Horizon: My Amazing Brain – Richard’s War (2018)

Richard Gray lies in a hospital bed at Darent Valley Hospital. The front right side of his head is dented from removal of part of the brain

Richard Gray at Darent Valley Hospital, September 2013 © BBC F. Lloyd-Davies

:  Fiona Lloyd-Davies

Production Company:  Studio 9 Films / BBC

Kent Locations Used:  Trosley Country Park, Darent Valley Hospital.

Horizon follows the story of Richard Gray and his remarkable recovery from a catastrophic stroke.  Recorded over four years by his documentary film-maker wife, Fiona, this film chronicles the hard work of recovery.

Bed bound and unable to do anything, including speak, the initial outlook was bleak until the occasional, small glimmers of hope emerged.  Always armed with her camera, Fiona captures the moment Richard moves his fingers for the first time, and then documents his months long struggle to relearn how to walk again.

The story also features poignant footage delivered in a series of flashbacks, in which we see and hear Richard at his professional best. He was a peacekeeper with the United Nations, immersed in the brutal war in Sarajevo, Bosnia. We also hear from the surgeons and clinicians who were integral to Richard’s remarkable recovery, from describing life-saving, high-risk reconstructive surgery to intensive rehabilitation programmes that pushed the former soldier to his limits. As the film starts, Fiona asks ‘will Richard, my Richard still be there?’ By the end the answer is clear.

Kent-based film maker Fiona Lloyd-Davies filmed the trees from Trosley Country Park throughout the seasons. In winter without leaves they resemble the brain’s neural pathways, and later in the year as they come into leaf they serve as a useful metaphor for regrowth and recovery. Part of the documentary also shows Richard’s stay in Darent Valley Hospital.

Richard Gray in his New Zealand Army uniform going to Anzac Day commemorations with his wife Fiona, April 2017

Richard Gray in his New Zealand Army uniform going to Anzac Day commemorations with his wife Fiona, April 2017 © BBC F. Lloyd-Davies

Trosley Country Park is situated on the top of the North Downs, and covers 170 acres.  There are fine views of the Weald of Kent.  The steep grassland slopes are home to a whole variety of wildlife especially butterflies and flowers.

The Tonbridge and Malling District is a popular area of Kent for filming. Cape Wrath (2007) a 7-part thriller was filmed at Leybourne Lakes and Kings Hill. The areas have great transport links, local amenities, a network of cycle paths and a number of sports facilities.

My Amazing Brain: Richard’s War will be broadcast on BBC Two at 9pm on Monday 5th February 2018.  


For more information about filming in Kent please contact: filmoffice@kent.gov.uk

For more information on programme/film visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09rdg0z

For more information on locations used: https://kentfilmoffice.co.uk/category/filmed-in-kent/

For more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map: https://kentfilmoffice.co.uk/kent-movie-map/moviemap-live-2/



Rosie Tremain’s Novel ‘Sacred Country’ to be adapted into a film by Kent filmmaker Jan Dunn

Merryn Pearse as Mary with air rifle and wearing fur hat

Merryn Pearse as Mary in the promo for Scared Country

Influenced and fuelled by her own experiences in the LGBT community, multi award winning filmmaker, Jan Dunn, has adapted Rose Tremain’s bestselling novel ‘Sacred Country’ into a screenplay, which she aims to make into a film shot on location around Kent. Dunn’s screenplay is a sensitive, colourful and often humorous account of protagonist, Mary Ward’s personal journey to become Martin.

Mary grows up in rural 1950s and 60s Britain and her life is interwoven with her changing and complex personal relationships as well as the political changes in post-war Britain. Jan Dunn describes it as a time where ‘the concept of family, tradition and loyalty slowly became obsolete and unnecessary, when a new generation began to pursue their dreams and live them, with or without familial approval.’

The film recounts the story of Mary’s initial discovery: ‘I am not Mary. That is a mistake. I am not a girl. I am a boy,’ to her transition and fight to become Martin; a topic rarely touched on the big screen.

Bringing this vision to life is Jan Dunn, a Kent based independent filmmaker, (Gypo, Ruby Blue, The Calling) and producer, Pippa Cross (Bloody Sunday, Shooting Dogs,). They are sending out a call to arms from individuals, LGBT groups, fans of the novel and anyone who feels that this heartfelt, poignant and important story should be made into a film to contribute to their Indiegogo campaign and get this film from page to screen.

Having already attracted  a BAFTA winning and Oscar nominated cast including Brenda Blethyn (Secrets & Lies, Little Voice, Saving Grace, Pride and Prejudice), Shirley Henderson (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Harry Potter, Southcliffe) and Jamie Winstone for the part of Mary (Made in Dagenham, Kidulthood), Sacred Country has huge ambition and needs your help to lift it off its feet.

Sacred Country is running an Indiegogo campaign where you can donate and keep up to date with the film’s progress. They have a goal of £50,000 and would appreciate any donation big or small, providing a number of rewards for your support.