An interview with the legendary David Jason talking about his new comedy drama The Second Quest a sequel to last years The Quest about three teenage boys in the early 1960’s.
As one of the most recognisable faces on British television, David Jason has played some of the nation’s favourite characters. In 2001, after almost 40 years in front of the cameras David decided to take on a fresh challenge. For the first time, David took a seat in the Director’s chair to film The Quest, a 90 minute comedy drama, about three teenage boys and their desperate ‘quest’ to lose their sexual innocence. The film proved to be a massive hit with viewers and David was delighted to return to the Director’s chair for a second time to film the sequel.
“When the opportunity arose to film The Second Quest I seized it with both hands,” he says. “Directing is something that at this stage in my career, I feel I am equipped to do. The executive producer, David Reynolds offered me the opportunity to direct the sequel because The Quest had been my own story. I found the experience very interesting as I felt that I could reinvest everything that I had learnt over the years to help the young actors. I fancied the challenge of pushing the perimeters of my own abilities.
“I certainly believe I was much better the second time around as I was much more confident in my abilities as a Director. When I directed the first one I was a little bit nervous about working with such highly skilled people on the other side of the camera, but my concerns soon evaporated as I was amongst friends and everyone was so helpful. For The Second Quest, I did a lot more preparation and was more insistent on what I wanted. I’d gained more confidence in my abilities as a Director.”
So did you enjoy the experience of directing once again? “You do thoroughly enjoy a great deal about directing, but there are some elements which aren’t as much fun. You work long hours and it is hard work and you find yourself away from home so it’s a bit of both really.”
Filming The Quest had proved to be a memorable experience not least because of the horrendous weather that the production faced in the Lake District. Luckily for the cast and crew THE SECOND QUEST didn’t experience such difficulties.
“Whilst filming the original film the location manager was picked up by the wind and thrown over a bridge and into a stream,” David recalls. “We also had one of the caravan’s blow over and all of our locations were affected by the bad weather. Thankfully this time we didn’t have any such problems. We were very lucky that we had such beautiful weather because being situated where the Isle of Man is, it can rain all the time. It’s a very quiet, very nice place, which hasn’t really physically changed all that much over the last 50 years. That made life a lot easier as we were able to shoot in a lot of locations without having to alter too much of the scenery, especially along the sea front as it’s still as it was in the fifties.”
Did filming a period drama present any problems?
“The problem that you always have when you try and do a period piece is that you’ve always got to stop the traffic, move modern day cars and then paint out all the modern road markings such as yellow lines. From that point of view filming a period drama is a real task and you really rely on the help of everybody and their expertise. We were very fortunate to have Alan Davis, as our production designer. He created a world which was absolutely stunning, the sense of period is wonderful.”
As well as reuniting the principle actors from the original film, THE SECOND QUEST sees some familiar faces joining the cast. Versatile performer Les Dennis plays Johnny Regal, a flamboyant crooner and beauty contest compere who has an eye for the ladies, whilst former Coronation Street star Jennifer James takes on the role of Joyce, an unscrupulous beauty queen contestant who is prepared to go to any means to win the coveted crown. David thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity of working with them.
“As an actor myself, I know all the idiosyncrasies and vulnerabilities that other actors have. Working with Jennifer and Les was a delight as they made filming very easy. Les is a consummate professional and because of his experience filming was just a breeze. We discussed what I wanted from each scene and they took everything in. I didn’t have to do a lot of directing then because they did it instinctively. It was a great opportunity as a Director to work with people with a bit more experience.”
Filming on the T.T. course on the Isle of Man allowed David to indulge in one of his favourite pastimes – motorcycles.
“I no longer use motorbikes as vehicles of transport, but I still enjoy riding them. I have access to old British bikes, which I ride occasionally. I prefer riding them to modern motorbikes as I’m so used to riding an old British bike where things are on the opposite side. Modern motorbikes mainly have the gear controls on the left hand side and the break on the right whereas on an old British bike it’s the other way round. I once rode a modern bike but got things muddled up. I wanted to change gear, but trod on the brake and nearly threw myself over the handle bars.”
David is confident that the British viewing public will enjoy THE SECOND QUEST as much as the original film.
“I hope the audience will like it as that’s the most important thing for me. The Quest was nostalgic and old fashioned, but that is what I wanted to create. The audience seemed to enjoy that as the film got such tremendous viewing figures. The Second Quest tells a different story but it retains these elements. I hope that it is the sort of honest to goodness, simple, entertaining story that people can once again sit back and enjoy.”