Tag Archives: Andy Serkis

How I helped bring Ian Dury to the big screen

6 Nov

Marc Lambert-Clarke (second right) with other extras from sex&drugs&rock&roll

In his own words, Marc Lambert-Clarke tells of his experience as an extra in the biopic sex&drugs&rock&roll starring Andy Serkis.

“The first day I arrived on set, I was greeted by a man walking with a stick, dressed in some turned up jeans and a dirty looking jacket. He asked me if I was okay and if I needed anything. He explained where I needed to go and who I needed to speak to and then left, simply saying, “Well, I have to go do some work now, I will see you later”. Only as he walked away did it register who he was: Andy Serkis dressed as Ian Dury.

My name is Marc Lambert-Clarke and during my time as a trainee I was asked to be a drummer, a punk, and I filmed one of the crowd scenes with an old Bolex camera. Being an extra during the Watford shooting days was perhaps the most tiring, but extremely exhilarating few days of all. The job I was given was to dress as a punk rocker and simply rock out for a couple of days. What the director failed to mention was that I would be rocking out to the same song for the same scene for nearly 14 hours. I know what you’re thinking, but you’re wrong, it was amazing. Imagine going to a gig where the energy never changed and, for the whole time you were there, you were running solely on adrenalin.

The truth is, if you want to work in the film industry, you need to be prepared to work for it. Whether you’re asked to make coffee, direct traffic or rock out as an extra. It may have been my first time on a film, but it was an experience I can chalk up as one of the best. Before that, I didn’t know much about Ian Dury; I had heard ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’, but aside from that I hadn’t really heard of him. Once being part of this film, I found myself buying a few Blockheads albums and listening to their songs. Ian Dury might be dead, but he remains a strong inspiration. Never let your problems get you get down and strive for whatever you want. If you work hard enough, you can achieve anything.”

sex&drugs&rock&roll

12 Jun

Chaz Jankel and Andy Serkis at the Hope 4 Haiti benefit (Picture by Richard Balls)

Extract from Chapter 16 of Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Life of Ian Dury available now.

“Before going into acting, Andy had studied visual arts at Lancaster University and had longed to be a painter. He was passionate about jazz, particularly Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane, and he is an accomplished tenor saxophone player. Since making the film, he has become a close friend of Chaz Jankel and the two performed together at a Hope For Haiti concert at in Halesworth, Suffolk, in March 2010. Like Ian, Andy also shot to prominence in his late thirties when he already had children and would experience firsthand the conflict of being a perfectionist performer with a young family at home. There was also an uncanny physical resemblance to Ian that would provoke an instant audience reaction.

“I could not think of anyone else who could do it,” says Paul [Viragh]. “It wasn’t the looks, I hadn’t heard him sing like that or anything, it was just something about the physicality. I knew. I have known him for years as a theatre actor and he has a phenomenally broad range on stage, as he has on screen, and so he knows all that performance thing. We went to The Blue Posts in Soho and I just said, ‘What do you think about doing Ian Dury?’ and he said, ‘Oh my God, that’s brilliant. I met Ian Dury and worked with him’.”                                                                                                                      

 

Guest blog: My Ian Dury

2 May

Margo Milne (pictured) grew up listening to Ian Dury. Here she writes about what he means to her and how she came to appear in the movie about his life. 

“Ian Dury was part of the soundtrack of my teenage years. His husky, intensely sexual voice and driving beat were with me through my transition from childhood to womanhood. He, and his music, have always been special to me.

When I became disabled, Ian began to mean even more: his polio had never stopped him from achieving what he wanted, getting where he wanted to be. That’s just one reason I was so thrilled when I was offered the chance to be an extra in the film sex&drugs&rock&roll, starring Andy Serkis.

A friend who works in PR told me she was going to be an extra, and I begged her to ask if they could use someone in a wheelchair. They could! I know extras were recruited through the fan club, and also through social media like facebook.

We were to be in the “mosh pit” for the concert scenes and, as a wheelchair user, I managed to be front and centre for just about every scene. The atmosphere was great, and Andy was startlingly good as Ian. He came across as a really nice guy in between takes, as well. I’ll never forget the joke about the new flavour of crisps…

Being an extra involved lots of hanging around, retakes, and – to be fair – some boredom. And it’s not the way to get rich, either. It also involved moments of sheer exhilaration, when Andy and the band were performing. Overall, I had a great day. Can I do it again please?”

A new updated edition of Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Life of Ian Dury which tells the inside story of the movie is published on 3 May by Omnibus Press.

