Duo's key role in X-Men movie
A BEXHILL business has literally played a key role in the fortunes of the next X-Men movie - by rejuvenating a 1930s German typewriter considered vital as a prop.
George Blackman, 71, and his son, Neil, 47, run George Blackman Business Equipment in Sackville Road, Bexhill, and over the past 16 years have become prominent suppliers of modern office needs.
But less well known is their expertise in restoring and servicing old typewriters, duplicators and the like - skills acquired by George in his teens when he became an apprentice at Beechings in Hastings.
That knowledge, since shared with his son, came to the fore last week when, out of the blue, the Blackmans took a telephone call from the X-Men: First Class production team at Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire.
"They wanted to know if we could restore a pre-war Continental typewriter to full working order and have it ready for filming in a matter of days, " said George.
"It was also essential that it should have German characters and keys, such as Umschalter for the shift mechanism and Rucktaste for the backspace.
"We agreed to do it and next thing the film company sent their own people down with the typewriter for us to get on with the job."
It means Pinewood Studios now join a list of notable clients for whom the Blackmans have worked, including the late novelist Alan Sillitoe and the late prison reformer Lord Longford.
Another famous client is the prolific Barnet-born actor Geoffrey Chater, 89, now living in Kent and recalled by many for his role as Colonel Pierce in the television wartime comedy series, Dad's Army.
The X-Men: First Class is the fourth of its kind and is due for release in June next year.
Directed by Matthew Vaughn, the screen play is being scripted by Jane Goldman, wife of broadcaster Jonathan Ross.
When filming starts next month the cast is expected to include James McAvoy, Kevin Bacon, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence.
George said: "It's rather nice to think that Bexhill-on-Sea will also be associated with the movie, if only through the typewriter we've got ready for it.
"It's been a pleasure and a privilege to help."