Last Orders (2002)

Last Orders Movie Poster - 6 cast members stood in a circle laughing at each other in a pub. Last Orders written in white

Last Orders Movie Poster © Metrodome Distribution Ltd.

Director: Fred Schepisi

Writer: Graham Swift (Novel) and Fred Schepisi

Starring: Michael Caine, Helen Mirren, Ray Winston, David Hemmings, Bob Hoskins, Tom Courtenay

Production Company: Future Films, MBP, Scala Productions, Winchester Films 

Kent Locations: Rochester, the Historic War Memorial in Chatham, The Mount – Old Wives Lees near Chilham, Canterbury Cathedral, Margate

Last Orders is based on the novel of the same name by Graham Swift, and tells the story of how one man’s death affects the lives of those close to him as his best friends make a journey to pursue his final wish to have his ashes scattered at sea.

Throughout the journey, Jack’s companions share their own individual memories of him and how he made an impact on their lives. Flashbacks are used throughout the film stretching through six decades telling the story of the group of London pals as they make their heart felt journey to say goodbye to their friend.

Directed by Fred Schepisi (Six Degrees of Separation, A Cry in the Dark) and starring a host of acting talent including Michael Caine (The Italian Job, Batman Begins), Ray Winston (The Departed, The Sweeney), Bob Hoskins (Made in Dagenham, Ruby Blue), David Hemmings (The Rainbow Jacket, Gangs of New York), Tom Courtenay (Doctor Zhivago, The Golden Compass) and Helen Mirren (Calendar Girls, The Queen).

Rochester was used as a stop off during the friend’s journey and you can see them drive over Rochester Bridge and also walk down the high street. Rochester is a historic City that boasts an impressive cathedral and castle and has many links with Charles Dickens. Previous productions to have filmed in the area include The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2012)and Veer (2009).

The Historic War Memorial in Chatham features in film for the scenes where the men stop off and reminisce about their time at war. Nearby, The Historic Dockyard Chatham is a popular location having been used for productions such as Dom Hemingway (2013) Call The Midwife (2012-2013) and Children of Men (2006).

The Mount in Old Wives Lees was also one of the stop offs on the groups journey and is used for the flashback scenes of how Jack met his wife Amy. Neighboring village to Chilham, has a remarkable fifteenth century square of black and white timbered buildings and has been used for a variety of filming projects including Channel 4 comedy Chickens (2011)and Miss Marple – The Moving Finger (2005).

Canterbury Cathedral was used within the film as the characters make a stop to the grounds and look around the Cathedral. Canterbury is a vibrant City with parks and open spaces, shopping areas and neighbouring quaint, traditional towns. Previous productions that have shot in Canterbury include Canterbury Tales (2003).

Margate features in the final scenes of the film where the men scatter Jack’s ashes from the harbor arm. Margate is a delightful seaside town with a sandy beach, harbour, arcades, and period housing. The Old Town has lots to offer including galleries, quirky shops and trendy cafes. Margate is a popular location having previously welcomed productions such as BBC One’s improvised drama True Love (2012).

Last Orders was released in UK cinemas in January 2002 and is now available to buy on DVD.

For more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map. 


The Bill (2000)

The Bill Poster- headshots of all the cast members in a row with the bill written on top

The Bill Poster © ITV

Creator: Geoff McQueen

Starring: Graham Cole, Trudie Goodwin, Jeff Stewart, Russell Boulter, Tony O’Callaghan, Peter Ellis, Lisa Geoghan, Mark Wingett

Production Company: Thames Television

Kent Locations: Allhallows, Rochester

The Bill is an ITV police drama about the trials and tribulations faced by the officers working at Sun Hill Police Station in the fictional East London area of Canley.

Created by Geoff McQueen (Big Deal, Stay Lucky, Bureau Kruislaan), The Bill ran from 1984 – 2010 and won a number of awards including a BAFTA.

Throughout the years, the series starred Graham Cole (Doctor Who, Sooty), Trudie Goodwin (Emmerdale, Heartbeat), Jeff Stewart (Crossroads, The Mr. Men Show), Russell Boulter (Casualty, Isaac), Tony O’Callaghan (EastEnders, The Coven), Peter Ellis (Emmerdale, Acorn Antiques), Lisa Geoghan (Desmond’s, Honeymoon) and Mark Wingett (Snow White and the Huntsman, Far from the Madding Crowd).

bottle of Chardonnay with The Bill written on it

The Bill Chardonnay © Mike & Jacky Davies

The production visited Kent in 2000, to film a high speed car chase on Ratcliffe Highway in Allhallows Marshes and local residents were presented with their very own bottle of ‘The Bill Chardonnay’ as a thank you from the team.

