The Plunderers (1975)

Concept and creative process

'The Plunderers' was an archaeology programme series about the plundering of ancient tombs, for which I conceived the idea of carving the titles on stone slabs and breaking them, just as ancient tomb robbers would have done. I sat under the camera and did the breaking of the slabs myself, raising the final one up and out of shot, linking through to the opening shot of the programme. We had made the slabs of plaster, several for each title, and although they had been drying out for several weeks prior to the shoot, the first time I hammered the cold chisel, it went in and stopped without fracturing the slab. I then decided to saw the underside of each slab to within 2 centimetres of the surface in order to determine where and when each slab would break. It is always a bit nerve wracking shooting stuff like this, but we had sufficient slabs for the job, with even a couple left over at the wrap.