Gore blimey: Alnwick stars in TV’s horrific slice of history

Crowds kept at bay by soldiers as Joan is burnt. Castle and garden staff played extras in some cases. Picture by Margaret Whittaker
Crowds kept at bay by soldiers as Joan is burnt. Castle and garden staff played extras in some cases. Picture by Margaret Whittaker
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Alnwick took centre stage on prime-time television at the weekend, as the first episode of a major television show was aired on the BBC.

At the start of 2015, the castle and surrounding areas were used for filming some of The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses.

Actress Laura Frances Morgan playing Joan of Arc just before the fire was set alight. Picture by Margaret Whittaker

Actress Laura Frances Morgan playing Joan of Arc just before the fire was set alight. Picture by Margaret Whittaker

The series, of three film adaptations of Shakespeare’s history plays, stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Dame Judi Dench, Hugh Bonneville and Michael Gambon.

The opening episode, Henry VI, Part 1, was screened on BBC Two last Saturday at 9pm and attracted an audience of more than one million. It is available to watch on iPlayer. The second instalment, Henry VI, Part II, is being shown this Saturday on the same channel and at the same time.

As part of filming, which featured around 200 extras, hordes of roaring soldiers were seen running out of the Barbican, as well as in the Pastures around a settlement of tents.

Alnwick Castle’s inner courtyard was transformed for the filming of Joan of Arc burning on the cross, which was shown in the first episode. It was one of numerous glimpses of Alnwick during the series opener.

Burning at the stake. Picture by Margaret Whittaker

Burning at the stake. Picture by Margaret Whittaker

The series has been brought to the screens by Neal Street Productions and Carnival Films/NBCUniversal and follows the first Bafta Award-winning The Hollow Crown series in 2012.

Ben Miles, Anton Lesser and Adrian Dubar among the cast sitting at the table with white rugs on keeping warm. Picture by Margaret Whittaker

Ben Miles, Anton Lesser and Adrian Dubar among the cast sitting at the table with white rugs on keeping warm. Picture by Margaret Whittaker

Alnwick Castle inner courtyard was transformed for the filming of Joan of Arc burning on the cross shown in episode one last week. Picture by Margaret Whittaker

Alnwick Castle inner courtyard was transformed for the filming of Joan of Arc burning on the cross shown in episode one last week. Picture by Margaret Whittaker

Dead bodies on the set. Picture by Margaret Whittaker

Dead bodies on the set. Picture by Margaret Whittaker