Thursday, April 28, 2016

News: BAFTA wins for series filmed at Wentworth Woodhouse

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Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, the grand TV production that put Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham on centre stage, has won two awards at the British Academy Television Craft Awards.

Described as one of the most ambitious TV dramas ever undertaken in the UK, the production brought to life the bestselling epic novel by Susanna Clarke, the alternative history story of magic returning to England at the time of the Napoleonic Wars.

Shown on the BBC last year, it was nominated for four BAFTA craft awards and went home with two - for Production Design award and Best Visual Effects - at a ceremony this week in London. The awards celebrate the very best behind-the-scenes talent of British television.

The epic seven part drama spent four months filming in the region following investment from the Yorkshire Content Fund and is the largest scale production that Screen Yorkshire has ever invested in.

Screen Yorkshire works to secure and support the very best projects, companies and individuals, helping to make Yorkshire and the Humber one of the most sought after destinations for production in the UK. As an investor it operates the £15m, ERDF-supported Yorkshire Content Fund.

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Wentworth Woodhouse, the largest privately-owned house in Europe, was used in a number of scenes including recreating Georgian London, the Houses of Parliament, grand rooms in mansions, and a jaw-dropping meeting of good and evil in the marble saloon.

The marvel of English architecture, which has recently had a sale agreed with a preservation trust, has previously been seen on the big screen in Mike Leigh's biopic of JMW Turner, standing in for London's Royal Academy of Arts.

Independent VFX studio, Milk, won the award for best visual effects before David Roger, production designer on Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, collected the second award. He said: "This was a very special project that took about a year of our lives. I'd link to thank our producer, Nick Hirschkorn, who found the book and got it off the ground. I think he was there every day in prep, looking for locations everyday of filming, keeping us happy and stopping us leaving."

He also thanked arts teams and set designers who worked on the ambitious production. Other Yorkshire locations included York Minster, Kirkstall Abbey and St Johns Square in Wakefield.

Roger added: "We worked very close with Milk. We shot it in Yorkshire, Canada and Croatia and they were there from day one - often they come in at the end. It's a question of: "I'll build this bit, can you give me another two floors? Here's a beach, can you make it explode?" Everything is kind of amazing and fantastic in it. It was a bit of a gift if I'm honest."

The climactic scene filmed at Wentworth Woodhouse (pictured) saw a tree magically take root in the famous marble saloon with Jonathan Strange, played by Bertie Carvel, facing off against Marc Warren's portrayal of "The Gentleman."

Roger said: "If you've got a script which is about magic, it's quite fun really. We didn't do a single kitchen or hospital! We researched the actual period and it's very much rooted in reality really - early Georgian England. But because it had this other secret world through the mirrors and behind the doors, you just looked at artists of the day, surrealist painters, and slid them in. You did basic research and then kind of had a large drink and made it all go a bit weird."

The series was produced by Cuba Pictures for BBC One and co-produced with BBC America, in association with Feel Films, Far Moor, Screen Yorkshire and Bell Media's Space. It is being distributed by Endemol Worldwide Distribution.

Screen Yorkshire recently announced that it is to invest £2.5m into production over the course of 2016.

Award-winning actor, Paddy Considine was recently filming in Rotherham for boxing drama, Journeyman, another film backed by Screen Yorkshire.

Screen Yorkshire website

Images: BAFTA / BBC

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