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Lights, camera, action across the county
2:00pm Wednesday 2nd January 2013 in News
DOWNTON Abbey has become a global phenomenon and with a fourth series in the pipeline for 2013 the people of Bampton are only too happy to let their chocolate box village continue to play a leading part.
The period drama by writer Julian Fellowes is set in England in the years leading up to the First World War, and tells the inter-woven stories of a wealthy family and their servants.
Featured highly in the series are Bampton’s church and Crawley House and as a result, fans have been heading to the village in their coachloads.
Alan Clarke, owner of The Horseshoe pub in Bridge Street, said: “We are pretty much used to the filming now and the crew is extremely courteous to the villagers. In fact, my wife Kathy, 54, and daughter Sarah, 25, have both been extras in a wedding scene for the series.”
Also bringing a bit of old-fashioned period glamour to the county this year was the film Belle, whose shooting caused quite a stir in Oxford’s Catte Street and the Bodleian Library’s Clarendon Quadrangle.
Witney actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, is the star of Belle, which tells the story of a mixed-race girl raised as an aristocrat in 18th century England, set against a backdrop of slavery.
But in 2012 the city welcomed a third addition to the Morse ‘family’ with Endeavour.
A four-part series is set to hit TV screens next spring and features the ‘rookie’ Morse, played by Shaun Evans, tackling his early cases in the 1960s.
Filming took place in locations including Catte Street and Merton Street and in Trinity College.
Geron Swann is from Location Oxfordshire, which accommodates the needs of film and TV companies.
He said: “We’ve had a massive increase in filming over the last couple of years mainly due to the city, county, university and Location Oxfordshire coming together to say to TV dramas, lifestyle programmes, documentary and blockbuster films that we know what you need and we'll go out of our way to make you welcome.
“And of course it is great for tourism as more and more people are visiting the city because of its link with film.”
The trend for DIY shows has also made its mark in the county this year.
Operation Homefront set up shop in Dry Sandford near Oxford in August to restore the 24th Abingdon’s delapidated Scout hut.
The National Geographic Channel’s series Strippers: Cars for Cash, rolled into Eynsham earlier this year.
Solo Italia dealership in the town sold the show a car to be used as part of a challenge, and managing director Rick Howes and head mechanic Gary Dowsett ended up under the spotlight as part of the recording.
Popular Channel 4 show Come Dine With Me came looking for fresh meat in February.
The show challenged five ‘home-grown’ amateur chefs to host their own dinner party for the other contestants, with the highest scoring host winning £1,000.
‘Starring’ Victoria Collett, of Grove, Heidi Kelloway, of Bicester, Marlon Williams of Oxford, James Hearle, of Shirburn, and Richard Barraclough, from Kirtlington – some savoured the experience more than others.
Ms Kelloway said: "It was a brilliant experience but really tiring. I’m not sure whether many people in Grove realised there was a film crew here, although there were a few twitchy curtains in my road when we were filming outside.”
Finally, The Ultimate Picture Palace in Cowley Road, Oxford, proved to be ‘just the ticket’ when former Supergrass singer Gaz Coombes was looking for a location for his new music video.
Coombes recorded Simulator at his home in Wheatley, but wanted an authentic cinema for the video.