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Cut & Blow TV series produced in Brookwood

PUBLISHED: 10:39 07 December 2010 | UPDATED: 16:19 20 February 2013

Cut & Blow TV series produced in Brookwood

Cut & Blow TV series produced in Brookwood

In the sleepy village of Brookwood, near Woking, something extraordinary has been going on. The whole community has come together to make a pilot for a new TV sitcom set in a local hairdressing salon – and it could soon be hitting our screens

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine October 2009

In the sleepy village of Brookwood, near Woking, something rather extraordinary has been going on. The whole community has come together to make a pilot for a new TV sitcom set in a localhairdressing salon and it could soon be hitting our screens. DEBBIE WARD went to investigate

When new hairdressing salon Cut & Blow opened in Brookwood, near Woking, this summer, locals in search of a haircut were surprised to find themselves being turned away.

The shop, it transpired, was the front for an entirely different venture and the cries of cut! emerging from within werent from an overbearing boss...

We had so many people come into the salon and say, can I book an appointment? We had to explain to them that it was actually a TV set, laughs crew member Martin Dickinson.

A cut above
In fact, Cut & Blow is both the setting and title for a brand-new sitcom. Described as The Office meets The Vicar of Dibley, and based on life in a village hairdressers, the pilot is due to have its West End debut before a host of TV commissioning editors any day now.

Nothing unusual about that, you may say except that the show has been created almost entirely by members of the local community. For a start, Martin, who produced it, and his partner Nathan Lubbock-Smith, who co-wrote the script with Jo Peploe, live in Brookwood and gathered most of the cast and crew from nearby.

Martin and Nathan are both actors while Jo, who is also the director, is a
drama teacher, which all helped getting fellow professional thespians on board. Securing big business sponsorship, however, in the middle of a recession, was far from cut-and-dried, so they appealed for help in the local press. The response was amazing. Media and theatre professionals living in Brookwood, students of Guildford School of Acting and the University of Creative Arts in Farnham, even the local hotel and butchers volunteered services, equipment and favours.

The people that came out of the woodwork that already lived in Brookwood were fantastic, says Martin. Everyone did it for nothing they were just paid expenses but we were able to use professionals so we were very lucky.

Among the sitcoms volunteer crew were a BBC editor and a wardrobe mistress for Billy Elliot, while equipment was secured through
a neighbour of Martin and Nathans involved in film production for the forthcoming Harry Potter theme park.

Labour of love
The recession, it seems, was a blessing in disguise: It was by default that I started asking people for things for free, says Martin. It should have cost 45,000 for the sitcom we have produced, to pay people and for the equipment, and Ive come out around 3,000. Im gobsmacked really the amount of things and services that weve got for nothing and the quality that is there.

While its not unusual for people to work for expenses on a pilot, in the hope there may be a role for them if its commissioned, the scale of goodwill behind Cut & Blow was remarkable. Some got involved when they read and loved the script, others like Sam Rosen from Guildford, were glad of the work experience.

Sam recently finished his A-levels and has ambitions to work in technical theatre. He helped log the shots for Cut & Blow and operated the sound boom, which was particularly tricky to keep off camera with so many mirrors about. That was quite fun there was a lot of standing on chairs and lying on floors at awkward angles, he says. He also designed the branding for the salons Short & Curlies product range. Boosting his portfolio for his university applications proved an added benefit.

I definitely think theres a gap for this sort of thing on TV, he says of the sitcom. Its quite a surreal storyline. I think itll do well.

Another volunteer was Kelly Bennett, who lives near Farnham and is about to start an MA in acting. One of her tasks was continuity. Basically, I took hundreds of photos so I knew where everyone was, what they were wearing and watched the way they had their hands, if they had their glasses on and what magazines they were reading.

Her mum, a professional photographer, also got involved, taking publicity shots and helping with the catering. Shes a very lovely Jewish mum who loves feeding people! Kelly explains. It really felt like a team effort and its brilliant! The script is hilarious.

Help from a professional hairdresser was vital, which is where Peter Jones, of Peter Jones Hair design in Hook Heath, Woking, came in. He supplied some old equipment for props and advised those playing stylists on mannerisms such as talking to clients in the mirror and even preening their own hair while they worked.

His favourite role, however, was working with wardrobe and make-up on eccentric receptionist character Michaela. I did a lot of up styles with hair extensions as part of her strong image, he says.

Crowning glory
Peter created Michaelas complex hairdos early in the morning at his salon, dealt with his own clients then dashed over to the set when he could.

Some men can multi-task you know! he laughs. I really enjoyed it, it was interesting for me. It was probably the final thing I havent done in hair; Ive done magazine and shows but never anything for TV.

I definitely think theres mileage in it becoming a proper sitcom. Its extremely funny and its actually quite relevant to things that go on in a salon.

In fact, Cut & Blow was inspired by Nathans teenage job in a hairdressers, where he heard OAPs gossiping under the dryers and even a divorcing couple having a public showdown. Ive obviously exaggerated experiences but, really, life is funny, he says.

His fictional salon is owned by troubled character Felicity. One day she tells everyone what for, then exits, only to be hit by a lorry (a scene that was filmed at 5.30 on a Sunday morning in Brookwood!).

While Felicity lies in a coma her estranged son Noel (played by Nathan) takes on the salon and a character-filled drama ensues featuring family secrets, blackmail, social climbing, a transatlantic wedding, secret youth rejuvenation treatments and even a witness protection make-over.

It was all really exciting, says Nathan, of the Brookwood pilot. It was like the community came together Ive made some wonderful friends from this. The support is phenomenal; I went to the fish and chip shop the other day and I didnt even know they knew about it and they were asking, so hows it going? Whens it out there?

Heading for stardom
At the time of going to press, fingers were still crossed for a TV contract for Cut & Blow and it would be up to the buyer whether Brookwood kept a starring role. Whatever happens, a bit of Surrey will always be part of the sitcom, however, thanks to Nathan and Jos unusual cure for writers block.

Nathan reveals: Well go into town and go to coffee shops and well sit there and watch everybody and name them and decide how they talk. Weve done that in Guildford and very
much Brookwood.

So if, while gossiping over your cappuccino, you spot a pair with pens in their hands and smiles on their lips, just be careful what you say!

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