Home Mobile Forum News Cookbook FaceBook Us T-Shirts etc.: Europe/Worldwide. eBay Motorsport Links Advertising  
Site Partners: SpotterGuides Veloce Books  
Related Sites: Classic Cars Monthly Your Link Here  

Go Back   TenTenths Motorsport Forum > Historic Racing & Motorsport History > Motorsport History


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 9 Jun 2000, 00:01 (Ref:16355)   #1
Gerard
Ten-Tenths Hall of Fame
Veteran
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Posts: 1,291
Gerard should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid

Yesterday evening on Dutch television I saw the first episode of a series called 'Heroes and Villains.'
It's directed by Mark Chapman and has Rowan Atkinson in the lead role as Sir Henry 'Tim' Birkin.
I thought it was very entertaining but it also raised a few questions.

First of all it is called a comedy series.
What do you think, should a TV play about one of the most remarkable persons in auto racing history be a comedy?

Then there is Rowan Atkinson. Ofcourse he's a comedian in the first place - and a damn good one, one of my favourites - and I also know he's a great race fan, even races himself, but is he the right person to depict Henry Birkin? Does he give credit to the great man himself.

And finally, is Henry Birkin portrayed the way he actually was? Was he really such an excentric aristocrat? And was his relation to W.O. Bentley exactly to way it showed in the series?
Gerard is offline  
Quote
Old 9 Jun 2000, 10:41 (Ref:16406)   #2
Peter Mallett
The Honourable Mallett
20KPINAL
 
Peter Mallett's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 1999
England
Here and there
Posts: 35,105
Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!
I remember that programme. I thought overall it depicted my image of what Birkin really was. An eccentric aristocrat with little thought for the people around him. He had an attitude not unlike a certain current German F1 racer.

Birkin even managed to uopset W O Bentley with his antics.

I'm going to be in Holland as from the 19th. What chanell is the series on?
Peter Mallett is offline  
Quote
Old 9 Jun 2000, 14:11 (Ref:16432)   #3
TimD
Ten-Tenths Hall of Fame
Veteran
 
TimD's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
United Kingdom
Derbyshire Peak District, United Kingdom
Posts: 3,797
TimD should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridTimD should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridTimD should be qualifying in the top 3 on the grid
I have to say I liked the play. I certainly wouldn't call it a comedy. It was at best light-hearted, but a lot of Birkin's life was so crushingly tragic that there are scarcely many laughs to be wrung out of it.

But having kept my tape of it for at least three years, and having refreshed my memory of it last night, I think it's safe to say it was not doing a disservice to "Tim"'s memory.

As to Rowan Atkinson, it was an interesting role to take on, and I think he acquitted himself well in it. Perhaps there is more straight acting in him yet. Indeed, I doubt that he would have been party to a hatchet job on Birkin, because he himself is a fan, and is sympathetic to the history of Brooklands, and of Bentley - even if he is strictly an Aston Martin man.

What I would say is that "Tim" was by no means a callous man for his time. Peter suggested that Birkin had little thought for those around him. I would in many ways take issue with that. Certainly his inability to relate to his wife and family, and his failure to accomodate their wishes, is a major failing. But we should remember that they were "society" people, and divorce was a highly unusual occurrence in the social set that they revolved in. It was a huge scandal at the time, and naturally coloured "Tim"'s memory for posterity.

It can easily be argued that other "Bentley Boys" were far more cavalier with those around them. Captain Woolf Barnato and Dr Dudley Benjafield being two immediate examples. Barnato is barely touched upon in the play, and yet his attitude was far more of a privileged man of his time.

Birkin, on the other hand, seemed by all accounts to have more of a common touch. His family money kept his lifestyle as he might wish it, but that meant he still had to find benefactors to allow him to race - hence his pursuit of Lady Dorothy Paget. Certainly at a memorial to him some while back, the surviving workers of the Birkin estate had not a bad word to say about him. He seemed keen to treat them as team-members rather than servants and employees. He liked nothing better than spending time with the local fishermen at Blakeney harbour, talking about his other great love, sailing and the ocean.

His mechanics had no problem with him, either. Indeed, "Wilkie" Wilkinson said that at no time when riding with "Tim" did he feel that Birkin ever took an unnecessary risk with him aboard, and that he was scrupulously sporting on issues of track position and baulking. A concept which must have been very alien to him indeed.

If he seemed oblivious or distant, can I suggest that the cause is to be found at the start of his biography. As the play reminds us, the dedication to "Full Throttle" is "To All Schoolboys". I know - I just checked my own copy, and there it is, an entire page dedicated to those words.

