What a year RED Productions are having. Just a couple of days after their founder Nicola Schindler was awarded BAFTA’s Special Award, recognising her outstanding contribution to the television industry, their dystopian future series Years and Years hit BBC One and had viewers glued to screens. The production gave a glimpse into a future that felt like it could become all too familiar; whilst technological advances left us in awe, the direction in which politics and society went throughout the series looked like the impending consequences of our actions in the modern world. We saw housing estates closed down, banks and offices barely resisting rioting crowds, and shipping containers forming immigrant villages – all at the forefront of rapidly, ever-growing skylines. The locations used in Years and Years created the perfect backdrop to capacitate the heightened emotions of the characters on screen, through moments of joy, surprise, sadness and anger.
Like many times before, RED have once again demonstrated that the North of England can provide a fitting background to a world-class TV Drama. With Years and Years, RED have shown that the North West of England’s wide range of locations can double for as far ranging places as Spain and Malaysia, or for more local icons such as Central London, with its ultra-modern offices or classic Georgian architecture. Some of the show’s main locations could be found in less obvious areas – Gran’s house, the hub of the series and of the Lyons family, lies near student-ville in South Manchester; Erstwhile 4, where hundreds of refugees supposedly meet their demise, can be found over in Merseyside at Altcar Training Camp. Closer to Liverpool was home to Steve and Celeste Lyons, in their very believable three-storey London townhouse; Cheshire’s Arley Hall became home to a secret meeting between antagonist Prime Minister Vivienne Rook and her wicked associates. This is made all the more impressive when you consider the relatively short distance between these areas, and that the work that went into the locations ensured audiences were convinced that the distances between the cast could have been much, much further.
Aside from the vast array of locations on offer and their attractive proximity within the North West, this is only part of the pull up North; the production service needs to match the high standards set by the locations. Creative England’s Production Services Team were on hand to provide support, expertise and crew to Years and Years throughout production across the North West, with filming in Liverpool and Manchester being facilitated by the globally renowned city film offices Liverpool Film Office & Screen Manchesterand filming in Leeds facilitated by Screen Yorkshire, the regional film office that covers a mightily vast area and can offer an equally diverse selection of locations and services.
But what did the Locations Department on Years and Years make of it all? James Muirhead, Location Manager on the production, spoke fondly of the North West when quizzed on why it’s a suitable place for such an ambitious project:
“The North West still has all the ingredients needed to get great production value on screen. Liverpool hosts super cheats for London and Europe, Manchester has a robust film office; there are lots of great film friendly locations and all the facilities & studios surrounding that.
BBC’s Years & Years examined the North West, with an array of international location needs from Malaysia to Madrid. It passed with flying colours. Come here with your production, everyone’s ‘Mad for it!’”
A glowing reference if ever we saw one, and further evidence that the North West can compete and meet the needs of high-end TV Drama. Long live filming in the North West – for Years and Years to come!
For more info on Filming in England, please go to www.creativeengland.co.uk/filming-in-england