Tony Morrison writes
' Dusting off these stories would never have
happened had it not been for the enthusiasm of a Canadian artist, Jo Scott-B.
We have kept in touch for almost fifty years from times when her mother Norah
owned a rustic pension known fondly as Termite Towers by young travellers
visiting Lima, Peru. I stayed there many times. The first was with the University
of Bristol Trans- Continental Expedition team in 1961 and later when it became
the base for many Nonesuch productions with Mark Howell or my wife Marion.|
the end of 2012 Jo mailed saying she was off to the Danube to sketch in the historic
cities of Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna. Jo's interest and polished itinerary
prompted me to look back to the Danube of darker days when much of its course
was behind the Iron Curtain.
1966 when I was asked to film a journey up the Danube the words of Winston Churchill
the British wartime leader rang truer than ever.Churchill was not the first to
talk of an Iron Curtain but he used the title to describe how Europe was divided
'From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic' Churchill said ' an
Iron Curtain has descended across the continent' .
between the superpowers were not just cold: they were icy and there was not much
common ground between East and West. The Iron Curtain symbolised the Soviet[Russian]
domination of a great part of Europe. Travel was tightly controlled, secret police
and informers lurked everywhere and two of the great, historic cities Jo Scott-
B was planning to visit freely were open only to state arranged tourism.
At the time I was making travel and adventure films for the BBC and bit by bit,
or you could say by 'mission creep' I was drawn into an unforgettable adventure.
Looking back I can see it was one that will never be repeated.
Brian Branston, the BBC commissioning editor 'phoned. Brian was a softspoken Yorkshireman
and writer with a passion for history. On offer was 'Destination Danube' with
John Marriner, a formidable sailor and his motor yacht September Tide.
If successful it would be a 'first up the river ' since the Second World War.
fifty years have passed and I can recall only the drift of the call. 'Filming
in Eastern Europe is never certain even if you get promises of support but if
you go with Marriner he knows the way so you may get a film - take care and let's
see the rushes. And
. 'shoot in colour. We start the colour service next
To help you visualise the time scale I'll add that the small screen in millions
of family homes across Europe was still showing black and white.'
your cursor over the map to see the picture in 1966 - the red or shades of red
were socialist or communist controlled - Austria was neutral