Archive for November, 2014

The Game on BBC America – Critical Acclaim

BBC cold war spy drama The Game is currently on screens in the United States on BBC America. It’s receiving some great reviews and critical praise from across the US, but there is still no word of when it will reach a UK audience.

You can see a few carefully selected clips in the advert video from BBC America, and hopefully you will be able to see what all the fuss is about early in 2015.

You can also see a collection of US viewer reviews posted on Twitter on Storify

Also see: Filming The Game in Birmingham

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WPC56 Series 3 – FAQs

An authentic 1956 station

An authentic 1956 station

With series three filming due to complete by the end of November, I’m finding the site is currently attracting a lot of interest from fans of BBC1 daytime drama WPC56 right now, so I thought I’d be helpful and create a page of FAQs based on the common search terms people have used to arrive on the site.

  1. When will series three be on our screens?
    Filming completed at the end of November 2014 and no doubt the BBC will formally announce the exact start date, once confirmed, on their weekly programme listings.
    However, a new update of forthcoming TV listings currently shows WPC56 is due to return to BBC One on Monday 23rd February 2015, with a repeat of Series One. We can probably assume from that we will see Series Two follow on Monday 2nd March 2015. Leaving Monday 9th March 2015 as the most likely start date for Series Three.
  2. How many episodes will there be?
    Initially the BBC press release stated there would be 10 new episodes and then Endemol Distribution stated there would be 5 x 60 minute episodes. However, James Barriscale (Sgt Swift) questioned the BBC release on Twitter, tweeting “not unless they’re 20 mins eps!
    The fact that the shooting schedule hasn’t been any longer than in previous years suggests that it will be a regular series with 5 x 45 minute episodes, in keeping with series one and two.
  3. Will WPC Gina Dawson be back on the Brinford beat after the dramatic ending to series two?
    Actress Jennie Jacques (WPC Dawson) is unavailable due to other filming commitments. Jennie has been busy filming series three of Vikings for the History channel. She plays Judith, the daughter of Saxon King Aelle and bride to Aethelwulf, son of Saxon King Ecbert. Aethelwulf and Judith’s child is the historical figure, Alfred the Great. Almost as soon as filming on Vikings completed Jennie started work on the ITV sitcom The Delivery Man.
  4. So is there a new WPC in Brinford for series three?
    With WPC Dawson off to pastures new in the Met, the new Brinford WPC is Annie Taylor, played by 24 year old actress Claudia Jessie. Annie is the daughter of a policeman and the force is in her blood, but as the first female police officer in the family she has something to prove, but she faces an uphill battle as she contends with the same old attitudes, both at home and at work. Annie has never given up on anything before but she’ll need to use all of her determination to prove herself.
  5. Where will we have we seen Claudia Jessie before?
    Claudia has previously appeared in BBC shows Doctors, Casualty, By Any Means and The Paradise. She has recently filmed Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, playing Mary the maid, for the BBC, which will debut on BBC America in 2015. Recently she has, again, been seen in BBC1 daytime soap Doctors, playing Poppy Conroy in a huge storyline that saw the exit of long term regular Dr Kevin Tyler. You can still watch Claudia online in the CBBC murder mystery Dixi and you can hear her beautiful singing voice on her soundcloud page.
  6. Which cast members are returning to the show for series three?
    Series One and Two ever present, Charlie De’ath, returns as Sgt Sidney Fenton, having featured in all 10 of the previous episodes it remains to be seen if he can make it to 15 episodes after series three.
    The only other cast member from series one to make a return is John Bowler (Chief Superintendent Arthur Coulson).
    Returning cast from Series Two include;
    Liam Jeavons as PC Tommy Perkins
    James Barriscale as Desk Sgt John Swift
    Rachel Leskovac as Secretary Susie Nightingale
    Daniel Brocklebank as Carl Saunders
  7. Will Ben Turner reprise his role as DI Max Harper?
    Ben Turner is currently touring the UK in the successful theatre production ‘The Kite Runner‘ so will not be returning to Brinford in series three. With no sign of Kieran Bew returning either, then we can expect a new DI at the station in series three. DI Harry Sawyer will be played by Oliver Rix
  8. Who will be joining the show in series three?
    There are obviously some new characters and cast members for series three, they include;
    John Duttine as Douglas Taylor
    Susannah Doyle as June Sawyer
    Joanna Higson as Vicky Hall
    Adam Lawrence as Marty Havers
    Melanie Kilburn as Lydia Taylor
    Amy Shepherd as Helen Reilly
    Rosanna Holland as Pru King
    Melissa James as Gloria DaCosta
    Jim Cartwright as Wally King
    Nick Danan as Reverand West
    Stephen Casey as Captain William Sheppard
    Brian Capron as ‘Run-down comic’,  Clifford Starkey – (Thanks to Garry Cannell for the tip-off)
    Matt Kennard as David Meyer
  9. What storylines can we expect to see?
    Expect to see plots involving psychiatric patients, beauty pageants, a murder enquiry, a fire and a tear jerking funeral as well as the arrival of the new WPC. Requiem appears to be the suggested title of Episode 5 of the new series.
    Update: Series Three Episode summary
  10. What locations have been used for series three?
    Series three filming has seen the crew return to the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, Vittoria Street in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter (Brinford Station interior), Margaret Street in Birmingham (Brinford Station exterior) as well as shooting scenes at Chateau Impney in Droitwich and Moseley School. A Birmingham cemetery/graveyard has also been used, but the exact location is currently unknown.
  11. Who wrote the WPC56 Theme?
    The composer of the theme tune to WPC56 is Debbie Wiseman MBE. Debbie also writes the original music used throughout series Debbie and has confirmed she will be working on series three.
    Debbie has over 200 credits for TV and Film including other BBC Drama Village production, such as Father Brown and Land Girls. YOu can find out more about  Debbie’s work on her website, where you can also hear the WPC 56 theme.

