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Lily James, Winston Churchill’s PA in Darkest Hour took her typing lessons with Pitman Training

By | Pitman Training EC2, Pitman Training international conference for PAs, Secretaries and Administrators | No Comments

We were thrilled to hear our very own Liz Davis get a mention from Lily James on BBC Radio 2.

You can listen to the interview here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05tdscc

Lily James who plays Winston Churchill’s wartime PA in Darkest Hour has confessed to having typing lessons for the part and referred to her brilliantly eccentric tutor.  The question on Steve Wright’s interview is ‘Was it Pitman?’  We can confirm definitely ‘Yes, it was!’

Liz Davis, our IT and keyboard skills tutor at Pitman Training, London EC2 was the ‘eccentric’ but her training is anything but.  The acting task was not just to sit at the keyboard but to authentically work on a period typewriter, touch typing without looking at the keyboard.  This is so totally different and a much more physical skill than we see today.

Lily and the girls in the Typing Pool needed to sit correctly – in those days posture was everything but, whereas now we sit with both feet together, they sat with one foot in front of the other!  This was partly because typing was a manual skill – you had to really bash the keys, hit the Carriage Release lever and the Tab key, with a fair degree of force and with even pressure on all the keys.  And the positioning of their feet kept typists stable and from falling off the chair!

Hard work at the time. The Darkest Hour actors had to do all this while learning lines and staying in character.  Churchill’s PA Elizabeth Layton, and Lily, had to perform another miracle – typing while Churchill, in the film played by the BAFTA nominated Gary Oldman, walked around the room barking dictation and conversing!

Liz Davis, Pitman Training says, “What Lily did was incredibly impressive, it was really hard work, learning to touch type with all the nuances in between learning lines.  It was done on location and I coached in our normal Pitman Training way but it was challenging between rehearsals and customising for the film.  I sometimes enjoyed playing Winston myself and barking the speeches at her so she could practise as authentically as possible!”

You too can be a star ‘Lily’ style, by doing the Pitman Training Learn to Type in 2 Days lessons with Liz Davis or enrolling on our Typaz Online course.  Contact 020 7256 6668 or email courses@pitmanlondon.co.uk