WISBECH: Historic Peckover House is main location for new film starring Peter O Toole

PUBLISHED: 15:24 28 November 2008 | UPDATED: 08:45 02 June 2010

Peter O'Toole in the movie

Peter O'Toole in the movie "My talks with Dean Spanley". Regional Screen Agency, Screen East will be at the Toronto International Film Festival to attend the world premiere of Dean Spanley, backed by the $4.5m Screen East Content Investment Fund. The film will have a red carpet gala screening during the opening weekend in Toronto, on Saturday 6 September. The Content Investment Fund is an award of funding from the European Regional Development Fund Objective 2 Programme administered by GO East, Government Office for the East of England, and was successfully launched at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival with internationally celebrated director Michael Winterbottom and producer Andrew Eaton.

PECKOVER House is the main location for a new film starring veteran actor Peter O Toole.

Dean Spanley, which opens on December 12, follows a father and son as they encounter an eccentric man-of-the-cloth who claims to have had a rather strange past life.

PECKOVER House is the main location for a new film starring veteran actor Peter O'Toole.

Dean Spanley, which opens on December 12, follows a father and son as they encounter an eccentric man-of-the-cloth who claims to have had a rather strange past life.

Set in Edwardian England, the film was shot over four weeks at National trust-owned Peckover, which stands beside the Nene in Wisbech, and other locations across the east of England, including Wisbech Castle and Norwich Cathedral.

Eight-time Academy Award nominee Peter O'Toole, Sam Neill and Jeremy Northam were among the actors to appear in scenes at the house, which was completely transformed to become the home of Fisk Senior, the character played by O'Toole.

Whilst a number of rooms were used during the shoot, the extensive library was perfect for the creation of three temporary film sets.

The house's 19th century crystal chandeliers in the library were taken down and replaced with turn-of-the-century fittings, an artificial smoke machine was used to simulate steam in the laundry room, and even the National Trust shop had a new function as Peter O'Toole's dressing room.

Peckover's Property Manager, Teresa Squires, explained how the elegant Georgian street in which Peckover sits was also enhanced for the filming: "The street outside the property was dressed with artificial cobblestones and mud. Authentic background touches included a coalman's cart, complete with horse, and a butcher's bicycle with dead rabbits as cargo. One memorable shot at night included a spotlight mounted on a crane on other side of the river, illuminating the front of the house as if it was a streetlight. A lot of effort to go to, but the final effect was magical."

Shooting the film at Peckover was a truly enjoyable affair, as described by the National Trust's Film and Locations Manager, Harvey Edgington: "The crew was at Peckover a long time and used every bit of the property. It was a very happy shoot despite the freezing weather. When I sat watching O'Toole on the top of his game, it was one of the most relaxed sets I have been on. Northam was playing the piano in the breaks and everyone was on first name terms."

Regional screen agency Screen East, which invested £250,000 in the production of Dean Spanley, helped the production team to find the ideal locations within the region.

Kerry Ixer, Head of Locations at Screen East, said: "Dean Spanley is the first production supported by Screen East's Content Investment Fund to come to screen and helps fulfil one of our ambitions which is to put more of the region on screen. Given it is anticipated the film will be well received by a global audience and the locations look truly amazing, it is anticipated this film will attract visitors to the region for many years to come".

Dean Spanley will open in cinemas across the UK on December 12.


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