Musical fans go la la for filming around Sidmouth
PUBLISHED: 10:04 07 April 2017 | UPDATED: 17:23 11 April 2017
Fans of the silver screen have been going 'la la' for a musical that is being filmed on location around East Devon.
The production company has been tight-lipped about Melody – the 500 extras recruited locally were sworn to secrecy – but the Herald understands it is about a singer who looks back on her life.
Hot on the heels of last year’s Oscars hit La La Land, John Stephenson is directing stars including Helen Baxendale, Aneurin Barnard and Joan Collins in the movie set in the 1940s and the present day.
The leading character, the eponymous Melody, is played by Les Miserables actress Samantha Barks, who found fame on an Andrew Lloyd Webber talent show.
Marilyn Barlow was among those who got a glimpse backstage when her home, Sidmouth’s iconic Peak House, was turned into a care home.
She said: “Melody, the girl in the film, sings with the residents every week, and they give her a present for her trip to London to train to be a singer. All the film people were so respectful and considerate.
“It must have been a good boost for Sidmouth, for the hotels, bars and restaurants.”
Churchwarden Renee Forth was on the scene when Wilf Scolding and Katie Clarkson-Hill filmed a wedding scene set in the 1940s at The Parish Church of St Mary and St Peter in Salcombe Regis.
“It was very interesting to see behind the scenes,” said Renee. “There were an awful lot more people doing it than in it. There were very good people in charge.”
Elsewhere, Simon Wood joked on Twitter that he fainted when he spotted Helen Baxendale filming at Axminster train station – when the producers brought along a fake train.
Other scenes have been filmed in Sidmouth on The Esplanade and Jacob’s Ladder beach and in Beer’s Fore Street.
Beer business owner Diane Leach was approached by the filming company to use her shop, Cinderellas, for three days of shooting.
“They said they loved the shop because it was unique and fitted what the were looking for.” said Diane, “It was wonderful - what more can you say? It’s great for us as a small, independent business to be featured in a film.”
Cold Feet star Helen Baxendale and War and Peace’s Aneurin Barnard were seen shooting around the shop.
The business owner has been invited to a screening of the film when it is released. East Devon District Council was among biggest beneficiaries as the crews took over much of the Manor Road car park, Sidmouth, for the duration of the filming.
A council spokeswoman said: “Tourism in East Devon is going from strength to strength, contributing millions to the local economy. With a positive trend in growing visitor numbers and an increase in spending, the economic importance of tourism to the district cannot be underestimated, so it is vital that any opportunities to market the charms of our beautiful region to both domestic and international audiences are taken advantage of. The filming of East Devon’s stunning countryside and wonderful Jurassic coastline, together with its picturesque towns and villages is a positive way of endorsing what the district has to offer. In recognition of the extra business and publicity that this could bring to the area, the council was pleased to temporarily lease space in its Beer and Sidmouth car parks to the film crew for the duration of their filming activities.”
Melody is also filming in London. It is expected to be in cinemas in October or November.