Get set for a Swallows and Amazons Summer

We chat to the young actors in this summer’s exhilarating new adaptation of Arthur Ransome’s treasured classic ‘Swallows and Amazons’ and see how you can WIN tickets to fun day pre-release screening

We chat to the young actors in this summer’s exhilarating new adaptation of Arthur Ransome’s treasured classic ‘Swallows and Amazons’ and see how you can WIN tickets to fun day pre-release screening

John, Susan, Roger and Tatty are set to become household names once again over the summer with the release of the new Swallows and Amazons movie. We caught up with the young actors playing the iconic characters – Orla Hill, age 14 who plays Susan Walker, Bobby McCulloch, age 10 who plays Roger Walker, Teddie Malleson-Allen, age 10 who plays Tatty Walker and Dane Hughes, age 16, who plays John Walker, to find out more about the film and their characters.  

Swallows and Amazons will be in cinemas from 19 August 2016.  

Can you tell us a little about Swallows and Amazons?

Bobby - It is the story of two families who meet up at the Lakes, the Blackett's and the Walker’s. At first they are at war with each other fighting over the Island, but then they team up to save Uncle Jim and have an exciting adventure.  

Can you describe your character in the film?

Orla -  Susan is the First Mate and her role in the family unit is a maternal one to the younger children but she has characteristics which means she doesn't conform to the stereotype: so she can't cook and stands up for herself to her brother and believes her opinions should be heard.  

Bobby - Roger is very cheeky with a big imagination.  In the beginning of the film he is quite shy but as time goes on, he becomes brave and has to grow up and do things he never thought possible.  He really looks up to his big brother John and wants to make him proud.  Susan looks after him and Tatty teases him but they are a very close family, particularly because their dad is not around.  

Teddie - My character Tatty Walker is adventurous, funny and also a bookworm.  She makes the flag for the boat Swallow and her job is to write events in the ships log.  She delights in teasing her little brother Roger.  

Dane - I play John Walker who is the eldest of the Walker children and captain of the Swallow.  John wants to live up to his father’s expectations and wants responsibility.  He can be a little moody and hot headed at times but cares deeply for his siblings and is not afraid to take on adults.  

How did you get the part?

Orla - I sent in a self-tape and then was invited to one audition with Philippa and then I had to do two workshops. After each one I thought I wouldn't hear from them again and I couldn't believe it when I heard I had got it.  

Bobby - The casting director came to our school and looked at all the children.  I was the last one to be asked questions about my favourite subjects at school.  Luckily I said drama! (and sport). I then had to do quite a lot of auditions, the last one being at a sailing club when we got to sail.  I was a bit nervous at first but by the third audition it was quite fun.  

Teddie - I had worked with the director Philippa before on ‘Cider with Rosie’.  I had a few auditions for ‘Swallows and Amazons’ because we had to be matched up with the rest of the Walker family and also went out on a boat to see if we were okay being out on the water.  

Dane - I was invited to try out for auditions by Shaheen Baig Casting who had visited schools in the South of England looking for young people to play the role.

Had you sailed before and if so, how did it help with your role?

Orla - We were told that the last audition would involve a sailing test so I went to the reservoir in Hackney and had a one-hour lesson so I had some idea how it worked. I went out with a girl my age who was a brilliant sailor and we raced round the reservoir and i was absolutely hooked. I had no idea you could do sailing in the middle of the city.  

Bobby - Out of the whole cast I had the most sailing experience.  I have sailed down in Cornwall and I have my level 3 qualification.  I think it helped because I know a bit about boats like Roger.  Before we started filming we had some sailing lessons on the Lakes but we learnt more when we were actually filming, as we spent so much time on the water.  

Teddie - I had been out on a boat Mackerel fishing in Lymn Regis and in a sea kayak but never on a sailing boat before.   I did a couple of days training at South Cerny waterpark.   It was really hard at first to dodge the boom.  In fact I got whacked when we were filming in Cumbria because the wind changed suddenly. It really hurt and I made sure it didn’t happen again!

If you hadn’t sailed before, did you have sailing lessons and if so how did you find the whole experience?

Orla - At the audition we went out in a boat and then had some instruction in the Lake District. It was different as the Swallow is so much heavier. I really enjoyed the freedom and speed that comes with sailing. You are completely in control and it is wonderful and empowering  

Dane – I didn’t have any previous sailing experience.  So, I had sailing lessons at Sutton Bingham Sailing Club near Yeovil where I completed the RYA Level 1 award. The weather was very calm during the lessons so I didn’t really get to experience sailing the boat as much as I would have liked.

