There's a chav Essex girl and a freakish creature with pink and black hair who is so emotional that her eyeliner is constantly running down her face. There's a trio of temptresses in Agent Provocateur frilly bras and a hippydippy Trust Fund babe who knows she can rely on daddy's money. They are the new, upmarket tribes of St Trinian's.
And to bring them in line with the 21st-century, the directors of the new film, which premieres next week, went round the country visiting girls' schools to base these leading characters on today's modern pupil. By visiting a number we were able to plug into the mindset of today's girls and get a sense of which bands they were talking about, what cliques they had and what slang they were using.
The "new" girls of St Trinian's are not the catapult-slinging, gin-distilling, midnight-feasting, scruffy scamps of the s; but there's plenty of suspender-twanging.
The flour bombs and bun fights have been replaced with crossbows and zip wires and, instead of kidnapping racehorses, the skool of stages a heist to steal a painting from the National Gallery. Rupert Everett's remake of the dotty comedy films about jolly-hockey-stickwielding wildcats has gone posh, with sexy molls in thigh-high pleated skirts and plunging neck ties running riot in 6in Manolos.
Everett, who plays two roles - the "pantomime dame" headmistress Camilla Fritton, made famous by the legendary character actor Alastair Sim, and her dodgy art dealer brother Carnaby - originally promised to outrage audiences with a new level of shocking behaviour, moving on from the smoking, drinking, violent vixens who ran amok on our screens in the Fifties.
We were told there would be sex and drugs, tattoos and piercings. But Rupert's ideas received a D minus from the rest of the team. Others disagreed. But in the end it was decided that my way is how it will be. We've decided that the films should be as dangerous today as they were back then, which means having to pull out all the stops. But no stops were pulled. There are no teenage pregnancies, drug pedlars, pimps or even a lesbian kiss. There are hardly any boys either.
The film, which is being marketed as a Christmas family outing, is likely to get a PG or 12A rating. Oliver Parker, who got the idea for the project when he worked with Everett, co-director Barnaby Thompson and Colin Firth on The Importance Of Being Earnest, says: "When Rupert suggested abortions we really thought he was pushing the envelope. We have made a film about girls for girls and there are not many films like that.
It's still something of a young offenders' institution masquerading as a rambling school in the country, and this production delivers devious devils so overdosed on steely resolve you feel if any of them poked their tongues out they would be studded with nails. They know what they want and will go out to get it. We have made a film in that vein about girls who have to pull off a heist to save their school. And as director of the Spice Girls film Spice World, he knows all about the phenomenon of girl power. Parker adds: "I was nervous about remaking a great classic and Rupert occupying the role of Camilla Fritton because Alastair Sim was so extraordinary.
But Rupert has made "her" a symbol of modern anarchy, which works brilliantly. In the version, an age when smoking is no longer tolerated, the haze of smoke which characterised the old black and white films Alastair Sim as the bulgy-eyed headmistress even smoked in bed! The girls look a lot tidier and richer, too, with edgy haircuts encompassing every look from Emma Peel of the Avengers to the Addams Family, although ponytails and plaits are still de rigueur.
Some might say that Thompson got a little carried away casting his own year-old daughter Esme in the role of a bookie. But the essence of this movie is that it is supposed to be great fun. The plot revisits previous storylines in that St Trinian's, the infamous school for "young ladies", is in financial crisis. The bank is threatening headmistress Camilla Fritton with closure.
She is also having problems with her old flame, the new education minister Geoffrey Thwaites Colin Firth , who wants to restore law and order to the school. The girls hatch a cunning plan to avert their school's ruin, with the help of some of their teachers and financial advisor, post-modern spiv Flash Harry Russell Brand.
They know they have to unite the warring girl-gang cliques and come up with the cash fast, so they plan to pull off the heist of the century and steal Vermeer's painting Girl With A Pearl Earring from the National Gallery. Kelly is the most mature character in the film. She's the boss of everyone but also a bit of a naughty tearaway.
Gemma had her long auburn hair cut into a bob and dyed it black for her role "because I thought it would be edgy". I thought: "What have I done? She's 17 going on There's a lot of flirting with Russell Brand but sadly no snogging. I wondered why he didn't fancy me," she laughs. Gemma describes the remake as "St Trinian's for the Heat generation", but admits that despite Rupert Everett's earlier claims, middle England won't be shocked. Talulah Riley plays the part of new girl Annabelle Fritton, the snooty year- old headmistress's niece who can't believe she's had to leave arch rival Cheltenham Ladies' College for St Trinian's.
Unfortunately Annabelle was still in a pre-St Trinianised state at that time, but everyone else got to scream and wreak havoc around the fountains. I nearly broke my ankle trying to look cool. Chelsea is not based on Harry's girlfriend Chelsy Davy - but the name has obvious connotations, like the other character Peaches.
We got on so well on the St Trinian's set and I feel I have made some lasting friendships. The film stars model Lily Cole, whom Tamsin used to meet when she played truant to go on on modelling jobs when they were in their early teens.
Lily, cast as the school swot, says: "I was always the first to hand in my homework at school. I missed so much of school for modelling and knew the teachers would be tough on me if I didn't show that my studies came first. Amara Karan, who plays Peaches and admits only to being in her early 20s, went to all-girls' private school Wimbledon High. She says: "I am in the sexy underwear scene wearing a see-through slip over knickers and a bra.
I am also wearing a fluffy pair of heels. This was all new to me - in real life I am a sensible underwear girl. I forget the actor's name but he was a great kisser. It was such fun. As the Posh Totty tribe we run a sex chat-up line as a business racket which was great fun - but I think I would have wanted to be more intellectually stimulated. The original St Trinian's films were based on cartoonist Ronald Searle's drawings of dishevelled schoolgirls disporting themselves inappropriately at a real school called St Trinnean's in Edinburgh.
The headmistress, Miss Fraser Lee, who in real life thrived on eccentricity - she once announced that for the following term the school would start their school dinners with pudding and end with the soup - despaired of her school being further lampooned in the films which spanned 25 years from to And while the Sloaney girls are given lessons in Gulf War weaponry, credit card fraud and "Botoxing up" for a celebrity future, the Posh Totty may seem like airheads, but they save the day.
So the film is also about dispelling preconceptions," says Parker. She's a marvellous woman, she strides around, she works in the garden and she goes out to parties. She wears nice hats and dresses, she has wonky teeth.
She's an upper class woman, one of the kind of empire-ruling women of my parents' generation, who I find very amusing and feel affection for. No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards. Latest Headlines U. Scroll down for more Share or comment on this article:. Comments 0 Share what you think. Bing Site Web Enter search term: Search.
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