BBC Radio Solent’s Lou Hannan on her latest project...
You won’t have failed to see the adverts on TV – Dame Maggie Smith looking resplendent, the grand shadows of Highclere Castle and the sound of that haunting music.
It has to be Downton Abbey!
If you’re a fan of the ITV period drama, then you’re in for a treat this weekend as the movie version hits cinemas across the UK.
Over the past few months I’ve been privileged to work on a documentary for BBC Radio Solent hosted by Lord Grantham himself, Hampshire’s Hugh Bonneville.
I first met Hugh last autumn when he came into the radio station to tell me about a new initiative he was launching for the National Youth Theatre, where his training began.
He’s behind a scheme that offers assistance to youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds and locations where the arts aren’t as accessible, offering opportunities for bursaries and financial help for auditions to get into the National Youth Theatre.
Two local youngsters met the grade and got in and I know the scheme is open again for another year.
Once we’d chatted about the project, it dawned on me just how many parts of the south had featured in Downton as filming locations and so I spoke to Hugh about the possibility of making a programme to feature them.
He was keen to revisit some of those filming locations with a bit more time, freedom and without the entourage of a TV crew. So, Downton Abbey: Behind the Scenery was born.
Apart from the iconic Highclere Castle, Hugh also visited the Bluebell Railway in Sussex. Apart from reliving his moments in the Paddington movie on a steam train, he even had a go at driving a fork lift truck!
One of Hugh’s many qualities is his ability to make everyone feel at ease.
After the first few moments of being star-struck meeting a famous actor, the interviewee chats away as if they’re meeting up with an old friend.
It was his down-to-earth approachability that led to us capturing some fantastic moments. You can listen to Downton Abbey: Behind the Scenery on BBC Radio Solent on Sunday, September 15 at 5pm or listen again via BBC Sounds. And if you’re off to the cinema to see the film – enjoy.