Rye residents, and visitors, have grandstand seats to watch the BBC at work on Rye Mayor E.F. Benson’s best-selling comic 1930s’ novels Mapp and Lucia. Quiet please, take five. For four days of filming Market Street is closed off and turned back into a market. And a number of houses have returned to being shops.
The road is earth, not tarmac. Butcher’s carcasses hang from the Town Hall railings. Bunting criss-crosses the road, and posh cars appear. Local extras have added to the period feel of filming the novels.
It is 1935. The Prince of Wales visits Rye, Mapp curtseys . . . and falls. But a BBC rubber mat is in place. To catch her fall (the mat can be seen in one of the shots from our Editor’s window, he will want you to know).
The gulls, however, are not amused. And neither are some visitors as, not surprisingly, traffic is diverted round the citadel.
Residents in the area have been sent a detailed timetable by the BBC of the filming plans and the Town Council moved Monday June 30′s meeting to the Rye Community Centre on Conduit Hill.
Last Sunday, however, the St Mary’s congregation were left confused about whether and how they could get to the services as the preacher and church warden had different information from the BBC.
The road closures and extra traffic in West Street, the steep, narrow Mermaid Street and around Church Square could affect residents, the Hope Anchor and Mermaid Inn. BBC filming around St Mary’s and Church Square has already affected both parking and pedestrians.
Below, some of the scenes from the first two days of filming. The bunting is gone now. We’ve moved on. Some might wish things would move on a lot faster; that normality would resume. But once these disenchanted souls espy the series playing on their television sets, they’ll doubtless remember it all with fond nostalgia.
Photos: Bev Ham and Kenneth Bird