WHAT is the best encouragement for a young cast and crew preparing to stage their version of a world famous film?

For the 140 young people behind the Wyvern Theatre Summer Youth Project’s production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, it was hearing from one of the original stars.

These days Adrian Hall, pictured here in the back of the iconic magical car, is Principal of the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in London.

In 1968 he was a child actor who appeared as Jeremy Potts in the hit film alongside Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes, Heather Ripley, Barbara Windsor and a roster of other famous performers including Benny Hill.

When he heard about the Swindon production, Adrian made sure to get in touch.

He said: “I send my very best wishes to everyone involved in the Swindon Youth Project for taking on such a huge task and my fingers are crossed for you; but I’m also sure you won’t need any luck, just a great team and bags of talent to see you through.

“Make sure you enjoy every moment. There’s no point in the sweat and nerves if you don’t enjoy every second you’re on stage!”

Adrian also shared some memories of filming, and of how be became an actor.

“I was born in Uganda, and when my parents came back to the UK, I couldn’t cope with the culture shock so became painfully shy.

“My mother, a second generation Italian immigrant, decided the stage would cure me so sent me to a stage school.

“This was my first step towards securing the role of Dick Van Dyke’s son, Jeremy, in Chitty. I was eight years old when we started filming – I’m still shy now but somehow acting is different!

“Dick Van Dyke was a complete professional, I hope when I was acting that I had a tenth of the dedication he has.

“We’re in touch occasionally by email now, but I still speak regularly with Sally Ann Howes, who played Truly Scrumptious, and Heather Ripley, who played my sister, Jemima.”

But what of the Child Catcher played by classical stage actor and ballet dancer Sir Robert Helpmann, the villain who haunted many a childhood nightmare?

Adrian said: “The Child Catcher? An absolute gentleman! The first time I saw him, he was dancing down a long corridor at Pinewood Studios.”

The kind words from Adrian have been a major boost for the young Wyvern cast and crew.

Theatre sales and marketing manager Kate Claxton said: “We’re thrilled to hear from Adrian, and his well wishes will go a long way in getting the young performers excited and ready for their mammoth mission of staging not one but five full-scale musical performances, with the help of a professional creative team, live band and dedicated backstage crew.

“We can’t wait to welcome the cast and crew of this year’s Summer Youth Project onto the stage. This is the first time Chitty has been performed here and we’re not holding back.

“Just wait for that moment when Chitty literally launches to the skies!”

Adrian said: “I’ve seen the musical version of the show twice and absolutely loved it.

“I can’t think of a better way of spending the summer than putting on a show as massive and challenging as Chitty.”

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang runs at the Wyvern Theatre from Thursday to Saturday, August 22-24, and tickets cost from £14.50 to £16.

More than 65 percent have so far been sold, and the box office can be reached via swindontheatres.co.uk and on 01793 524481.