Creating famous faces

Make-up artist Debbie Hudson
Make-up artist Debbie Hudson

BRUSHING shoulders with Colin Firth, doing Victoria Wood’s make up, and styling David Jason’s hair; its all in a days work for Debbie Hudson.

As a stylist to the stars Debbie has not only seen her makeovers take centre stage on numerous British television dramas, but has also seen the fruits of her labour splashed across the big screen after being cast to create authentic character styles for hit blockbusters, including recent award winning drama The King’s Speech.

“It’s quite scary going to see a film you have worked on,” explains Debbie.

“I have seen The King’s Speech twice now. I loved it, but I was nervous about seeing my work on such a big screen and so close up. You just think I hope I didn’t get carried away with the clippers.”

There was not a hair out of place, and Debbie’s work to transform hundreds of extras in to a 1920s crowd formed the opening scene of the film.

She said; “They filmed the opener in Elland Road in Leeds and Odsal Stadium in Bradford. I worked on the crowd room which is where all the extras get made up.

“Everyone who came through the door had to be done just right otherwise they would stand out like a sore thumb. Luckily when I saw the film I didn’t see any blinding mistakes. It was really good to pick out faces I had done and styles I had recreated.

“I even got a glimpse of Colin Firth. I passed him on the stairs. I don’t usually get star struck but I think I just put my head down and thought oh my god it’s Colin Firth!”

You can’t blame Debbie for going a little weak at the knees, it’s not every day a girl from Scarborough gets to work along side Oscar winning A listers.

Former Raincliffe School pupil Debbie started her career doing an apprenticeship at Julie’s Hair Design near the Market Hall while studying at Scarborough Technical College, before realising her creative ambition at the age of 25.

She said; “After Julie’s I went to work for Eric’s Hair Fashion in Westborough.

“I was there for three years then I went to do a Performing Arts Course at Yorkshire Coast College. I fancied a little bit of a change. I’m quite creative, and I like to try my hand at anything arty.

“Then when I was 27 I moved to Leeds and ran several salons for a nationwide company. I progressed through various sections of hairdressing and the only next stage was to open my own salon. I didn’t fancy doing that though, I wanted to do something different.”

Debbie’s next move placed her firmly on the ladder to her current role as she signed up to a media make up course at York College.

“From there I went to work as a wig assistant on Singing in the Rain at the West Yorkshire Play House,” explained Debbie.

“That then went on a national tour for nine months. I came back in December 2002 and in January 2003 I spent the next nine months at Yorkshire TV working on various programmes such as Emmerdale, The Royal and Heartbeat.

“I have worked on all sorts since then, working for the BBC and for several production companies within Yorkshire Television.”

Debbie’s portfolio includes a host of well known drama’s including the BBC’s Land Girls, Eric and Ernie with Victoria Wood, Doctors and Housewife 49. She has also worked on crowd rooms for a number of hit films such as Brideshead Revisited, and the soon to be released Captain America.

Her job is not just make up brushes and curling tongs though, and involves historical research coupled with an eye for detail.

Debbie said; “I work free lance now which is nice because you can pick and choose where you work.

“You can work on something with lots of blood and gore and special effects, then the next job will be an Edwardian period drama.

“For bigger dramas I work in the crowd rooms. We run fitting wigs and attaching facial hair; generally make sure everyone looks the part.

“It is not all glamorous though. We do a lot of standing around. We can be stood outside from 8am in the morning to 7pm at night in blizzard conditions when it’s raining and miserable or it can be beautiful and sunny.

“There are definitely more pluses than negatives. It is a great job.

“It has been a nice route to take because it still means I can incorporate my first love which was hairdressing.

“The job is not just about hair and make up but researching history too, and understanding social and economic influences of the time. There’s certain things about certain periods of time which you wouldn’t normally know but it can make a big difference to how you plan what you do for a look. It’s nice to have that part of the job as well as I enjoy researching what I do.

“It has taken me a long time to decide where I was going to go, and then to eventually get here.

“It has been worth it though, and hopefully it will continue.

“I’m just waiting for my call from Steven Spielberg.”