Hidden camera scares: Dom Joly tells how pranks put him in the punch lineComedian Dom Joly tells all about the scares of filming with hidden cameras
00:01 GMT, 7 September 2012
Vicar behaving badly: Dom Joly gets set to fool the nation
When I turned up on set for my new ITV1 hidden camera series Fool Britannia, I thought someone was playing a joke on me.
There were 25 crew waiting to get started, compared to the five of us who made Trigger Happy TV back in 2000. How can you secretly film people with 25 crew hanging about, I thought
It soon became apparent, however, that these people were going to make my life a whole lot easier so I could concentrate on what I was good at: approaching strangers as different characters and causing mayhem.
The cameramen used all sorts of methods to conceal themselves. We even had a ‘pram-cam’, with a camera inside instead of a baby.
At first it looked a bit weird with a beefy bloke pretending to play with his baby for hours on end, so we provided him with a female member of the production team to look like his wife and it all appeared a bit less suspicious.
We also used workmen’s tents. We’d set these up in the middle of a square, and it was incredible how no one paid them a blind bit of notice.
The idea was to film stuff all over Britain… and we did just that. It was mostly a very easy and happy shoot, but when you’re dealing with the general public you never quite know what’s going to happen.
We were filming in the Cotswolds at Bourton-On-The-Water with me as a vicar who can’t help behaving badly, and I had just pretended to spray a cyclist (the vicar loathes cyclists) with Mace. The cyclist then crashes into the river.
Normally passers-by just watch whatever scene is being acted out and do that very British thing of not wanting to get involved. This time, however, an angry man announced he was going to headbutt me.
Hidden fear: Dom Joly had to stop filming his new series in Spain after he was threatened by a man claiming to be a member of the local mafia
But I stood my ground, as I presumed most people who headbutt people don’t announce the fact in advance.
This was very nearly a big mistake, as at least four times he pulled his head back as if to strike. He calmed down when he learned it was for TV and found it very funny . . . until he remembered that the lady he was with was not his wife and quickly refused all consent for us to show it.
This turned out to be a common theme while we were filming. You’d be amazed at the number of people who aren’t with the person they’re supposed to be with.
We also spent a week targeting British tourists in Benidorm, which is where I nearly came to sticky end. I was playing a Spanish lothario, with tight leather pants and flowing locks, and was about to approach some English ‘ladeeez’ on the beach.
Out of the blue, a huge Italian appeared and squared up to me. It turned out he was convinced I’d been driving a car that had knocked him off his motorbike. To make things worse, I was told in terrified, hushed whispers that he was ‘local mafia’.
An executive decision was taken and I was bundled into a van and driven back to the hotel, where I spent the rest of the day in the pool as it was considered too dangerous to film. Nice work if you can get it!
Fool Britannia, ITV1 Saturdays, 6.55pm.