Published: 00:00, 08 May 2014
| Updated: 10:27, 08 May 2014
by Mary Louis
Award winning British actor and director Bob Hoskins is being fondly remembered in Thanet and east Kent, for which he had a soft spot.
Mr Hoskins died from pneumonia, aged 71, on Tuesday last week.
In 2006, he filmed award-winning nationally acclaimed film Ruby Blue in Ramsgate. It was also partly shot on Deal Pier and made on a tight budget and schedule by Ramsgate-based independent company Medb Films (later known as Maeve Films), written and directed by Thanet’s Jan Dunn.
Mr Hoskins made a big impression on people in the district who were thrilled to spot him out and about.
Ruby Blue tells the tale of a pigeon-fancying widower who falls in love with a French Eurostar driver played by Josiane Balasko, a huge star in France. He strikes up an innocent friendship with a young neighbour who is fascinated by his racing pigeons and is confronted by mob mentality when the girl goes missing.
A minimal budget of £850,000 meant the film had to be shot in 20 days, virtually all in Ramsgate.
While at work on interior scenes at a bungalow in Cliff View Road, Cliffsend, the star said of Ramsgate: “I’ve been out shopping in the town and had a look at the harbour it’s a lovely place. I really like this coastline.”
Ms Dunn described Mr Hoskins on Twitter as: “great man, great actor, great heart”.
She said that he was inspirational in so many ways and so supportive of her and the film.
“ I was honoured to direct him in Ruby Blue,” she said.
The actor stayed at the town’s Royal Harbour Hotel where Medb was based and close to where Ramsgate’s own award-winning actor Brenda Blethyn has a home.
She tweeted the heartfelt condolences of herself and husband Michael to Mr Hoskins’ widow Linda and family, writing: “Bob was a diamond.”
His co-star was nine-year-old Jessica Stewart, then a pupil at Ramsgate’s St Laurence-in-Thanet Primary School. Her mum Nicola and friend Shannon Tomkinson, a Chilton Primary School pupil were also cast in Ruby Blue, with Thanet Pigeon Club also taking part.
Jessica appeared in many scenes with Bob, all of them improvised.
After filming, her mum described Bob as absolutely wonderful. She said he was one of the nicest people in the industry, really down to earth and the girls got on so well with him.
In Deal, Bob was filmed on the pier, fishing and enjoying the views.
He was captured on camera by Deal piermaster Ray Norman who said the actor was happy-go-lucky and down to earth.
The Beachbrow Hotel in Beach Street opened specially to serve lunch to the film crew.
Regulars at the Dog Inn in Wingham were astounded when the star of The Long Good Friday, Mona Lisa and Who Framed Roger Rabbit walked in for refreshment during filming.
Landlord Richard Martin said after Bob had dined there: “He was very good to my staff and I think he enjoyed himself thoroughly.”
An earlier visit to Thanet was made by Bob, alongside a host of other British screen stars, for the filming of the 2001 film Last Orders.
In this, he appeared with Michael Caine, Tom Courtenay, Helen Mirren and Ray Winstone for the tale of Jack Dodd, a London butcher who had enjoyed a pint with his pals for more than 50 years and whose final wish was for his ashes be scattered in the sea at Margate.
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