Finally the most random search that has directed the user to these pages was;

“Television series from England WPC56 what earings is she wearing?”

To which I have no suitable answer!

Hope some of your questions were answered above and that the information has whet your appetite for new series, and to finish here is a sneak preview of a scene from the series.

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Welcome to Brinford 1956

On Sunday 16th November 2014 something very odd happened as I walked my normal route towards Victoria Square. Walking up Great Charles Street everything looked, and seemed, normal but as I turned first left towards Victoria Square I began to understand how Goodnight Sweetheart’s Gary Sparrow must have felt as Margaret Street had became Birmingham’s equivalent of Duckett’s Passage and I found myself staring at a street scene from the mid-fifties.

The street had no road markings, the double yellow lines and disabled bays that were there on Friday had now gone. Two gentlemen, both dressed in long drab overcoats and sporting trilby hats stood passing the time of day next to a black Wolseley Four Forty-Four Police Car and a Birmingham Corporation, Daimler number 6 bus was noisily transporting a couple of flat cap wearing passengers to the Town Hall, well at least that is what the sign said.  Had I actually stumbled on time vortex right here in Birmingham or was it all a strange dream? CUT! echoed the voice from across the street. I then spotted the small group of people gathered around a camera on the other side of the road all nodding with approval at the scene they had just captured. Yes, WPC 56 was back and this was Brinford police station exteriors filming day.

Previously on WPC 56…

We were first introduced to WPC 56, in the shape of the lovely Jennie Jacques, back in March 2013. The new show told the story of WPC Gina Dawson, the first female officer at Brinford station and was set in 1956.  For a daytime drama the content was daring and edgy and featured racial prejudice, sexism, murder and corrupt officers.  Series Two continued the daring themes with prostitution, more murder, more police corruption, con-men, blackmail and homophobia some of the topics covered.

Series Three reportedly involves both a murder and a beauty pageant, although it is not yet clear if the two are linked and with WPC Dawson moving on to The Met, the station sees the arrival of WPC Annie Taylor, played by the equally lovely Claudia Jessie, as a her replacement.

WPC 56 could easily fit into the Sunday evening, Call The Midwife slot, however daytime budgets and programming are currently limiting this great series to an afternoon outing on BBC1, but it’s one well worth setting your Sky+ box for as it’s cracking TV.

Meanwhile back on Location…

Margaret Street had been transported back to 1956 and the Birmingham & Midland Institute building had become the same Brinford Police Station exterior that we were familiar with from Series One and Two of the show, with one noticeable addition, a bright red Victorian postbox.

Brinford Police Station

Back in 1956 Brinford station has a red postbox which replaces the modern plastic bin that normally occupies the same spot in the modern day 2014.

Police Station signs and noticeboards had been added to the building foyer and a period bicycle was casually leaning against the black railings, it was an amazingly simple, but very effective transformation taking a modern street nearly 60 years back in time.

Disguising the street furniture

A blue police box cleverly hides the newly installed parking ticket machine.

