Creative connections that transform




Image of Desperate Romantics

Craxton Studios in Desperate Romantics

Date posted: 01.08.2009

Desperate Romantics is BBC Two's exciting six-part drama, set in the throbbing heart of 19th Century industrial London.

The series follows the life and love affairs of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of revolutionary artists as well-known for their intertwining love lives, as for their ground-breaking paintings.

One location which featured among the backdrop of alleys, galleries and flesh-houses of Victorian London was Craxton Studios in Hampstead. Used in episodes three and four as an artist's studio for Dante Gabriel Rossetti (played by Aidan Turner) this large arts and crafts style property was designed and built in 1901 by the artist George Hillyard Swinstead for his family, paintings and sculpture.

During WWII the house was abandoned and then bought up in 1945 by Harold Craxton - after he and his family were bombed out of their home. The house became a focal point for music and the artistic milieu in London, and has remained in the Craxton family ever since.

Today the house is used as rehearsal and audition space for classical musicians, as well as a venue for performances, lectures and teaching. Although they had previously assisted small documentaries shoots and high end fashion stills, Desperate Romantics turned out to be the biggest production the studio had ever accommodated - with shooting taking place over four days. The forty-strong crew filmed across most of ground floor, in what is effectively still a family home.

Jane Craxton, Director of the Studios, said: "The shoot was an intense, but enjoyable experience. Most of the furniture, some of which hadn't been moved since 1947, was decanted into storage in order for the production to recreate the right period feel - even the light fittings where changed.

"The actors and crew were delightful, involving the family in the film-making process. The director even allowed us to look at some of shots they had achieved on the monitor. In the end, the money we received from the production paid for a new roof for the studio, helping to conserve the building."

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