Countryfile ‘special’ filmed in Bath

Notebooks written by the 18th century actress Sarah Siddons and unearthed in Bath are going to feature on a BBC1 Countryfile Christmas Special filmed in the city.

Anne Buchanan,who is the Local Studies Librarian for B&NES, came across the notebooks and found they contained old Georgian recipes, while Bath Tourism Plus worked with the Council’s Bath Film Office in supplying information and support on suitable locations for filming the popular programme’s festive special during the Bath Christmas Market, as well as spokespeople and story ideas.

Abbey Green
Abbey Green

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “Staff across a number of departments including the Bath Film Offices, Libraries, Heritage Services, Parking and Highways, have helped assist the Countryfile team in getting as much coverage of the city and local area as possible.

Countryfile is a great example of a high-profile production which has chosen our beautiful World Heritage City as a backdrop for their festive filming.”

Vicky Bunt, Event Manager for Bath Christmas Market, said: “Regularly voted one of the most popular and picturesque festive events in the UK, the Bath Christmas Market is also the biggest festive shopping event in the South West. With over 60% of products made in the UK and 80% of traders from Bath and the South West, it’s easy to see why the market attracts so many visitors and repeat visitors.

What better way to showcase the city’s many attractions and shopping facilities than with BBC Countryfile, a programme that already has a huge following here in the West Country.”

For its Christmas Special, Countryfile focussed on the Bath Christmas Market with its 170-plus stalls and what Christmas might have been like for the city’s 18th century Georgian residents. Over a two-day period, the Countryfile production team added various strands to their stories by filming at other locations in and around Bath, including a private Georgian country house, No.1 Royal Crescent and outside Bath Abbey.

Countryfile's Ellie Harrison with Kissing Bough and garland.
Countryfile’s Ellie Harrison with Kissing Bough and garland. © BBC

Countryfile viewers will see presenter Ellie Harrison visiting a floral designer at a farm near Bath to collect some greenery. She also dropped in on a private Georgian country house to make a Georgian kissing bough as a Christmas gift before hanging it in No.1 Royal Crescent.

The programme will also feature a section on how a Georgian house would be decorated with foliage.

Presenter Ellie Harrison meets Dale Ingram, from Bath’s famous Sally Lunn’s teashop, who makes some mincemeat pies to a Georgian recipe supplied by the Bath Central Library from its collection of 18th century manuscripts, as part of the same story on a Georgian Christmas’ at No.1 Royal Crescent.

John Craven takes a look at the first Henry Cole Christmas card and the establishment of the postal services with some Christmas card albums supplied by Bath Central Library in the Mayor’s Parlour at the Guildhall, while John Hammond explains how snow is formed with the help of figure skaters at Bath On Ice, and features some festive views of Royal Victoria Park, Parade Gardens and Bath’s Georgian streets.

Abbey Green through the M&S archway.
Abbey Green through the M&S archway.

Matt Baker spends the day meeting some of the local producers standing at Bath Christmas Market and finds out about the historical significance of gifting gifts at this time of year.

The programme is rounded off with the presenters coming together under the Christmas tree in Bath Abbey Churchyard to give gifts and singing ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’ with the help of members from the Bratton Brass Band.