Megastructures: Built from Disaster (2009)

Aerial image of the train crash

The ICE Train disaster of Eschede © Channel Five

Production Company: Indigo Films, Screaming Flea Productions

Kent Filming Locations: Channel Tunnel, High Speed Rail link

Popular documentary series Megastructures returns to Channel Five with a new look series. Megastructures: Built from Disaster looks at how past disasters have informed the building of new structures.

Earlier this year the programme visited Kent to film both the Channel Tunnel and the new High Speed rail link.

On September 10th the programme will look at the construction of tunnels around the world and how disasters such as the Channel Tunnel fire, Mont Blanc and the Gotthard Road Tunnel have informed the building of new structures such as the Gotthard Base Rail tunnel.

Later in the series the programme examines how high speed trains have been developed taking into account some of the lessons learnt from some of recent history’s most horrifying railway disasters. From December 2009, High Speed 1 will connect Kent with Central London, allowing commuters to enjoy a super fast journey in and out of the capital.  The new trains are capable of speeds up to 140mph and will cut journey times in half, but most importantly the journeys will be safe as they have been built from disaster.

The Channel Tunnel in Folkestone is a 50.5-kilometre rail tunnel linking Kent to Calais, France. The Channel Tunnel has featured in both series of The Tunnel (2013-2016).

The series airs on Thursday evenings at 8pm on Channel Five


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The Man Behind the Masquerade (2009)

Kit Williams holiding the Golden Hare sculpture

Kit Williams and the Golden Hare © BBC and Thane Bruckland

Documentary reuniting Kent born artist Kit Williams with the Golden Hare

Production Company: BBC
In 1979, Kit William’s children’s book ‘Masquerade’ was published. The meticulously illustrated book gave clues to the whereabouts of an object hidden by Kit. This was supposed to be a great treasure in the shape of a jewel encrusted Golden Hare.. It was hidden in a plain ceramic sculpture, also depicting a hare.

The release of the book triggered a publicity storm that saw people digging up gardens and land all over Britain in their quest to find the priceless hare. Consequently, the book was a huge success and the Golden Hare was eventually found in the summer of 1982 by Ken Thomas. The Hare was later sold at auction for £31,900.

Kit was vilified by his fellow artists who felt that his credibility had been tarnished by the hunt for the hare. The BBC Four programme looks at the effect of the book on Kit Williams and his career and includes interviews with the elusive artist, as well as reuniting him with the Golden Hare for the first time in 30 years.

Kit Williams was brought up in Kent and re-visited the county and the locations that inspired him during filming. When Kit lived in Whitstable, he wrote messages on pieces of driftwood before sending them out to sea, a scene dramatised in Littlestone, at the edge the Romney Marsh, another landscape that inspired the young artist. The beautiful church St Thomas A Beckett at Fairfield, as well as Walland Marsh feature in the programme. The Marsh Tableaux were recreated on the Stodmarsh Nature Reserve near Canterbury.

The programme will be aired on BBC Four on Wednesday 2nd December 2009 at 9pm.


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Time Team Special Dover Castle (2009)

The Kings Bedroom - a chair next to a table with a chess set on it and a four poster bed in the background

The Kings Bedroom © Channel 4

Production Company: Picture House Television Company, The Channel 4 Television Corporation, Videotext Communications

Kent Locations: Dover Castle

Since it was built by Henry II in 1180, Dover Castle has towered over Kent’s iconic White Cliffs defending our shores. The truth, however, is, that the castle was initially built as a calling card for the newly formed British nation rather than a defensive fort. For 12th Century standards, the castle was a grand extravagance, furnished with opulent tapestries and fittings.

In 2008, English Heritage undertook the mammoth task to transform the castle’s interior to reflect Henry II’s time. Over 150 craftsmen, historians and designers came together to design an authentic 12th Century feel.  Over £2 million pounds was allocated to the project,  which went towards authentically designed furnishings as well as the creation of historical scenarios using light and sound effects.

Aerial view of Dover Castle © Channel 4

Aerial view of Dover Castle © Channel 4

Time Team were invited to observe the transformation and record the tower before it officially opened to the public. In this one off programme, Tony Robinson meets with the experts involved in the restoration, providing viewers with exclusive access to this exciting project.

Dover Castle is one of the most iconic of all the English fortresses and boasts a beautiful medieval interior, secret wartime tunnels and set overlooking the English Channel, Dover Castle is a popular film location having previously welcomed productions such as The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses (2016),  Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) and To Kill a King (2003).

Time Team Special ” Dover Castle will be shown on Channel 4 at 8pm on the 19th December 2009.


