DURING a break in the filming of Little Voice in autumn 1997 stars Ewan McGregor, Michael Caine and other cast members went to see a performance by Scarborough’s singer Danny Wilde.
When they arrived for the gig at the Lord Nelson, McGregor started chatting to Danny and asked to sing a song with him.
The crowd that night shared a once-in-a-lifetime moment and saw one of the country’s most talented actors share the spotlight with one of Scarborough’s leading entertainers for a rendition of Elvis’ An American Trilogy.
After the number, McGregor was led off stage through the crowd by bodyguards into a dressing room and revealed to Danny that the performance had been a “real buzz”.
“He was a lovely down-to-earth guy,” said Danny. “Brenda Blethyn, who was also in the film, bought one of my CDs and she mentioned me in her autobiography.”
Danny’s experience is just a flavour of the many opportunities the filming of Little Voice brought to Scarborough. From October to November tinsel town came to the seaside and locals rubbed shoulders with some of the most respected names in the film industry.
Directed by Mark Herman, the film was adapted from Jim Cartwright’s play The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. The cast and crew were often seen relaxing at venues across the town and McGregor was spotted at the Futurist Theatre watching the film A Life Less Ordinary, which he starred in.
Some people were even given the chance to be extras in the film, including Christine Ramsden and her husband Martin, who were audience members for a scene at Mr Boo’s nightclub which was the Rendezvous nightclub at Wallis’ holiday camp in Cayton Bay.
Mrs Ramsden, of Stepney Road, said: “We responded to an advert in the paper for extras. We went for an interview and because we were going to be in a nightclub audience, they said ‘turn up
in something sparkly’. “I was at a table at the front and Martin was standing at the back. We were on screen at the end where Michael Caine’s character has a breakdown and everybody was reacting to what was going on.
“It was about three days filming and we mostly sat and waited. I found it fascinating and the attention to detail was incredible for the continuity.”
The film’s crew made the most of the town’s diverse landscape, using venues and landmarks such as the Foreshore, West Pier, the Spa Suncourt, The Leeds Hotel, in West Sandgate, and the Castle Dykes. They also used the old Bottomley’s confectionery warehouse in Trafalgar Street West for the home of Jane Horrocks’ character and the site is now home to Samaritan House which the actress officially opened.
Scarborough’s entertainment scene was also given the chance to shine with appearances by several performers and musicians. Trombone player Tony Turner was the film’s musical associate, helping provide musicians for the band in the production.
Some of the local artists included Doug Stewart on guitar, Mike Lynskey on trumpet, Aidan Lawrence on bass, Dave Kemp on saxophone, Bob Scott on drums and George Bradley the conductor.
Mr Turner said: “It was a great opportunity and really nice to work with the production team who were excellent and very understanding.
“One night a lot of the musicians had a gig and they scheduled the filming so it finished a bit earlier than it normally did which was a nice touch.
“We stayed right until the end of the first screening and we realised all of our names were in the credits and the lettering was the same size as Michael Caine’s.”
Little Voice went on to gross more than £7 million, was nominated for six Baftas and Michael Caine received a Golden Globe for his performance while Brenda Blethyn was nominated for an Oscar.
But people still remember Scarborough as the film’s real star, and locals are still asked about those once-in-a-lifetime moments.