What did you particular like about your sailing experience and were there any parts that you found challenging?

Orla - It was difficult filming and sailing as you have to keep continuity in mind as well as the sailing. So you can't just move around for each take or change position.   Bobby - The best bit was falling out of the boat and waiting for John (Dane) to come and rescue me.  I love swimming and it was really exciting falling overboard.  

Dane - Obviously the location and scenery was really good but spending 4-5 hours on the boat filming could become quite challenging at times.  

Do you think you would like to sail again?

Orla - Yes, it is such a fun thing to do and a great way to relax whilst also being active, you are so absorbed all the time.  

Bobby - I would like to sail again but maybe somewhere hotter!  

What are your most memorable sailing moments from the shoot?

Orla - There were a few times when we were on Coniston and the wind was up and it was raining slightly and we were doing a really cool scene.  Because of the slightly gusty conditions, it made it quite hard to set up the camera boat and the swallow. This meant there was quite a lot of time when we got to just sail around. We were sailing so close to the wind the boat was nearly tipping and I got to lean right out the boat and it was like flying.  

Bobby - The funniest moment was when we did this scene of leaving the jetty and saying a big good bye but then the wind changed and we started to sail backwards.  We all started laughing.  We had to reset and go again.

What were your favourite sailing locations on the film?

Orla - Coniston and Windermere were both lovely: the scenery is astonishing and the changing weather mean the sky is always amazing. We set sail once from Rigg Wood Jetty which is so beautiful and everyone will love.  

Bobby - The secret harbour was really cool because of all the rocks.  It was hidden away and felt like a different world.   Teddie - I loved the lake we sailed on because it was so big and around the outside you could see loads of rocky coves surrounded by huge trees.  They looked like places you could only get to by boat.  

Dane - They were all nice but I particularly liked Coniston Lake.  

Do you think a Swallows and Amazons type adventure is something all young people should experience?

Orla - Everyone should try and experience this. I have just done my DofE bronze award and I loved the camping and walking and the fact the teachers leave you on your own. We don't get enough of that and I think things like that bring out the best in people because it improves your confidence and you are forced to think for yourself and make your own decisions.  

Bobby - Everyone should have a Swallows and Amazon adventure if they can, because there is nothing better and it means that they won’t be afraid of the world.  It’s better than being cooped up inside watching TV.  It’s a proper adventure.

Would you recommend sailing as a hobby for young people?

Orla - I think it is a great thing for young people to do.  I think we don't get enough freedom or responsibility.  When you are out on a boat, on your own, you are completely in control, you have to pay attention and think.  

Bobby - I would recommend sailing as it’s a real challenge and you never quite know what is going to happen.  Plus you can go places where other people can’t go like an Island.  

Dane - Yes, as it gets them doing something outdoors related instead of sitting at home playing on their Xbox or PlayStation. 

What is your favourite memory from the whole shoot?

Orla - I have made some amazing friends and I still think of the day the six of us were "introduced" to the boats Swallow and Amazon and were then made to jump into the middle of the lake off to so we would know what to do if we fell in. We all did it together and then sailed back soaking wet for hot chocolate. It was the beginning of our huge adventure.  

Bobby - I was trying to finish my breakfast quickly as they were waiting for me on set.  In the end I took my breakfast of sausages with me.  When you move to the set the runners always radio ahead and say “Bobby travelling”…this time the runners said “Bobby travelling with sausage”.  It made me laugh a lot and now I think of it every time I eat sausages.  That, and mucking around with the rest of the cast in between takes.  

For more information on the film visit:   

WIN Tickets to Special Fun Day Pre-Release screening


We’re giving you the chance to see the Swallows and Amazons film before it goes on nationwide release.  One lucky winner will win 5 tickets to a special screening of the film at the British Film Institute in London on 14 August.  

As well as getting to see the film before general release, your exclusive family day out will also include a host of fun activities in the foyer before the screening and a Q&A session with the film’s director.  

To win this fantastic prize simply tell us: What date does Swallows and Amazons come out in cinemas?  

Email your entry to   

Competition closes 31 July 2016.  Winners will be notified by email on 01 August 2016.  If you are an RYA member please include your membership number with your entry.    

Start your Swallows and Amazons Adventure

If you’d like to give sailing a go for FREE this summer and embark on your own Swallows and Amazons adventure then visit one of the Try Sailing Days taking place at more than 40 venues throughout the summer or join us at one of the stops on the RYA Sail for Gold Roadshow.