Colin, the King and
By Maria Carter, England
Sunday, November 29 (2009) and I am up at 5.30 a.m. to go to London for filming at Lancaster House. When the corgis and I leave Cheltenham it is drizzling but after a few miles the rain starts to bucket down. I have one of my worst journeys ever on an unfamiliar road, I'm nervous and praying that I get to the film location in one piece. But I manage it - and am very proud of myself, though I did have to ask for directions at the very end.
Ella, Carina and Laila, the corgis in The King's Speech (2010)
A helpful young man called Chris tells me where to park, plenty of spaces because it's Sunday, and soon I'm settled down ready to make my cappuccino. And then I realise I've left my bag at home, sitting in the middle of the yard: dog food, titbits, money, coffee - I have nothing. Thankfully I put my mobile phone in the car the night before, but I have to make do with a terrible coffee.
We have to wait a long time until we are called for filming and I'm anxious about the dogs. We walk around the hard London roads but they won't even pee, so I get bossy and insist that someone shows me at least a small piece of grass.
After Chris has made a few phone calls, I am allowed to move my car close to the filming location in the park near Kensington Palace. I am surrounded by policemen who escort me through one gate and then another, and finally I can let the corgis out after their long wait in the car and they duly perform.
At last we are called on to the set. Nobody shows me what to do, it is all done by autocues, so it's just as well I have done it before and know my job. I simply put my corgis in different places in the room, trying to cover the whole set; I could do with more dogs, but the camera man will sort that out.
The star and director are pleased with the corgis; Colin Firth, who plays Bertie (King George VI) comes and speaks to me in excellent Italian - I think he's practising! I also meet Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham-Carter who is playing the Queen Mother, and Timothy Spall who plays Winston Churchill.
I had been told we would finish at 7 p.m., but at 6.45 I am asked if I can come back the following day at 7 a.m. Unfortunately, due to a previous engagement, I can't, so we do more shots of the corgis and finish at 7.30. The rain is again pouring down and it takes me an hour just to get out of London. The poor visibility is scary and I drive very slowly and have a long journey home. I'm tired, the dogs are tired, and the car starts playing up (one of the tyres is flat and the wheel gets damaged), but we finally make it in one piece.
December 5: off again for another three days of filming in London. My agent, Kay, called last week to see if I was available with my corgis, as the film people were pleased with their work in November, and suggested that I stay with her the night before to break the journey to London. So today I get to her house early because it's threatening to snow. Kay lives in a lovely village with good walks nearby, so I walk the dogs until she arrives home from a training day. She is very kind and we spend a pleasant evening having supper, talking and watching television. I go to bed before her as I have to get up very early; when I let the dogs out, the snow is already deep.
At 5.30 in the morning I am shocked to see ten inches of frozen snow - there is no way I can drive in it, and I must confess the very idea scares me stiff! So I wake Kay and she quickly organises for me to be picked up by a 4x4, which arrives promptly and gets me to the filming location in time for breakfast.
The new location is a nightclub in Portland Place in the centre of London - nowhere to exercise the dogs. After all the rush, my poor dogs and I have to wait a long time, but eventually our turn comes and we do our bit.
One of our appearances is in a very noisy, hot and stuffy room with about 20 people in it, as well as cameras, sound equipment and make-up people - no room for the dogs to move around at all. Colin Firth's part is loud and scares Ella, who runs out of the room, but fortunately they had got the shot before she fled. Carina, also upset by the noise, does an unscheduled leap on to Colin Firth's lap! But they keep on filming and we finish late.
By this time the weather is getting worse and they suggest that I stay in one of the star trailers, for which I am thankful. The trailer park is lovely for the dogs, with lots of grass to walk on and the trailer is really luxurious: bath, shower, kitchen, two bedrooms, large television, table and chairs, and very warm. The dogs have their own room! I sleep well and in the morning my stuff is put out of sight in a cupboard and I move to a smaller trailer, since Timothy Spall, who is playing Churchill, needs to use the star trailer during the day.
Another long day, working with Colin Firth and Helena Bonham-Carter until 1.30 p.m. I'm glad I don't have to drive all the way back to Cheltenham. We are back in the star trailer and I walk the dogs in the snow. They seem at home as long as they are with me, and we all sleep well.
The next morning it's back to a smaller trailer, and our last day of filming. A long wait for our bit, but the trailer is warm and I walk the dogs in the park, which passes the time. We are summoned to the set in the late afternoon, but after all that waiting do very little. By now I am getting homesick: the snow and ice are still bad and I just want to get home. I persuade Chris to arrange for me to be taken home when we finish filming at 1 a.m., but my driver has to drop somebody else off as well and it is 2.30 in the morning before the dogs and I finally get home. Later that day I collect my car from Kay's home.
I enjoy our filming experiences and I hope, when the film comes out, you will go and see it and enjoy it too.
Published with the kind permission of Our Corgi World.
Maria Carter works with her corgis in obedience.
The corgis for the film were organised by Kay Raven, Animals O Kay.
Article about The Making of The King's Speech on Mail Online, 06.02.2011
The three film-corgis in The Freeview HD Corgi Advert
(The second corgi in the video was going to watch the
western Rage at Dawn of 1955
And here is:
The Making of The Freeview Corgi Advert