It’s certainly been a busy 2013 in Birmingham for TV filming.
By Any Means only finished filming on the streets of Birmingham (doubling as London, like it did so well in Hustle) in July to quickly appear on our Sunday evening TV screens in September and October but almost as soon as that wrapped another BBC drama, The Game, moved into the city to film a six part spy thriller set in the 1970s.
The spy series stars Shaun Dooley (Fenchurch) , Tom Hughes (Lambe) and Brian Cox (Daddy) as MI5 agents trying to unravel a Soviet plot named Operation Glass. The series is written by Toby Whithouse, who also wrote Being Human and is filming on location in Birmingham almost right up until the end of the year.
The series also features Victoria Hamilton (Montag) who is no stranger to filming in Birmingham having played young Nigel Slater’s Mom in the BBC drama Toast, that filmed in the city back in 2010.
Actor Tom Hughes is also returning to Birmingham having played the troubled Julian Luscombe in Stephen Poliakoff’s 1930s Jazz Band drama Dancing on the Edge, which filmed at the Council House (Victoria Square) and The Grand Hotel (Colmore Row). I was fortunate enough to catch up with Tom taking a break from filming The Game in Waterloo Street, Birmingham where we had a lovely five minute chat.
Meeting Tom Hughes
Tom, as he was to later introduced himself with a firm handshake as we exchanged names, was wrapped up in a long coat and wore grey jogging trousers which were tucked into his socks and on his feet he wore furry grey slippers, in fact if it wasn’t for the fact he was scrolling through pages on his iPad, as he sat on the bench, I may have offered him some change for a coffee.
Searching for a suitable opening for our conversation I chose to congratulate him on the success of Dancing on the Edge and in particular his own performance of such a strange, complex character. He was quick to point out that he was personally nothing like Julian and we joked about me thinking he may be slightly unhinged if he hadn’t have clarified the situation.
After he pointed out that Dancing on the Edge had filmed in the Council House, right behind where he was sitting, we got onto the subject of this blog and chatted briefly about concept of the Birmingham TV & Film location tours and he seemed genuinely interested in the programmes and locations it covered, although with actors you never can be too sure can you.
He said he loved acting in the 1930s jazz series but like me wasn’t a huge fan of that music genre before filming the show, however he thought the songs written for the show really set the tone for the whole series and he also praised, writer and director, Stephen Poliakoff for creating such a wonderful series. He was happy to chat briefly about The Game and a little about his character Joe Lambe and also confirmed the names of some of his co-stars in the new series.
He said he was loving being back in Birmingham as he had grown to like the city a lot when he was filming Dancing on the Edge, however he did say that he felt it needed a few more parks near the centre, but he seemed pretty happy to be back. He told me that the filming on The Game will keep him busy right up until Christmas, with a tough 11 in 14 filming schedule. After a well earned festive break he may well be treading the boards in the West End in early 2014 as he explained that he was currently considering an offer of a role, although he didn’t reveal what that may be, so keep an eye on the theatre listings in the New Year.
Our very pleasant chat was cut slightly short as he was called into make-up for his scene, which probably explains his somewhat scruffy appearance, he addressed me by name, which he’d retained from the early part of our conversation, shook me firmly by the hand and thanked me for stopping to chat, I wished him well for the series and he headed off into the building opposite for his appointment with the make-up and costume departments.
Back to The Game
Having been filming down in Wales and taking a break between blocks The Game returns to filming in Birmingham from mid-October until late-December which may explain any odd 1970s cars and costumes you might spot around the city in the next 8-10 weeks.
Being the inquisitive sort and having learned to keep my eyes and ears open I can give you an exclusive preview to a brief extract of the script from Episode Two, I hope it whets your appetite for what promises to be a cracking series.
EXT. MORNING 6. STREET
Tom saunters down the steps of the police station, tying his tie back up.
A smug grin on his face.
He can’t teach us much about Operation Glass from a police cell.
Tom strolls along. Arkady falls into step next to him.
Mr Mallory, I bring greetings from your aunt in Somerset.
What? I don’t have an aunt in…
He stops. He grins, slow and toothsome, like a pike.
TOM MALLORY (CONT’D)
My aunt. Well well well. How is the old girl?
Tom slips his arm through Arkady’s and they walk off.
I’m not aware of a proposed release date for The Game as yet but the writer of the series promises us some exciting characters that will deliver a thrilling mystery, so make sure you look out for it on the BBC sometime in 2014. You can read more about The Game and see images and video from various filming locations on this site.
NB: script extract obtained by totally legal means and no copyright infringement is at all intended