Not much (was happening), if we were being honest with ourselves. There were some buffet tables out and little white, ball-shaped lanterns strung up from the trees in neat squares. They were obviously going to be setting up for a while. So being seasoned set reporters we buggered off to the nearest pub. And then we speculated madly. There was food, there were pretty lights, it was set up in a beautiful green park in front of a church, one of the key words announced was 'Wedding' - clearly they were setting up for a wedding reception! Maybe it would be John Watson's! We'd find out who his wife was! Cue much excitement.
More fans were turning up by this point, although we were still quite few in number. The lanterns had been moved so they were strung along above the food tables. At this point we moved the car to an empty parking space in Portland Square because - to be honest - it was horribly, horribly cold and the idea of being able to sit inside at the quieter moments, but still be able to catch the action in the rearview mirror, greatly appealed. I fell asleep on the pavement wearing my boyfriend's coat watching Doctor Who; I wasn't going to be so abysmally prepared this time.
|Benedict Cumberbatch's stunt double.|
Eventually the main cast began to arrive. Or their stunt doubles did! First to appear was Benedict's stunt double - oh, and Amanda Abbington! Who is she? Well, she's Martin Freeman's wife. And when you hear 'Mary' mentioned on set, you can only assume she's Watson's as well!
Skip the waiting around and they were finally ready for action. They assembled the extras in a massed group in front of the bonfire - lots of sparklers, glow sticks and torches around for them. The bonfire was lit on several different gas vents situated around the bonfire. Cue the gorgeous Danny Hargreaves (of Doctor Who fame) running around shouting "Gas One! Gas Two!" "Danny, gas four hasn't lit!" "Gas Four!" etc. Once it was lit the bonfire was gorgeous - and best of all, it was warm. The extras started to chat and mill around and then the scene began. Sherlock runs through the gates of the park, followed by Mary. He's panicked and shouts "Move! Move!" to the crowd as he pushes his way through. He arrives at the bonfire and looks down into the burning wood, looking worried.
All of the above has been said many times over on Twitter. Below are very spoilery scene details, which - while exciting you - you may prefer not to read. It is not my fault if you read on and wish you hadn't. Spoilers are addictive, and personally I love them and have always been grateful to those who has posted them down the years. If you are not a fan of them, then please do not continue reading.
The scene continued. Sherlock wrenches away bits of wood from the flaming bonfire. The crowd are shocked, a bit nervous about this 'madman'. Curious but not sure whether to go forward or back. The crew then cleared a hole in the rear of the bonfire, and we could see the inside was layered with wet green leaved branches. Originally we thought this was to make it smoky (which it was, eye-wateringly so) but then we realised it was to protect a stunt man. Dressed as John Watson. Looking ashen with blood running down his face. He was instructed that when he heard Benedict/Benedict's stunt double approaching the bonfire he was to dive inside, ready to be pulled out.
This was the scene basics done. Afterwards they lit a few burning torches and filmed the extras (the paid ones, not us) reactions with the light flickering on their faces. Lots of gasps, children screaming. The crew had a running lunch during this. (They had lunch as they filmed.)
And I have to admit defeat after that, I'm afraid. It was bitterly cold, half of us were having stints in the car due to feeling shattered/freezing/unwell, we had a long drive back (and unknown to me at the time - confusing detours that as a new, nervous and absolutely navigationally-inept driver didn't overly please me) and to be honest the day had already gone amazingly well. We never dreamt we could ever be extras in one of our favourite shows, let alone be privileged enough to watch probably the most exciting and dangerous scene we could ever recall having seen acted out in front of us. It was a great day.
Edit: I've just noticed the Daily Mail has some pictures of earlier on in the night. You can see them here.