The happiest man in Britain

Matthew Collins - 05 05 10

I am really tired today. Partly I think, because Gregg keeps yawning and it’s probably contageous. The happiest man in Britain today? None other than Steve, our driver, who was wearing an Australian Bushman’s hat around the set of cop drama The Bill today. Why was he wearing it? Well, he tells me that he is planning to put to the producers a show-saving storyline in which he plays an Australian bus driver who wrestles a crocodile in Sun Hill river. The guy is well over six foot and built like an outhouse. If he wants to do that, that’s fine by me …

Sun Hill is certainly a happy police station, and we had the whole lot of them out on the bus today pushing and shoving each other, talking over one another enthusiastically and generally brightening up an overcoast morning for us as they took a quick break from filming.

Tough guy DI Jake Manson (played by Andrew Lancel) was first on the bus, he’s done HnH before and has actually been followg the tour. DC Mickey Webb (Chris Simmons) was next up, and I even got him to move a table along the top deck. Sure he looked a little bemused and put out by it, but that’s what you get for playing a good guy. In fact they were all good guys and gals as they probably say in showbiz. They hung around and gave more than just soundbites. Bruce Byron who plays DC Terry Perkins even jumped on the back of Jason Barnett to sing a football song for us! Barnett, who plays Crime Scene Examiner Eddie Olosunjie, looked like he was used to being jumped on by Byron after a Chelsea win. Or is it Tottenham?

As for what they said to Gregg’s camera, I still haven’t much of a clue because they seemed to be taking turns in pulling the bus apart when they were not on camera, but they were genuinely into the idea of celebrating modern Britain and against the extremism that faces it. "Good idea this campaign," Simmons (DC Webb) told me as he stood, I can only assume contemplating climbing up the side of the bus. You’ll have to watch Gregg’s film to get a real feel of the energy of the cast. They could surely run for another twenty years just on the half hour they gave us.

Then it was onto Congress House, home of the TUC, representative of over six million workers in this country, and the tour sponsors, Thompsons Solicitors.

And out they came. One after the other in their Thompsons t-shirts to claim their bus. Stephen Cavalier, the CEO of Thompsons, grabbed himself a seat at the front of the top deck and asked if I could drive him past Unite the Union’s offices and see if anyone was coming out to play. Brendan Barber, the TUC General Secretary, then came and sat next to him and we were off! Halfway through the drive I went up top to say hello and a panic broke out. "Who’s driving the bus?" asked a very concerned legal type! Then there was a panicked rumour that this was the official Thompsons work outing, so we drove them around Trafalgar Square and Smithfield Market and even the law courts (a busman’s holiday?).


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