Covering double yellow lines

Double yellow lines to mark parking restrictions were not introduced until 1960, so these had to be covered up with tarmac colour strips.

Modern street signs were turned or removed to hide them from the cameras and parking restriction markings, that were not introduced until 1960 in the UK, had to be covered too.  The recently installed, and very modern looking, parking tickets machines were obscured behind what seemed to be a custom made blue police box, which when viewed from the correct angle made the modern world simply disappear.

UPDATED: The attention to detail was perfect, so I was quite surprised when I originally thought that they were using a car that was ahead of its time. I thought the Wolseley 1500 had not been manufactured until 1961, however, the supplier of the police cars used for the scenes (APL Film Cars),  has now confirmed that the car used was made in 1957.  With the third series moving us on a year from the original series the placement of the car is accurate, which is maintains the level of the detail you would expect from this quality drama.

Hiding a very modern disabled access sign

Hiding a very modern disabled access sign

I had arrived on ‘set’ just in time to see some opening shots, involving period cars, vans and buses; as well as a few suitably attired pedestrians; being filmed as they drove past the station. In fact, Sunday’s filming was to capture all the exterior shots required for the new five episode series that is due on our BBC1 screens in early 2015, so there were quite a few takes to get through which also involved a great deal of careful manoeuvring of these large vehicles. There was a slight delay as a couple of modern cars, that had ignored the suspended parking signs, were towed away.

That may seem a little harsh, but this was a single day shoot and they could not afford any delays, so the cars just had to go.

Claudia Jessie (WPC Annie Taylor) gets some finishing touches to her make up

Claudia Jessie (WPC Annie Taylor) gets some finishing touches to her make up.

Enter WPC Annie Taylor

Once the back and forth of vintage vehicles had concluded we finally got to see the new Brinford WPC on set.  Claudia Jessie might be the new girl but she arrived with the confidence of a series regular and took direction from crew to ensure they got through the opening scenes very quickly. Claudia was well prepared for the cold November morning, arriving in a virtually full length red quilted jacket and warm looking boots, however, it wasn’t long before she changed into her regulation black police shoes and a smart red coat. With a number of supporting artists adding to the street scene we were treated to the new WPC’s first arrival at Brinford Station, which she seemed to take with a noticeable spring in her step.

Claudia Jessie films WPC Annie Taylor's first day arrival at Brinford station

Claudia Jessie films WPC Annie Taylor’s first day arrival at Brinford station

After a number of different versions had been captured, presumably for different episodes or scenes, Claudia’s work was done (for now anyway) and she tried, sadly in vain, to get the rest of the crew to join in her own one woman Mexican wave celebration of the wrapped scene. This was just one of the many moments of ‘friendly and fun banter’ that I witnessed during the day and it certainly gave the impression that the cast and crew are thoroughly enjoying filming this series which I hope will translate well onto the screen when the series airs.

Charlie De'ath on set of Series Three on WPC56

Sgt Fenton (Charlie De’ath) takes cover on the set of Series Three on WPC56

With Claudia’s opening scenes completed, next up on the Brinford streets it was WPC 56 series regular Charlie De’ath’s turn to reprise his role of Sgt Sidney Fenton. In another carefully choreographed scene involving cars and supporting cast Sgt Fenton is seen crossing the road towards the station before being startled by what sounds like gunfire (see picture right).

Having completed his scenes for the morning, Charlie (now dressed in his civvies) headed off into Birmingham, only to return a few hours later armed with shopping bags, he’d clearly found time to visit the Bullring between his scenes.

I then missed about an hour of filming as I ventured off to get myself a warm drink, to try and warm up my nearly numb fingers, but the German Christmas Market crowds (yes, I know it’s only the middle of November!) made getting around the Birmingham streets quickly a huge challenge. Having finally battled my way to a coffee shop, on my return I called into a supermarket and picked up a large tub of chocolates. On my return to Margaret Street I handed the chocolates to a very surprised crew member, and called it my ‘Random act of kindness’ for the day. They were obviously well received as they were soon being passed around and enjoyed by everyone on set.

New Inspector Clues…

The Inspector and WPC Taylor quickly leave the station and jump into the car as the press pack surround them.

The new Brinford Inspector and WPC Annie Taylor quickly leave the station and jump into the car as the press pack quickly surround them.

The next scenes filmed, once again, involved WPC Taylor and what I gathered was the new Chief Inspector at Brinford (Oliver Rix). The Brinford Inspector certainly looked the part, wearing a long dark coat and a trilby hat and driving the aforementioned, slightly futuristic, Wolseley car with WPC Taylor assuming the role of his supporting officer in the two scenes filmed during the morning  session.

