Watford Gap: The Musical

Watford Gap: The Musical

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Directed by Benjamin Till
Cameraman: Andy Martin
Assistant Director: Nathan Taylor
Edited by Louise Callaghan at Evolutions, London
Executive producer: Anna Bartlett, BBC Northampton
Commissioned by: Toby Friedner

Filmed over two very long, stressful days at Watford Gap Services and Watford Village, Northamptonshire. The highlight of the shoot has to be driving down the M1 in a 1950s bus with an entire choir singing about food!
The work was premiered on BBC Breakfast on November 2nd 2009, and at a special event at Watford Gap services that evening.

Debbie and Becky on the busPhoto shows Debbie and Becky on the bus.

Performed by the good folk of Benjamin’s home county, Northamptonshire. Singers in this piece include Benjamin’s first music teacher, someone who played the Artful Dodger to his Oliver in 1985 and members of the Northamptonshire Youth orchestra both in Benjamin’s day and presently.

The work celebrated the 50th anniversary of Watford Gap service station, which opened in 1959 at the same time as the first section of the M1 Motorway. The singing vacuum cleanerMany of the performers either worked in the service station, or remember visiting it when it first opened. Its all-night restaurant with waitress service was considered to be both futuristic and highly glamorous and it soon started to attract rock stars returning to London from gigs across the country. It’s said that Hendrix thought the Blue Boar restaurant was a fancy London club because he’d heard so many people talking about it.

Some of the characters featured in the work remember standing on the bridges over-looking the M1 and waving at all the cars passing. They’d never seen people driving at such speed – and reported that the car headlights at night often resembled shooting stars.

The backing track for the work was recorded at DIN Studio, London by Julian Simmons and mastered by Frank Arkwright at Metropolis, London. Vocalists and Northamptonshire-based musicians were recorded by Mark Hutchinson at Rooksmere Studios in Overstone, October 2009. The choir was rehearsed by David Bray

The music is designed to hint at Telstar by the Tornadoes and features Benjamin playing Theremin.

It was during sessions for the work that Benjamin was told a close friend had committed suicide. The funeral happened on the second day of filming. This work is therefore dedicated to KM and ML.

Photo shows the singing vacuum cleaner.