Classical: Egypt of Old Comes to Life; from Collapsing Mummies to 27ft Gods, Nick Pemberton Is Creating a Host of Props and Scenery for a Massive Production of Verdi's Egyptian Opera Aida. DIANE PARKES Reports

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Byline: Diane Parkes

NICK Pemberton had his very own inundation of the Nile when flood waters poured into his workshops.

A row of sphinxes he had been working on were suddenly swimming in six inches of muddy river water.

After it had abated, Nick and his team had to scrub off water marks and found themselves more than two weeks behind schedule.

Nick has spent three months creating the mysterious world of Ancient Egypt in his workshop in Shepperton for the Raymond Gubbay production of Aida which comes to the NIA in Birmingham on March 16 and 17. He has created mummies, statues, masks, staffs and headdresses but he hadn't counted on an interruption from the waves.

'My workshop is near to the river Thames and I went to have a check,' he says. 'I could see the river and it didn't look too high and I thought it would be fine. The next thing I knew black water started seeping under the door and within minutes I was standing in six inches of water.

'What had happened was that the river had burst its banks upstream and had taken a back route out - right through my workshop.'

Suspended

Nick made up the time by working longer hours and weekends and finished the project just ahead of schedule.

Having created props and scenery for all his working life, and he is now 69, he still manages to become enthusiastic about his latest project.

His highlight is a 27 foot figure of the god of Creation, Ptah, which is currently suspended sideways from the ceiling of his workshop so a number of people can work on it in one go. When completed, it will be taken by lorry between venues.

He needed to do plenty of research to ensure the figures were accurate. But initially he thought they were thwarted.

'We have tried to make it accurate and based on Egyptian figures but we haven't tied it down too much to a period. …