David Adamson talks to Reece Shearsmith about the joys of filming in the North West
When TV and film is shot in Manchester and the North West, it usually falls into a select few categories.
There’s your ‘gritty police drama’, which often look to make use of Manchester’s ‘industrial feel’ and visual whiff of underworld criminality.
You’ve got your ‘down-to-earth workplace’ usually set in a school or salon, or if you’re feeling fancy ‘overworked barrister dumps handbag in the hall of a detached house in Didsbury’.
And finally there’s the ‘doubles for’, with the Northern Quarter in the depths of an identity crisis from the amount of times it’s had to pretend to be 30s New York.
Rarely is something filmed in this neck of the woods that’s not looking for a slice of vicarious bucket-hat authenticity, or asking the region to be something else.
We’ve had a great crew who feel like it's worth going the extra mile, which is what you want
The BBC has filmed the whole of Series 8 of BAFTA-winning Inside No.9 in the North West, which makes you wonder - will more of the country’s TV production migrate North to make use of our varied and undervalued landscapes?
The first episode of series eight, the Christmas-themed The Bones of St. Nicholas, made use of the moody exterior of St Mary’s Church in Rostherne not far from Knutsford (pictured above), with later episodes shot in the likes of little old Sandbach and Space Studios in Gorton.
Speaking to Manchester Confidential following the preview showing of the new series, No.9 co-creator Reece Shearsmith said that while the decision was partly a matter of money, they were blessed with a talented northern production teams and found locations that they simply “couldn’t have got in London”.
“It was the first time we've done a No.9 filming in the north, in fact anywhere other than London,” he said. “It was an incentive to get more work in the north and bring more production here and I think by doing so, there was an uplift in some of the department's money. So it helped out the production that we decided to film it here.
“We were nearly going to do it here for series six but it ended up not being quite worth it, all told, with putting people up in hotels. So it was partly a monetary thing and partly that we like it here anyway and have filmed a lot of things up here. And it was worth it this time around as far as giving the production more scope in terms of the things we could do.
“Some of the locations that we’ve used we couldn't have got in London, like the church for the Christmas episode - we’d never have found that in London, especially with such a remote exterior. So being up here has been really helpful. We’ve loved doing it - it went very smoothly, with a great crew that were really into it and wanted to make it the best it can be. We've always had a lot of people who bring out their best game for the series because they feel like it's worth going the extra mile, which is what you want.”
A BBC Spokesperson said: “The latest series of Inside No. 9 was filmed entirely in the North West, the home of its creators and a region that has a huge amount to offer in terms of talent, creativity and great locations. We’re making the most of that right across the BBC portfolio.
“We are incredibly proud of our content made in the North West, and how well it’s received by audiences in the region and beyond. It’s an exciting time for the region, and the BBC wants to be right at the heart of that.”
Read next - The story of Manchester architecture: Part one
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