Behind the scenes - Downton Abbey at Basildon Park
We grabbed five minutes with Amanda Beard, General Manager at Basildon Park to find out just what it was like being a location for the biggest period drama on TV…
What’s the experience been like?
It’s fantastic but hard work, the cast and crew arrive around 7am (some start arriving as early as 5.30am) and they’re here until 8pm. It does feel a bit like the circus has come to town. They’re using three of the show rooms (in the London Season 2013) – the Octagon Room is being used as a drawing room, the dining room as a ballroom and the library as a study/library.
It’s lovely to view the house in a different way. Take the dining room – everything associated with dining has been removed and this makes you notice all the tiny details and the beauty of the room. Now it looks like a room to dance in, it was also used as a ballroom in Dorian Gray, The Duchess and Pride and Prejudice (Joe Wright’s film adaptation). They’re using so much of what’s ours – you’ll be able to spot our curtains and mirrors on screen.
Favourite memory from the shoot?
I’d been in a meeting for eight hours the other day. When I got back, I popped into the house in the evening to check all was ok. Hugh Bonneville and Jim Carter (who star as the Earl of Grantham and Carson) both said hello – that was nice and not something that happens every day. Lots of the cast have said how beautiful Basildon Park is. It’s lovely to see them taking photos of the view, or sitting under the shade of a tree between takes.