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By Royal Appointment (2008)

Envelope with "By Royal Appointment" on it

By Royal Appointment Ident © KMB Productions

Kent Locations: Tunbridge Wells

By Royal Appointment explores the South East region collecting regal traditions and legacies of Royal connections. The series also features appearances from members of the Royal family including Princess Michael of Kent and Her Majesty the Queen.

Hannah Scott-Joynt sitting in front of countryside

Hannah Scott-Joynt presenter of By Royal Appointment © KMB Productions

In episode three, presenter Hannah Scott-Joynt visits Royal Tunbridge Wells to discover its noble past. Hannah’s visit takes her through the celebrated Pantiles famous for its Chalybeate Spring , whose waters attracted visitors from across the UK in Georgian times because of their healing properties. In 1909 Tunbridge Wells was given the right to use the word ‘Royal’ by King Edward VII and is still one of only two towns to be allowed to use the prefix.

After her visit to the Pantiles, Hannah partakes in a rather competitive game of Croquet with the local Croquet Club.

The influx of visitors in Georgian and Victorian times means that the area is filled with beautiful period architecture.  Its popularity has never waived and it is still a favourite with both tourists and filmmakers today.

Tunbridge Wells is a town in West Kent, home to a host of historic buildings, specialist shops, churches and a busy town centre. Productions which have previously filmed in the area include Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year (2016), Terry and Mason’s Great Food Trip (2015)  and Hunted (2012).

By Royal Appointment visits Royal Tunbridge Wells on Thursday 17th July 2008 on Meridian at 19.30.


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Drama Trails (2008)

The cast of The Darling Buds of May - L-R Pam Ferris, David Jason, Catherine Zeta Jones and Philip Franks standing infront of a fence

The cast of The Darling Buds of May © ITV

Production Company: Tiger Aspect Productions

Kent Locations: Pluckley

This ten part series looks at links between some of ITV’s most popular dramas. Each week the programme examines at seven different shows and how they are intrinsically linked to each other with an actor from the original drama guiding the viewer through their experiences of the filming.

In episode eight, Drama Trails investigates the links from Secret Diary of a Call Girl to London’s Burning taking in the programme that made rural Kentish life famous – The Darling Buds of May.

The Kent section of Drama Trails is fronted by Abigail Rokison who played Primrose Larkin in the original series. In this episode she visits the village of Pluckley, which was the main filming location for the Larkin Family home.

The Darling Buds of May is an important part of Kent’s filming history. The beloved series was a runaway success when it first aired in 1991 and continues to attract new fans today. Filmed entirely throughout the county, the programme is thought to depict the ‘perfick’ Kent lifestyle.

Pluckley has previously had filming from a variety of projects including Age of Heroes (2011), Four Weddings (2010) and The Darling Buds of May (1991-1993).

The show airs on ITV3 every Wednesday at 9pm and is repeated throughout the week.

The Kentish episode is on ITV3 on Saturday the 9th August 2008 at 21:00.


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Martina Coles Lady Killers (2008)


Martina Cole standing in the tunnels at Fort Amherst

Martina Cole in the tunnels at Fort Amherst © Free @ Last TV

Presenter: Martina Cole

Production Company: Free At Last TV

Kent Filming Locations: Fort Amherst

Presented by crime writer Martina Cole, Lady Killers looks into the lives and motivations of some of England’s most notorious female serial killers. Martina will examine both historical and modern cases, including Mira Hindley and Beverley Allitt.

The programme does not seek to sensationalise the crimes but tries to examine the underlying psychologcal and sociological drivers as Martina guides the viewers through the case histories.

In 2008, Martina Cole visited Fort Amherst in Chatham to use it as a backdrop for the presentation of her historical cases. Examining the profiles of Amelia Dyer the ‘Victorian Baby Farmer’, Mary Ann Cotton the ‘Victorian Black Widow’ and Elizabeth Bathory the Sixteenth Century Mass Murderess responsible for the deaths of over 600 people in Hungary, the Forts were the ideal location.

Fort Amherst contains a myriad of tunnels deep within the hills of Medway. Totalling over 750 metres in length, they were designed to serve the gun placements protecting the Naval Dockyards in Chatham. Dating back to the Napoleon Wars, the tunnels are now open to the public and frequently play host to events like Weddings or their annual Fright Fest at Halloween. Fort Amherst has also been used as a filming location by productions such as Jekyll and Hyde (2015),  Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) and The Mission (1987).

The series starts with examining the heinous crimes of Mira Hindley on ITV3 on the 13th October at 21:00.


