GALLERY: Northumberland attracts TV show and artists

The artists with presenters Una Stubbs and Richard Bacon in the Pastures, Alnwick. Picture by Dan Prince
The artists with presenters Una Stubbs and Richard Bacon in the Pastures, Alnwick. Picture by Dan Prince

Budding artists tried to recreate the beauty and majesty of the north Northumberland landscape as Alnwick featured on national television again this evening.

The Big Painting Challenge, a new series whose first episode aired at 6pm today, used Alnwick Castle and The Alnwick Garden for its first three tests. The show follows a 10-strong group, whittled down from thousands who applied, competing for the title of Britain’s best amateur artist.

Presented by Una Stubbs and Richard Bacon, tonight’s episode had the artists painting their version of the castle, drawing a delphinium in the garden and painting a landscape featuring the castle from the Pastures.

They are being judged along the way by two of Britain’s most respected painters, award-winning portrait artist Daphne Todd OBE and internationally-renowned figurative painter Lachlan Goudie.

It follows a string of programmes filming in Alnwick and Northumberland recently, one of which saw the county come second in a survey of television settings that viewers would most like to visit. The poll saw Radio Times readers vote for the location they would most like to visit after watching their favourite television programmes in 2014.

The Trip, a sitcom starring Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan and featuring beautiful locations such as the Amalfi Coast, Piedmont and Tuscany, helped Italy take top spot. But ITV’s detective drama Vera, starring Brenda Blethyn and David Leon, earned Northumberland and Durham the runners-up position.

The popular show is filmed in a variety of locations across the North East, but Northumberland features prominently, most notably in the first episode of the series which aired in early 2014, which centred around Alnmouth.

The cast and crew of Vera clearly enjoyed north Northumberland as they were back last August to film in Alnwick for an episode of the fifth series, which is due to air later this year.

Tales from Northumberland, with Robson Green, is back on our screens, not long after Alnwick Castle’s starring role as Brancaster Castle in the Downton Abbey Christmas special.

Meanwhile, last month, Alnwick Castle was used for filming some of The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses, a second series of three adaptations of Shakespeare’s history plays, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Dame Judi Dench, Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville and Michael Gambon.