Our Cats Shop

Cat Chat with Chris Stalker

MF Penning….. as seen on TV
I got chatting to Andrew and Ian Beasley at the Midland Counties Cat Club Show recently and I was fascinated to hear that they had been on TV! Chris McNeil wrote a piece about this event in the last issue of OUR CATS ((1st June 2007) but here is Andrew & Ian’s contribution, it brought to mind that old saying about ‘old dogs’, but please read on and see what you think of their adventure….

“Way back in September 2006 whilst setting up the pens for a cat show, we received a phone call - the last people we expected to be calling us, was a TV production company! They explained that they wished to film a cat show for part of an episode of New Tricks for the BBC!

The plot centered around whether a lady who had been found dead and had left her money to the care of her cats, rather than to her family was suspicious or not.

The production people had looked at our web site and had seen that we had all the equipment that they would require. After a lengthy discussion, it was agreed that filming at a “real” cat show would be impossible, as they required total silence and several retakes of the same shot. This, along with the amount of equipment they would need to set up in the form of lighting and sound etc would just not have made it feasible.

However our chat gave them food for thought, which resulted in the idea of setting up a staged cat show where the cats would all be supplied by one person, so this would eliminate the need for vetting in and vaccinations etc and would put the production company in control of the time scale and proceedings.

After more discussions about what goes on at cat shows, it was decided that they would like some trade stands in the background, as this would save them making and setting up props that they would probably never use again.

So, Andrew passed on a few phone numbers of people who might be interested in taking part and the result was that the usual stands of litter, food, cat scratchers and charities joined us down at Greenford, Middlesex for the shooting. Another little surprise was that we could be extras, and the trade people could man their own stands, if we wanted to! So it was our chance of fame and to mingle with the stars!

After further investigation of the web site, it was decided that they would also want more of the paraphernalia that went with it, such as the judging trolleys, Best of Show podiums, rosette stands and the PA system. At this stage, plans went from just supplying a few benches, drapes and pens, to setting up a full scale cat show using a combination of both GCCF and FIFE elements.

A day in October was agreed upon, so we set off to Greenford and began to set up at 9.30am. We made good progress, until more of the crew arrived and started the seemingly endless questions (as you have all probably been on the receiving end of, when you mention “cat show” to anyone outside of the cat world)…’What’s a cat show, how often do they have these, how many cats usually go and what’s that for, and why do you use this?’

Food was supplied at lunch time and after that there came more questions as what goes on at shows and what do use that for etc. We thought this was all very different than we expected - as we should have been the ones asking the questions, of why do you do that and what’s that for?

We finally left at 6pm and were told that it would be 6.30am start the next day, meeting at the “buses” for breakfast. Thursday dawned all too early and we assembled at “the buses” (several double deckers, converted, for use as food areas), for breakfast. This was a Full English with toast muffins, pastries and as much tea & coffee as you could drink - we were certainly well fed and catered for.

While chatting to the other extras, who do this for a living we got our 1st glimpses of our “co-stars” arriving, namely Alun Armstong, Amanda Redman and DennisWaterman. Victor McGuire (Jack from Bread) and Carol Jackson (Bianca’s Mum from Eastenders) arrived later in the day, as their parts were not due to be filmed until the afternoon. We were not required by wardrobe, so it was then ‘off to the location’ to find out what we had let ourselves in for.

The traders were asked if their stands were movable, after they were built…. and we found out why they had asked, when the lighting guys arrived. They had requested most of them to be moved as they were “blocking light from here” or “casting a shadow there”! So after setting up the day before, we had to tweak it all again on filming day, until everyone was happy.

We all had to clear the set whilst the actors were rehearsing their lines, so that if they made a mistake no-one was there to laugh at them or put them off even more! So we went from being banished outside, to walking backwards and forwards behind them and then back to outside again, so they could set up for the next scene. When the light and sound crews were setting up though, even the stars were outside, so we spent time chatting with Alun, who also willingly posed for pictures with us.

Next time you see an episode of any series, spare a thought for the poor extras,
they really do earn their few seconds of fame, because by lunch break, we had heard all of the actors’ lines so many times, that we knew the script off by heart! If the director said “re-set” once, he must have said it a thousand times, walking up and down in the background of a shot over and over again, is not only boring but very, very, tiring.

After a very nice lunch break, we were talking with Alan and Victor and laughingly saying that most of our bits would most likely end up on the cutting room floor, but Alan assured us most of us would all be in shot somewhere, during the scenes. Lincrafts (who were convinced they would not be in shot, as they were in the side room) would be on telly, as Alan had to walk along the front of the teddy stand, when he entered the show hall.

Well the episode was finally screened on 30.4.07 on BBC-1 - There we all were, with only a couple of exceptions; Fran DeCourcy-Rolls only just got her arm in shot, despite being made up and been given the part of steward and suffering a lot of ‘micky taking’ as she was called Marlene, complete with her own name badge! Linda Cook was also absent, but her teddies did get an appearance!

5.30pm came and we were so relieved to hear the term “That’s A Rap” which meant we could start breaking down the stands and the “show”. By sometime around 7.30pm, we had it all back on the lorry and the van. Definitely a very long day!

Then it was time for a trip back to the “Penning Base” at Reading, for a meal and a little sleep and then we were up again at 4am, ready to set off for Newport in Wales, to set up a “REAL” cat show. You can imagine the main topic of conversation that weekend, although I’m sure some people thought we were winding them up, a cat show on telly – why?

It was a very interesting and an enjoyable experience, not only getting to meet the actors, but work and chat with them, as well. Something we will all remember and talk about for years to come.

Would we do it again? That is the question we are now getting asked…possibly, but not for a long time and certainly not when we have got a real cat show on at the weekend!

Who would have thought that cat penning would have lead to bit parts in a TV drama series? You never know where life will take you.”
Andrew & Ian Beasley

Three funnies
Thanks to Sue Neate for sending me the following three gems…

Letter to my Pets

Dear Dogs and Cats,

The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food

and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn’t help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end, to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine or feline attendance is not required.

The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog or cat’s butt. I cannot stress this enough!

To pacify you, my dear pets, I have posted the following message on our front door:
With love,

Your Devoted Owner

To All Non-Pet Owners Who Visit & Like to Complain About Our Pets:

1. They live here. You don’t.

2. If you don’t want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. (That’s why they call it “fur”niture.)

3. I like my pets more than I like most people.

4 . To you, it’s an animal. To me, he/she is an adopted son/daughter who is short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn’t speak clearly.

Remember: In many ways, dogs and cats are better than kids because they:

1. Eat less
2. Don’t ask for money all the time
3 Are easier to train
4. Normally come when called
5. Never ask to drive the car
6. Don’t hang out with drug-using friends
7. Don’t smoke or drink
8. Don’t have to buy the latest fashions
9. Don’t want to wear your clothes
10. Don’t need “a gazillion” pounds for college
And finally,
11. If they get pregnant, you can sell their children.

Moggies Cat Rescue
Marion Savage was pleased to see the piece about raising funds in the last Cat Chat column. However, Marion has been away and may have missed your call. Please note her home number is 01254 708171. Donations to help pay for the cats’ treatment are warmly welcomed.

Chat Chat goes monthly

As from this issue, I will be writing this column once a month, rather than for every issue. The reason being, I am struggling to meet the deadlines due to my work commitments and looking after our cats and kittens. I will be back in July, so please drop me a line c/o OUR CATS or email catnewsreporter@yahoo.co.uk I love to hear
your news!