Allhallows is a village set on the Hoo Peninsula in Medway with a church, creek, farmland and caravan park. The Medway area has featured on screen in productions including Jekyll and Hyde (2015), Great British Railway Journeys (2014) and Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows (2011).

The Bill aired on ITV between 1984 and 2010.

 

For more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map. 

 

 


The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1993)

The Mystery of Edwin Drood movieposter 1993- close up reflection of a blurry face in the water, the figure of a man stood facing it. The Mystery of Edwin Drood movieposter written in red

The Mystery of Edwin Drood movieposter 1993 © A&E Home Video

Directed By: Timothy Forder

Written By: Charles Dickens (Novel) and Timothy Forder (Adaptation)

Starring:  Robert Powell, Gareth Arnold, Gemma Craven & Michelle Evans.

Production Company: First Standard Media

Kent Locations Used: Rochester Cathedral, Rochester

Famed as Dickens’ unfinished novel, the acclaimed author died in 1870 leaving the ending of the book a mystery forever.  Although both story and film are named for Edwin Drood, the narrative focuses on Drood’s uncle, choirmaster John Jasper, who is in love with his pupil Rosa Bud. Miss Bud is Edwin Drood’s fiancé, but she has also caught the eye of the hot tempered Neville Landless who arrives with his sister Helena. Landless and Drood take an instant dislike to one another just before Drood disappears under mysterious circumstances.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood was scheduled to be published in twelve monthly instalments, each costing one shilling. However Dickens’ died after the publication of the sixth instalment, leaving the story approximately half complete.

Much of the film is set in the fictional city of “Cloisterham”. Dickens was inspired by Rochester when writing many of his novels, including The Mystery of Edwin Drood, so it was only fitting for Director Timothy Forder to shoot the film in the great city itself.

Familiar Rochester sites will include Rochester Cathedral which doubled as Cloisterham Cathedral as well as Rochester Castle, which can be seen in the background of many shots. A row of Edwardian houses near the Cathedral called Minor Canon Row also appears in the film as Cloisterham streets. Famous actress Dame Sybil Thorndike lived at number 2 Minor Canon Row after growing up in Rochester City. Her final TV appearance was 6 years before her death in The Great Inimitable Mr Dickens, a story of the life of the author starring Anthony Hopkins.

Rochester Cathedral is of special significance regarding Charles Dickens. The author expressed a wish to be buried opposite the west front in the Castle moat which then formed part of the graveyard of St Nicholas Church. The spot is marked with a commemorative plaque and Dickens’s ghost is said to haunt the area. Inside the Cathedral, to the right of the Presbytery, by the magnificent Chapter room door, is another brass plaque memorial to Dickens. At 3pm on the last Sunday of the Summer during the Dickens festival held in early June each year, a garland of scarlet geraniums (his favourite flowers) are laid here during a service commemorating his life.

The city of Rochester is the home to many locations that feature in the classic Dickens novels. Chertsey’s Gate on Rochester High Street was the inspiration for Mr Jasper’s home in The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Topes Restaurant for the house of Mr Tope, the verger in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, where the character of Mr Datchery also stayed when visiting “Cloisterham”.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood also features in the Kent Film Office Dickens Trail which lauched in 2012: https://kentfilmoffice.co.uk/kent-movie-map/dickens-movie-trail/ 

The film was released in cinemas in 1993 and is now available to buy on DVD.

 

For more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map. 


Great Expectations (1989)

 

Great Expectations Movieposter 1989- Montage of characters from the film overlapping. Great Expectations written in yellow over the top

Great Expectations Movieposter 1989 © Buena Vista Television

Director: Kevin Connor

Writers: Charles Dickens (Novel)

Starring: Kim Thompson, Jean Simmons, Anthony Calf & Anthony Hopkins

Production Company: Harlech Television (HTV), Primetime Television Ltd., Tesauro Television, Walt Disney Television

Kent Locations Used: Harty Church, Rochester, Chatham, Upnor village

With a future as a blacksmith before him, Pip is invited to the home of the lonely spinster, Miss Havisham, abandoned on the day of her wedding. Encouraging her adopted daughter Estella to break the young boy’s heart, Pip is sent there for her own entertainment. The young boy’s fortunes change when an unknown and generous person pays for Pip to travel to London and begin a new life as a gentleman.

