A heartwarming tale inspired by the time when national artwork was hidden in Wales is this Bank Holiday weekend’s big TV drama. Abbie Wightwick catches up with the stars – Eve Myles and Trevor Eve.
IT’S a long way from saving the planet in Torchwood but Eve Myles loved the change of pace playing a village school teacher in BBC One’s new one-off drama.
Framed was set and filmed almost entirely in Wales and tells how village life changes when a group of outsiders arrive.
Eve plays Angharad the local schoolteacher who finally manages to win through the reserved nature of a museum curator played by Trevor Eve.
The 90-minute drama is based on Frank Cottrell Boyce’s best-selling children’s novel of the same name.
It follows the lives of 10-year-old Dylan Hughes and his family’s struggle to keep afloat their small petrol station at the foot of a Welsh mountain.
When a convoy of men and trucks take up residence on the mountain, villagers discover that the National Gallery in London has been flooded and the priceless paintings sent to Wales for safekeeping in the old slate mine, as they were in World War Two.
In charge of this is Quentin Lester, played by Trevor, a reserved senior curator who is eventually drawn out of his shell by Angharad.
Filming in Wales was a sort of homecoming for both Eve and Trevor. Both actors loved filming in Snowdonia and in and around Cardiff.
Eve, 31, was born in Ystradgynlais and is used to filming at home playing Gwen in Dr Who spin-off Torchwood while Trevor, 58, one of television’s best known leading men, has family in Swansea and holidayed in Mumbles as a child.
Eve, 31, who is expecting her first child in November, admits it was hard switching from gun-toting Gwen in Torchwood to a gentle teacher from rural Wales.
It’s been quite difficult actually because I’m used to doing bold things with guns. Angharad is different to Gwen she’s quieter, more thoughtful. She is not soft, she is feisty but she is a lot more complicated. She’s quite nosy, but she’s only nosy because she’s been living there for such a long time and not a lot happens.”
The actress was “blown over” by Frank Cottrell Boyce’s script. His story is aimed at all ages in the drama adaptation but it retains a non-cynical innocence from the children’s novel which Eve and Trevor enjoyed portraying.
Frank is a tremendous writer. And to meet him in person was such a treat,” says the Welsh actress. I’d love to see a collaboration between him and Russell (T Davies) – that would just be out of this world.
She said Cottrell’s romantic script for Framed has a feel-good factor that made her smile all the way through reading it.
The script was beautiful. I love stories that are told through children’s eyes because everything is real and honest in that way because children tend not to lie. They tend to say the truth whether it gets them in trouble or not and I think that reflects life because it’s in your face, no cover-ups, no apologies and it’s totally beautiful.
She’s hoping Framed will be part of the continuing boom in the television industry in Wales.
When I was in college, everyone had to move to London for work but now its very different. If you want to live and work in Cardiff you can because of the fantastic projects going on in BBC Wales. Plus there are an awful lot of projects coming down to Wales to be filmed because of the location and facilities.
In the last five, six years it’s just gone ‘bam’ and some of the most popular dramas on television are being made in the city. I’m one of the proudest Welsh women to live knowing that fact – it is a very exciting time to be a part of it all.
But for now Eve herself is taking a break from acting as she prepares for the birth of her first baby.
I’m going to have my feet up and get huge. It’s almost hysterical how excited I am. I’ve bought everything you can think of. Everything is prepared and done and the only thing to arrive now is my little darling. Already the baby and I have a fabulous relationship. We have loads of conversations and we chat.
It’s my miracle, it’s my blessing and I can’t wait. I’ve never been so grateful for something in all my life. So, as you can tell, I’m ecstatic.
Playing opposite Trevor Eve she says she had to coax his reserved character Lester into the limelight but Angharad she is more than just a school ma’am out to melt the visiting museum curator.
You see how lonely she’s been throughout the story and through her closeness with Lester you realise she has been here on her own for a long time. She’s been looking for a challenge, she has been a very big fish in a little pond until Lester arrives and she finally meets somebody who is on her level.
Trevor, who has had leads in Waking the Dead, Hughie Green, Most Sincerely and the legendary ’70s private detective, Shoestring, says Framed was also a big change for him.
Lester is very different from the roles that I usually play. He’s not a criminal investigator for once or even a game show host. He’s the curator at the National Gallery, someone who has devoted his life to art and the appreciation of art. He’s intolerant of people and doesn’t find them as fascinating as the canvasses that are in front of him.
To research the part he went to the National Gallery to find out about the paintings and how Lester might have operated there.
I’ve spent time in the National Gallery and it’s not an effort believe me – I mean it’s just wonderful. I think the work is just spectacular, you read about it and you read about the lives of the artists and it’s amazing.
In the end the Welsh villagers bring Trevor’s character round to an appreciation of people, Angharad in particular.
Trevor says he enjoyed working with Eve as well as the child actors in the drama, all of whom come from Wales.
It’s been great working with Eve, she’s delightful, a really lovely girl,” he says. “And it’s a spectacular setting. The landscape is so dramatic, it’s quite wonderful up there (in Snowdonia), apart from the fact it seems to rain most of the time, but it’s breathtaking. I’ve really enjoyed filming in Wales.
My mother was from South Wales so most of my holidays as a child were spent in the Mumbles, so it was my home. And part of my family still live in Swansea, so it’s familiar environment to me.
Several scenes were filmed at Welsh Slate’s Cwt y Bugail quarries, known locally as Manod quarries, the exact place where priceless paintings were hidden from possible Nazi invaders during World War Two.
Franck Cottrell Boyce says he was “chuffed to bits” to film at the site which inspired his original book.
For Trevor not only his character but also the setting and his fellow actors were a change from previous work.
Many of his scenes were with child actors Samuel Davies, 12, from Swansea and Mari Ann Bull, 10, from Cardiff who play the Hughes children.
The veteran actor says he wouldn’t attempt” to give them advice.
They’re really talented; their level of professionalism is amazing. They are more professional than me and I’ve been at it 35 years.
It’s the children who bring the drama to a climax when a misunderstanding leads Lester to invite Dylan to view the paintings inside the mountain.
This sets off an extraordinary chain of events that transforms the lives of the villagers and Lester himself.
As millions tune in on Bank holiday Monday to find out what happens, Eve will be doing the same thing as she puts her feet up and waits for her next important engagement – her baby’s birth.
Framed, BBC One, Monday, 8.30pm
Source: Wales Online