Mapp and Lucia is a sharp and hilarious observational satire of life in Tilling, a small English town. But it is not just any town and it does not take much effort to recognise Tilling as Rye. As filming progresses Tim will explore some of the roles and responsibilities of the cast and crew to provide an exclusive insider guide for Rye News. Meanwhile Charlie will provide an occasional gossip column on the filming and its impact on Rye and its current citizens.
Tim writes: Some of you may be aware of the television series produced in the 80s with the rather brilliant cast of Prunella Scales as Mapp, Geraldine McEwan as Lucia and Nigel Hawthorne as Georgie. As if it could not get more exciting, this latest excursion sees Steven Pemberton as Georgie alongside Anna Chancellor as Lucia and Miranda Richardson as Miss Mapp. Pemberton, responsible for League of Gentlemen and Inside No. 9 , is also providing the script for this adaptation, which promises to provide a very intriguing interpretation of the sniping wit of Benson’s novels. More interesting still is that the entire production is being filmed on location in and around Rye. Unlike the original series, studios are being replaced by sets constructed in existing houses and gardens, which means the outcome will be an extraordinary and immersive Rye experience.
Charlie writes: Benson wrote his books, and set some scenes, in the garden room at Lamb House. Although the room was destroyed by a German bomb during the second world war it has been recreated and now seems to have reappeared through the garden wall and into the street alongside Lamb House. The National Trust property is shut during the filming, which is being powered by a noisy generator tucked into the back wall of St Mary’s churchyard. Some filming took place in the churchyard where a number of memorial seats have had to be moved temporarily, and it was amazing how many people were needed to film a few minutes of action.
Everything had to be done to ensure the filming did not include modern items and all the church notices on the noticeboard by the main door were briefly replaced by photos and information from the 1930s. And the filming took place while “normal life” continued around, which meant the BBC crew were competing with visitors from many countries, as well as other parts of Britain, looking round the church, a wedding party organising their flowers, and the steady stream of people, including BBC cameramen, who wanted to climb up the church tower to see the view and record it.
Meanwhile, outside Lamb House, the BBC’s presence was obvious because the National Trust had banned food and drink inside the house, so a small refreshments tent had to be placed next to the fake garden room window. Also a number of Rye residents have been signed up as extras as some filming is planned to take place in the Mint and its shops, which may cause some temporary chaos. Each extra had to send a recent photos of themselves and lots of measurements, including hat sizes, but more on that in future stories.
Photo Getty Images/BBC