I’ve been posting, on and off, about the settings for the BBC drama Peaky Blinders, which moved Edwardian Birmingham to Liverpool, amongst other locations.
Now there’s an even more bonkers one. According to this article in the Westmorland Gazette, the BBC have chosen to film new drama Jamaica Inn, based on the famous Daphne du Maurier novel, in Cumbria. This is really odd. The whole point of du Maurier’s writing is that it’s grounded in Cornwall. The moors, the sea, the smuggling, the stormy weather, all form an integral part of her books. The locations she used are real places, which can still be visited today. And Cornwall has to be one of the least spoiled counties in England, with plenty of ‘historical’ atmosphere left in its towns, villages and countryside. And yet the good old Beeb have moved the whole thing to Kirkby Lonsdale.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been to Kirkby Lonsdale several times and it’s a pretty little place, with plenty of historical atmosphere of its own. Cumbria is every bit as scenic as Cornwall, and the weather is often just as bad. It’s just… it’s different. The stone for the buildings is different. The style of local architecture is just that bit different. The scenery is different – high fells rather than rolling moorland. Even the weather is different, with fewer of those Atlantic storms Cornwall is so famous for. You feel the film crew will spend as much time covering up the bits that don’t fit as they will filming the action.
In the end, it just seems unnecessary to film something so far away when you have all the constituent parts on the doorstep. It’s a bit like moving the Jack the Ripper stories to Scotland, or Beatrix Potter to Stoke-on-Trent. But I’ve a feeling I’ll be grumbling about this whole subject again, because it seems to be happening more and more often. The programme directors talk about ‘finding the perfect location’ or try to claim that nothing historical remains in the original location. That’s clearly nonsense. I’d love to know what the real reason is for moving settings lock, stock and market-place to a different part of the country. Answers on a postcard please.