Of course it’s Ascot
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.
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