Borough taking centre stage in new TV dramas

World On Fire being filmed in Gidlow
World On Fire being filmed in Gidlow

Wigan is proving to be the go-to location for primetime filming crews as the borough prepares to star in not one but two high-profile TV shows.

Viewers have been given their first look at ambitious BBC World War Two drama World on Fire, which has filming locations including The Old Courts and Kendal Street in Gidlow.

Helen Hunt stars in the new drama

Helen Hunt stars in the new drama

And fast and furious street-racing drama Curfew, which did dramatic night-time shoots along the East Lancs Road, hits TV screens tomorrow night.

Both shows have glittering all-star casts and both, coincidentally, feature Sean Bean.

He stars alongside Helen Hunt, Lesley Manville and Blake Harrison in the seven-part World on Fire while his co-actors in Curfew include Adam Brody, Miranda Richardson and Billy Zane.

World on Fire, which is being made by the same firm responsible for Poldark and Victoria, tells a globe-spanning story of ordinary people in Britain, Poland, France, Germany and the US coping with the outbreak of war in 1939 and the first tumultuous year of conflict.

Jonah Hauer-King

Jonah Hauer-King

Images released show Oscar-winning actor Hunt sat at a desk in her role as Nancy Campbell and Jonah Hauer-King and Zofia Wichlacz taking part in some of the European scenes.

Writer Peter Bowker said: “World On Fire tells the hidden human stories within the big historical events we think we know ... the stories of the ordinary people who shaped our world.

“Stories of loyalty and brutality, courage and fear, hopes, stories of love and loss, hopes and dreams forged in extraordinary times.”

The crews used the rows of terraced houses on Kendal Street to get the authentic look of the early 1940s on camera.

The Crawford Street arts and culture hub created in the town centre’s Victorian former courthouse, meanwhile, stood in for venues including the Levenshulme Palais in Manchester and Club Amour, a decadent Paris nightspot.

The Grand Vault, the theatre on the first floor and the lobby of The Old Courts could all feature on screen.

Location manager Andrew Bainbridge waxed lyrical about the characterful places to shoot in Wigan and the warm welcome the TV entourages had received.

Curfew’s crews, meanwhile, descended on the A580 close to Lowton to film dramatic high-octane sequences under the cover of complete darkness.

The dystopian programme tells of a society strictly controlled after nightfall and the people who emerge and risk their lives to take part in illegal vehicle races to begin a new, free life outside the city and the authorities’ iron grasp.

Part of the main route between Liverpool and Manchester had to be closed for the stunt driving, which initially led to some concerns among local residents.

Curfew starts tonight on Sky One at 9pm. World on Fire is expected to be screened on BBC later this year.