Darkest night sky has a big impact on TV star

Robson Green talks to hill shepherdess Emma Gray about  the challenges of running one of the remotest farms in his new ITV series Tales From Northumberland.
Robson Green talks to hill shepherdess Emma Gray about the challenges of running one of the remotest farms in his new ITV series Tales From Northumberland.

It has the darkest night skies in England and is renowned for being one of the best places to view the Milky Way, Saturn and meteor showers.

And for actor Robson Green, experiencing Kielder Observatory and meeting founder Gary Fildes was one of the highlights of his new television series, Tales from Northumberland.

Robson Green meets ex-brick-layer turned astronomer Gary Fildes at Northumberland's Kielder Observatory for his ITV series Tales From Northumberland.

Robson Green meets ex-brick-layer turned astronomer Gary Fildes at Northumberland's Kielder Observatory for his ITV series Tales From Northumberland.

The Wire in the Blood star is a self-confessed space nut and his visit to the award-winning facility is featured in the programme’s second episode, to be screened on Monday.

“It was extraordinary,” said Green.

“Gary, a bricklayer-turned-world-renowned astronomer, runs this observatory where you can observe Saturn, globular clusters, the Northern Lights and the universe like nowhere else in Great Britain.

“Eighty-five per cent of the British population don’t see the universe like we do at Kielder and it is jaw-dropping.”

Green described Fildes as the teacher you always wanted and was impressed by his passion for the night sky and the universe.

During the second episode, at 8pm on ITV, Green also spends a night in a ramshackle shepherd’s hut – known as a bothy – in the Northumberland National Park and meets shepherdess, Emma Gray.

Green admitted that his time in the bothy was the most challenging activity during filming.

He said: “When you’re in a remote part of the world on your own, the novelty value wears off very quickly.

“I’m in the middle of nowhere with two cameras that I’m operating on my own, and thinking, ‘anybody could come in this bothy right now...you’re going to be murdered in your bed Robson’.”

“Every sound that I heard, be it a fox devouring a small animal, I thought, ‘it’s someone being murdered, I’m next’.”

Experiencing shepherding proved tricky too. He said: “Trying to keep the sheep in order was quite something. They wouldn’t listen to me. It was a conspiracy – they had something against me.”