Day 2: KERA’s All Creatures Tour visits ‘Call the Midwife’ & ‘Grantchester’ filming locations

Following a brief stay in London on Day 1 of KERA’s All Creatures Tour of England where I do admit I was tempted, albeit briefly, to join the Gorilla Circus’ Flying Trapeze School in Hyde Park, we boarded the Transcendent Travel coach on Tuesday and headed to the Historic Dockyard in Chatham, the main filming location for Call the Midwife.

Flying Trapeze School, Hyde Park London. Photo: BIll Young

Located on the River Medway, the former Royal Navy Dockyard was established in the mid-16th century. Over the course of the next 400+ years, the dockyard provided more than 500 ships for the Royal Navy and was at the forefront of shipbuilding, employing over 10,000  skilled artisans.

HMS Cavalier, Historic Dockyards Chatham. Photo: Bill Young

Closing in 1984, the Dockyards became a popular filming location with its cobblestone streets and over 100 buildings dating back to the Georgian and Victorian periods. In recent years, the Dockyards has been the filming home to Les Miserables (the motion picture), Mr. Selfridge, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Oliver Twist, Grantchester and Call the Midwife. Seems it’s a bit easier to transform a 400+ year old dockyards into something than it is the streets of London today.

Since 2012, a portion of all 104 episodes (12 series) of Call the Midwife have been filmed at the Dockyards. Aside from the very recognizable cobblestone street that Jenny, Trixie and even Chummy rode their bikes, we were able to immediately see how the Dockyards were transformed into London’s East End in the 1950s with the police station, washing line street, Poplar’s hospital and a very special CTM exhibit with original costumes, props and sets.

The streets of Call the Midwife. Photo: Bill Young

We then headed to the quiet little town of Grantchester, putting our lives on the line hoping to get out alive before we became Sidney Chambers, Will Davenport and DI Geordie Keating’s next case to solve. Aside from the seeing several of the outside filming locations such as The Green Man Pub, the River Cam, Grantchester Meadows and the Vicarage, the main attraction for obvious reasons, was the Church of St. Andrew and St. Mary which is used for exterior and interior church scenes along with the churchyard scenes.

The Church of St Andrew and St Mary, Grantchester. Photo: Bll Young

Filming for the first series of Grantchester began in London, Cambridge and Grantchester in 2014 with the 8th series just broadcast recently on PBS. Interestingly, the Historic Dockyards in Chatham has doubled for not only the exterior of Kings Cross Station and a ropery, it also appeared in Grantchester as Borough Market, which is quite understandable when trying to imaging actually filming at Borough Market in London and all the logistical issues that that would bring on any day.

A brief two miles up the road by coach (1 mile by foot) up the road, we headed to the village of Cambridgeshire and the home of Cambridge University. Home to 31 colleges, Cambridge University is the home of numerous Nobel Prize winners, the discovery of DNA and the discovery of the negatively charged constituents of the atom (the electron). Not only that, but Cambridge also housed the discovery of the neutron AND the proton.

College of Emmanuel, Cambridge University. Photo: Bill Young

What would the world of British comedy be without Cambridge University which can boast being the home of half of the famed Monty Python troupe, John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle. Cambridge also featured future Goodies Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie.

Much like the perfect storm of The Beatles all growing up roughly a mile from each other in Liverpool, imagine the time where Cleese, Chapman and Idle were at Cambridge while, at the same time, Terry Jones and Michael Palin were at Oxford University. If that wasn’t enough to set the British comedy world on fire, imagine that Dudley Moore attended Oxford while Peter Cook, Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry walked the grounds of Cambridge. Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

Sadly, we have to leave the wonderful village of Cambridge tomorrow as we head to Chatsworth House, home to the Duke of Devonshire, with a stop in the Peak District. Chatsworth House was also the site for filming locations for Peaky Blinders, Death Comes to Pemberley and, maybe most notably to PBS viewers, the residence of Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice!

For North Texas readers of Tellyspotting, I won’t mention the temperature or the fact that it actually rained last night. I wasn’t sure what that was coming down from the sky but it was wet!


In: Locations,Odds & Sods