Friday, 23 June 2017

On set with the stars of BBC TV's hit drama The A Word.

The Whitehaven News has been behind the scenes of filming of the hit drama The A Word, as Kelly Pattison reports.

A sun-soaked fellside a stone's throw from Keswick was my office on Tuesday afternoon.

After arriving at the Pencil Museum, just before lunch, I was immediately whisked off to "set" to mingle with the cast and crew of The A Word.

Phil, my minibus driver, took me down a familiar road - the A591 - heading to Grasmere before taking a right turn towards Bridge End Farm at Thirlmere.

On my left a few hundred yards along was a field splattered with colourful gazebos, bunting, bouncy castles, a bar with (fake) beer pumps, stalls, hay bales, portable toilets and scores of people.

A summer fete? No, this was the carefully crafted set of the fictional 25km High Tarn Fell Race.

It features in episode four of the six-part second series of the highly-acclaimed The A Word. Six scenes were being filmed on Tuesday.

There was also "The Fellside", the stone barn which Paul - Joe's father in the show - was seen converting into a gastropub in the first series.

I walked inside and was introduced to executive producer Marcus Wilson and actor Christopher Eccleston.

Sitting on a chair finishing off an interview with local radio, Christopher is wearing shorts and a running vest with the number 102 pinned on.

He's taking a break from playing widower Maurice Scott, who is often seen running the fells on the show and has decided to enter the High Tarn race.

Christopher is no stranger himself to fell running.

He "ran 10 miles to work" and he loves running the high passes in and around Keswick.

He's also been a regular visitor to the Lake District since childhood and returning as an adult to work, filming dramas such as BBC1's The A Word and ITV's Safe House.

Christopher said: "When it comes to Maurice, if he's into religion it is running. If it is faith then it is fell running.

"We're re-staging the fell race because a couple of weeks ago it was the first time during this second series that the weather turned against us.

"So at great expense and planning it has been re-arranged for us to come back to finish off.

"We're about three-quarters of the way through the series now. We started filming on March 27 and we end our shooting in July.

"We've been filming in three-week blocks and had almost finished a few weeks ago."

He added: "I tend to run everyday myself and I've done a lot of running in the Borrowdale Valley and around Derwentwater."

Marcus Wilson was overseeing Tuesday's shoot.

Dr Who, Whitechapel and Luther are other prime-time production credits he has to his name.

Marcus said: "This is the biggest day of shooting. When it got rained off a few weeks ago I was absolutely gutted but it is great that we've been able to come back so soon."

He also revealed that walkers and cyclists have regularly wandered unannounced on set whilst the crew has been working in Cumbria.

"We get a lot of walkers dropping in asking if they can join us for a drink," he said.

"There's been a lot of disappointment for them when they've discovered we're actually filming and we don't have a real pub."

The two men also pay tribute to Peter Bowker, the writer behind The A Word.

Peter was also the man behind the 2014 television movie Marvellous, which portrayed the true story of Neil Baldwin who refused to accept learning difficulties as a label and led an extraordinary life.

"When Peter is writing Maurice and his passion for running, his passion is like mine," said Christopher.

Executive producer Marcus added: "I remember being sent the script for the first episode of The A Word by the production company Fifty Fathoms and the writing blew me away. Peter makes you laugh and cry at the same moment.

"We also knew that it had to be in the Lakes because of the way that Peter used the landscape as a character right from the off. It was incredible."

The A Word's second series is set two years on from the first.

Christopher said: "The decision is made to take Joe out of a local, standard school and take him into a special school environment.

"It creates tensions between his parents Paul and Alison and the wider family and there's a series of new challenges for Joe. Also in that two years there has been a relationship diminish between Eddie and Nicola, they're now living separate lives."

The team called the Lake District home this month when they spent three weeks filming.

Actors and crew have taken the area to their hearts, often enjoying sight-seeing and visiting restaurants and pubs.

The Dog and Gun in the centre of Keswick has been a favourite among them, Christopher tells me.

