Arts hub hits the screen in top TV drama
A culture hub in the borough was beamed onto TV screens across the country as the location for scenes in top autism drama The A Word.
BBC crews visited The Turnpike in Leigh to shoot footage for the hugely-acclaimed programme which was aired in the recent series finale.
The borough venue stepped in to provide the location for the room where central character Joe rehearses the poem he reads out at the school’s end-of-year show.
Christopher Eccleston, one of the stars of the programme who is from just outside the borough in Little Hulton, also made a flying visit to Leigh for the filming.
The Turnpike’s facilities manager Wayne Reedman said hosting such a high-profile programme for a day helped put the borough on the map as a venue for top TV and said it was an honour to offer the Derby Room as a location after the crew found themselves in something of a fix.
Wayne said: “They turned the Derby Room into a school setting. Chris Eccleston came up for it.
“It was all relatively short notice. They were filming somewhere else and one day of shooting couldn’t happen for whatever reason so a crew member came round and said they were looking for somewhere with a 1970s look.
“It was the architecture that really swung it for them, apparently.
“You can tell it is our place in the shots because you can see the tall blue ladders which we can never seem to hide away.
“It was great to be able to help them out and it all puts Leigh on the map.
“It’s a very well-regarded show. The sheer amount of work involved still takes you by surprise though, the square outside had 10 or 11 different trucks on it. The actors get really well taken care of because two of the trucks were for catering.
“I thought there would be a car with the few people involved in but it was as if they were broadcasting something like Strictly Come Dancing.”
The filming in Leigh also involved celebrated actors Morven Christie and Lee Ingleby, who play Joe’s parents.
The two series of The A Word have garnered rave reviews among audiences and critics alike, both for the emotional impact of the drama and its sensitive, accurate depiction of autism.
Wigan has become an increasingly popular venue for film crews over the past few years with the borough making several appearances on TV.
Eckersley Mill and the Lancashire Mining Museum at Astley Green have both hosted crews making the BBC’s hit historical gangster series Peaky Blinders.
Haigh Hall has also appeared on the small screen as a setting for popular World War Two series Foyle’s War and cameras descended on Mesnes Park during the shooting of Bancroft.
Paul Dolman of Static Records also appeared in the new episodes of cult comedy The League of Gentlemen.