VILLAGE AUDITIONING FOR BIG TV PART

All still to be signed and sealed, but it looks like the village is going to have a starring role in a new tv series which might do for Devon what Doc Martin did for Cornwall.

Filming is about to start for a six-part series of a new comic drama called Glass Houses, starring Dawn French as the gossip merchant of a fictional Devon village called Thurlbury. Each episode will last an hour with commercial breaks.

Noss Mayo, on the Yealm estuary, is the main location. But one setting central to the story is a hairdressing salon and the producers seem to have lighted on Reflections of Horrabridge, halfway up Station Road, as the best all-round possibility – probably because of the view across the valley to the edge of the moor.

Negotiations are still in progress and proprietor Caroline Daniels does not want to say anything yet. But the production company, Genial Productions, has put out feelers for permission to park catering vans, block the road from time to time and so on, and the plans were mentioned at the last meeting of Horrabridge Parish Council – without any objections. Word was that filming would go on for about three months but it is not clear if the Horrabridge episodes will take that long.

The title of the series is a reference to the wisdom that people who live in glass houses should not start games of stone-throwing. Dawn French’s character, Maggie Connors, says too much in an interview with a radio journalist and her revelations have a butterfly effect which turns into a storm. The outline of the story, and the choice of Noss Mayo as main setting, have been reported before, but not the likely Horrabridge angle.

The casting of hairdresser Kelly, a central character, has not yet been finalised, but Dawn French has committed to the lead role, Maggie Connors, and has been involved in creating the character for some time. In real life, the actress lives near Fowey and she and her regular partner in comedy, Jennifer Saunders, often do routines in West Country accents.

In Glass Houses, her husband is the local school headmaster, played by Mark Heap, who was in the hospital comedy Green Wing

Julie Hesmondhalgh, ex Coronation Street, is her best friend, Jill …

Vicki Pepperdine, who played a neurotic doctor in Jo Brand’s hospital series Getting On, is the school secretary …

Patrick Robinson, one-time star of Casualty and recently of Strictly Come Dancing, plays an author who has a writing retreat in the village …

The lead writer is Mark Brotherhood, who has credits for Shameless, Benidorm, Cold Feet and the current Sky sit-com Mount Pleasant.

In the first press release for the new series, ITV comedy chief Saskia Schuster said: “Glass Houses is in the tradition of Doc Martin and The Darling Buds Of May: full of warmth and intriguing characters.”

Dawn French said “I can’t wait to finally get started in front of the camera. It’s such a good story with a fantastic funny, touching script.”

Some background “extras” will be used but auditions have already been held. The producers are not currently answering questions about the inclusion of Horrabridge and it remains to be seen whether there will be any more local recruiting.

More here next week …

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Editor of The Horrabridge Times.