Have you seen the ITV1 adverts for The Great Fire? This new four-part historical drama starts tomorrow night and I’m incredibly excited as Penshurst Place, my local historical haunt, has been used for the scenes set at the Palace of Whitehall.
Built in 1341 Penshurst Place was already 300 years old at the time of the fire of London and Ben Thomas, General Manager of Penshurst Place, says ‘using later additions to the house and gardens as a historical backdrop for The Great Fire provided an authenticity to this wonderful drama that is hard to find.’ Filming took place between the 12th and 15th March and, although I didn’t know it, many highly recognisable actors such as Charles Dance, Andrew Buchan (think Broadchurch, Garrows Law, Nowhere Boy) Rose Leslie (Utopia, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey) and Perdita Weeks (The Invisible Woman, Flight of the Storks) were working just minutes away from me.
Lucy McLeod at Penshurst kindly sent me a copy of the press release which says the drama ‘is set against the decadent backdrop of King Charles II’s court’ and ‘tells the story of the humble baker Thomas Farriner and his fabled involvement in the Great Fire’. A quote from Douglas Rae, the executive producer, adds that ‘in 1666 London was the greatest city in the world with a population of 300,000. In just four days, The Great Fire destroyed nearly half the city and threatened the monarchy.’ Cue four, sixty minute episodes filled with sumptuous costumes, scandal, romance and drama and you have my idea of tv heaven.
For those of you who haven’t seen the trailer yet, you can find it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acyERCXJF-o
Now I know I might be slightly biased but Penshurst Place is a stunning building surrounded by beautiful gardens and this isn’t the first time its been used as a film location. Scenes for Merlin, The Other Boleyn Girl and Anne of the Thousand Days have all been filmed here and, earlier this year, it also provided a setting for Wolf Hall which is due to be broadcast next year.
Fans of Harry Potter may also like to know that the Long Gallery provided some great floor creaks for the film’s sound recordists. Now that’s something I must remember to tell my boys.
The Great Fire starts at 9pm on Thursday 16th October on ITV1 and will be shown over four consecutive days.