He adds: "We've had a fantastic welcome from people. Some come up and tell you they love the show and love the fact the show is set here. 

"You don't get that everywhere as an actor. We're embraced here."

Stars of the show chat fondly and with a strong affection for The A Word.

Greg McHugh, who plays Maurice's son Eddie, reverts back to his native Edinburgh lilt to chat with me.

"We love the humanity of the story and the journey Joe is on," he said. "It is a subject matter that people have not explored like this before. Peter's writing and humour has made it brilliant."

Greg suffered a broken ankle and regular walks around Derwentwater have provided some welcome, yet unexpected, recovery.

"I broke my ankle after the first series and it was still hurting but the amount of walking I've been doing in the Lake District has been the best physio I could hope for," he said.

When it comes to the local landscape, there has been a marked difference this time round compared to the show's first outing.

Storm Desmond wreaked havoc and devastation on the countryside while filming for series one was taking place.

Christopher said: "It was very, very tough on the crew to shoot and was very hard for them. Us actors get a break and we're wrapped in cotton wool, the crew aren't.

"This time round we've been filming from March until July and so it is very different."

The first person on set on Tuesday was the second assistant director, who arrived at 6.45am.

Shortly afterwards they were joined by about 80 cast members, about a dozen actors and about 100 supporting extras.

Some work as extras full time, others were local runners who responded to a call for help.

They included Keswick AC members Mike Mallen, a retired surveyor from Eleventrees, and friend Alan Davidson, 64.

Mike, 60, said: "The club and members got an email saying the show was looking for runners so there's about 20 of us taking part.

"There are some from other clubs like Cumberland and others from around the country too.

"We've been doing some warming up, stretching for filming, that kind of thing. No running as such yet."

Alan added: "It has been interesting to do something different."

Everything comes to a halt for an hour on set when catering staff in chef whites appear. 

They open up several large black insulated boxes and everyone lines up, ready to be served. Inside is a variety of lunch choices including hot options chilli con carne and pulled pork. 

Chilled cheesecakes and trifles are also offered around.

Tuesday marked the end of The A Word's time in Cumbria for now. 

More filming will take place in studios in Manchester before producers spend the summer editing.

Marcus says the six-part series will be ready to include in the BBC's autumn schedules, although a date for broadcast has yet to be confirmed.

And cast and crew are tight lipped on whether a third series is in the offing, with a win in the ratings likely to help shape any final decision.

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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Sky Atlantic Sets UK Premiere Date For ‘The Leftovers’ Season 3

Sky Atlantic Sets UK Premiere Date For 'The Leftovers' Season 3

Category : NewsUK News

The third and final season of HBO's The Leftovers will receive its UK premiere on Sky Atlantic on Tuesday July 4th at 10pm with a double-bill, it has been announced.

Created by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta, The Leftovers is set just after the apocalypse. When the Rapture happened, but not quite like it's supposed to. The series tells the story of the people who didn't make the cut and a world that will never be the same. The drama series stars Justin Theroux, Carrie Coon, Amy Brenneman, Kevin Carroll, Christopher Eccleston, Scott Glenn, Lindsay Duncan, Regina King, Jovan Adepo, Janel Moloney, Margaret Qualley, Jasmin Savoy-Brown, Liv Tyler and Chris Zylka.

The show's final season, which was filmed on location in Texas and Australia, finds the Garvey and Murphy families coming together as they desperately grasp for a system of belief to help better explain that which defies explanation. The world is crackling with the energy of something big about to happen, a corresponding bookend to the Sudden Departure that sent them all spinning years earlier, bringing their journey Down Under. The executive producers are Damon Lindelof, Tom Perrotta, Mimi Leder, Tom Spezialy, Gene Kelly, Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey. Lindelof serves as showrunner.

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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Christopher Eccleston launches new dementia hub.


Former DR WHO star Christopher Eccleston will be sharing the 'devastating' experiences of his father's Alzheimer's as he opens a special new hub for people living with dementia.

