Actress Jenny Agutter has said that returning to the set of The Railway Children more than 50 years on to film a sequel made her appreciate the sense of “time going by”.
The Call The Midwife star will reprise her role as an adult Bobbie Waterbury in 2022 in The Railway Children Return, which is set during the Second World War.
Agutter said the sequel to the 1970 film, in which she starred alongside Dinah Sheridan and Bernard Cribbins, is a way of “paying tribute” to the original book by Edith Nesbit.
She will be joined by a cast that includes Sheridan Smith, Tom Courtenay and John Bradley.
The original story follows a family who move from London to a house near a railway in Yorkshire, after the father is imprisoned after being falsely accused of spying.
“It’s a lovely opportunity, being asked to do it, and the reason I thought it was really rather exciting is because it is 50 years since I did the film,” Agutter told the PA news agency.
“It’s a wonderful way of looking at that story again, of paying tribute to Lionel’s film (director Lionel Jeffries), and Nesbit’s lovely story, which has been in print since 1905.
“I thought it was such a lovely idea and I love the idea of returning to it… and I think that Nesbit would have really liked the idea of that continuity.
“She came from a period of writers who all believed in time travel… that there would be some way that one could move into the future.”
The actress said the role had meant revisiting the original set of Three Chimneys house and Oakworth Station in West Yorkshire.
“Filming meant going back to the station and standing there and just enjoying that sense of time having gone by, but also the sense that time almost doesn’t go by because it certainly stands still on that station,” she said.
“Looking at it, it looked the same and it felt the same. I met one of the drivers who had driven one of the trains in the Lionel Jeffries film.
“It was lovely. He seemed as youthful as he had done when we were there before but he now had a 41-year-old daughter who was now one of the engine drivers on that line.
“She wasn’t even born when we did the film.”
Agutter said that having grown up herself since appearing on screen as a teenager made it “straightforward” to take on the adult role but said she “wouldn’t have dreamt” of giving advice to younger actors on set.
“All you can do when you see young actors doing an extremely good job is pick up as much as you can from them.
“It’s a new world, and if we don’t keep learning from it we’ll just go back in time.”
This year, the actress is supporting Action for Children’s Secret Santa campaign to help vulnerable UK children and their families during the festive season.
“We’re heading into Christmas again right now but there are a lot of people living in poverty in the UK and a lot of children way below the poverty line,” she said.
“The last 20 months have exacerbated that and Action for Children works extraordinarily well with families and vulnerable children across the UK.
“The whole idea of Secret Santa is a campaign to look at the festive seasons and use that sense of giving that we have and make sure gifts go to those people that really need it.
“It’s a lovely idea… you become a Secret Santa and you can give any amount of money.”
– Donations to the campaign can be made at https://www.actionforchildren.org.uk/support-us/make-a-donation/appeals/secret-santa/