Villagers in a lather over the invasion of TV soaps cameras

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The television programme Crossroads will return without many of its defining features - from the woolly-hatted character Benny to the credits rolling diagonally across the screen - but events this week suggest hitches during filming are not all in the past.

The television programme Crossroads will return without many of its defining features - from the woolly-hatted character Benny to the credits rolling diagonally across the screen - but events this week suggest hitches during filming are not all in the past.

Despite having ploughed millions into a custom-built set in Nottingham, Carlton TV will also be filming from Wednesday in the idyllic Leicestershire village of Redmile, where it will run into a campaign of fierce resistance. Redmile is the new setting for the soap's fictional Kings Oak village.

Such is the zest for a remake of the old ATV soap that 240 episodes have been commissioned. That will probably bring Carlton TV to the village every week for a year.

But the people who live there are not pleased with the razzmatazz. A meeting two weeks ago attracted 80 of the village's 240 adults to a local pub, and an anti- Crossroads petition was raised.

On Tuesday morning, the show's producers arrived tomeet the villagers in one of the protester's houses. (There is no parish hall, the church heating is on the blink and the two pubs weren't open.)

The Carlton shilling helped to smooth things over. A £200 contribution towards amenities was promised to the parish council for each of the filming visits. There are also separate financial arrangements with the people who live in the village's beautiful "church corner", where most of the filming will be done.

The parish council says most of the residents are in favour of the filming but object to the number of episodes, of which 65 were expected initially.

And there's a question of content. Vanessa Rawlings-Jackson, a resident and arch- opponent, said: "We were told it will go out before the watershed, but so does Grange Hill, The Bill and Emmerdale and there have been rape scenes and murders in those programmes, which we do not want in this village."

The villagers were apparently unmoved by the wealth brought by the long-running television series Last of the Summer Wine to Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. There, after 27 years of filming, life has begun to imitate art.

Compo's Café and the Wrinkled Stocking Tearooms, modelled on the series, compete for 20,000 tourists a year, and a museum to the series has been set up in Compo's "home".

Holmfirth's residents were devastated when Kathy Staff - alias Nora Batty - left the series last year. Sonia Lee, a villager, said."I have no idea if they will still use my house. My back steps have come to be known as Nora's steps,"

But even Holmfirth has its disgruntled locals. A dam in the area was allegedly polluted when two cars were dumped in it for one scene. The resulting protest reflected well the delicate business of location filming.

Twenty miles away in Hadfield, north Derbyshire, tempers were so frayed when a 60-strong BBC crew arrived to film The League of Gentlemen that the Glossop Chronicle ran a story headlined "Plague of Gentlemen". A community meeting was called to discuss what to do if the producers returned for another series.

An inhabitant of Goathland, the North York Moors town where ITV's Heartbeat is set, said she would not have bought a cottage there had she known it was to become the programme's location.

"I have had to put up net curtains because it's like living in a goldfish bowl," she said. "You go to the local shop for groceries and you can't get in for visitors looking for souvenirs."

But there are benefits once the cameras have gone. A research paper last year shows that visitors numbers to a place increase by 77 per cent, on average, five years after the release of a film made there. The number of visitors to Cornwall leapt by 10,000 a year after Poldark came out in the Seventies, while southern Florida saw an almost 20 per cent rise attributed to Miami Vice.

Redmile's predicament best matches that of Esholt, a village near Bradford where Emmerdale was filmed for 10 years until producers announced that three episodes a week were too much and the location was moved to Leeds.

"The TV crews carried a bag of money to persuade people to move their cars," an Esholt resident said. "My friend got terribly irate when they hissed 'Quiet on the set'. She said, 'It's not a set, it's my lawn'." At one point, there were 500 coach trips a year to the Woolpack Inn in Esholt.

The fact that Redmile's depleted farming industry needs all the help it can get has done nothing to sway the views of residents. But they are beginning to realise they have little legal clout. "Other than the Human Rights Act we have no privacy laws at our disposal," said John Rawling, Redmile's parish council chairman.

Comments