New BBC comedy Ambassadors, starring British comedy duo David Mitchell and Robert Webb, filmed partly on location in Bursa in western Turkey. The show follows a pair of British diplomats as they set up an embassy in a fictional former Soviet satellite state in central Asia.
‘Tazbekistan’ was created as an amalgamation of real countries like Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, but a lack of production infrastructure in that part of the world was going to make location filming tricky. Instead, the production team chose to spend a week filming on location in Turkey and scouted various cities before settling on Bursa, south of Istanbul.
“Bursa was finally chosen ahead of the other options due to the diversity and its access to Istanbul, the hub of the film industry,” explains Alex Sutherland of servicing company AZ Celtic Films: “We got tremendous help from the military – the first time that they have helped a non-Turkish production – and also from the local airport which we filmed in for two days free of charge. All in all we got wonderful support from the local Mayor’s office.
“There were a fair amount of logistical challenges such as getting a crew from London with equipment to Bursa in a day, ready to shoot early next morning.”
We got tremendous help from the military – the first time that they have helped a non-Turkish production – and also from the local airport which we filmed in for two days free of charge.
Alex Sutherland, AZ Celtic Films
Filming locations were dressed to give them the show’s ‘Tazbek’ identity and Russian signage was used to hint at the country’s Soviet history.
The Bursa scenes were intended to give the show the necessary exotic flavour, given that the bulk of the three-part series was actually shot on location in the UK.
Ambassadors starts on 23 October 2013 on BBC Two.
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