News Column

Ancient capital 'snubbed' for TV adaptation

November 6, 2013


LAUNCESTON was overlooked by a TV production company for a new adaptation of Jamaica Inn - because it looks too modern.

Instead, the market town of Kirby Lonsdale in Cumbria was chosen as the location for a version of Daphne du Maurier's classic novel being made by Origin Films.

It took almost a week to make the Cumbrian town resemble its Cornish counterpart, while many residents acted as extras. The three- day shoot followed filming in Cornwall, at Holywell Bay and on Bodmin Moor.

The series, to be aired next Easter, stars Jessica Brown Findlay, who played Lady Sybil in Downton Abbey.

Jane Nancarrow, a Launceston town councillor, said she was disgusted to read that the BBC'S new adaptation was not being filmed elsewhere in its true setting of Cornwall.

The idea of Launceston, the ancient capital of Cornwall, being too modern was ridiculous, she said.

Launceston still retains quaint, narrow winding streets and fascinating old buildings, if their film location team had only bothered to look properly and use their obviously limited imaginations, said Mrs Nancarrow. I was extremely fortunate to play the role of Mary Yellan in the North Cornwall Theatre's production of Jamaica Inn back in 1978, when Daphne du Maurier was still alive.

Daphne gave the theatre company her blessing to perform Mike Hasshill's adaptation of her famous novel, as long as it was performed in Cornwall and by a group of Cornish actors, but not very long after our production, which was staged in King Arthur's Hall at Tintagel, a feature film was made of the novel with Jane Seymour as Mary Yellan and with Jamaica Inn itself having been created out of some kind of ghastly cardboard-looking replica somewhere out on Dartmoor.

It seems this is what we have come to expect from the BBC and other film companies nowadays.

This is a snub to our quaint old town, but we Lanson folk will rise above it, like the castle in our midst grimly looking down from across the centuries.

Alex Gordon of Origin confirmed some of the exterior shooting would be done in and around Belfast, as the series was developed by BBC Northern Ireland.

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