“Damian Lewis broke my door knob”

Laura Davis wrote in the Liverpool Echo of 24.3.14:

“Would you open your home to 60 strangers who rearrange all your furniture, take over your bedroom and run up and down your garden to the sound of gunshots?

Ingrid Spiegl has, several times.

Not all of the invaders were entirely unknown to her, however. A few faces she knew very well off the telly.

There was Damian Lewis, who came to her Princes Park home to film The Forsyte Saga back in 2001, and, just a few weeks ago, Michael Kitchen and Honeysuckle Weeks from Foyle’s War.

It was the more recent film crew that was responsible for the excitement in the garden.

“It’s quite exciting to be sitting in the kitchen and hearing gunshots,” says Ingrid, who was married to the late musician, broadcaster and Scouse Press founder Fritz Spiegl.

I just sat in there with the cats. They were terrified, except one who kept walking through when they were doing a shoot.”

 The scene stealer is black cat Darius Milhaud (named after the French composer but pronounced “Miaow”). Ingrid, like her other cat Claude Depussy, was more reticent about approaching the actors for an autograph or photo…

“I saw Mr Kitchen, he doffed his hat at me a couple of times, which was nice. And we’ve had Damian Lewis in this house – he’s gone on to greater things. I did tell him he looked like Wee Willie Winkie when he ran down the stairs so that’s probably not a good move.”

The Forsyte Saga used almost the whole house – and a lot of other Liverpool locations – arriving en masse with a big wagon where the cast and crew ate their meals, and staying for several months.

At the time the Spiegls were having their three-storey home rewired so the wallpaper was peeled back and there were channels running up the walls. The production team took out all the furniture and redecorated.

 “They said ‘we’ll restore it to how it is’ – I said ‘no!’,” says Ingrid, whose house’s high ceilings and period features make it the perfect choice for location scouts.

She did eventually redecorate but traces of the Forsyte Saga remain. They left behind a couple of rolls of blue patterned wallpaper, which she used to paper a small corridor on the first floor.

There is also another reminder.

“Damian Lewis broke my door knob,” says Ingrid.

“He was rattling it. It was a china one and it broke. My late husband glued it back together again with a piece of paper ‘saying Damian Lewis broke this door knob’ because we think that’s a thing to be proud of.”…

“The only thing I was a bit bothered about were the books being taken off the shelves because I’d put some of them into alphabetical order and they’re not any more.”…

“I watched the Forsyte Saga so many times,” she says.

“We videoed each episode and sat there with our tongues hanging out recognising lots of Liverpool – our friends’ houses, Gambier Terrace, Falkner Square…”

And she’d be happy to do it all again…”

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