Face it, you knew that title was coming, well those who are au fait with Blue peter at least! Disappointingly the phrase wasn't used as I think that they try to avoid it nowadays...still never mind at least it's all finally over with now.
A bumper 76 images are now in their own set at the Flikr site that should just about cover the making of the cokentryce that we did for this programme, shame I can't say the same for the haslet of fruit, but that was the one we made earlier as Robin knocked one together whilst I spent my time in a rather long, but very productive meeting.
I have to confess that this was probably the least enjoyable piece of TV work I think that I've done and it's a shame that it was only the thoughts of the extra money that it'll bring to the pay packet that got me through it! Why you ask, well simply because I can't stand having to stand there repeating other peoples misconceptions and fallacies about the past as if they were my own, you know the sort of thing.....junk like "they didn't drink water because they knew it made you ill" and sensationalist figures taken completely out of context to make the past seem wild and wacky....cos' it's telly aint it?
Thankfully we managed to wheedle out some of the rubbish in a meeting on the Wednesday night, but there were a few angry words as they'd sorted their script out and scripted my responses and weren't happy about changing things...still if we'd had a little more than a weeks notice for the whole thing and slightly more than 2 days notice on the script then things would probably have been a little smoother. Anyway what's done is done and I'll be out in the wilds of the Internet spouting claptrap and reading off of an idiot board for eternity now....blamed for perpetuating shonky myths about the past by all and sundry....but I'm not bitter....much!
I mean it's not like there's evidence for the cokentryce being cooked at Henry's Court or anywhere that I could find in the sixteenth century, but it looks weird and odd so that fact doesn't matter...but I digress, at least we got to have another go at making one and a lot sooner than anyone had anticipated....even better, Robert was on hand too to take a metric shed load of pictures over the two days....all in all just over 850 of all sorts, so the set at Flikr is only a very small selection but should give you an idea of how we made it, pop over there to have a look at the full load, but here's a shortened version of the make...
Given the short notice I was really surprised that the butcher could provide the 'parts' we needed, so hats off to Dales for sterling work there.
We started with the pig and for ease of availability, a turkey
both animals had been through the wringer, the pig having it's trotters almost cut off and the turkey with it's head only just attached....still, I suppose beggars can't be choosers, at least it still had the head...shame the same couldn't be said about the feet!
Now Robin and I had always planned to take the front of the turkey and add the back of the pig and this plan was consolidated by the lack of feet on the fowl...unfortunately the BBC had assumed the other and were quite miffed that we were insistent on doing it our way...as it turned out they were more than happy with it in the end as it looked...'realistic'. The plan for the making of the beast on Wednesday was for us to just get on and make it, with them recording it, they will then convert the 2 1/2 hours into a 30 second or so time lapse to slot into the show...I'm not sure how it'll look being so compressed, but the BBC seemed positive about it so we'll just have to wait and see, but again, I digress....
Having lopped the front off the pig, Robin then proceeded to trim out the excess meat and bone out the rib cage and spine so that we had a sufficient area of skin to wrap around the turkey
Whilst Rob was sorting the pig out, I tidied up the turkey and stitched up some superfluous cuts....and in this shot was attempting cosmetic repair of the pig's front legs...which were going to be used as well, but we gave up on that idea.
Of course doing this is all very well, but don't forget that there's a camera being poked at you all the time....I'm pretty sure that I'd blown my nose before we started...
after trimming the back legs off of the turkey and removing the parsons nose
we could finally offer the two halves up to check for a fit...
It's at this point that Marc H's description...'it's the culinary version of an automotive cut 'n shut'...is the most apt I think.
All that's then left to do is to sew the two halves together and Robert is your fathers brother....yeah, of course it's that simple!
Firstly we skewered the two halves to each other to hold it all together whilst I did the sewing
This was as I say, easier said than done, the pig skin was tough to get through and the turkey skin just the opposite, so thin that it easily tore
It wouldn't win any award for neatness and there's no career in cosmetic surgery waiting for me.
Combined with those problems, the heat in the kitchen because of the lights and fire and the fact that all the doors were closed meant that both animals were starting to sweat grease...and lots of it
which wasn't exactly conducive to an easy time either. Still, after about an hour of sewing I ended up with the last few stitches at the delicate end of Mr Piggy (and yes I can guarantee it was a boy!) before the job was finished
All we had to do then was to wire up the head to keep it erect for the cooking process
and finally the beast was complete
As I say, there are a load more images of the process over at the Flikr site, at the moment I've restricted what you can see to the making of the beast....next post will be the cooking and the recording of the actual show...I'll release the other images then.