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Making 'Acting Natural' (Nov 1998)
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A TV Documentary billed
"The history of the British Naturist movement"

Colin James during the filming of Acting Naturally  Studland United Nudists Sue & Pete Dangerfield were excellent spokesmen for SUN  Studland United Nudists
SUN Secretary Colin James is interviewed by RDF TV during the filming of Acting Naturally Ex Sun Treasurer Sue Dangerfield and husband Pete were excellent spokesmen for SUN. Here they film a news report for Meridian News.

Acting Natural
Reviewed by Colin James

Billed as "The history of the British Naturist movement", Acting Natural, an hour-long documentary made by RDF Television, was broadcast on November 23rd 1998 on Channel 4 as part of the Witness series. Purporting to examine the rift between 'Establishment' naturists and freedom-loving new wave nudists, the programme revealed more clearly than anything else why 'naturism' is dying on its feet.

Much of CCBN's input was entrusted to former president Gerry Ryland who, like the rest of the 'Establishment' representatives remained fully dressed throughout, complete with RAF tie, and accompanied by an equally dressed, strangely silent and apparently mummified female who, I was convinced, had been rescued from Norman Bates' cellar - until she moved a finger (or was it a trick of the light?) Gerry Ryland, standing throughout, attempted to mesmerise the audience by waving his arms around like a demented schoolmaster, and spouted the usual garbage we have come to expect from the Committee for Crushing Beach Nudists (typical quote: "The maverick nudists, lefties, are hell bent on everybody getting their clothes off which in my opinion is a nonsense. It frightens the horses. We are geared to public opinion, and we can only move as fast as public opinion will permit us"). If only they did move as fast as that!.

The club owners' point of view was delivered by Mr Lava Lamp himself, the egregious Craven Walker. More swivel-eyed demagoguery from him: "We only have couples and families, because they're not looking for anyone else, they already have a liaison"; filmed at BDOC: once again you could be forgiven for thinking you were nowhere near a nudist club. Another incredible comment from Walker concerns applications from single men: "If he hasn't got a wife or girl-friend, we tell him to go and find one." We also saw Walker ostensibly dictating a letter about a 'Save Studland' group he is apparently trying to form; a clear attempt to steal our thunder and undermine our efforts of the last three and a half years, which will cut no ice with genuine beach lovers. Walkers interest in Studland is purely financial: he uses its proximity as a selling point for his moribund club. A shot of BDOC's ten-foot gate summed it up for me: the camera closed in on the sign on the gate, and it was cracked from top to bottom.

The only realistic part of the whole programme was contributed by SUN Chairman Mark Nisbet and Secretary Colin James, both of whom appeared in the buff as did veteran nudist Norman Tillett and a few others. There were the usual assertions that nudism and sex are mutually exclusive - admirably debunked by Norman Tillett in the memorable phrase "That's absolute balderdash"; he went on to qualify that by stating the truth, that there is no more and no less of a sexual element to nudism than to any other club or organisation.

There was a great deal of interesting historical and archive material and overall, the programme was well constructed and rather more in our favour than either CCBN's or the National Trust's. I particularly liked the sinister connotation given to the latter by the low-level shots of a National Trust Landrover driving along the beach and stopping just inside the hideous blue marker board - the unseen driver conveying an air of menace, as in that cult film starring Dennis Weaver, the title of which escapes me. All in all, not a bad programme and pretty good publicity for us as new-wavers. The ultimate irony, of course, is that while the Establishment and the clubs refused to strip off for the camera, the RDF production crew all worked naked.

Broadcasting Standards Commission receive three complaints about Acting Natural