BBC builds Victorian set in London to film new drama Dickensian
The BBC has built a Victorian set in an adapted warehouse space in London for new period drama Dickensian. Written by Tony Jordan, the series presents intertwining stories of some of Charles Dickens’ most famous characters who it posits are living on the same London street.
Filming in west London, Red Planet Pictures has built a 90-metre cobbled high street with law courts at one end and a functioning Victorian pub at the other. Nearly 30 separate two-storey buildings and seven back alleys were constructed as the complete film set.
The series cast includes industry veterans Stephen Rea, Pauline Collins, Caroline Quentin and Peter Firth.
“The scale and ambition of this series is incredibly impressive with storylines and characters that have real international appeal,” said Belinda Campbell, executive producer of Dickensian and Head of Drama at Red Planet Pictures.
“We have constructed an entire 19th century street for these famous characters to inhabit, transporting viewers back in time to Victorian London. The cast and storylines are out of this world and I can’t wait to see it all come to life in each half hour thrilling episode.”
Red Planet Pictures spent months searching for a suitable filming location to build such an expansive set and at one point Jordan revealed the production might have to travel to Eastern Europe.
Warehouse spaces are increasingly being used as adapted studios in and around London, and indeed elsewhere in the UK. Factories and old storage facilities are often more cost-effective than purpose-built studios, especially for TV dramas planning several months of filming.
Recent crime drama Fortitude (above) was set in the arctic but largely filmed in a London warehouse, while 24: Live Another Day also built its own studio space in London.
Elaborate sets are becoming more commonplace in British TV productions. Last year Ecosse Films recreated large sections of 17th century London in multiple locations in south-east England that were then burned to the ground for ITV drama The Great Fire (right), recalling the infamous disaster of 1666.
A new adventure series based on the Dark Ages poem Beowulf – again commissioned by ITV – has also invested in a large set build, this time in the Durham Dales of northern England. The production has built a 30-acre medieval village for a ten-month shoot, with the elaborate set intended to cater for several seasons of filming.
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