This week, my daughter Laura and I had the privilege of attending the film premiere of ‘Tortoise in Love’ in Leicester Square, London. My very good friend, Lesley Staples, was flown to the UK from her home in the United States to play the part of Mrs Summers in this light romantic comedy but, sadly, she was unable, due to work commitments, to make the return journey here for the special night. We have been friends for over 40 years (that shows my age)! We first met whilst working at an Embassy in Grosvenor Square, then went on to share a variety of accommodation, as well as acting beside each other in our local North London Rep and Shakespeare companies.
A few weeks ago, Lesley asked whether we would like to attend this particular premiere and, of course, we said ‘yes please’. It is a lovely experience to ‘walk the red carpet’ and this was the second time we have done such a thing. Lesley was one of the original ‘Calendar Girls’ and, together with her family, we shared the occasion of the premiere for that film too.
‘Tortoise in Love’ is set in Kingston Bagpuize, Oxfordshire, and directed by Guy Browning, a village resident, who had the notion of filming the story set around the annual fete. With the help of some commercial sponsors, the villagers mostly funded the film, provided the majority of actors, as well as the vast amount of ‘behind the scenes’ personnel. It was truly a community effort.
Three years later, the film has caught the headlines and a major distributor, thus allowing during this summer the general release in British cinemas of this low-budget enterprise. At the same time, it is to be shown in New Zealand and Australia.