In the first scene they had to run the gauntlet of a waiting press pack outside the station entrance.

The 1950s look of the waiting press contingent was completed with a couple of ‘period’ cameras and the supporting artists used them to great effect as they hounded the couple to their car.

In their second scene together the duo arrived back at the station, where a lone reporter was looking for information on a suspect they had in custody and was demanding details of any charges that may have been made.

As the Inspector and reporter parted company WPC Taylor was joined by Susie Nightingale (Rachel Leskovac), carrying a large parcel. They had a quick conversation before Susie left, presumably for a trip to the Post Office.

Rachel Leskovac keeps warm on a cold November morning on set

Rachel Leskovac tries to keeps warm on a cold November morning on set in Birmingham

The glamorous secretary Susie Nightingale sets off to post her parcel

The glamorous secretary Susie Nightingale (Rachel Leskovac) sets off to post her parcel

Wearing a floral blouse and navy pencil skirt with a pink headscarf and a long overcoat, Station Secretary Susie looked as glamorous as ever, which was a big transformation from just 30 minutes earlier when Rachel arrived on set in a long navy dressing gown and warm boots (see picture).  In fact the make up department worked their magic throughout the day, often rushing in and out of the Birmingham & Midland Institute Building armed with cosmetics and styling tools, to fix or transform that perfect 1950s look.

They also snapped a number of ‘continuity’ photos of both the main cast and supporting artists to help them recreate the same look for other scenes in the future.

With another couple of scenes completed, it was time to break for lunch and everyone left the Margaret Street location to head back to the production base for a visit to the catering team, so I took the opportunity to have a closer look at the finer details of the set design (see photo slideshow at the end of the post).  I too then headed off to my base (or home) for a warm and a drink before heading back out to Margaret Street as dusk approached.

Finally, As Darkness Descended…

Back in Margaret Street a Black Morris Police Van had joined the parade of vehicles on display and was lined up with the two Wolseley’s outside the station. A camera on a long swinging, crane like, arm had been set up opposite the station and was running through a few practice sessions of the planned shot, which would start low and slowly rise into the air as the cars were pulling away from the station.

A line of vehicles parked outside Brinford station awaits the police force

A line of vehicles parked outside Brinford station awaits the police force

A number of different camera angles were used to record the Inspector and the police officers running from the station to the vehicles before they raced off down the road. After each take the cars were reset and the action repeated until the scene had been captured from every possible direction. There was, however, a heart-stopping moment for one of the car owners when during a reset of the scene the two-tone Wolseley lurched forward, nudging the back of the black police car at the front of the line.  A worried looking Oliver Rix, the driver of the car, checked with the crew that there was no damage to either vehicle before the scene continued. It could have been a lot worse and I think he got away with it, just.

This final scene of the day involved a lot of the main cast with Sgt Fenton (Charlie De’ath) and PC Perkins (Liam Jeavons) jumping into the black Police car, the Inspector (Oliver Rix) and WPC Taylor (Claudia Jessie) getting into the Wolseley and Sgt Swift (James Barriscale) riding shotgun in the Morris van.

Liam Jeavons and James Barriscale happily posed for a quick picture before they left the Margaret Street location.

Liam Jeavons and James Barriscale happily posed for a quick picture before they left the Margaret Street location.

As the production crew called it a day there were cheers all round and everyone congratulated each other on a job well done. Before they all headed back to base I managed to briefly chat with Liam Jeavons and James Barriscale who both happily posed for a photo.

It had been a long, but very interesting day, and the small crowds that gathered throughout the day seemed excited to see a TV show being made on the streets of Birmingham.

It was merely a taster of what series three has to offer, and I was already looking forward to the series anyway, but now I’ve had a glimpse of what is to come, I can’t wait to see how it is transformed on the screen. If it’s as good as series one and two then it’s sure to be another cracking series.

Admittedly, I’m a sucker for anything that is filmed in Birmingham as I enjoy seeing how the city has been used on screen and what locations have been utilised to make the show work, however, the show still needs to grab my attention and entertain me as well and I can safely say that WPC 56 delivers in this department. With huge doses of 1950s nostalgia, great characterisation and gritty and entertaining story lines the show truly earns its Worldwide success with the earlier two series currently airing in Australia, New Zealand and the USA. Hopefully the BBC will repeat series one and two before the new series airs so that those in the UK who were slow to pick up on the show can catch up on the previous episdoes.  Series Three is due on our screens early 2015.

