Swallows and Amazons (1974): Interview with Sophie Neville and David Wood

The Lutterworth Press is pleased to bring you this interview with Sophie Neville, author of forthcoming The Making of Swallows and Amazons (1974). At twelve, Sophie Neville was cast as Titty in the 1974 adaptation of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons, which shot for seven weeks in the Lake District. Today Sophie is heavily involved in charity fundraising, and is a founder and trustee of The Waterberg Welfare Society, which was set up to address HIV/AIDS in rural South Africa. She is also President of The Arthur Ransome Society, and can be found touring the country to give frequent talks celebrating his life and legacy.

This interview was conducted for the CBBC programme Cinemaniacs. Alongside the film’s screenwriter for Swallows and Amazons, David Wood, Sophie Neville discusses the behind the scenes story of the much-loved family classic – a story which became an unforgettable adventure in its own right!

Among Sophie’s recollections is her account of the lengths to which the director, Claude Whatham, went to ensure that the film’s young stars were as natural as possible on camera. Most notably, he would only feed them their lines on set as a way of making their readings feel spontaneous and unrehearsed. Whatham’s other tricks included asking the children to run around the Lake District prior to shooting, therefore guaranteeing that they, like their characters, were exhausted by the day’s activities. Sophie also describes how, through the magic of the movies, a cold and wet summer was transformed into a warm and idyllic English holiday, and how four filming locations in the Lake District were presented as a single “Great Lake of the North”.

Watch the entire interview with Sophie Neville and David Wood below:

To find out more about Sophie Neville’s experience on the set of the 1974 “Swallows and Amazons” film, look out for the revised and expanded second edition of The Making of Swallows and Amazons (1974), which will be available in May from The Lutterworth Press. A heart-warming memoir which also serves as a time-capsule into the early seventies, this new edition is replete with illustrations and colour photographs taken during the film’s production.

Ransome enthusiasts may also be interested to read Julian Lovelock’s Swallows, Amazons and Coots: A Reading of Arthur Ransome, which is available now from The Lutterworth Press. The book is a lively and engaging critical study of the adventure novels of Arthur Ransome, revealing the author’s themes and techniques and setting the stories in the social and political context of their time.

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