Tuesday, 15 February 2011

On the set of Alys - Don't eat the food!

I was served a lovely breakfast in the café in Alys, but was under strict instructions not to eat the food.

Alys is a gritty drama written by Siwan Jones, about a single mother and her son who flee from Cardiff after a violent incident and settle in a small Welsh town. The series has plenty of black humour and is directed in an interesting style (think David Lynch meets Mike Leigh to film a Welsh western in Llandudoch).

Although set in West Wales, the series is mainly filmed in Barry and Penarth. Last summer I was one of the extras in the café, which was established in an empty unit on Barry Island. A drab backcloth on a van in front of the door obscures the promenade and the Bristol Channel. Clever use of roadwork and traffic noise makes it seem part of a different town in the series.

I was “man in café” being served a massive breakfast of sausages, bacon, eggs, mushroom, beans, fried tomato and fried bread. I said “diolch.” You look at the food, but you can’t eat it. This would create continuity problems between different takes, and the food has probably been made inedible so that it looks good on film.

Here are some of the tricks of the trade, culled from a media awareness course. Roast chicken or turkey has probably been cooked only briefly, painted with ten coats of food colouring, and blowtorched. The syrup being poured over pancakes is probably motor oil. Puddings are rock hard, and ice is artificial, so that nothing melts. Anything BBQ has probably been painted with wood stain. Vegetables may have been sprayed with glycerine, while the milk on cereal is probably glue.

And my close-up being served breakfast? Well, it’s probably on the cutting-room floor. I would not have smiled if I’d known that this wasn’t Gavin & Stacey, but a dark drama set in rat-infested buildings! But I am there in the background when the arguments are going on in the kitchen, looking hungry.

Alys can be seen on S4/Clic (if you’re over 16 and live in the UK) for a limited period: http://www.s4c.co.uk/clic/c_level2.shtml?programme_id=377088089

Here’s the shows website:

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