Finally here is a slideshow of some more pictures from the filming that took place on Sunday in Margaret Street.

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‘Brummiewood’ filming

With two full length movies and a TV series filming in and around Birmingham right now, it is looking like the lack of a permanent production facility in the city is not putting off the movie and TV makers from using the city as the location for their creativity.

Monochrome

The latest project from Electric Cinema owner, Tom Lawes, has been filming around the UK since September. The production has been filming in Birmingham where some scenes were filmed on Colmore Row and the fictional British Crime Agency headquarters has been built inside the former Birmingham Municipal Banking Hall.

Monochrome Movie BCA Set

Monochrome Movie: British Crime Agency Headquarters set inside the former Birmingham Municipal Bank on Broad Street. Image Source: Monochrome Movie Facebook Page

Monochrome has also filmed scenes in Pershore and in Devon, where a news of a helicopter stunt over Raparee Beach made the North Devon Gazette.

The film is a psychological thriller centred around the British Crime Agencies and their search for Emma, a young woman who has turned killer after fleeing to the countryside following the arrest of her boyfriend. To track her down the BCA hire a detective with the neurological condition, synesthesia.

Stars of film include Jo Woodcock (Land Girls, Doctors – Both produced by the BBC Drama village in Birmingham), singer songwriter Cosmo Jarvis (Spooks: The Greater Good – some scenes also filmed in the Midlands). There is also a great support cast which includes James Cosmo (Highlander, Trainspotting, Braveheart), Charles Venn (Eastenders), Lee Boardman (Coronation Street, Great Night Out), Delroy Brown (Scott & Bailey) and Jan Francis (Emmerdale).

The Call Up

The Call Up has been part-funded through Creative England’s West Midlands Production Fund has been written and will be directed by award winning commercials director Charles Barker. The principal photography on the started in November in an undisclosed Birmingham location.

The action sci-fi film is set in the world of computer gaming technology see a group of elite online gamers taking on a testing invitation to try out a new cutting-edge, revolutionary gaming experience however they soon realise that the game is real and they facing a true fight for survival in a game that has suddenly turned very sinister.

The cast also includes Max Deacon (Into the Storm, The Promise), Morfydd Clark (The Falling), Ali Cook (The Anomaly, The Messenger and former Magician on Monkey Magic) and Tom Benedict Knight (Dracula Untold, Houdini).

WPC 56 – Series 3

Filming has reached week four on the third series of the successful 1950s police drama and the cast have already been spotted at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and Chateau Impney in Droitwich.

Annie Taylor is the a new WPC on the Brinford beat and is played by Midlander Claudia Jessie. The series two regulars Liam Jeavons, James Barriscale and Rachel Leskovac all return as PC Tommy Perkins, Sgt John Swift and secretary Susie Nightingale.

The previous two series of the show are currently being aired in Australia (BBC First), New Zealand (Sky TV) and the United States (WETA UK) making it an international success along with Peaky Blinders, with both shows spreading tales of Birmingham past across continents.

Maybe Peaky Blinders creator Stephen Knight has a point when he champions Birmingham as the location for a new base for film making as the demand to film in the city is certainly there, it just needs the facility to attract even more, and this can only be good news for the city and the council run Film Birmingham team.

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On Set with WPC56 – Series Three

As filming of series three of the cracking daytime drama WPC 56 approaches it’s halfway point, the cast and crew have, once again, been filming scenes at the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley.  On set, filming scenes from episode three of the latest series, were new cast member Claudia Jessie (WPC Annie Taylor) and series two regular Liam Jeavons (PC Tommy Perkins).

Actors Oliver Rix and Matt Kennard were pictured sheltering from the heavy rain beneath brightly coloured umbrellas and new girl Claudia Jessie sported a rather fetching spotted rain hat. They were also both caught in action, in a chase scene that included a stunt jump between canal boats.

To give the show that authentic 1950s feel a bus from the Black Country Living Museum collection can also be seen in the shots. The restored 1952 Daimler West Bromwich Corporation Transport bus, GEA 174, was added to the collection in November 2013 after a nine year restoration project.

The Drone Cam mentioned in a tweet by Daniel Brocklebank (Carl Saunders) is also pictured flying above the museum’s main street.

The full set of 41 pictures can be viewed on the ContactMusic.com website.

The West Midlands Entertainment website, Native Monster, have also released a short video of some of the action filmed at the Black Country Living Museum this week.

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