Luxury home with box-office appeal lures the film makers
Yorkshire homes with star quality are in demand. Sharon Dale reports.
WITH its distinctive Rapunzel-style tower, Birchwood House is a landmark in the upmarket village of Linton, near Wetherby.
Now the luxury home is making its debut on the silver screen after being selected as a location for new British gangster movie Freight.
The film, about human trafficking, has won a host of international awards and will be playing at Vue cinemas in Leeds this weekend.
Birchwood has a starring role as the home of lead character Gabe, played by EastEnders actor Billy Murray, and it’s not the first time the property has been in the spotlight.
It has also appeared in the David Jason film Diamond Geezers and in Emmerdale.
Although owners Peter and Lynn Lee have never been “pushy parents”, their home has been a magnet for location scouts, who have spotted its star quality and been entranced by the turret, grand galleried hall, swimming pool and secluded setting with lots of parking space.
Lynn, who gave the property a stunning contemporary makeover after buying it 10 years ago, says: “We’ve never registered it as a location, the scouts approached us and we said ‘yes’ because we thought it would be interesting and it certainly was.
“A crew spent three weeks here filming Diamond Geezers. We were the prison governor’s house in that and it was a lot of fun. They offered to put us up in a hotel, but we stayed and really enjoyed watching what goes on behind the scenes.
“They redecorated a wall with wallpaper and brought in all their own furniture, though they put it back exactly how it was before.
“For Freight, they filmed indoors but they also erected a huge marquee in the garden then they burned it down, which was spectacular.”
She adds that the house also boasts another thespian connection – with the actor Roger Moore, who briefly lived at Birchwood in the 1960s when he was better known as Simon Templar aka The Saint.
The Lees are now selling up to downsize, but there is no doubt that a new owner could continue to hire the house out for between £400 for stills photography and up to £1,000 a day for a film shoot.
Ailsa Read, a location finder, has let her own home out for years.
Her contemporary converted barn with a 60ft long, open plan living area, near Leeds, ticks all the boxes and has been used for TV and in advertising campaigns for DFS, Harveys Furniture, Argos and M&S.
She says: “They like my place because of the space outside and inside and it’s private and quiet. They also like the fact it looks modern with white walls and clean lines.
“Space is so important. For photography shoots, lighting takes up a lot of room and there can be around 40 people working on a TV commercial.”
Disruption isn’t a problem, says Ailsa
“I find it interesting and I love meeting people.
“You definitely have to be a people person, but everyone I’ve ever met on shoots has been charming.
“You also have to be easy going and not mind them moving your stuff around.
“I tend to get all the valuables out of the way and let them get on with it.
“I personally wouldn’t want them to redecorate my house, but they have clever ways of getting round that using boarded panels they can stick wallpaper on.”
Although, large contemporary homes that offer a blank canvas are favoured, there is a demand for every property type, according to Sam Simon of Leeds-based UK Locations.
“Everything from terraced houses to council houses and stately homes are used,” she says. “But access and parking for the crew’s cars and lorries is important, though they often borrow nearby pub car parks.”
There are great opportunities for Yorkshire home owners who crave a bricks and mortar claim to fame.
Rachel Mcwatt, of Screen Yorkshire, set up to attract film makers and TV companies to the area, says: “A lot of production companies are coming up here from London.
“Yorkshire is incredibly popular. It has a good database of camera crew and a diverse range of locations with city and countryside side by side and easily accessible.
“It’s a lot cheaper to film here, too.”
Monroe, a medical drama for ITV starring James Nesbitt, is filming in Leeds at the moment, while Yorkshire is also the location for a new feature film of The Woman in Black and for the new BBC drama South Riding, set for transmission next year.
“A lot of these productions need properties and we are always looking for new ones for our database,” says Rachel.
“It costs nothing to register and if you are chosen, you will be paid for what is a very interesting experience.” Useful contacts:
UK Locations.You can register your property for free on this database of properties. www.uklocations.co.uk
Screen Yorkshire also has a database of properties and registration is free. www.screenyorkshire.co.uk
Birchwood House, Linton, is for sale through Beadnall Copley for £1.795m. Tel: 01937 580850, www.beadnallcopley.co.uk
Freight is showing today and tomorrow at Vue cinemas in Leeds. For details, visit www.freight2010.co.uk
STARRING ROLE: Birchwood House in Linton has been chosen as a film and TV location. It is for sale for £1.795m with Beadnall Copley, Wetherby.
at Birchwood House in Linton. Centre, the contemporary conservatory, right, the swimming pool.
LOCAL CELEBRITY: Cast and crew members filming Freight,