Last Sunday my wife arrived home to report that when leaving her church she found herself in what appeared to be another world. It was as if she had travelled through a timecrack!
People in Regency dress were gathered next to a horse drawn carriage outside one of the imposing terrace buildings to be found in the area where the church now stands. A lady wearing a large, shapely bonnet and a full length, teal skirt trailing the pavement, and a man in a long coat, a wide-brimmed Regency hat and a brown waistcoat, seemed to complete the scene – except for the camera crew filming it.
Yes, Vi was witnessing a film crew in action on location in Belfast’s Queen’s University district. They were filming one of the episodes for the Frankenstein Chronicles, a new six-part series to be shown on ITV. The actor she had spotted in the wide-brimmed hat was none other than Sean Bean, previously a visitor to Northern Ireland when filming Game of Thrones.
It was an interesting experience for Vi to see Sean Bean. It was only a week earlier when we were on a visit to Castle Ward, one of the National Trust properties situated near Downpatrick, a short distance from Strangford Lough, that his name had been mentioned to us in connection with the Game of Thrones series.
For those of you who have never been to Castle Ward, it is a stunning location with superb views over the lough and a family home dating back to the 16th century. An added attraction for those who follow the series is the location for ‘Winterfell Castle’, where you can try your hand at using the medieval bow at the original archery site. Yours truly did and scored a bullseye!
All of this brought home to me how successful Northern Ireland has been in building its movie industry. Ever since I was offered a part as an extra in the fantasy movie City of Ember in 2009, I’ve watched the industry grow rapidly, virtually on my doorstep close to the Titanic Quarter.
It’s a long way from our reputation as the home of ‘The Troubles’ – now we make movies about that
terrible time in our history.