Sunday, 7 June 2015

Six important Broadchurch locations NOT found in Dorset: The Clevedon trail

It would be reasonable to think that all location shooting for Broadchurch takes place in or around West Bay in Dorset, home of those imposing cliffs that feature in the show’s marketing. But you’d be wrong in that belief, as a lot of the filming actually takes place on the northern coast of Somerset in Clevedon, some 70 miles north of its Dorset cousin.

Clevedon is a Victorian seaside town overlooking the Severn Estuary, sitting 13 miles down from Bristol and 10 up miles from Weston-Super-Mare, just off the M5. Many people visit for the famous Grade 1 listed pier (featured in movie Never Let me Go and One direction’s video ‘You and I’) but our eyes are on the Broadchurch trail and six key locations NOT found in Dorset.

1. Broadchurch parish church and cemetery - Starting at Marine Lake it’s a quick walk along the coastal path (Poet’s walk) to St Andrew’s Church, a 12th century structure with sprawling graveyard that looks out to the estuary. Many scenes form both seasons one and two of the show were filmed here, notably Danny Latimer’s funeral and subsequent exhumation. Depending on the day you visit you may be able to go inside, but it was locked on the Saturday afternoon we called by.

2. The Latimer house – Bear south from the churchyard, cross the small Land Yeo river and you’re on Marshall’s Field recreation ground where you’ll soon spot the Latimers’ house on the perimeter. Many scenes have been filmed looking out of the kitchen window and across the green to the steep bank. The Latimers’ house is privately owned, so do respect their privacy.

3. Amusement arcade – Loop back to Salthouse Fields play park and skateboard park behind Marine Lake carry on north up towards the pier. You’ll find a tiny amusement arcade on your right which is where the Latimer’s had a game of air hockey in their brief moment of fun. I was going to take a photo but the controller/overseer looked a bit formidable...

4. Jack Marshall’s newsagents – Possibly the greatest difference there has ever been between the exterior and interior of a newsagents – 70 miles! With exteriors in west Bay and interiors in Clevedon, there’s some time rift going on here! Continue north form the amusements, past the bandstand and turn right directly opposite the pier (though it is itself worth a stroll). At 16 Alexandra Road you’ll find Alexandra News – you can’t miss it as they have stills with cast members in the window.

5. Broadchurch Echo office – Turn left onto Bellevue Road and follow it round until it becomes Hill Road. Here’s the Broadchurch high street where the families walked in the re-enactment of Danny’s disappearance. The newspaper offices are actually The Food Market @ Seeley’s, an indoor market which sadly was derelict when we visited.

6. The Traders Hotel – Directly opposite the newspaper’s office is The Trader’s hotel where David Tennant’s Hardy and stayed in Season 1 and the defence team stayed in series 2. It's actually a former Lloyds bank. Interiors were filmed up the coast, along Wellington Terrace to Walton Park Hotel.

So there you have it, a whistle stop tour of Clevedon’s many Broadchurch locations. Come for the Broadchurch locations but stay for the atmosphere and spend some time in the boutiques, coffee shops and art shops.  

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Doctor Who: On location in Cardiff for Season 9

For a Doctor Who fan, getting the chance to watch some location filming up close and personal is surely there on the bucket list? You get to see a scene or two played out in front of you, your favourite characters are in full costume and you might be able to grab a selfie and autograph or two. But by its very nature, you can’t plan for it, and that’s what makes the experience so sweet.

Crashing a location shoot relies on being in the right place at the right time. Having booked tickets for the Cardiff leg of the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular some four months previously, it was always a hope that the visit would tie-in with some filming, but what were the chances of finding out in good time, and what if they were in a private location or the studio those days?   

I’d already been alerted that filming had taken place on Friday 22nd May at Canal Park, sitting somewhere between Cardiff Bay and the city centre. This felt like awful timing – why couldn’t I have been there that day? But then the word on the street was that filming at the location would continue on the Bank Holiday Monday (the same day as the concert) and minutes away from my hotel.

