NEVER work with children or animals - it's one of the golden rules of film-making.

But Brynmawr animal trainer Steve Vedmore breaks that rule every day, and in his latest job he's even been working with squirrels!

Steve has just returned from London after working as an assistant trainer on the new film adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - based on the much-loved Roald Dahl children's book, starring Hollywood heart-throb Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, and directed by Big Fish and Beetlejuice director Tim Burton.

Steve, 44 says due to confidentiality agreements, he can't divulge exactly what he's been training the squirrels to do at Pinewood Studios. But anyone who's read the Roald Dahl story will know that the squirrels sit in a room shelling nuts for Mr Wonka's incredible factory, already brought to the big screen in the 1970s with Gene Wilder as the lead character.

So how do you get rodents such as squirrels to do exactly what you want for the cameras?

"Everything is done on a food-for-a-reward basis," says Steve. "With the squirrels, obviously you reward them with nuts."

The father of two admits that the training takes time, however, and he has spent six weeks in London, working with the other trainers.

"You are sometimes asked to do the almost impossible," he says. "The assistant director wanted us to keep a squirrel perfectly still at one point - but they don't do that. They are constantly looking around and searching.

"We managed it to a degree but I don't know if they got the shot they wanted."

As well as being a trainer - he once worked with EastEnders' Wellard, though he doesn't own the dog - Steve also helps to find suitable animals for roles in films.

His own dog, a boxer called Dewi, who has since died, was in 101 Dalmations, and he also helped find animals for the Harry Potter films and the Famous Five television series.

"You always look for animals with confidence and that are a bit bolshy. If they are shy they will never cope with a film set that is very busy and noisy," he said.

Steve - who currently has five dogs, six puppies and five cats at his home in Hill Street - also runs dog obedience classes in Ebbw Vale and Cardiff. And he is planning to start acting classes at both venues to provide a pool of potential animal stars locally.

"I'd rather work with animals than humans any day!" he says.

* Anyone interested in any of the animal acting classes should contact Steve on 01495 310538.