Wiltshire movie diver

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Guy Drayton from Highworth near Swindon has a fascinating job – he works as a diver at Pinewood studios.

Guy, 29, who hails from the market town of Highworth near Swindon has spent the last four years working as a diver on many recent blockbuster movies.

Tomb Raider, The Mummy, Harry Potter and the two most recent James Bond movies – The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day are just some of the films he has been involved in.

Guy’s varied movie diving duties include safety cover, underwater set dressing, construction and maintenance. He is predominantly employed at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, but has also worked further afield on sets in Prague and Greece.

As a strong swimmer and someone who once worked as a lifeguard at Highworth swimming pool, Guy had often considered a career in commercial diving. This aspiration soon turned into reality following a chance meeting whilst travelling around Europe in the mid-90s.

Guy on the set of Dinotopia
Guy on the set of Dinotopia

“I met a professional diver on my travels,” Guy explained. “He suggested taking a HSE in commercial diving at The Underwater Centre at Fort William in Scotland,”

Guy took his advice and enrolled on the £5,000 course in early 1997.

“I became friends with a guy who had his own diving firm – Diving Services UK. They had recently completed some underwater work on Steven Spielberg’s movie Saving Private Ryan.”

Guy went on to gain his qualification and spent the next two years as a commercial diver working on a number of projects for the oil and gas industry.

In 1999, Guy heard from Diving Services UK again who offered him his first media-related diving job on the 19th James Bond film – The World is Not Enough.

The third Bond movie to star Pierce Brosnan featured possibly the biggest opening sequence of all the Bond movies – an audacious speedboat chase along the River Thames. Although it only lasts for 20 minutes onscreen – it actually took two months to film.

Guy’s safety role involved standing by in case any of the 200 members of the crew working on the many camera boats fell into the Thames.

Thankfully there were no accidents during filming of this sequence, but as Guy explained, there was a close shave when it came to the caviar factory scene later in the film.

“In the scene where a Rolls Royce is driven into the water, one of the stuntmen got trapped in the car and we had to rescue him. That was the hairiest thing that has happened – we saved his life. Everyone on the set cheered when they realised he was OK.”

What was James Bond himself – Pierce Brosnan like to work with?

Guy said: “He’s a really nice bloke – down to earth and one of the best actors I’ve met.

“I’ve never seen anybody do this before or since but at the end of the film on his last day he went round to every single person on the set and thanked them personally. It was a nice touch.”

Guy also singled out Robbie Coltrane AKA Bond’s uneasy ally Valentin Zukovsky as a pleasure to work with.

“I was assigned to Robbie any time he was near water,” he said.

“He’s really into sailing and came on set as we were practising rope skills which is part of the job. As he walked past he saw the rope knots and said ‘bloody hell! A monkey’s fist! How do you do that? Teach us how!’ It sounds funny but we traded rope knots for a while!

“We got on really well and I met him again on Harry Potter.”

Guy also worked on the elaborate ice palace set on the latest Bond movie – Die Another Day.

The ice palace set from Die Another Day
The ice palace set from Die Another Day

Possibly Guy’s most memorable experience working on film and TV projects came when Diving Services UK were contracted to work on a music video.

This wasn’t any music video however, it was ‘No Other Baby’ – the 1999 single by Sir Paul McCartney.

As Guy explained: “It was definitely the best job we’ve ever done. I just had to sit in a rowing boat with Paul McCartney for a week and make sure he didn’t fall overboard.”

As McCartney had his guitar with him and because the shoot involved a lot of sitting around, Guy was lucky enough to enjoy impromptu renditions of the ex-Beatle’s many hits.

“Just having him play me songs like ‘Yesterday’, ‘From Me To You’ and ‘Sergeant Pepper’ was the most mind-blowing experience of my entire life. He was also kind enough to sign a 50th birthday card for my Mum which made her cry!”

Guy has just returned from Prague where his skills were enlisted for the forthcoming dinosaur time travel movie – A Sound of Thunder starring Ben Kingsley and Ed Burns.

He said: “Most of my stuff involved a scene in a flooded subway where Ed Burns and Catherine McCormack’s characters are attacked by a dinosaur. That is going to be a good film.”

Future projects include Tomb Raider 2 and the much mooted live action version of Thunderbirds which has just entered production. Although Guy hopes to branch into the more lucrative offshore oil and gas diving industry in the future, he would like to get a few more big budget movies under his belt.

He said: “There is a lot of sitting around waiting for set-ups before you have to be focussed on some really intense work, but it is very rewarding. It’s a lot of fun.”

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