From playing football with Sting to being stood on by Bono, the life of a film and TV starfinder
ANORTH Walian who shared downtime with Sting, Bono and Jools Holland is determined to give the rest of us a little glimpse of stardom.
Helen Pritchard is from Llanrug but, after jet-setting around the world to some of the most stunning locations, has settled back in Bangor, acting as an agent for actors and unearthing unpolished gems for extra work.
Although the city may seem far removed from the glitz and glamour of London, New York or the paradise sands of Montserrat, former Ysgol Brynrefail pupil Helen is linked with them all.
From playing footy and breaking plates in Athens with Sting, to helping Jools Holland get his big presenting break and acting as a makeshift stepping stone for Bono, she has seen a side of life most of us can only dream about.
It all started with a first, as she said: “I was the first woman to work in the West End on the flys, on West Side Story.”
Flys are the ropes which operate the pullies and weights which move scenery into position.
From there she became PA to film producer Rigby Andrews, before going into film production.
She got into music videos through a friend’s video production company.
Helen worked with video pioneers Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, of 10cc fame, on The Old Grey Whistle Test and hobnobbed with The Police, The Pretenders, U2, Echo and The Bunnymen, The Ramones and Gary Numan.
It led to some surreal moments, including that game of football with The Police, and a plate-smashing session in an Athens taverna in the early 80s.
She said: “I was production coordinator on Police Around The World.
“The real Greek police were there and they were trying to swap sweatshirts with The Police logos on them.
“It was a brilliant time. We were in some taverna in Athens and Sting and Stewart Copeland were throwing the plates on the floor but the restaurant owner wasn’t too pleased as they have special plates for that.”
Her game of football with the band, who were then just about the hottest property in the world, was followed by fish and chips with guitarist Andy Summers and former Squeeze drummer Jools Holland.
Helen recalls how she was instrumental in Holland getting his big break in presenting in 1981, when the company she worked for booked him to interview The Police on the island of Montserrat.
She was production manager on videos with E-Street Band guitarist Steve Van Zandt, The Pretenders, Echo and the Bunnymen and, on another, acted as an impromptu stool for U2 frontman Bono.
She said: “We were doing a concert with U2 in London and I was in the orchestra pit. Bono was just looking out at the crowd, singing, and he had one foot on my head.”
Helen is now looking for more extras for productions visiting the area soon and feels there are roles to fit anyone.
She says the area is benefiting from the surge in popularity of Wales as a location for big productions.
She said: “I get asked for so many types of people – every nationality, race and religion, from able-bodied to disabled people.
“It all depends on what production companies are looking for but Wales Screen (formerly the Wales Screen Commission) up here is really good.”
However, for anyone thinking being an extra is a quick way into the film business, Helen has some sobering advice.
She said: “I have had extras who have had lines in productions and gone onto drama school but non-extra roles will normally go to trained actors.”
Anyone interested in becoming an extra should send a photo with their measurements and contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org
Llanrug-born casting agent Helen PritchardWith Stevie Van Zandt Land clearance for Wylfa: P10