Written by on Nov 13, 2014. Posted in On Location

Lack of UK studio space may force BBC drama Dickensian to film Eastern Europe

The BBC’s upcoming period drama series Dickensian may have to film on location in Eastern Europe due to a lack of UK studio space. Red Planet Pictures plans to build a portion of 19th century London for the shoot, which will be set across Charles Dickens’ literary world.

Writer Tony Jordan plans to build a set 10 metres high spanning 50,000 sq ft and comprising 20 buildings including key locations from several of Dickens’ classic novels, reports the Independent.

Following eight months of scouting across the UK, however, a filming location hasn’t yet been secured. Eastern Europe is inevitably an option and was more commonly used by UK productions before last year’s TV tax credit made filming in Britain more viable on a financial, if not necessarily practical, level.

“Early next year we need to be building this and at the moment we have got nowhere to build it,” Jordan told the outlet: “I’m not sure if I would want Dickensian to be in Bulgaria or in Romania; it just doesn’t feel quite right. It should be in the UK.”

The UK’s generous film and TV tax credits have turned London into one of the world’s top production hubs and a favoured filming location for several of the major Hollywood studios. Disney and Marvel have filmed multiple superhero movies in London and the Star Wars franchise will be based at Pinewood Studios throughout 2015. Star Wars: The Force Awakens recently wrapped principal photography.

Studio resources in the UK are at a premium. London is the only city in England, Scotland and Wales with the purpose-built facilities necessary for big-budget productions and resources are limited. The major facilities, including Pinewood and Leavesden, have long recognised the problem and are expanding but the process is slow.

More productions, including the Jack Bauer miniseries 24: Live Another Day, are instead opting to film in converted warehouses. However, finding industrial spaces that are both suitable for filming and available for long-term use is a real challenge.

“I’m hoping that someone is going to pick up the phone tomorrow and say ‘I have a 70,000 sq ft warehouse with a 10-metre ceiling and nothing is happening in there for two years!’” Jordan added.


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