‘He got so bored’ - How Hollywood icon Orson Welles made a brief visit to Norwich

Orson Welles, who visited Norwich in 1972 to record for Anglia Television; Picture: AP Photo/Jacques

Orson Welles, who visited Norwich in 1972 to record for Anglia Television; Picture: AP Photo/Jacques Langevin - Credit: AP

He was a world-renowned actor who once famously put in a performance so convincing that an American town thought aliens had invaded.

BAFTA-winning Robbie Coltrane OBE stars as Orson Welles. Photo: Sky UK Limited

BAFTA-winning Robbie Coltrane OBE stars as Orson Welles. Photo: Sky UK Limited - Credit: Sky UK Limited.

When you think of Orson Welles, you think War of the Worlds, Citizen Kane and Hollywood glitz and glamour.

You perhaps do not think of a fleeting visit to Norwich to film for Anglia Television in the 1970s.

However, this tale will be told in comedic fashion next week, when the time the Hollywood icon came to the fine city is retold in an episode of Sky Arts programme Urban Myths is broadcast on Wednesday evening.

Starring Robbie Coltrane as the enigmatic actor, Orson Welles in Norwich dramatises how the actor had fallen on financially hard times so accepted a role narrating Great Mysteries for Anglia Television - with his parts filmed in Norwich.

Steve Peart, left, who worked at Anglia TV at the same time actor Orson Welles recorded there. Pictu

Steve Peart, left, who worked at Anglia TV at the same time actor Orson Welles recorded there. Picture: Graham Corney


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The episode tells how he arrived in Norwich in need of a payday, only to meet his match and mysteriously disappear.

However, Stephen Peart, who was working at a different department at Anglia TV at the time, said the reality of his “disappearance” was more likely simply down to boredom.

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He said: “It was certainly quite a coup to get somebody of his stature to come to Norwich and there was a real buzz around the news. I know people used to call him ‘awesome’ Welles, he was that well thought of.

“It was all down to John Woolf that we were able to get him and I remember there being quite a bit of excitement – although I never met him myself. It was such a big moment for us

Broadcasting from Norwich. Picture: Anglia TV main studio. Date: Oct 1959

Broadcasting from Norwich. Picture: Anglia TV main studio. Date: Oct 1959 - Credit: Archant

“His visit to Norwich was very, very brief. The show was all footage that had been filmed elsewhere which we bought and just filmed Orson’s parts to introduce them.

“In the end, I think he just got so bored, so did his filming and got out - there were no second takes, he just up and left.”

While based around the actor’s visit to Norfolk, the episode itself, which was written by Matthew Broughton, was not filmed on location - instead being made in Glasgow.

Urban Myths: Orson Welles in Norwich, will be shown on Sky Arts at 10pm on Wednesday, October 29.

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