Young Ken Russell comes to make Elgar film

First published in Malvern Memories

"A BBC film unit has been busy in Malvern and Worcester during the past ten days shooting scenes for a half-hour film of the life of Sir Edward Elgar," reported the Gazette on its front page 50 years ago.

"The unit, under the direction of Mr Ken Russell, has shot a number of scenes on the Malvern Hills, including one of a boy actor portraying Elgar riding a donkey, and of Elgar and his wife drinking the waters at St Ann's Well.

"There have been scenes with the boy Elgar at Broadheath, at the cottage where he was born, and fishing in the river at Worcester. Additionally, there has been some filming at Madresfield, showing young Elgar on a pony. For this last scene, young Bill Noble of Ockeridge Farm, Colwall, did the riding.

"A boy actor. Danny Grover, came down from London for the birthplace excerpts, and two professional players, Peter Brett and Rowena Gregory, were engaged to portray Mr and Mrs Elgar.

""During their Malvern visit, Mr Russell and his associated went to Symonds Yat, for 'shots' of the Elgars on the river in a boat; they also arranged an episode at Forli, Alexandra Road, the first residence of Mr and Mrs Elgar in Malvern, where the composer worked in a tent in the garden.

"There is to be a further visit to Malvern, to include scenes centred around the Malvern Wells house, Craeg Lea, to which the Elgars moved in 1899, and Marl Bank, Rainbow Hill, Worcester, where Sir Edward died."

The Elgar film was one of a series by Russell about composers, which helped to launch his reputation as a film-maker. His controversial career included film such as Tommy, Women in Love, The Devils and Altered States. He died in November last year, aged 84.

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