SOPHIE Neville, who will forever be remembered for playing Titty in the classic 1974 film Swallows and Amazons, is releasing a new version of her behind-the-scenes memoirs.
Twelve-year-old Sophie kept a handwritten diary detailing every day of the seven-week Lake District shoot. Her childhood memories were first published three years ago, to coincide with the film's 40th anniversary. The new edition, to be released on May 25, features 25 colour and 162 black-and-white images, as well as illustrations and film stills.
Sophie vividly recalls how the Elstree Studios crew transformed a rainy 1970s Windermere, mid-holiday season, into the 1929 summer idyll described by Arthur Ransome on his much-loved children's adventure.
As part of their schoolwork, the child actors were asked to keep journals chronicling their time on set. "The wording is childlike but, as a little bit of film history, the diary provides the facts from an interesting angle," explained Sophie. "My mother was pleased when I started to type them up forty years later. She’d been nagging me for years."
Among Sophie’s recollections is her account of a green parrot called Beauty, and of the lengths to which the director, Claude Whatham, went in ensuring the film's young stars were as natural as possible on camera. Most notably, he would only feed them their lines on set as a way of making their readings feel spontaneous and unrehearsed.
Actress Virginia McKenna, who played the Walker children's mother in the 1974 movie, has praised Sophie's book, saying: "Sophie has reminded me of one of the happiest times I ever spent on a film. The fun that was had, the friendships forged, the challenges overcome, are all delightfully recalled with a freshness and sense of adventure that has made me smile all over again."
As an adult, Sophie has worked extensively on drama and documentary productions for the BBC. She is a founder and trustee of the Waterberg Welfare Society, a charity set up to address HIV/AIDS in rural South Africa and as president of the Arthur Ransome Society, can be found touring the country to give frequent talks celebrating his life and legacy. She lives with her husband on the South coast of England.
For more details of The Making of Swallows and Amazons (1974), visit www.lutterworth.com