If you also appeared in the movie or have a story to tell about Ian Dury, let me know in the comments box below.

Ten years on and the story continues

6 Feb

I ended my biography with the words: “Ian Dury – ‘young and old and gone’ – but his legacy will endure.” That his life and music would go on to influence future generations was a given. Not so, The Blockheads. It seemed doubtful then that they could carry on.

Fast forward almost 11 years and The Blockheads are still gigging furiously. Next year marks the group’s 35th anniversary. And while they continue to release their own albums, they are also keeping Ian’s songs alive, helped some by a startling biopic released last year that has ignited fresh public interest in Ian Dury the man.

In 2010, Omnibus Press asked me to write an updated edition of the book and it is this fresh look at how the story has continued without the man, that is coming out shortly.

Inside, to quote the man himself, “This is what we find”:

  • Foreword by BAFTA-nominated actor Andy Serkis.
  • Beyond the Call of Dury: a new chapter charting events immediately following Ian’s death, including the release of the ‘Brand New Boots And Panties’ tribute album and ‘Ten More Turnips From The Tip’ . It also re-examines The Blockheads as musicians in their own right… an unstoppable force on the live scene with two studio albums to their name since 2003.
  • Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll – the complete inside story of the film: how it came together; where the scenes were shot, and the extraordinary lengths that Andy Serkis went to in order to portray his hero. Based on original interviews with Serkis, director Mat Whitecross, producer Damian Jones and scriptwriter Paul Viragh.
  • An afterword by actor Martin Freeman, himself a huge Dury fan.
  • New pictures, including stills from the movie.

This involved a lot of work, but even more pleasure. Pub sessions with members of The Blockheads, seeing them play at the legendary 100 Club, meeting and interviewing Andy Serkis? It was a horrible job, but someone had to do it.

A new year, a new edition

29 Jan

In June 2000, my book Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Life of Ian Dury was published. As an long-time admirer who’d been captivated by this inspirational British icon from a young age, I felt privileged to have written the first book about him. I still do.

For around 18 months, while I researched and wrote the book, Ian Dury’s world became my own. From the very first interview in Charlie Gillet’s vinyl-lined sitting room in Clapham, through to afternoon tea with Ian’s indomitable Aunt Moll in her cosy cottage in rural Buckinghamshire, I was let into people’s lives with a generosity that I found rather humbling. In squats, pubs, rehearsal rooms, studios, back gardens, a cafe on the end of a pier, the stories poured forth, some hilariously slapstick, others disclosing a previously hidden side to Ian’s story that challenged his Essex lad image.

Summoned to his home in Hampstead on a cold November day towards the end of my research, I was apprehensive.  I was ushered in to the living room and waited. A gravelly voice suddenly came from behind the door and the questioning began – his not mine.  I needn’t have worried. He was impressed with my persistent detective work that had unearthed Barry Anderson, his childhood pal who had accompanied him to Southend Swimming Pool on that fateful summer day when he had contracted polio. And he was delighted that I had given Barry his phone number, putting them back in touch for the first time in about 30 years. I won’t say that Ian gave me his blessing to speak to his aunt and his friend and near neighbour Rainbow George. He ordered me to. We spoke about getting together and me asking him some questions, but he was ill. A few months later, he died.

Mickey Gallagher told me the news and it was a shock. However frail Ian had looked on that visit to his home and in those final concerts, it just didn’t seem possible that someone with such an iron will and juggernaut personality was no more.

In the months before his death, he had bought a computer to write his own story. ‘Allo sausages’ was as far as he got. Putting a smile on people’s faces, being an entertainer, that was what Ian was all about. That he had never got any further is a shame: we’d have had tears rolling down our faces.

Which is all the more reason why I wanted my book to be a respectful and fitting tribute, despite the fact that it ‘went there’. Ian had told me he did not want me to do a  ‘hagiography’ and I didn’t. But what would those close to him think of such a brutally honest account? Mickey Gallagher from The Blockheads called me to say he had read it in one sitting and had cried and cried. I felt proud and relieved in equal measure.

That it has gone on to sell more than 33,000 copies is testament to the extraordinary life and talents of Ian Dury and, hopefully, that it is a well written book.  Now, 11 years later and following the release last year of the movie starring Andy Serkis, a fully updated version is about to be published by Omnibus Press. For more details about this, watch out for my next blog. In the meantime, why not subscribe to this blog, Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll, to read more about the background to the book, exclusive extracts and latest updates about the new edition.

What would you like to hear about on this blog? Add a comment below, and I’ll do my best to respond.