Historic vessel wins golden ticket to star in Wonka blockbuster
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A floating museum is set to play a starring role in a Hollywood movie tracing the early life of Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka.
The Lydia Eva has arrived in Lyme Regis ready to play the passenger steamer that brings young Willy to England in the film directed by Paul King who made the Paddington movies.
And the guardians of the historic steam drifter say being scouted by Warner Brothers was like winning a golden ticket after being shut by Covid for more than a year.
The 91-year-old vessel, usually moored at Great Yarmouth's South Quay, was towed by tug at the movie makers' expense to the south coast - a journey of four days.
Acting ship's manager Ernie Artis said she was likely to be there until at least the end of October.
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Mr Artis said when they were first approached about casting the ship they thought it was a hoax.
By way of audition the film's director and stunt crew visited her in Yarmouth, spending about six hours measuring up for various scenes.
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They were reportedly thrilled to see a video of the engine working, chiming with the bygone era they were looking to recreate for the prequel movie which stars Timothee Chalamet as young Willy before he opened the famous chocolate factory.
"All we know is that she is going to convert her to look like a passenger vessels and that shots are going to be on deck and in the engine room and that all the stunts are being done on board," Mr Artis said.
She was towed as a "dead" ship with no-one on board, although former trust treasurer Mark Waltham is in Lyme Regis to advise the film makers.
Warner Brother's were making a donation to the trust for the use of the herring drifter, which was likely to be "very lucrative."
The casting came as the boat faced extra bills of £60,000 for an annual inspection and survey, and new gangway.
"It is going to give us the money back we have lost," Mr Artis said, adding that the trust was thrilled the boat was set to have its moment in the movie spotlight, the exposure likely to win it a new crop of fans.
The filming schedule means the Lydia Eva and Mincarlo Charitable Trust will have to delay the scattering of ashes for valued supporter Ivor Halsey who died this year. The trust has also lost key crew and volunteers Sean Baker, Les Summerfield and John Nobbs.
Made in Great Yarmouth
Hollywood is the biggest and most influential movie industry in the world, as well as the oldest, releasing more than 700 English language films a year.
And Great Yarmouth has enjoyed its fair share of moments in the cinema spotlight.
Last year windfarm vessel Iceni Revenge appeared in another Warner Bros Hollywood blockbuster, Tenet. A sequence involving the craft features in the movie trailer
Norfolk as a whole has seen a good slice of movie action with at least nine blockbusters shot in the county.