Of course it’s As­cot

Berkshire Life - - Front Page - WORDS: Jan Raycroft

Or a ver­sion few of us would recog­nise

As­cot knows how to raise a glass or two, but might need a dou­ble as a TV show is filmed which seems a long gal­lop from re­al­ity in East Berk­shire

It’s im­pos­si­ble not to think that there are more than enough char­ac­ters among those for­tu­nate enough to live in As­cot for any TV com­pany to find ‘stars’ will­ing to ap­pear on screen, even if many of the good folk there would rather stay be­hind some pretty im­pres­sive gates with a po­lite ‘thanks, but no thanks’.

But, it seems that pos­si­bly most of those who will fea­ture in the planned ITV ‘con­structed re­al­ity’ se­ries Ab­so­lutely As­cot, for which film­ing has started, have been ‘parachuted in’, per­haps to add some spice to a town al­ready en­dowed with plenty of gen­uine sparkle cour­tesy of the race­course and highly de­sir­able post­codes.

So where in the genre of par­tially scripted dra­mas will Ab­so­lutely As­cot sit? Ob­vi­ously as far as you can get from Ge­ordie Shore (and we don’t just mean ge­o­graph­i­cally) and, one might also have hoped, many bad fake tans and cheap lip fillers from The Only Way is Es­sex. Per­haps the idea might be to meet in the mid­dle be­tween Made in Chelsea and The Real Housewives of Cheshire.

Or maybe not. Some are al­ready in fear of a type of ‘Chavs­cot’ be­ing por­trayed as so­cial me­dia has re­vealed that much of the youngish cast seem to come from (sur­prise!) Es­sex, oth­ers from good old Slough, nearby at least, and there’s even a girl who likes to dress up as Elsa from Frozen as a chil­dren’s party

en­ter­tainer. Who might live in As­cot… or at least close to the town.

The show is be­ing made by TV pro­duc­tion com­pany Op­tomen, re­spon­si­ble in the past for

Great Bri­tish Menu and Mary Por­tas: Se­cret Shop­per. No date has been set for its show­ing on ITVBe, the main chan­nel’s life­style and re­al­ity of­fer­ing.

There’s been no film­ing at the race­course it­self – which ap­par­ently re­fused to take part – and sev­eral lo­cal busi­nesses also de­cided that the cam­eras could roll with­out their par­tic­i­pa­tion.

Our view? A five-min­ute­won­der of smudged mas­cara and “He re­ally isn’t worth it, dahling” is on the cards. Have a stiff gin As­cot – you know the bet­ter brands – and con­cen­trate in­stead on colour for win­ter borders, au­tumn spa breaks and the lat­est arts and crafts ‘must dos’. It’s what you do best and no Es­sex lad from the ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wed­ding’ crew pos­ing in the town cen­tre will change that.

BACK ON COURSE

Mean­while, at As­cot’s jewel in the crown thoughts are turn­ing to the end of the flat sea­son and the pro­gramme of jump rac­ing and events in the build up to Christ­mas. And it’s some­thing of a feast, in all senses, right

from Fri­day and Satur­day, 7 and 8 Septem­ber, which sees an Ital­ian Tourist Board fes­ti­val of food and wine with 40 stalls along­side the rac­ing.

Then it’s time to say ‘Cheers’ to The As­cot Beer Fes­ti­val at the course on 5 and 6 Oc­to­ber, prior to the mag­nif­i­cent fi­nale to the flat sea­son on Satur­day, 20 Oc­to­ber as many of the top horses, jock­eys and train­ers ar­rive for Bri­tain’s most valu­able rac­ing day, QIPCO Bri­tish Cham­pi­ons Day, fol­lowed by a party hosted by a top DJ.

The Na­tional Hunt sea­son starts on 3 No­vem­ber with the Fire­works Spec­tac­u­lar Fam­ily Race­day, while the pop­u­lar Prince’s Coun­try­side Fund event is on Fri­day, 23 and Satur­day, 24 No­vem­ber. See as­cot.co.uk to tick­et­sS­traight­book.

WEL­COME BACK

While it’s doubt­ful that all the char­ac­ters of Ab­so­lutely As­cot will win the ap­proval of lo­cal res­i­dents, one re­turnee has been wel­comed with raised glasses – the re­open­ing of The Royal Foresters pub in Lon­don Road, three years af­ter it closed.

The 140-year-old wa­ter­ing hole has been trans­formed fol­low­ing a £10m plus in­vest­ment by in­de­pen­dent pub group, Oak­man Inns. Brack­nell For­est Coun­cil­lor, Dorothy Hayes MBE, says: “As a lo­cal, I’m de­lighted that the Royal Foresters has been brought back to life and is once again a com­mu­nity pub with some­thing for ev­ery­one. What’s im­pres­sive is that out­side, Oak­man Inns has clev­erly re­tained the pub’s his­toric fa­cade – com­plete with the an­cient wis­te­ria – but in­side they’ve man­aged to com­bine a con­tem­po­rary, in­dus­trial-style de­sign with tra­di­tional el­e­ments to ex­cep­tional ef­fect.”

There was an un­usual open­ing cer­e­mony here as 14 Royal Foresters who work for the nearby Crown Es­tate took part. In an ar­bo­real rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a rib­bon-cut­ting cer­e­mony, Rus­sell Sturgess, who has been a Royal Forester for over 44 years and is the long­est serv­ing mem­ber of the Crown forestry team, cut an eight-foot log in half with his chain saw.

They then pre­sented the gen­eral man­ager, Mal­colm Coul­ter, with a com­mem­o­ra­tive plaque fash­ioned from Wind­sor oak.

Open all day from break­fast un­til late, the pub, which has 24 brand new lux­ury guest rooms, and an 80-seat flex­i­ble func­tion space ad­ja­cent to the restau­rant, prom­ises to be a first-class hospi­tal­ity hub for the area. That is ab­so­lutely what As­cot is all about!

The race­course will be the set­ting for some su­perb fix­tures in the com­ing months

Will QIPCO Bri­tish Cham­pi­ons Day pro­vide an­other chance for Frankie Det­tori to leap into the air?

‘Some areal­ready in fear of a type of Chavs­cotbe­ing por­trayed’from the horse’s mouth: Ab­so­lutely As­cot is not ex­pected to pro­vide a real ‘fly on the wall’ ac­count of life here

Civic lead­ers with Oak­man Inns founder Peter Borg-Neal and his fa­ther Jim Neal

Crown Es­tate Chief Forester John Deakin, Ali­son Bat­tle, Nick Day, the Crown Es­tate’s Head of Op­er­a­tions, and Mike Bat­tle of La­p­land UK at The Royal Foresters

The Wind­sor oak plaque now on dis­play at the newly re-opened pub

ABOVE: An un­usual ‘rib­bon-cut­ting’ cer­e­mony at The Royal Foresters

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