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Last Updated: Friday, 21 December 2007, 08:57 GMT
New term at St Trinian's school
By Caroline Briggs
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

The new St Trinian's film, starring Rupert Everett and Colin Firth, brings classic 1950s boarding school capers back to the big screen.

St Trinian's

Today's St Trinian's pupils are more balls of steel than jolly hockey sticks.

Forget catapults made of knicker elastic and smoking as the ultimate sign of rebellion - 21st century St Trinians are all about drugs, illegal vodka, bombs and firearms.

The home of British slapstick, Ealing Studios, has breathed new life into the "young ladies" of the anarchic educational establishment.

And they, explains star Gemma Arterton, are "St Trinians for the Heat generation".

But while playground anarchy may not have the shock value it had in the 1950s, she insists today's less innocent generation is not immune to the St Trinians' anarchic charm.

"The fact that school girls are running around and doing their own thing is still quite shocking," explains Arterton, "especially in Britain where you have the boarding school culture.

"It is quite extreme - St Trinian's isn't exactly a typical school in Britain - but it also has that innocence and naughtiness that makes it typically St Trinian's."

Landing the role as sassy, sexy head girl Kelly was quite simply a dream come true for Arterton, who was fresh out of drama school.

My breasts were lovely, though. They had a lovely consistency
Rupert Everett

Both Sienna Miller and Amy Winehouse had been linked to the part before Arterton's agent called to say it was hers.

"I didn't think I'd get it and I was absolutely stoked. I still can't believe it, even though I've seen it now.

"It was a real whirlwind for me because I was one of the last people to be cast and I was really thrown into it."

She adds: "Kelly is the coolest character - very sassy and confident - and she's the one who makes sure everyone is doing the right crimes and the school is running in the correct way."

Arterton and 22-year-old Talulah Riley, who plays prim and proper Annabel, agree that working on the film was "a big, frolicky knees-up".

"It was a bit like being back at school with all the girls just having a laugh," says Riley, who was previously seen with Keira Knightley in 2005's Pride and Prejudice.

St Trinian's
Talulah Riley (l) and Gemma Arterton (r) star as schoolgirls

The film centres on unorthodox headmistress Camilla Fritton as she struggles to cough up 500,000 she owes to the bank, while dealing with stuffy education minister Geoffrey Thwaites - played by Colin Firth - who is determined to clean up or close St Trinian's.

Responsibility for saving the school falls on the anarchic pupils, who put their cliquey differences aside to stage a daring art heist.

The iconic 1950s films - such as Belles of St Trinian's and Blue Murder at St Trinian's - featured stars like the young Barbara Windsor, Joan Sim, Beryl Reid and George Cole, while comedy geniuses like Sid James and Frankie Howerd also had cameo roles.

But the real star was Alastair Sim who donned unconvincing drag to play the bombastic Millicent Fritton and, on occasions, her brother Clarence.

Rupert Everett also dons a frock to play the school's headmistress in the new incarnation.

He admits Miss Fritton - with her Wellington boots, tweed suits, pearls and Hermes scarves - was influenced by the Duchess of Cornwall, with just a dash of Everett's mother.

"The Duchess of Cornwall is the kind of woman that Miss Fritton is - a no-nonsense, upper class woman in her Wellington boots and tweed suit," explains Everett.

St Trinian's
The girls - geeks, goths, posh totty and chavs - put their differences aside

"But the Duchess of Cornwall is more petite than my Camilla, who is a bit of an elephant."

Everett says dressing as a woman quickly lost its initial appeal.

"It was fun for the first couple of days, but then nightmarish because you go on day after day. You can't really move much because you're covered in make-up and glue," explains Everett.

"And I had a bad back from the boobs, but there was also the wigs, and lashes and teeth - it's all uncomfortable.

"My breasts were lovely though," he laughs, "They had a lovely consistency."

"They were more than a match for me," agrees Firth, Miss Fritton's unlikely love interest.

"We had one option towards the end in that love scene of actually having them pop, and it was my job to pop them.

"I just couldn't do it. We tried everything. We even taped pins to my hands, but they just wouldn't go.

"I think they got the better of me."

The revival of Ealing Studios
27 Jul 07 |  Business
St Trinian's promises class act
20 May 07 |  Entertainment
Barton joins St Trinian's movie
16 May 07 |  Entertainment
Model Cole joins Trinian's film
11 Apr 07 |  Entertainment
Cameras roll on new St Trinian's
21 Mar 07 |  Entertainment

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