Mr smith goes to . . . Johnny Depp's set

No party in the royal park

If you're looking for the film column, I'd normally tell you that you'd come to the wrong place. But today I have an exclusive on a blockbuster so new that they haven't even finished shooting it yet. Thanks to my neighbour, Philip Kerr, and his predecessors, this magazine enjoys a formidable reputation for making or breaking a movie. So it is far from lightly that I urge you not to see Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet in Neverland.

This is no reflection on the two leads. In the scenes that they've just been recording in Hyde Park, they've been delivering excellent performances, as far as I've been able to see. Here we approach what people with their names stencilled on the back of their chairs would call the arc of this story. Although principal photography was going on in one of the capital's most popular resorts, crew members shooed away passers-by with pocket cameras as if it was a closed set on a Hollywood backlot.

Understandably, they weren't keen on flashbulbs going off when their own cameras were rolling. As well as assembling costly acting talent for their biopic of J M Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, the producers had found enough sit-up-and-beg bicycles and perambulators like VW Beetles to keep the Antiques Roadshow in covetous business until the 2005 schedules. These props had to be moved across the greensward by extras who had been wardrobed for an Edwardian constitutional. It was the sight of these ghostly figures, in homburgs and bonnets, that drew my disbelieving Polaroid to the clapperboard-loud glade in the first place. But ladies, hardly had I trapped an authentically pomaded and thornproofed Depp in my crosshairs during a break than I was being threatened with the police. An oaf whose goatee and walkie-talkie placed him no lower in the film unit than fourth assistant best-boy rejected my argument that we were in a public park. "It's a royal park," he said. The next thing I knew, a WPC was explaining that I had been identified as part of something called the "journalistic environment", and that I could be up before the beak over photographs taken in Her Majesty's arbor.

Not for the first time, I find myself apologising for the lensmanship in this space. But only to you. Believe it or not, this is a golfcart of "background artists". It's one of two pictures I had in my pocket when a security guard demanded that I hand over the snap he'd seen me taking. The Royal Parks people indicate that the producers may have spent as little as £4,125 plus VAT for a day's shooting: cheap at the price to safeguard images of their stars. We can expose miles of film in the Queen's parks during her jubilee, it seems, but shooting Neverland is an unconscionable liberty. With this at least, I concur.