Elspeth Bryce (Gill ) – daughter of Alex Bryce Film Second Unit Director for The Story of Robin Hood 1952

A few years ago I managed to make  phone contact  Elspeth – the Daughter of legendary Film Director Alex Bryce.   She was very pleasant and  shared some of  her memories of those days with her father while he was filming The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men at Denham Film Studios and nearby Burnham Beeches during the summer of 1951. Elspeth’s father was in charge of the Second Unit, which specialised in all the action shots and fight scenes of the film. These included the ambush of the royal coach, the rescue of Scathelock in the market square and Robin’s various battles with the Sheriff.

She was about sixteen years old at the time and remembers the filming very well.

 Elspeth Gill on the set of Robin Hood 1951

 

“At the age of sixteen, Elspeth had the enviable experience of watching the filming of Robin Hood at not only Burnham Beeches but also the huge sound stages at Denham Studios. During that period she was living in a house approximately four miles from the studios. When Elspeth entered a fancy dress costume at that time, she was lucky enough to be allowed to borrow one of Richard Todd’s Robin Hood costumes. She won the contest-of course! And afterwards rode her horse all the way to the Denham Studios. The security men on the gate were apparently pre-warned of her arrival!

Elspeth Gill actually was on the set with her Father whilst filming  The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men. One thing that struck me was that she seemed to be so very fond of father and was with him much of the time he spent on those Walt Disney Films.

Elspeth Bryce with Richard Todd 1951 Robin Hood

She told me that he suffered a stroke only a few years later while he was on the continent filming The Cockleshell Heroes in 1955.

She had been an extra on Rob Roy The Highland Rogue – and danced with Richard Todd in one scene. She also said that it was her father who had persuaded Walt Disney to employ Ken Annakin as the film director for Robin Hood so he was the one that set Ken on his way to becoming  an International Film Director.

Elspeth Bryce on the set of Robin Hood 1951 2

Although it was over sixty years ago, she could vaguely remember meeting Walt Disney and described the Art Director, Carmen Dillon, as a formidable woman. Richard Todd she said “was such a lovely, lovely, man.” He became a friend of the family and Elspeth had fond memories of Scottish dancing with him during the making of the later movie, Rob Roy The Highland Rogue

Her father, she explained, loved making those live-action Disney movies.”

“Elspeth could also remember being somewhere high up during the filming of a scene in Nottingham Town Square. But she kept feeling something hitting her body and when she looked around, she realised it was Peter Finch (Sheriff of Nottingham) throwing pebbles at her!” It was a memorable experience for me to be able to talk to Elspeth about her fond memories of those golden days. She was a charming and remarkable woman.

One other thing also – I sent her a picture which had the caption ‘Mr and Mrs Perce Pearce’ and she immediately said ‘ That’s not Perce Pearce’s wife – it is Carmen Dillon.

Riding to Denham Film Studios

ABOVE – Riding to Denham Film Studios – on Horseback.

She did go on to gain a Diploma in 1956 at RADA – so presumably following her father’s influence and, maybe the filming of The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men – she decided to try her hand in the acting profession/

She was right of course. One of the few people I thought were still around who had actually been there throughout – seems I was wrong as she sadly died in 2012 but what wonderful memories she had

 

 

 

 

 

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