The Salford-born actor will open the new Salford Institute for Dementia 'Hub' on Wednesday 17 May as part of a series of events taking place at Salford University to mark Dementia Awareness Week (May 15-20).

The Hub aims to be an outreach centre for the public to access the latest research and ideas about living well with dementia.

The £300,000 centre at the University's Allerton Building, features a dementia friendly garden, a visitors' centre designed to look as much as possible like a home, and will be a base for the University's dementia associates, who include Joy Watson, founder of Dementia Friends.

The centre also contains a special kitchen built to demonstrate the latest dementia friendly designs, with a glass fronted fridge and cupboards as well as other design features such as colour cues to help people with dementia understand the environment.

People with dementia and their carers can visit the Hub to take part in activities such as gardening and dance and to get guidance from others who have experienced the condition, while researchers from across the University will also be able to work there.

Christopher, whose father Ronnie lived with Alzheimer's for 12 years before his death in 2012, believes we can all learn much from the bravery of people who live with Alzheimer's and dementia but that we are not paying enough attention: "It is a growing problem and we need families and carers to be educated, supported and understood," he has said.

The actor will also join a panel to discuss current dementia care alongside international expert Dr John Zeisel, former MP Hazel Blears and Professor Anthea Innes, Director of the Salford Institute for Dementia on Tuesday 16 May. The special event is being held to mark the 50th anniversary of the University, which is home to the Salford Institute of Dementia.

Also as part of Dementia Awareness Week (May 15-20), the University of Salford, is hosting the Alzheimer's Research UK North West Public Engagement Event on 17th May. The event is being held in collaboration with The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, The University of Liverpool and the University of Lancaster.

Academic researchers along with local dementia services and information providers will be putting on a range of interactive events aimed at helping the public understand the physical, psychological and social nature of dementia, whilst learning more about local dementia support networks and initiatives.

The event will also celebrate the successes of local dementia associated projects and includes laboratory tours, information points, performances, from a Gospel Choir and other family friendly activities, including Shetland ponies.

Professor Anthea Innes, Director of the Salford Institute for Dementia, said: "The new hub will put the University of Salford at the heart of the community and provide a real focal point for people living with dementia as well as their carers.

"The events taking place here to mark Dementia Awareness Week will provide a great opportunity for anyone who's been affected by dementia to find out about the work being done here in Salford, as well as across the North West and further afield, to help people living with the condition. We look forward to seeing as many members of public as possible on both days."

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Saturday, 8 April 2017

A new film with Christopher Eccleston and Maxine Peake is tackling class prejudice head on [VIDEO].

A new film is tackling the issue of class prejudice in the acting profession. And it's doing it with some big names. But while the industry is viewed by many as one of 'rags-to-riches' stories, the truth is very different.

Raising actor awareness

The Acting Class is produced by the film company Inside Film. It talks to struggling actors. Especially about the difficulties of not having the resources to "get in and get on in the industry". The project started after films makers, Deirdre O'Neill and Mike Wayne, were introduced to actor Tom Stocks on Twitter. He started Actor Awareness, a campaign to raise awareness of the issue of class exclusion in the acting profession. He was moved to do something when he couldn't raise the money to accept a post-graduate degree offer. And as O'Neill and Wayne told The Canary, Stocks inspired them to make The Acting Class:

We listened to Tom's story and were impressed by what he was trying to do with Actor Awareness. We had made a film previously documenting the condition of the working class in Britain which had used theatre as a way of telling these stories. So we were already talking to actors about their aspirations and how difficult it is to succeed. The Acting Classseemed a natural continuation of that.

Entrenched classism?

Research from the London School of Economics (LSE) backs up the idea that acting is a privileged profession. It found that 73% of actors came from the middle class backgrounds, but only 27% were working class. The analysis is even starker when compared to official statistics. These show only 29% of the UK are defined as having "middle class origins". And the difference in earnings was also pronounced. Because when people of the same age, ethnicity and gender were compared, working class actors reported earnings of £11,000 a year less than middle class ones.

