WORTHING is a key location for a fresh new contemporary cop show which starts airing on BBC One next week (Wednesday, October 28, 8pm).
Created by Prisoners’ Wives writer Julie Gearey, Cuffs makes full use of Worthing and Brighton, also bringing in Shoreham and Lancing among other locations, promising “an exhilarating ride through the challenges of frontline policing in a vibrant and alternative seaside city”.
Promoters describe it as “adrenalised and propulsive (…) packed full of dramatic incidents and colourful characters”, with cops putting their lives on the line to protect the public, from a booby-trapped cannabis farm in a suburban semi to an elderly farmer’s wife with a shotgun. But amid the higher stakes, there will also be more absurd altercations including a middle-class dog-napping and naturists fighting on the beach.
For Worthing, it’s just possible it could be the start of a bright future as a film and TV location, says new Worthing resident Peter-Frank de Wulf, who was co-location manager on the series with his colleague, Chris Sheriff.
Peter-Frank was delighted with Worthing’s response to the series – or more specifically, to the idea of Worthing being used as a location.
“People were generally excited. In London, people can be excited too, but people’s lives in London are more busy or they think they are more busy, and a lot more filming goes on in London. You can understand that people get annoyed with film crews in their streets. There are various favourite locations. In fact, they send out reports to location managers saying some streets are off-limits because they have had too many complaints there. But Worthing and Brighton still see it as exciting. In London, there are just lots more people with grumpy neighbours, but Worthing was great.”
The beach was used, so too was the town hall – as a court room: “It’s hard to find a working court room for safety reasons and also because court rooms are in use, so we look for something that looks like a court room, and with a bit of help from the art department, the town hall was good.
“We also used the multi-storey car park, Teville Gate. It has got a great view, and it is quiet. There was a cost in closing it down which we could afford for one day, and film-makers like something they can feel is exclusive to them. They don’t like it if they hear Downton Abbey or Midsomer Murders have been there!”
They also used a nearby pub, an Italian restaurant, the civic centre in Shoreham, Shoreham Beach and Lancing.
“Prep of the site was last September with the writers, taking them around just to get the creative juices flowing. They wanted to see the locations so that they could write the scripts towards what they have got. That was my first contact. By that time they had written the first one or two episodes.”
Then came the filming, which went through until August, editing ongoing as the shoot progressed: “By the time they did the last one, I am not saying it was more straightforward, but they had the style of the series by then, the rhythm of the series.”
And right after filming stopped, Peter-Frank moved into Worthing: “We had been living in Hove. My wife and I had been renting. We were wanting to live by the sea and close to town. It just wasn’t happening in Brighton. And then we found this amazing place in Worthing.”
“One of the reasons the council wanted this was to put Worthing on the map as a film location. When we were looking at Brighton, I was invited to the council with the mayor because Brighton wants to be a film city. Most crews just come and film the pier and then go. They wanted to keep the crew here.”
Worthing will be hoping it can now become part of the package: “Worthing by itself is too small to attract that kind of filming, but with Brighton and up to Lewes, there is enough there to shoot a whole series. I think really Worthing needs to be part of a bigger package.
“And it is close enough to London. You need the crew and you need the gear. There is no camera rental house here if anything goes wrong, but this distance from London is close enough. But really you need to have choice for the film-makers. Worthing has only got one hospital. If you include Brighton and Lewes, you have got more choice which is what they want from you when you are researching locations.”
Cuffs could be just the start Worthing needs.
“In September I took the writers down to Worthing and Brighton, again to get the creative juices flowing for the second series. That doesn’t mean it has been commissioned yet, but they just wanted to get some ideas. Everyone is pleased with the results so far. They are now just waiting to see what the audiences think. But they want to be ready to get going with the second series if they do one.”
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