, so that they were able to mime along. 1pm came along and it was time for Lunch – supplied in a blue Ford Transit BBC Canteen wagon. Taken from the Treorchy Choir Archives: ‘This proved to be an excellent meal as the BBC hired a mobile caterer and they provided a choice of either beef stroganoff or cottage pie with required vegetables or a cold buffet – a sweet, bread and cheese, tea, coffee, squash and fresh fruit!’
Roger told us a fabulous story of how the Choiristers – just after lunch – were sat waiting for filming to start on a hillside when they were joined by Ronnie Barker. ‘Quite naturally’ Roger added, ‘everyone started singing. Ronnie sat there just absorbing the sound. He loved it. He kept asking us for more.’
When lunch was over, it was back on the hillside where the one and only take was filmed. It’s well known to us in the Society that the production team always liked to work fast. Very often – usually at the insistence of Ronnie Barker – shots were only ever done once.
Once ‘cut’ was called, the Choristers were sent back to the Boy’s Club, de-costumed, and sent on their way to the Navigation Pub for a well deserved drink.
Our special thanks go to Dean Powell and Roger Morse of TMC for taking the time to talk to us and send us the pictures. The choir is still very much active to this day – and have one of the most indepth and interesting archives we have ever had the pleasure to trawl through. They’re no strangers to television and have done everything from The Tom Jones Show, to Songs Of Praise and The Royal Variety Show. Anyone interested in their Choir or history can visit their website here.
The finished segment of The Worm That Turned can be found here (skip to 14:21 to see the scene).
Do you have any photographs of The Two Ronnies? Did you take part in some filming? Have any scripts or memorabilia? Then we would LOVE to hear from you. Click the ‘Contact Us’ link to tell us your story!