Filming at Arlington House for biopic focusing on Hawkwind’s Robert Calvert

Filming at Arlington House Photo Roy Foord

Shooting of a short film which has a focus on singer Robert Calvert is taking place today (December 10) at Arlington House in Margate.

Currently titled Mirror Mirror, the work is a part documentary, part narrative film for an online platform, that centres around a woman in grief.

There is a heavy focus on Robert Calvert, who was the lead singer in 70s band Hawkwind and the writer of the Mirror Mirror storyline.

Production details say: “From his earliest works for cult publication, New Worlds, to his stint as front man for space-rock band Hawkwind, science fiction featured heavily in Calvert’s writing. Mirror Mirror began life as a stage play in 1979. Fast forward 40 years to a revival on the London Fringe and a chance meeting between lead actress Andrea Furlotti and writer Chris Perera and a screen adaptation soon followed with the blessing of Calvert’s estate and with film director Katya Ganfeld taking the helm and bringing in fresh ideas, the project soon gained momentum.”

With the aid of AI voice-cloning technology, Robert’s voice will be brought back to life to play the ubiquitous Mirror of the title.

Walpole Bay Hotel will also be used for filming of Mirror Mirror. The film is being shot through Mirror Mirror Productions and director Katya has spent two years on the ‘passion’ project.

Research by Margate writer and artist Dan Thompson previously shared with The Isle of Thanet News says the one-time Hawkwind frontman had dreamed of being in a band while working at Dreamland. He also at one time lived in Arlington House.

Photo Frank Leppard

Dan came across the Thanet connection while researching Dreamland Trilogy – three books published by Dreamland Trust. Although the Hawkwind connection didn’t make the pages of the trilogy Dan kept the research.

He said: “Members Robert Calvert and Nik Turner were both Margate residents. Calvert had previous form, as a member of a local Mod band when he was 15 called ‘Oliver Twist and the Lower Third’ and they played round the Margate dancehalls.

“In 1964, the band had a summer residency at Cliftonville Hall, now with a new singer. ‘Oliver Twist’ had been replaced by young Ace Face Davy Jones – who later changed his name to David Bowie.

“By 1969, Calvert was without a band and had been left a guesthouse in Hawley Square. What quickly became a bohemian hangout for local hippies, is now boutique b&b The Reading Rooms.”

The history of Hawkwind dates the band’s formation to 1969 Dave Brock and Mick Slattery and bassist John Harrison were joined by drummer Terry Ollis and, soon after, Nik Turner and Michael “Dik Mik” Davies, for the formation of the band. Calvert joined them some three years later.

Robert Calvert and Hawkwind in 1977

Robert Calvert was born in Pretoria, South Africa and moved with his parents to Margate when he was two. He attended school in London and Margate. Having finished school he joined The Air Training Corps, where he became a corporal and played the trumpet for the 438 squadron band.

Photo Roy Foord

He then went on to college in Canterbury. Robert began his career in earnest by writing poetry. In 1967 he formed the Street Theatre group, Street Dada Nihilismus.

At the end of the 1960s he moved to London. Robert became acquainted with Dave Brock, Hawkwind’s remaining original member, and was the resident poet, lyricist and frontman of the band, intermittently, from 1972–1979.

Robert co-wrote Hawkwind’s hit single Silver Machine, which reached No. 3 in the UK singles chart.

His creative drive and passion also resulted in a great quantity of music outside of Hawkwind as well as writing poems and plays.

The dad-of-four died aged 43, He was buried in Minster Cemetery. His gravestone is engraved with the line “Love’s not Time’s fool”, from William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116.

Many members of Robert’s family still live in Thanet.

Hawkwind/Robert Calvert details with thanks to Dan Thompson