O'Neill and Wayne said of the problem:

Such statistics indicate that there is a problem out there and it has multiple dimensions. These include the Londoncentric nature of the business and how incredibly difficult it is becoming for people to live in the capital. It includes how dependent actors are reliant on the bank of 'Mom and Dad', and how many professional services with fees attached you need to pay for to get in and get on. For those from working class backgrounds who do manage to get work, it is very difficult to sustain themselves while juggling with other more regular jobs.

As they get older and their financial commitments increase, gradually the day job takes over and the aspiration to be an actor has to adjust to the reality. This is all part of a much wider problem. It is becoming increasingly difficult for young working class people who want to do any kind of professional and/or artistic work thanks to government policies that are making the arts once again the preserve of the rich – a luxury item.

If I can make it here…

The idea of The Acting Class was to build a broad picture from people in different parts of the industry. They contacted educators, academics, artistic directors, the former Head of the Arts Council, and actors. And also included well-known faces such as Christopher Eccleston, Maxine Peake, and Julie Hesmondhalgh. All of whom are actors from working class backgrounds. O'Neill and Wayne said that these three were "able to build their careers in an earlier period where there was more support". And all three worry that if they were starting out now, they would be far less likely to succeed. As O'Neill and Wayne said:

There is a general agreement from the people we spoke to that success is currently linked to your financial resources. We have spoken to actors outside London and to actors who have given up, who could not continue with the hand to mouth existence they were leading. But just think about Eccleston, Peake, and Hesmondhalgh's comments. The cultural landscape would not be the same without the contribution of actors from outside the private school-Oxbridge nexus. How many other potential great actors are not now being given a chance because the barriers are getting higher?

A societal problem?

O'Neill and Wayne say the issue of classism in the acting industry is an important one. Because so often, the arts paint the cultural portrait of this country: whose voices are heard, whose stories are told, whose experiences and values get some sort of airing. And if the profession is dominated by the middle classes, then a:

vicious circle gets created where the more exclusive the people making the stories becomes, the more exclusive the people watching the stories on stage or on screen becomes.

And what this will do is stifle conversations and narratives; silencing the stories of many people who live in the UK. O'Neill and Wayne said:

It is important that there is diversity across the board in terms of class, race, gender, disability and sexuality. But we are going to struggle to get that diversity, especially in terms of race – given the correlation between race and poverty in this country – if people from working class backgrounds are being shut out. One of the things we have discovered is that people are much more aware and willing to acknowledge or at least try and address the problems of, say, ethnic minorities and gender than they are of class.

While today it would be quite unacceptable to have a white person playing Othello, it is quite normal for people from privately educated backgrounds to get to play working class characters. Now we appreciate that that is what acting is about, being someone you are not, but it is not reciprocal generally. There is much less opportunity for working class actors to 'act up'.

On the up?

Classism is a controversial subject. Successive governments have claimed to focus on 'social mobility'. But the reality is often far from this, no matter what the profession or lifestyle. And in the acting world, it is perhaps even more obvious. As for most of us a day doesn't go by where we're not exposed to the industry. Be it on TV, film, radio, or online. And O'Neill and Wayne say that the industry is loathe to act:

What we have noticed is that people are quite resistant to discussing class and this is true not only within the profession but more widely. We have read recently that quite high profile actors from quite privileged backgrounds have been dismissing the problem. Very often when you raise the question of class barriers you get accused of being obsessed with class, as if drawing attention to the issue is part of the problem! But class is not just a set of unfortunate attitudes that will go away if we pretend that everyone is equal or has an equal opportunity. Class is institutional and entrenched in this society.

But with The Acting Class O'Neill and Wayne hope to start a conversation. One about a problem plaguing both the acting industry, and the world more broadly. It's refreshing to see classism being openly discussed; especially in an industry that impacts on nearly everyone's daily lives. As far as working class projects go, The Acting Class is one of this year's most exciting so far.

