The human stars of the new BBC Poldark adaptation get a run for their money with the animal stars. Seamus, the horse who plays Darkie, Poldark’s horse has his own twitter account and now, meet Barley, the canine talent who plays Demelza’s dog Garrick.
We spoke to Ash, one of Barley’s trainers from the team Stunt Dogs run by Gill Raddings, stuntdogs.net.
Hi, I’m the newest member of the team at Stunt Dogs having only started a year ago, which makes me extremely lucky because most people who work for Gill have done so for a long time!
Can you tell us more about Gill Raddings, Stunt Dogs and the other work that the team has done?
“It’s an incredible thing just to see all of the photos of films she’s worked on and people she’s worked with. Gill got involved in the film industry through competing in Agility and Working Trials with her Tervuren (Belgian Shepherd) dogs and was brought in to work on a film called Company of Wolves through another animal agency and instantly fell in love with it. Gill eventually built enough of a reputation to create her own company (Stunt Dogs) providing animals for huge block buster films and major TV series. (The team’s credits are incredible and include everything from Pirates of the Carribean to 101 Dalmatians, Doc Martin and Downton Abbey).
Barley is one our best dogs. Very special. Superb temperament, loves to please, loves to work and always a pleasure to be with. To think that such a lovely dog started his life as a rescue brought in off the streets at Battersea Dogs home, as many of our best Stunt Dogs do, astounds us daily. As a result we’re not sure what his breeding is. We tend to refer to him as a ‘Lurcher Cross’. His mixed breeding is perfect because aesthetically he looks at home as a family pet, a hardy farm dog or scruffy street mutt in any time period.
He was cast as all our dogs are with the production team from Mammoth Screen getting in touch with Gill, explaining what type of dog they’re looking for and what it will be required to do. Gill will then offer a range of dogs that fit the description and whittle it down by doing auditions or showing videos of the dogs working on their stuntdogs.net profiles.
How do Barley and Eleanor Tomlinson (who plays Demelza, Garrick’s owner) get along?
They are great together. It makes a massive difference to work with artists that are very dog friendly, as she is. She’s always delighted to see him and will take time out of a very hectic schedule just to come over and say hello.
Everyone loves him. You can’t not. All the cast members will stroke him whilst asking you about his life and what he’s worked on. Imagine being in Barley’s shoes for a typical days’ work just being surrounded by people like Aidan Turner who are constantly cuddling, talking to and smiling at him. Must be fun!
Does Barley get on with Seamus and the other horses and animal’s on set, including Beatie Edney’s dog Billie? (Beatie Edney plays Prudie)
I don’t think the dogs and the horses really register each other much! They are specifically chosen not to be phased by other animals so they see each other as part of the scenery, I think. He gets on with all dogs. It’s the first and most important thing we look for in a stunt dog.
Can’t really talk about things in too much detail until the series comes about but there was one very technical shot where I was asked if Barley would walk to a particular spot and perform an action within a large area where the ground could not be disturbed until the cameras were actually rolling. Normally we work them on to ‘marks’ like an actor would use but not being allowed to disturb the ground meant that I had to basically throw the mark into the middle of the shot and hope that Barley would understand first time what he had to do without preparing the action first. On top of that there was another big potentially very distracting human stunt happening right in front of him. Of course we only had one chance to get the shot and he did it first time! Such a brilliant dog…
And what have been your most fun memories of filming on Poldark?
Apart from the filming itself it’s nice to be on remote locations surrounded by people in colourful period costume amongst old buildings with lots of green space to walk the dogs. Of course Cornwall is always lovely even when it’s bleak it wears it handsomely. I have a lot of childhood memories around Bodmin so working there was fun for me.
Oh yes I had the privilege of working on this last season with Dodger who plays the little white terrier who follows Doc Martin around. Another brilliant rescue dog trained by another Stunt Dog Trainer, Sonia Turner, who also works a lot on Poldark. There are hundreds of hilarious stories about Dodger and Martin Clunes on Doc Martin. Their on screen chemistry plays out in real life though Martin, unlike the Doctor, is actually very fond of Dodge!
Find out more about Barley and Gill Raddings’ Stunt Dogs stuntdogs.net