The Memory of Water was the two-hour series opener for the second season of light-touch detective stories. It was followed in the next season by The Cup of Silence, a feature-length Christmas special… filmed in July.
I went out for the last couple of days to visit the set. I hadn’t been able to get down to Oxfordshire for the main part of the shoot, but it turned out that there were certain scenes which could only be staged in one of two places in the UK. The scenes called for a fast-flowing river and involved stunt work. At this time of year, most rivers are running low. But at Washbourne the water level is controlled by a dam upstream, and First AD Roger Simons could literally pick up his radio and call for the torrent to be turned on. All this was less than an hour’s drive away for me, so out I went.
I never saw myself as a natural candidate for writing a show that combines gardening and detection but (producer) Brian Eastman was keen to get me involved and encouraged me to do something a bit different with it. When a delay on the Eleventh Hour decision created a window in my schedule, I thought what the hell and went for it. In The Cup of Silence I switched out gardening for winemaking, and channelled memories of a stay at a luxury hotel that had once been a run-down manor serving as a location for countless British B-movies.
When you’ve got two rather good, in fact iconic actresses, the opportunity to play comedy and tension at the same time, and a remit to entertain… Something seemed to go right. I didn’t feel that I was bending my style to the show. Quite the reverse.Stephen Gallagher