Jean Barnes - in the recording studio

This account begins with a synopsis of the play, and is followed immediately by Jean's recollections of the day.....N.D.


The rank is but the guinea's stamp
The man's the gowd for a' that
..............Robert Burns

Bill lives in a North Midlands village: mines and the foundry provide the main employment. He lives his own life: wants more from married life than his tea on the table and bedroom services.

Meeting Hillary he sees the woman he wants but he also wants to let her find her own way in the village and come to him on equal terms.

Hillary had her own career in teaching but has botched it. Wanting to inspire her pupils to higher things she gave them an understanding they could not have. Altruistic motives were translated by one girl as emotional and Hillary was forced to resign.

Unable to find employment in her chosen career and wary now of being misunderstood she travelled round the country, taking various jobs, eventually coming to Bill's village.

Finding somebody understanding, and willing to take her on as she was, Hillary found stability and was able to take up teaching English in a Technical College. The urge to inspire came back, and she over- reached her ambitions with one of the young men.

Talking to him as if he was her intellectual equal, he just assumed she was attracted to him.

History repeated itself. Hillary was asked to leave. The came the offer of her old job back again in the girls' boarding school.

It was left to Bill to keep to his own standards and Hillary, for once, to make up her own mind.

They parted on equal terms. Would they eventually share their lives together? Time would tell. The Guinea Stamp.


THE RECORDING...........

The Master Cutler: Sheffield 8.50 a.m.; Chesterfield 9.03 a.m, Nottingham 9.20 a.m., St. Pancras 10.40 - the golden days of rail.

Across the road for a No. 7 to The Strand. Pop into Lyons Corner House for a snack.

Rehearsal 2.30 pm. Recording 3 pm.

It's a city on its own is the BBC: when you come from a Derbyshire mining village, it is.

David Godfrey, producer, escorted me to the rehearsal room where the cast of THE GUINEA STAMP was assembled. A nice man, David; kind, pleasant, unassuming.

I was to find out the BBC hierarchy.

He takes me up to meet the cast.

Meet the cast!

I am not introduced. Left to find my own seat. Nobody takes the slightest bit of notice.

He joined them; left me on the perimeter. Nobody spoke to me. I was air-brushed. But it was all new to me, and I'm naturally reserved, so it suited.

All the talking was muted. I just watched, and learned; listened to the conversations. I got the drift...they are professionals.... I am not. They are on the inside. I am definitely outside. They had read their scripts, translated them into their acting expertise, and got on with the job.

We went down into the studio. The bowels of the earth. Everything was closed in. The hush was deathly.

The recording room was separated from the acting studio by a large glass pane. What light there was came reflected from the studio: all the light in the recording room was from panel lights. No distractions for the cast.

Again nobody spoke to me: I was gestured to a chair and that was that. Come to that, no-one spoke to anyone.

It is very claustrophobic. Like being in a tomb. Must have an effect if you are a regular.

So - off we went. The pro's doing their job; the amateur an interested onlooker. The recording starts. First thing is you see the actors, see the mouth move, but the speech doesn't come to you for two seconds. It's weird.

It took some getting used to: the cast in smart clothes, being themselves, and coming to the mike when necessary to read their parts.

Thing was - they were themselves, but in the play they were my creation.

In two seconds, by their voices, they changed from smart clothes and modulated tones (except Eva Stuart who was smart and modulated throughout) to working class and their interpretation of northern accents.

I couldn't get my head round it. Listening to the radio play, you form your own vision of the cast - the people in the play. These- oh so different from my own vision - was hard to take.

I then found something else. My script was being altered.

Eva was doing her own interpretation. All my 'bodys' were being 'ones'. Nobody, no-one; somebody, someone; anybody, anyone. It grated. It wasn't what I had written. But Eva knew best.

When does a 'body' become a 'one'? Why, when one has been to University, has a career, is used to the good life - that's when.

Queen Victoria: "WE are not amused."

Of course, to Hillary, one is a lady, one calls oneself one because one is one, isn't one? Or.....doesn't one?...even.

Preston Lockwood always now played the upper-class, double-breasted suit with the wing collar.

He was my headmaster who had to tell Hillary that he was sorry to lose her but he had to let her go.

Halfway through he stopped and said: "I can't say this".

I was shattered. What did he mean, couldn't say it? There were no swear words. What was wrong with the dialogue? I soon found out.

Preston continued with his speech. He said exactly what he should have said. Only it was not what I had written. He had perfected my sloppy grammar. The substance was the same but it was spoken in perfect English, not in my gobbledegook.

Lesson 1 + Lesson 2 = Lesson 3. She (the Beeb) teaches. You listen and learn.

The recording session finished. The captains and kings departed.

I was on my own.

David Godfrey came to say goodnight. "I hope we see you again," he said as he left.... and tripped over a stair.


The Master Cutler. St. Pancras 6.30 pm. Nottingham 7.53, Chesterfield 8.10 pm.

Much to think about.

Work tomorrow.

Which is, of course, another day....somebody said.

I'll be back....somebody also said that.

Jean Barnes / Diversity Website

thanks again, Jean, for writing this for us.....N.D.

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