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Three Men in Another Boat (2008)

Rory McGrath, Griff Rhys Jones and Dara O'Briain sitting on a boat wearing red polo necks and cream shorts

Rory McGrath, Griff Rhys Jones and Dara O’Briain on ‘Another Boat’ © Avalon Public Relations LTD

Production Company: Liberty Bell Productions

Kent Locations Used: Dover

The boating trio is back for another series in which they circumnavigate Kent.

After stepping into the footsteps of the famous writer Jerome K. Jerome and rowing their way up the River Thames in BBC Two’s hit series Three Men In A Boat, comedians Rory McGrath (They Think It’s All Over, BBC ONE), Dara O’Briain (Mock The Week, BBC TWO) and Griff Rhys-Jones (Mountain, BBC ONE) return to our television screens this Christmas as they attempt to race Griff’s 1950′s yacht, The Undina.

There’s one major problem however ” Rory and Dara have never sailed before and no-one is quite sure if Griff has the patience to teach them. As Griff says, ‘They’re not really grown up are they, in some respects- the thing that gets me is that I have to turn into the daddy of the group, laying down the rules and ordering them about!’

From critically acclaimed television producers Liberty Bell, Three Men in Another Boat will see keen amateur sailor Griff teaching Rory and Dara, not only how to sail through some of UK’s most treacherous waters, but also how to race a yacht. The voyage sees the inexperienced crew tackling many different nautical challenges including, negotiating waters around Tower Bridge in the heart of London, to very tentatively venturing into the busiest shipping lanes in the world at Dover and finally coming into the sailing mecca of Cowes on the Isle of Wight.  Once there they will be faced with a daunting final test ” a vintage yacht race against the Undina’s sister ship, The Josephine.’

As Dara explains: ‘Three Men In Another Boat is going to be a different experience. The gentle tone of whimsy and happiness that Three Men In A Boat had will be replaced by the tense sound of me and Rory arsing up Griff’s yacht!’

The first of 2 x 60 minute episodes sees them cast off for what promises to be a fraught and challenging journey.   After an early stop at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, it quickly becomes clear that there is a lot of work ahead as the experienced Griff fails to get to grips with a simple demonstration of nautical know-how.

As Rory is only too keen to point out, ‘Griff has just failed to sail the 8 year-olds toy sailing boat. A dead simple thing to do. Which, I think, is rather worrying from the race point of view’.  

As the voyage continues along the UK’s south coast in Griff’s ‘old tub’, he makes the mistake of taking Dara to a boat agent to have a look at something more modern, ‘Why did you show me this, I’ve got to go back to your boat now! That’s like walking your children into the lobby of a hotel then saying, ‘right let’s go back to the caravan!’ Dara suggests the agent comes to value the Undina ” which doesn’t go down at all well with Griff: ‘It like your girlfriend, you don’t want to hear people’s honest opinions about her do you? The last thing I want is for
someone to appear and say ‘well, you could have done better’, or ‘not as beautiful as I thought’, or ‘if I were you I’d get rid of her.’

Along the way we’ll follow the guys as they try to sneak into the Isle of Wight festival to see The Rolling Stones and take in the sites of Brighton and Portsmouth, where Dara finally gets the ship’s helm, but as Griff doesn’t trust him with his boat, he has to make do with the 20,000 tonne British naval flagship, the Ark Royal.

Dover is home to Europe’s busiest ferry port as well as the iconic White Cliffs of Dover and Dover Castle. Productions which have previously filmed in the Dover area include Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Mr Selfridge Series 3 (2015) and Poirot – The Clocks (2009).

The first episode of Three Men In Another Boat was shown on BBC TWO, 1st January 2008 at 8:10pm.


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Along these Lines (2008)

Film crew standing on a train platform filming a train arriving

The crew filming the arrival of the Spitfire Train © Platform 14 Ltd

Executive Producer: Jamie Barratt

Series Director: Catherine Ryan

Production Company: Platform 14 Ltd.

Kent Locations: The East Kent Railway

Presenter Hannah Sewell walks, cycles and rides along the county’s disused rail tracks, discovering the stories of the people that live alongside them.

One episode follows the Hawkhurst branch, which ran from the village to Paddock Wood, passing through deeply wooded valleys and hilltop villages. During this episode Hannah retraced the steps of hop pickers who came here in droves; she hears from those who used to ride the line and meets an amusing husband and wife team, who live in the original station house at Cranbrook.

The East Kent Railway episode features Hannah’s attempts to unearth traces of this line with the help of some of the Kent colliery owners who built it. She takes a look at what remains of some of the collieries and hears from men who used to work there. She begins her journey on a train at Shepherdswell Station and end up along a track at Wingham, Canterbury Road, having visited many places of interest along the way.

