J.K. Rowling adaptation The Casual Vacancy premieres in the UK to strong ratings
Last Sunday saw the UK premiere of The Casual Vacancy (HBO/BBC), a three part adaptation of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s latest novel, ahead of its US premiere on 29 April. Following the troubled lives of the inhabitants of a fictional English village, the production opened to strong ratings, drawing 6.6 million viewers on BBC One. The Casual Vacancy is the latest example of major US network HBO choosing to shoot in the UK, following Game of Thrones and Veep, and continues a long tradition of collaboration between the two broadcasters, with previous co-productions including Rome and Parade’s End, produced alongside Mammoth Screen and Trademark Films.
The production features an all British cast, led by Sir Michael Gambon, Keeley Hawes and Rory Kinnear. Gambon can currently also be seen in major new UK shot thriller Fortitude (Tiger Aspect), airing on Sky in the UK and Pivot in the US.
UK crew resources neither casual nor vacant
The Casual Vacancy’s crew is also brimming with UK talent, featuring a wealth of television drama experience. Producer Sarah Dibsdall has previously worked on the universally popular Downton Abbey (Carnival Film & TV) whilst director Johnny Campbell’s credits include global phenomenon Doctor Who (BBC).
High-end television series have long utilised the production infrastructure found throughout the UK, including Da Vinci’s Demons (Starz/BBC Worldwide), based in South Wales, Outlander (Starz/Sony Pictures Television), based in Cumbernauld outside Glasglow, and Game of Thrones, based in Belfast, all perfect examples of the versatility of alternative stage space to be found throughout the UK’s nations and regions. These productions were also quick to utilise the wealth of stunning locations available across the UK, and The Casual Vacancy is no exception, with the series choosing to shoot throughout the South of England. Locations used by the production included the scenic Gloucestershire towns of Stroud, Painswick and Minchinhampton, as well as Burford in Oxfordshire.
Filming also took place in Bristol, a city with an ever growing reputation for high-end television production, with ABC’s major musical series Galavant and the critically acclaimed Wolf Hall (Playground Entertainment/Company Pictures) both recently choosing to base themselves at Bristol’s Bottle Yard Studios.
More to come
J.K. Rowling’s work will continue to be brought to life in the UK in 2015, with the first of a trilogy of films based on the author’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them due to shoot at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden later in the year. The much anticipated adaptation will be directed by Harry Potter alumni David Yates, and has a scheduled release date of November 2016.