The Writings of Ingrid Pitt

A Collection of Writings

New!!

Anecdotes

Archaeology

Aviation

Battle of Britain

Biography

Books

Computers

Cricket

Films

Ghosts

Hammer

History

Horror

Motor Racing

Murder

Mystery

Pitt of Horror

RAF

Sci Fi

Travel

Vampires

Winston Churchill

World War 2

Ingrid's Obituary


Ingrid, Circus MC

Dressed in spangles and a top hat Ingrid was a wow! But should she have taken that last elephant ride?
Ingrid Pitt Circus MC

Elephants galore.

If I think of a collector, doesn’t matter of what, just a collector, I have this image of a bleached anorak excitedly picking through the tat of a pub car park boot sale. Or, in a more poetic mood, a willowy aesthete with artfully teased, wild, thinning hair, a floppy bow tie and a Brian Sewell accent, droning on about the wonders of a Ming Dynasty chamber pot . Just goes to show how my brain works, I guess. It’s taken a long time to realise that everyone is, to some extent, a Collector. Look around any home and there is sure to be something. A display of hand painted china shepherdesses, miniature models of smaltzy rural cottages, exotic ash trays stolen from hotels and restaurants or match stick models of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Much as I hate to confess my indulgence I seem to have a number of embryo collections littered about the apartment. For starters there is the Elephant Collection. I was making a film out at Elstree and there was a Circus on Shepherd’s Bush Green. Out of the blue I was asked if I would like to take over as Ringmaster for the evening. They dressed me up in a spangly type of outfit and thrust me, unprepared, into the ring. It was magic. I had a rib cracking routine with the clowns which, inevitably, finished with me flat on my back covered in foam. The high wire act had me spotlighted and pretending I was about to hurl my fragile body into space and hope to be caught by the muscular catcher a couple of miles away dangling on a cobweb.

Elephant Walk Over Dare

They said it was a walk-over.

I got so carried away with the romance of it all that when the real Ring Master asked me if I would do the elephant walkover my mouth said ‘yes’ before my brain could put the brakes on. As I laid on my back in the middle of the sawdust ring and watched the huge figure of the elephant pick its way daintily over my prostrate body the only thing I could think of was how humiliating it would be if it was suddenly seized by a bout of inconvenient incontinence. Safely through the ordeal I realised that I was now a pro. A Circus Artiste! So when the owner of the ring suggested I might like to lead what I believe is called the walk-down, riding on an elephant, I was half way up the trunk before they could say “Hoop-la”. When we got to the centre of the ring the self-willed pachyderm reared up on its hind legs without so much as a grunt to let me know what was going on. I did a nose-dive forward and landed under its raised feet. Quick as a lion’s mating act I scrambled to my knees and clasped my hands in silent prayer. But elephants never step on anything squashy - and you don’t get any squashier than me!

It was after this that the Elephant section of my collecting node dropped into place. England’s number one lady of stunts, Dorothy Ford, gave me a 3 foot china figure with a hole in its back for flowers. Then I was on tour with a play and picked up a biggish brass elephant. Before I knew it I had shelves of the beasts and friends were always arriving with more. I’m not complaining, I love them.

Riding on an Elephant

Before the fall.

A bit like John Bentley who used to play the husband of Moody Meg, owner of the Cross Roads Motel. I toured a play with John back in the ‘80’s called Woman of Straw. We opened at the Theatre Royal in Brighton. I went into John’s dressing room to break his leg, a custom, I’m told, among thespians, and was deluged in a herd of Teddy Bears. He started to introduce me to each bear individually. It was all so surreal. Here was this butch bloke who Harry Secombe had nicknamed ‘Safari Ned’ because of the many intrepid White Hunter parts he had played, seriously expecting me to say hello to his posse of bears. Don’t get me wrong. I’m quite keen on Teddies but.........

Like millions of others I have a love-hate relationship with Coronation Street. I’ve even got some Street memorabilia. A mug that used to play a perky version of the signature tune but in recent years seems to have developed hardening of the musical arteries, a couple of books detailing exactly what has happened over the last 40 years and to whom, and a tablecloth with a Coronation Street design. Last year I was in the Manchester TV studio and bumped into the Street’s producer. He invited me to come and visit the set. I jumped at the chance. Before I left he gave me a plaster, or maybe it’s china, model of the Rovers Return. I’m told that you can actually collect the whole Street but I’ve never been tempted.

Ingrid and a Clown in the Big Top

So what? He's got another eye.

Neither have I been tempted to brag about my part in the longest running soaps’ success. It happened in 1976. I was about to produce a film in Argentina called El Ultimo Enemigo. Johnny Briggs was cast as the lead goodie/baddie. Shooting was to take place in March. A few days before we were due to go Johnnie rang up and said he had a couple of weeks work offered in Coronation Street. Would it be all right if he took it? When I got to Buenos Aires the country was in what could only be termed a nervy state. Presidenta Isabelita was being accused of having her hand in the till to the tune of $12,000,000 and her numero Uno man , Jose Lopez Rega, had done a runner with the contents of the treasury coffers. So when Johnnie rang and said the Coronation lot wanted him to do another couple of weeks I was relieved. It meant I had one less mouth to feed. Then I got a call in the middle of the night. Isabelita had been arrested by the Air Force and the Militaristas were back in power. I lit out for exile in Montevideo until the dust settled and Johnnie Briggs became Mike Baldwin, married practically everybody in the Street and finished up with his son Mark’s floosie - and good luck to him. But do I get a screen credit? Nah!

I suppose the collection I got the most carried away with was the dolls of many nations series. Back in the sixties, along with collections of miniature booze bottles, they were all the rage. I was guilty about the time I was spending away from my daughter Steffanie. I figured that if I brought back a ten inch Toreador from Spain or a white frocked Greek Dancer I was letting her share in what I was doing.The collection grew quite rapidly until there were about forty of the grotesque little human figurines. The earlier ones were quite simple but as the decade wore on they became more lurid. Flamenco Dancers with enormous skirts and petticoats, Mexicans with hats a formation dance team could have cavorted to the Gay Gordons on and still had room for a Cucaracha exponent or three. But this was the time of the Cindy Doll and Action Man. While the costumed dolls of the world sunk beneath a covering of dust, Cindy and Action Man were lucky if they could keep their clothes on for more than five minutes. I don’t know what happened to all those ethnic manikins. All that’s left is one forlorn Russian Peasant girl in a faded costume. I wonder if I should start again? And is it absolutely essential to wear an anorak at a boot sale?

Model Mart 10

The Writings of Ingrid Pitt