An interview with Derek Jacobi’s tramp double

Wednesday February 22nd 2012

Shortly after I unveiled my tribute to the 2007 Derek Jacobi classic The Riddle yesterday, I received a message from a man named Matt Grimwood on Twitter, who informed me that he served as Jacobi’s tramp double on the film. I spent a good ten minutes reeling from the revelation that Sir Derek is too good to do his own tramp work, before asking Matt to answer a few questions. Here are his answers:

How did you land the gig of doubling for Jacotramp?
I was working on the film as production secretary. I got bullied into it by the rest of the crew.

What exactly were your responsibilities on set?
I had to wear Sir Derek’s tramp costume and walk up and down the shore line of the Thames acting like a tramp who is actually Charles Dickens (or Charles Dickens who is actually a tramp). I had to pick junk up, look at it, then put it into a bag. The same way Sir Derek might have done it, or Charles Dickens might have done it, or a tramp might have done it. I think I appear for about 2 seconds in total. The wide shot of the tramp walking along the shoreline, the shot of the tramp picking something up from the shore (in Dunlop Green Flash) and the shot of a hand holding a plastic toy aloft. [All are visible in clip 1 of my Top 20 Moments from The Riddle.]

Did you get to meet Sir Derek? If so, what was he like?
Naturally, he is one of Britain’s most talented thespians. A true gentleman and an artist. I never met him.

So he didn’t give you any advice on capturing the essence of “The Tramp”?
No direct advice, but I’d watch him from afar, picking up on the intricate nuances that he’d given his character. All of which I’d call upon when picking up junk from the shoreline of the Thames.

Have you seen The Riddle?
I haven’t. I read the script.

What are your feelings towards roast beef sandwiches?
Better than tuna mayo sandwiches but not as good as smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches.