The Making of Making Waves
By Lieutenant Commander Kevin Fincher RN – Making Waves Project Officer
In Jul 02 I was happily ensconced as the second in command of HMS Argyll in the middle of a foreign patrol when the dreaded call from the Appointer (a Royal Navy career management specialist) came into the ship. I knew that I was due to move on, but expected it to be at the end of the deployment, so the call was something of a surprise. As usual the conversation went along the lines of ‘have I got a job for you….’, but after the Appointer had explained that he wanted me to go and work with Carlton TV for six months while they filmed the new drama series about the Royal Navy, I had to agree it did sound a total departure from anything else I had done thus far and therefore very tempting. Needless to say, I accepted the job and on 27 Aug I started working for the Directorate of Corporate Communications (Navy) as the Making Waves project manager. My remit was very broad; anything to do with ‘Making Waves’was mine. This included the corralling of assets (ships, aircraft, real estate, people), the engagement of media and solicitors, the sorting out of the legal agreement, the development of a Royal Navy strategy, and most importantly offering advice on a day to day basis on set. The learning curve was exponential, but the thrill was, that wherever I turned, I was breaking new ground.
‘Making Waves’ itself had started life many years ago as a concept by Ted Childs (who has also been responsible for Inspector Morse, Kavanagh QC, Soldier Soldier, Cadfael, Sharpe, Peak Practice, etc….), but having taken the concept to successive Executives at the BBC and ITV and members of the Royal Navy, the planets had never quite come into alignment. However, by the time I joined the process, the project had been endorsed by the Navy Board, and Carlton TV had been commissioned by ITV to produce a six part drama. The final planet to come into alignment however, was going to be a difficult one; the Legal Agreement.
First and foremost the agreement had to cover what the RN was willing to allow them to depict and what it was not and the editorial role that the RN would play. This was actually quite easy and certainly took Carlton TV by surprise, in that the RN was willing to allow them to depict whatever they wanted, as long as they also depicted the way in which the RN would deal with that given situation. With regard to the editorial role, although legally no editorial control could be given and hence none was sought, the RN negotiated a robust right of consultation, which was very effective throughout the production. Another important part of the Legal Agreement was money; recovery of taxpayer’s money for the use of the assets provided and also income generation. With the project having been endorsed by the Navy Board at ‘no loss cost’ in return for the raising of the RN profile within the public eye, I was also about to become a debt collector, in that whenever an RN asset was used, the cost of fuel (in terms of aircraft and ships) and electricity, heating and rates (in terms of real estate), had to be recovered. Of equal importance, the percentage of profits that the RN would receive in royalties, sale of merchandising etc… had to be negotiated. Suffice to say that the potential profit easily outweighs the money spent on hiring a West End media lawyer to do the haggling for us.
In Jan 03 two other members of the RN team joined, Warrant Officer Dave Allport and Leading Seaman Sarah Worthy, shortly thereafter we decanted to Portsmouth. Joining us in there were the core Carlton TV team of about 12 people, script editing and mustering of further assets now began in earnest. Things started to happen in quick succession; HMS Grafton was confirmed as the Type 23 that would act as the fictional HMS Suffolk and HMS Sutherland as the fictional HMS Wessex, the team of 12 became a team of 70, location filming started on Mar 24 and finally the Legal Agreement was signed on Mar 27. What had been a canter had now turned into a gallop. There had previously been areas where the clash of cultures had been more noticeable than others, but with the commencement of filming onboard Grafton, some of the clashes became more marked.
The Making of Making Waves Continued
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