Yes we are a film company and our movie Freight is on Netflix. Here is the story of that film and perhaps a little of this travel show’s past, straight from the horse’s mouth, me. I wrote and produced the film after seeing the Michael Palin doc on Eastern Europe. He was in Moldavia where UNESCO were touring a play to try and stop girls being convinced they should travel their families abroad with the lure of work and riches. I have had a big soft spot for Michael since we worked together on Channel 4’s GBH many years ago with another old friend Robert Lindsay. So, just in case you think we are always pushing  romantic books for the Solo Cruiser series, read on… this is a tough book, a hard book about crime.

What touched me was the sheer horror of mankind, how their own people could sell them as modern day slaves into the slave sex industry. I went to ICON and explained the concept, I wanted to show no sex, no nudity but the horror of what was happening and they agreed to take the movie. I managed to persuade my daughter Laura Aikman to be the English girl that is unfortunately taken by the Eastern European gang and my son Luke Aikman to play her brother. Luke was a quite a famed child actor for playing amongst other roles, Nick Hornby in Fever Pitch a role he shared with Colin Firth as the older Hornby.  Laura’s husband Matt Kennard, currently playing a football coach in a CBBC series also plays a brother as does his twin Sam. Then I am joined by old friends and stars #BillyMurray and #CraigFairbrass. Now, we cannot forget Doris! Jean Heard who is the main presenter for Doris Visits plays Billy’s wife. Before you shout nepotism to me or the royal family, or Clint Eastwood or any of the other people in the movie industry it is how films and TV are cast. The money and sales agents choose the stars, then it is who you know, and the other roles are cast. The casting director sometimes is doing no more than contracts and negotiations.

We set the film is Leeds purely because the TV crews I had worked with up there for years on Emmerdale were asking to stretch their muscles and make a movie. Natalie Anderson is wonderful in the film and that performance got her into Emmerdale. The film is littered with friends but is a hard truth to watch. It was made just before ‘Taken’ which is extremely similar but at a fraction of the time and budget. The film is a very gritty British gangster movie.

So, books to take on holiday might include Freight, the driving thriller that won awards all over the world. I was lucky enough to win Best Director in the USA for it. They might also include ‘Her Virgin Voyage’, which we are having rewritten as a TV box set and are now trying to sell to the big boys like HBO and Sky. It took us 8 years to get Bula Quo made, so this won’t happen too fast. In the meantime Jean Heard will continue to travel and I will sit in the darkened office at the screen.

READ THE CRUISE BEFORE YOU CRUISE THE SEA. 

 Sally Katz used the films on Doris Visits to peg her books on! With permission. Each book takes place over a cruise! Book 1 is a Canary Islands cruise, Book 2 is in the Baltic, Book 3 is in the Caribbean, and Book 4 goes from the ABC islands through the Panama Canal.

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