Starring Kim Thompson (Emmerdale Farm, 1408) as Estella, Jean Simmons (Spartacus) as the haunting Miss Havisham, Anthony Calf (New Tricks) as Pip and Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs, Thor) as Abel Magwitch, this Disney adaptation of the Dickens classic features many Kent locations.

Filming took place at Harty Church on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent: young Orphan Phillip (Pip) Pirrup, on a visit to the graves of his parents, meets the sinister escaped convict Abel Magwitch.  The church has part-Norman origins and is visited by both tourists and historians from around the world.

The crew also came to Upnor village to film, which provides the home of Herbert Pockets’ fiancée Clara’s house. Locals to the area will notice the Upnor Lighthouse as Pip docks in the village.

Another Kentish church, St James’ church in Cooling, which is situated on the marshes near the Hoo Peninsula, inspired Dickens so much, he used the location for the dramatic scene where Pip meets prisoner Magwitch.

 

For more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map. 


Great Expectations (1946)

a man holding a boy up by his collar in front of graves in a cemetery

Great Expectations

Directed By: David Lean

Written By: Charles Dickens (Novel) & David Lean (Adaptation)

Starring: John Mills, Valerie Hobson, Tony Wager, Bernard Miles and Martita Hunt

Production Company: Cineguild, National Symphony Orchestra

Kent Locations Used: St Mary’s Marshes, The River Medway

Great Expectations was the first of David Lean’s two adaptations of Dickens’ classic novels (Oliver Twist followed in 1948).  The film tells the story of young Pip (Tony Wager), a good natured orphan, who lives with kind blacksmith Joe Gargery (Bernard Miles) and his often abusive wife “Mrs. Joe”. Whilst visiting the graves of his deceased parents he meets an escaped convict named Abel Magwitch. In fear for his life Pip agrees to get the man some food before he is discovered and captured again.

Pip’s fortunes appear to change with the arrival of Miss Havisham (Martita Hunt) in his life. A tragic recluse, Miss Havisham lives in one room in her large house surrounded by memorabilia from her ill-fated wedding. Inviting Pip to her home to amuse her, she encourages her spiteful daughter Estella to break his heart. Eventually Pip (John Mills) attracts the attention of a mysterious benefactor who  pays for him to travel to London and learn to be a gentleman in the hope of him achieving his “great expectations”.

Restoration House in Rochester was Dicken’s inspiration for“Satis House”, the decaying mansion of Miss Havisham. Faithful to Dicken’s, the production carefully reproduced Restoration House in Denham Studios in Buckinghamshire. Restoration House is the amalgamation of two medieval buildings that were combined in the 16th or 17th century. A Grade 1 listed building, it is rumoured that Charles II stayed there the night before he was restored to the throne, thus giving the building its name.

The River Medway and the adjacent St Mary’s Marshes appear in scenes where Pip and his friend, Herbert Pocket, row their boat to a small inn whilst waiting for the Paddlesteamer to arrive. Their boat later crashes into the Paddlesteamer in one of the most dramatic scenes in the film. The Paddlesteamer used in the film is called the The Empress which was owned by Weymouth Company Cosens & Co and brought down to Kent especially for the shoot. It is often confused with the Kent based “Kingswear Castle” Paddlesteamer that featured in the BBC 1999 drama of Great Expectations and the 1998 drama of Our Mutual Friend. The Kingswear Castle is still in use today and offers members of the public tours along the river starting at its base at The Historic Dockyard in Chatham.

Sheila Townsend’s Grandad, Jimmy Ennew, was a freeman of the river Medway and rented his row boat ‘The Ivy’ to the production team for filming.  Sheila was 14yrs old at the time and remembers the excitement of sitting on the pier watching the filming.

Although the film features several important Kent locations, the novel on which the adaptation was based showcases many more. The church where Pip visits the graves of his deceased parents and has his first terrifying encounter with Magwitch was based on St James’ Church in Cooling. In the novel, Dickens mentions 5 lozenge shaped graves where Pip’s brothers were buried. It is believed that he was inspired by the 13 graves of the same shape within the church graveyard.

The tranquil park behind Rochester Cathedral, once a vineyard planted by monks from St Andrews Priory, is a convenient route for modern day tourists visiting the Cathedral to visit Restoration House in Crow Lane. In Dickens’ time the location was an open space and in his Great Expectations novel he chose it to form the last part of Pip’s regular route to visit Miss Havisham and Estella. Dickens based the character of Miss Havisham on an old woman who was his neighbour at his childhood home of Number 2 (now number 11) Ordnance Terrace in Chatham.

Great Expectations was released in 1946 and is available on DVD.

 

For more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map.