And so, at midday on 25th May I joined a crowd of around 30-40 fans, locals and tourists in watching a series of takes focusing on the TARDIS as The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman) and Osgood (Ingrid Oliver) said their farewells. I won’t spoil any more of the story points which have already started circulating, and the BBC had already revealed in advance that Osgood was returning for this story.
The playground location has previously appeared on the show in Army of Ghosts and where Rose spotted the ‘Bad Wolf’ graffiti in The Parting of the Ways. This time round a mysterious alien ‘paw print’ had been added to the park signage. Friday’s filming had centred on a Zygon attack in the season 9 two-parter by Peter Harness, today it was all about fond farewells. What really strikes you about watching filming is just how long everything takes, just how many people are involved, and how the lighting crew are constantly compensating for the changing light – filling in, blocking and adding light sources where required as clouds break or the sun shines.

As has previously been said many times before, Peter Capaldi loves his fans. In the 2.5 hours I was present he came over and saw fans at the barrier on four occasions, signing autographs and posing for photos. He took time to talk to everyone, asking where they’d come from and generally being as nice as you’d want him to be. Jenna Coleman and Ingrid Oliver also visited the fans and were equally polite, though understandably it was Peter who was doing the lion’s share of the work. I’d met him twice before, but seeing him kitted in his Doctor gear made it extra special.
I can’t wait to see how the scenes appear in the final episode once edited, graded and placed in the right part of the running time. Unfortunately the actors were working until 11pm that night so wouldn’t get the chance to watch the Symphonic Spectacular, and they also had to work on a Bank Holiday! A big thank you to the cast and crew for indulging this fan boy, making it feel special to be a fan and being able to witness a part of this 50+ year old phenomena.  

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Ólafur Arnalds - The Bridport homecoming gig

On 23rd February, Icelandic composer, multi-instrumentalist and music composer Ólafur Arnalds descended on the small Dorset coastal resort of Bridport. The previous night he'd filled the main hall at London's Barbican and yet he specifically requested the 500-capacity 1920s cinema/arts venue be included on his latest tour, which also takes in Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. The reason? This was his homecoming gig, and yet this wasn't his actual home. But if anyone can claim to have given a town a theme, a soundtrack for its scenery, it's Arnalds. 

By scoring two series of ITV's popular crime drama Broadchurch, the composer has indelibly etched his mix of weeping string quartet, dissonant trombone, wayward horns and keyboard/piano on this stretch of Jurassic coast. Walk along the quay or up the steep incline of the cliffs up from West Bay and it's Ólafur's beautiful compositions that you'll hear, and that's why hundreds of locals and fans dragged themselves out on a cold and wet Monday night. Of course, the added attraction was the way that the gig had transformed itself from being just a date on the tour to being a local première of Broadchurch's season finale. 

Coincidence or just serendipity? Whatever the reason, the opportunity was taken to show the last episode on the big screen, with the added glamour of series star Jodie Whittaker introducing it. 

Series creator and writer Chris Chibnall was also to hand, taking the opportunity to get a live audience reaction to the cheeky twists and turns he'd added to the episode - ITV News was also on hand to capture the audience's shock/awe/screeches.

But the screening, celebrity intro and media interest were just the icing on the cake. The main event was Ólafur's wonderful music and he didn't disappoint with a set of nearly 90-minutes, carefully leaving time for the stage to be struck in time for the 9 o'clock screening. 

Primarily drawn from his Broadchurch scores and album For Now I am Winter, the latter includes collaborations with vocalist Arnór Dan, who also appeared on stage to perform tracks from that album, as well as So Close and So Far, the end credits songs on Broadchurch. Both Olafur and Arnór made light of the fact that only a few seconds of the tracks are heard on screen before the continuity announcer cuts in. So here was the chance to indulge in both songs in full without the interruptions.
Arnalds also played a track from the finale we were about to watch, and while it was possible to pick it out during the episode, it was competing with the on-screen drama. What we got here wasn't quite Broadchurch unplugged but Broadchurch uninterrupted - pure music without all the acting, sound effects and scenery. 

The last regular piece before the encore was Beth's Theme (or Jodie's Theme, as Olafur renamed it for that night in honour of his guest). Its simple melody, underscored by the melancholy strings, is the very heart of the show's soundtrack. Grief, loss and the stirrings of hope all come through. It's the score's highlight and goosebumps mingled with sobs as the sheer power of it enveloped the enchanted audience.

Hopefully not a one-off - Olafur said he'd like to return - this was a unique event. The composer has conjured sonic alchemy - he has turned some rock into music gold. Few towns can boast their own soundtrack, Bridport and West Bay have never had it so good.