Just another Aldbourne Christmas? Lights, camera, action - but not before that cross is covered
Aldbourne Parish Council got just 24-hours notice: please could the village Green be used to make an advertisement for Vodafone? The answer was 'yes'. And the production company making the advert was paying - but it was not going to be an easy ride.
The Vodafone advert would need filming on two nights - as well as setting up and de-rigging days. It was quite complex involving a skating rink and decorations.
Several youngsters noticed the Christmas tree was only decorated on the side facing the cameras - and they were un-impressed that the skating rink was not built for public use.
Local photographer David Parmiter captured the night-time scene from the top of the church tower:
There were difficulties. There was little time to warn villagers of the disturbance involved - especially those living round the Green. And as Parish Council chairman Alison Edmonds wrote in Dabchick - the village magazine - the location manager suddenly asked for fifty-plus extra parking spaces - a parish councillor provided a suitable field:
"These were for the extras arriving - to sit outside the pub! Now I would have thought that there would have been enough people in the village who had some practice at sitting outside the Blue Boar holding a glass!!"
More troubling was the problem of the recumbent - officially termed 'inclined' - cross on top of the Medieval market cross that stands on the Green - in front of the Church. Could the recumbent cross be removed? No - of course not - the market cross is Grade II listed.
The Location Manager insisted it could not be seen in the advertisement. So it was covered with a plywood 'top hat', painted to look like stone: "...in fact", wrote Alison Edmonds, "very few people noticed."
But one villager told marlborough.news: "I can't think why it had to be hidden when there's a whacking great church just behind it!"
Making a few inquiries, it is clear this was not the sort of 'attack on Christmas' likely to wind up the tabloid press, but simply a result of 'globalisation'. Such advertisements or corporate messages are now seen via satellite or the internet all over the world - and if you are delivering a positive message you naturally try to avoid annoying people.
We spoke to one person who used to take suspect sections or bad language out of BBC programmes before they went out on international transmissions - on 'likely to offend' criteria. Having said that a recumbent or 'inclined' cross barely visible in the dark and not close to the centre of the advertisement's action, appears to be applying company rules somewhat strangely.
However, there were definite pluses to this use of the Green - apart from the extra £10,000 in the Parish Council's coffers. Children from the school were given tours of the set and two media studies students from New College got work experience as runners during filming.
And Alison Edmonds reported: "For both nights of filming there was quite a party atmosphere on the Green - chestnuts roasting, skaters gliding around, however we all got 'shushed' a few times just before filming started. It was a lovely party atmosphere with residents from all areas of the village coming together."
And the £10,000? The Parish Council has laid down some criteria - mainly concerning past funding and how far money would support the whole village - and has so far given out £1,860.
Beneficiaries are Dabchick, advertising for Little Dabchicks Toddler Group, the Carnival Committee's village Christmas tree, the Aldbourne & Baydon Link Scheme, and Ramsbury Surgery for patient transport. Eight requests have been turned down.
More requests will be decided at the Council's March meeting and "£4,000 of the money will be kept in reserve for a future whole village project."
And a Happy Christmas to Aldbourne from Vodafone...
Photo: © David Parmiter Photography - with thanks