The Hawkhurst Line episode will be shown on 4th May 2008, with the East Kent Line episode shown on the 18 May on ITV Meridian.


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Return to Lullingstone Castle (2007)


Tom Hart Dyke standing by pretty flowers

Tom Hart Dyke © Vikki Rimmer

Production Company: BBC

Kent Filming Locations: Lullingstone Castle

Tom Hart Dyke is a modern day plant hunter who follows in the traditions of the Victorian plant hunters who risked life and limb in pursuit of fantastic blooms and plants.

Tom is no stranger to danger, he hit the headlines in 2000 when an ill-fated plant hunting expedition ended in kidnap and a nine month hostage ordeal at the hands of guerrillas in Colombia.  All, bar his family, gave Tom up for dead in the summer of 2000.  But with guile and luck Tom’s captors let him go a week before Christmas 2000. He made it out of the jungle and returned to his ancestral home, Lullingstone Castle in Kent.

Tom’s family have resided at Lullingstone Castle since the days of the Domesday.  Lullingstone entertained King Henry VIII and Queen Anne was a regular visitor to the family home.  But in recent times, things have been hard for the Hart Dyke family.  Visitor numbers have fallen and bankruptcy loomed.  That was until Tom Hart Dyke, heir to the Castle and the 20th generation of the Hart Dyke’s to live at Lullingstone, came up with a plan to bring back visitors ; the creation of The World Garden.

Tom Filmed in his Garden

Tom Filmed in his Garden © Vikki Rimmer (Lullingstone Castle)

Tom has spent the last four years creating his World Garden, a garden he designed in the fetid heat of the Colombian rain forest, during his kidnap ordeal.  Tom and his family  built the garden in the two acre site of the old herb garden at Lullingstone.  Tom was lucky enough to have a film crew follow him throughout the last four years, and the BBC2 series; ‘Save Lullingstone Castle’ (April 2006) and ‘Return to Lullingstone Castle’ (BBC2 Spring 2007) tell the story of the creation of the jungle-inspired garden laid out in the shape of a world map containing plants collected on Tom’s trips around the globe.

Tom says; ‘I’ve had an amazing couple of years, being followed by KEO Films (makers of the River Cottage series and both ‘Save Lullingstone Castle’ and ‘Return To Lullingstone Castle’).  The crew have been really supportive and have become good friends.  It’s unusual having cameras follow you as you dig and weed, but it’s brought about an unprecedented interest in Lullingstone and the World Garden’

‘I feel immensely privileged to hold the British passport and be able to travel literally to the ends of the earth to see the plants I want to collect.  But on a recent plant hunting trip, filmed for BBC online, that had me scaling the dizzy heights of Venezuela’s biggest mountain, I was struck by the feeling that  there’s  no place like Lullingstone.  It’s my home – where my roots are.  I literally have a ‘tap root’ planted firmly in the soil in the World Garden at Lullingstone in Kent.  It’s where I want to be ” in my ‘world in one acre’.

Tom is currently busy working in The World Garden at Lullingstone.

‘Return to Lullingstone Castle’ aired on BBC2 from Monday the 19th March 2007 at 8.30 for 6 weeks


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I Didnt Know That (2007)

Jonny Philips and Richard Ambrose being lifted by giant balloons at the Marlowe Academy

Jonny Philips and Richard Ambrose being lifted by giant balloons at the Marlowe Academy © National Geographic Channel


Production Company: National Geographic

Kent Filming Locations: Marlowe Academy

Presenters Richard Ambrose and Jonny Phillips visited Kent’s Marlowe Academy to see how many balloons it would take to lift a person off the ground. The National Geographic programme tries to find answers to quirky questions about ordinary objects, such as ‘Is it possible to crack a safe open with a stethoscope?’ or ‘Can bubble wrap protect a china plate from an eight ton tractor?’

The old Ramgate School was recently reincarnated as the Marlowe Academy and moved to brand new, purpose built premises. The transformation however, was not just cosmetic, since the school does not follow the National Curriculum; instead it tailors its courses to the pupils ensuring that their natural talents are encouraged. The Academy is also a community hub, housing the local library and offering a selection of Adult Education courses.

Designed for the 21st Century, the contemporary building is light and spacious and it’s large atrium is a modern interpretation of an amphitheatre with a height that was perfect for this stunt.

So, how many balloons does it take to lift a presenter? Tune in to the National Geographic Channel on Wednesday the 26th September 2007 at 6pm to find out!


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