Wednesday, 20 December 2017
The Boys From the Bridge
Attenborough created a group that became known as the APA, or Attenborough's Private Army. The APA consisted of a group of 50 handpicked young British actors who were brought together to train under the expert guidance of a former SAS officer who trained them so that they would be able to recreate, with exact military precision, the heroic deeds performed by the members of the British Paratroop Regiment who were able to hold, against incredible odds, the bridge at Arnhem, in 1944.
The APA worked for a half year with major stars of the day such as Michael Caine, Sir Laurence Oliver, Sean connery and Anthony Hopkins.
The account of what happened is revealed in this thrilling and amusing account by someone who was actually there throughout it all, a member of the APA, a then young British actor by the name of Sebastian "Seebo" Abineri.
He tells stories of how they drank the town dry (do remember that 1976 was the hottest, driest summer in decades) and how they spent three weeks hard infantry training to be able to not just act the part of soldiers but be the part of soldiers. The first time such a feat had been attempted in the history of film making.
There are stories of camaraderie and of incidents and injuries both on and off the set.
Seebo also touches on his acting career both before and after A Bridge Too Far. Including causing a bit of a stink at a casting call. Literally causing a stink. It's an amusing story and told in the self-deprecating and entertaining manner that he employs throughout this very readable book.
Included is the story of a man who had the ability to swallow and regurgitate whole pickled eggs to order, and the fellow actor called Patrick Hannaway who laughed so much at the egg man and an ensemble performance of "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts" that his lungs collapsed and he was close to death when he was taken by ambulance to a Dutch hospital were surgeons were able to save his life.
All-in-all this is a great memoir published at £9.99 by The Book Guild and it will make a fantastic Christmas present.
It's available for purchase here https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.