Could it be that he never really had the will to grow up? From public-school to rugby team, from team to Sopwith Camel pilot in the RFC, from World War One fighter pilot to nationally and internationally celebrated racing driver, his every step was no more and no less than a little boy's waking dream. If relationships and commitments seemed incomprehensible to him, could it not be because of what fate allowed him to be?

No surprise that dear old W.O. Bentley was indeed referred to as the Headmaster.
TimD is offline  
Quote
Old 10 Jun 2000, 01:12 (Ref:16518)   #4
Gerard
Ten-Tenths Hall of Fame
Veteran
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Posts: 1,291
Gerard should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
Peter, I saw the documentary Wednesday evening and it is pronounced as a series.
But now I'm not so sure. Is this really a series or was this a one-off.
It was on channel Netherlands 3.

Tim, you again showed you're a real 'Bentley boy' yourself.
Thanks for the great story.
I think the documentary showed very well what racing was in those days.
There was this footage of a race at Brooklands, a very bumpy and dusty track.
The series was filmed in 1995 and I wonder, did they film it at the original Brooklands. Is this track still there the way it looked.
I do know what the track was like but only from a PC game called 'Spirit of Speed 1937.'
And the cars they used in the picture, where on earth did they get them from, museums?
Anyway, one thing is for sure, I'm defenitely going to buy 'Full Throttle.'
Gerard is offline  
Quote
Old 10 Jun 2000, 11:12 (Ref:16561)   #5
TimD
Ten-Tenths Hall of Fame
Veteran
 
TimD's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
United Kingdom
Derbyshire Peak District, United Kingdom
Posts: 3,797
TimD should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridTimD should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridTimD should be qualifying in the top 3 on the grid
Gerard, the Brooklands track is a sorry fragment of what it once was these days. There is perhaps half a kilometre of banked track left, and this is indeed where they filmed the programme.

On the positive side, the Brooklands clubhouse has been immaculately restored, and filled with memorabilia and cars of the period, and the pits and "tuning sheds" are also used for exhibitions.

The old track is a great place for a pilgrimage if you ever find yourself in England, and there is a very real sense of being in the presence of drivers who went before....

Once a year, usually at the start of July, the Brooklands Society turn out their favourite cars, and take to the banking for a nostalgic day of gentlemanly hooliganism. supercharged Bentleys, Vauxhall 30/98s, SSK Mercedes, Talbots, Lagondas and 3 wheeled Morgans are hammered around the banking in a display of either colossal joie de vivre or acute masochism.

Needless to say, I am a member of the Brooklands Society, and I can hardly wait for this year's event. A couple of years back, Stanley Mann took his Blower Bentley so close to the top of the banking that he had to remove large quantities of shrubbery, bushes and the occasional small branch from the radiator afterwards. In order not to fall off the top of the banking, you have to be doing at least 90mph to stay up....

The cars for the programme are pretty accurate, and mostly privately owned. No museum pieces these, many of them are frequent competitors in VSCC meetings each summer. The Tripoli GP entrants did look a little odd, as I certainly can't remember a Frazer-Nash in a Grande Epreuve, but the Maserati they gave to Rowan Atkinson to drive is a real ex-GP car, and I believe it has a history with "B.Bira".

I've seen the yellow Dodge that Rowan uses in the Brooklands sequence, and a wonderfully disreputable looking car it is too. Restored only as far as is necessary to make it run, it has a lovely scruffiness about it. Incidentally, Birkin never drove one of these, but the DFP that he actually raced when he met W.O. Bentley is, I think, an extinct species now.

Finally, how bumpy is the Brooklands track? Well, that little Tamplin cyclecar which loses a spotlamp in the race sequence, really did lose a lamp. It was not planned in the script, but the sheer vibration shook the mounting bracket apart. And the track surface wasn't a whole lot better when the circuit was in use.
TimD is offline  
Quote
Old 10 Jun 2000, 13:52 (Ref:16581)   #6
Peter Mallett
The Honourable Mallett
20KPINAL
 
Peter Mallett's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 1999
England
Here and there
Posts: 35,105
Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!Peter Mallett is the undisputed Champion of the World!
Yehaaa!

I've also blasted my MGB up the test hill. It took some stopping with all four wheels off the ground!!!
Peter Mallett is offline  
Quote
Reply



Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Birkin, Sir Henry TuscanR The Driver Files 35 24 Jan 2010 21:41
Henry Lawson smiddy972 Tributes Forum 2 27 Feb 2004 22:44


Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT. The time now is 12:08.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Original Website Copyright © 1998-2003 Craig Antil. All Rights Reserved.
Ten-Tenths Motorsport Forums Copyright © 2004-2018 Royalridge Computing. All Rights Reserved.