Haywards Heath Blighted by Location Sham
Smith - Director
Having received a tip from a loyal visitor we visited
a cinema in nearby Crawley to view the new Mel Smith directed film 'High
Heels and Lowlifes'. We were told that Haywards Heath was not only
mentioned in the film but that a full action sequence was shot in the
station forecourt. Clearly, this represented a major celebrity connection
and needed to be fully substantiated, unlike our Bob Monkhouse connection
which is a fabrication based on a conversation overheard several years
ago. Given the inclusion of a scene shot in Haywards Heath we were surprised
to be 2 of only 4 people to view the film that day.
The film is based around a safety deposit box raid and the blackmail
of the perpetrators by a nurse (Minie Driver) and a jobbing
actress (Mary McCormack) who had overheard the daring raid
using mobile phone scanning technology owned by the nurse's
conceptual artist boyfriend. The film progressed through
mild yet enjoyable comedy moments to its pivotal scenes
in and around Haywards Heath. It was at this point that
viewers were misled through a combination of the magic of
cinema and their own suspension of disbelief.
Driver and McCormack had instructed the thieves to perform the 'drop'
of the 'swag' at a viaduct just outside Three Bridges station. Regular
commuters will recognise this location as the Balcombe viaduct. The
first error was the use of a diesel driven locomotive with overly modern
carriages in a green livery. The Brighton line has, of course, been
electrified for some years and many carriages date back to this original
electrification and so are far from modern. They are also yellow.
The location for the 'drop' was well chosen in theory however superficial
examination of the backdrop revealed that far from using the magnificent
Balcombe viaduct, a less grandiose and lower viaduct has been chosen.
However, Mr Smith redeemed himself to some extent by featuring a land
owning character with an absurd 4wd vehicle. Reeling from this location
fantasy our spirits were lifted when the train announcer announced that
the train was to pull into Haywards Heath station. We held our breath.
Pictured - The real station
|McCormack, having high-jacked the above mentioned 4wd vehicle,
proceeded to Haywards Heath station to meet sidekick Driver from the train.
Driver had been apprehended by the gangsters and was being manhandled
off the train. As McCormack raced to Haywards Heath station we began to
realise that all was not as we had hoped. The approach to the station
was in fact a semi-village like high street and not the approach either
under the bridge or from the commercial square roundabout. The film then
cut to an exchange between the gangsters and a smart ticket guard. Not
all the guards at Haywards Heath station are smart. The backdrop showed
a twee Bluebell railway type station platform more akin to something out
of an Enid Bliton novel.
We realised at this point that Haywards Heath was not
going to be featured in the film at all. Crude background signage attempted
to cover up this location illusion with little success. This, however,
was not to be the end of the story. As the film cut back to the 'forecourt'
of the 'station' to set the stage for a minor shoot-out we were left
shocked and appalled. Though we expected not to see the genuine forecourt
article we were in fact presented with a gross pastiche. Rather than
attempting to represent the Haywards Heath station forecourt with some
hint of accuracy the filmmakers simply showed a small station building
fronted by a bricked semi-circular driveway with hanging baskets and
direct access to what appeared to be a single platform. As the 4wd sped
away so did our dreams of seeing Haywards Heath on the silver screen.
Whilst we congratulate Mel Smith on his competent direction of this
enjoyable caper we remain disappointed that he chose not to shoot his
film in Haywards Heath. Even the performances and on-screen chemistry
of Driver and McCormack failed to limit the impact of this location
blunder. We have written to Mr Smith asking him to clarify the reasoning
behind his location choices and its possible effect on tourism in the