Townfield Zombies: the latest

Jacky Kelly, who witnessed the zombie drama unfold on Townfield Lane, has written this piece exclusively for heptonstall.org. Scroll down for more from the BBC:

The filming took place at the house next door – Friday morning dawned very very cold and windy – and we woke to find an encampment in front of our house. Our neighbour took himself off elsewhere. A few miserable looking, puffa- jacketed, woolly hatted, gloved young men wandered around clearly not enjoying our Heptonstall weather. Blowing their noses and clapping their hands together to keep warm. Their ranks steadily swelled over the next hour, adding a variety of trucks, trolleys and technical equipment.

They proceeded to transform our neighbour’s house into a far more sinister abode, with boarded up windows and a forlorn look. They unloaded a strange assortment of random furniture and carted it all into the house. More and more of them appeared, bringing more and more equipment. And chairs – they made themselves at home, but all looked so very, pointedly, cold.

When scenes were being shot I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the actors – they had to wear ‘normal’ clothing in the bitter cold, but quickly wrapped up in their down gilets once their scene was over.

We tried not to stand staring out of our window, but we did. We were entertained just to watch the numbers of people involved in a drama production.

It was fascinating to see a scene being shot of a solitary person walking up to the house – on the telly she will probably look so alone. But in front of her were about ten people doing all manner of things – camera, sound, big white board being held up to reflect big bright light being held by another, and the girl whose sole purpose appeared to be to work the clapperboard numbering the takes – of which there were many. Several stops for discussions, presumably about the nuances of the scene, then it would be done yet again. In addition another ten or fifteen folk milled about, or sat in their chairs, or huddled together under a large black curtain, viewing the action on a monitor.

Out in the back garden something strange was hanging on the washing line. And there was an intensely bright light shining, and a large white screen. It did make it look as if it were far pleasanter weather…

Our dog had a barking fiesta for much of the day – wonder if they captured his yap…

Then, when ‘wrapping up’, how rapidly everything was packed away, house returned to normal, and off they went, leaving us two welcome bottles of wine for our ‘patience’. It was fun! It’ll be fascinating to see the finished result.

BBC Three reveals more about the drama, starring Ricky Tomlinson, due to screen in the Spring:

In the Flesh, by new writer Dominic Mitchell, is the story of teenager Kieren Walker and his reintegration back into both the local community and the heart of his family. After his death four years ago, his friends and family thought they’d never see Kieren again. But then, shortly after his funeral, thousands of the dead were re-animated in one freak night; and now, after months of re-habilitation and medication, the zombies are gradually being returned to their homes.

With its central themes of redemption, forgiveness, acceptance, denial, and the very essence of what it means to be alive or dead, In The Flesh is a complex but tender look at what happens when families get a second chance at mending their past and working together towards an unpredictable future.

Director Jonny Campbell says: “From the moment I read the opening scene I was hooked.  Dominic is an utterly fearless and instinctive young writer with an uncanny ability to tell a great story full of humour and humanity in a most original way.  An elusive and rare combination in TV drama. What’s most exciting about In the Flesh is that it challenges our pre-conceptions about the standard zombie genre and in so doing almost certainly creates a new one.”

Writer Dominic Mitchell says: “When I took part in the fantastic BBC Writersroom Northern Voices scheme, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my drama about the medicated undead would be produced, let alone with such an incredibly talented cast and crew attached.”

Actor Luke Newberry says: “I am really excited to be playing Kieren who is an amazingly complex character. He is on an unthinkable rollercoaster of a journey, one in which he has been given a second chance at life and he has to come to terms with how to deal with that. The characters may look like zombies but this is a very human story about people trying to survive.”

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