The BBC’s new Cold War thriller, ‘The Game’, airs on BBC Two at 9pm on Thursday 30th April.
Starring Brian Cox and Tom Hughes, the 6-part drama is set in London in 1972 and covers the events that unfold when a defecting KGB officer reveals the existence of a devastating Soviet plot by the name of Operation Glass.
As the Soviets awaken sleeper agents to carry out the plot, the charismatic head of MI5 must assemble a secret committee to help protect Britain and the new team are faced with an unidentified and invisible threat.
‘The Game’ was filmed extensively across Birmingham and the wider West Midlands region in late 2013 and the production worked closely with Creative England, which collaborated with Birmingham City Council’s film office Film Birmingham, to help provide the production team with everything they needed whilst filming in the area.
One of the key locations was the now defunct Birmingham Central Library. The iconic Brutalist 70s structure was home to the main set for MI5 HQ and provided the striking lines and concrete simplicity the design team were looking for. Other locations in Birmingham that doubled for 70s London included residential streets and houses around the leafy suburbs of Moseley and Edgbaston, the city’s Classical Victorian Council House and numerous city centre streets and locations. One of the main scenes was filmed in the Colmore Business District where Film Birmingham implemented a series of road closures to enable a complicated stunt scene to take place.
Outside of Birmingham, Creative England’s Senior Production Liaison Manager, Stephen Badham, worked closely with the location manager, Spencer Normington, to provide locations support and facilitation at locations such as Merevale Hall in Warwickshire and RAF Cosford in Shropshire. Two major scenes required detailed permissions and the involvement of the number of local authorities and national partners to ensure filming went smoothly.
Creative England provided support to the production and worked closely with organisations such as the Canal and River Trust, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council and the Highways Agency to secure permission for a complex scene involving a warehouse, canal and bridge underneath the M5 motorway in Smethwick.
Another complicated set-piece involved a ‘stakeout’ scene in the busy Clarendon Square in Leamington Spa. Creative England liaised with multiple partners, including Warwick District Council, Warwickshire County Council and Warwickshire Police, to allow the production to close roads and suspend parking bays, as well as clear the use of imitation firearms in the area.
Location Manager, Spencer Normington, commented about Creative England’s Production Services support: “I must say a very big thank you to Stephen and his team for all the help with filming in the West Midlands. The service was not only quick, professional and to the point, but also a great Location Manager support through out the eight Months of filming in the West Midlands.”
Robin Tjolle, Chief Executive of Shakespeare’s England, the destination management organisation that covers Leamington Spa and Warwick district added, “It is great to work with Creative England to encourage films and TV shows to our area. Film and TV shows are a great way of showcasing a location to a large audience and by working closely with Creative England we can encourage more location managers to feature our destination, which in turn encourages more visitors to come.”
Creative England’s crewing team supported Line Producer Thea Harvey and her colleagues by helping the production find locally-based crew. Assistant directors, accounts and post-production staff were sourced through Creative England’s national crew database, and job advertisements were sent out to registered database members and via twitter. Once the shoot was underway the crewing team were regularly called upon to help find dailies across camera, grips, props, construction and other departments. Through the direct intervention of Creative England at least 80 days of work were created for local crew.
The locations named above are just a few of the thousands that appear on Creative England’s Locations Database. This free online resource hosts filming locations of all shapes and sizes across the West Midlands and the whole of England outside of London.
The Productions Services Department assists all genres of production when filming across England, outside of London. For more on the work we do please visit – Creative England’s Production Services Department or follow the team on Twitter.