Watch the trailer of The Acting Class:

Monday, 27 March 2017


Christopher Eccleston in Brian Pern: A Tribute

Fifth and Ninth Doctor actors Peter Davison and Christopher Eccleston can be seen starring in the BBC Four comedy spoof-documentary, Brian Pern: A Tribute.

The episode broadcasts on March 29 at 10pm on BBC Four.

Christopher Eccleston reprises his role as music producer Luke Dunmore for the show whilst Peter Davison plays himself.

Previous episodes of Brian Pern have actually used 'classic' Doctor Who music and footage — with the 1984 episode Frontios being used to comedic effect in the spoof-documentary. The latest instalment also features another Fifth Doctor classic, The Visitation.

The forthcoming episode also stars: Suranne Jones (The Doctor's Wife), Tony Way(Deep Breath), and Jane Asher and Nigel Havers, both major guest stars in Doctor Who spin-off series, The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Brian Pern: A Tribute airs 10pm, March 29, 2017 on BBC Four

PLEASE NOTE: This show contains material NOT suitable for younger fans

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Sunday, 19 February 2017

Re: [badwolf] Former Timelord Christopher Eccleston is film group’s patron. [1 Attachment]

This is a great story.  I am so proud of him.  That is the cutest photo of him.  He does not live to far from that place.  He used to live near it with his family.

Sally Ann Price

On Sun, Feb 19, 2017 at 12:54 PM, Virginia McGovern [badwolf] <> wrote:

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"Admirers of Chris's Bits."



Leigh film enthusiasts have pulled off a coup by unveiling one of the region's best-known acting stars as their community group's patron. Christopher Eccleston, best known for playing the ninth Timelord in Doctor Who, has given his official backing to Leigh Film and the Leigh Short Film Festival.

Former Timelord Christopher Eccleston is film group's patron Christopher Eccleston, who is the new patron of Leigh Film and the Leigh Short Film Festival ANDREW NOWELL Email 12:00Sunday 19 February 2017 Leigh film enthusiasts have pulled off a coup by unveiling one of the region's best-known acting stars as their community group's patron. Christopher Eccleston, best known for playing the ninth Timelord in Doctor Who, has given his official backing to Leigh Film and the Leigh Short Film Festival. The award-winning actor, who was raised not far from Leigh in Little Hulton, has appeared in a host of TV dramas and films as well as taken on top stage roles including Shakespeare's Hamlet. He is now the patron of the town's annual celebration of short, low-budget movies made by up-and-coming film-makers and the regular screenings of classic and non-mainstream films at The Turnpike Centre in Leigh. Leigh Film secretary Elizabeth Costello said: "We are so honoured at Leigh Film to have Christopher Eccleston as our patron. We have been working over the past four years on delivering quality community cinema and having Christopher, an award-winning actor, as our patron is amazing recognition for what we do and our ethos. "He was raised not a stone's throw away from Leigh and we believe he proves that with hard work and passion for what you believe in you can succeed. We are so honoured at Leigh Film to have Christopher Eccleston as our patron Leigh Film secretary Elizabeth Costello "It is hoped through Christopher's patronage that we at Leigh Film can raise the aspiration of young people in the borough to get involved in film and other associated activities." Now living in Worsley, Eccleston, has become one of Britain's most recognisable acting talents, with notable credits including his roles in hit films such as Shallow Grave, Elizabeth, 24 Hour Party People and 28 Days Later. Originally influenced by films such as Ken Loach's Kes and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, he studied at the Central Speech of School and Drama and first trod the boards professionally at The Old Vic in Bristol aged 25. Recent major roles including British series The A Word about autism and American drama The Leftovers. He is also known for his work on defeating dementia, currently featuring in Alzheimer's Research's new campaign, and Leigh Film hopes to work on this as its Afternoon Cinema Club aims to tackle social isolation and provide somewhere for dementia sufferers and their carers. For more information about the group visit

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Former Timelord Christopher Eccleston is film group’s patron.