Chandos House in Love Actually for Comic Relief
Date posted: 06.04.2017
Richard Curtis last month reunited the cast of the London-set romantic favourite Love Actually for Comic Relief, the UK charity event televised on BBC One that has raised over £1 billion since it launched in 1985.
Curtis wrote and directed the sketch (entitled Red Nose Day Actually), which visited the characters of the original 2003 film to discover what they are up to in 2017. Coming together for comedy and charity were returning cast members Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Andrew Lincoln (The Walking Dead), Colin Firth (The King’s Speech), Liam Neeson (Taken), Bill Nighy (Pride), Rowan Atkinson (Johnny English) and Thomas Brodie-Sansgter (The Maze Runner).
Replicating Number 10
As it did in the film, the official residence of the British Prime Minister played a key role. “The brief was very specific – to replicate parts of 10 Downing St as seen in Love Actually. This included the stairs, a corridor and the press conference room”, says Amie Tridgell, Location Manager. “I anchored my search on the stairs, which have several specific characteristics – to ascend in a clockwise orientation, have an ornate ironwork banister with wooden handrail, and the ability to put up many pictures of previous PMs!”
There are several places in London which meet these requirements in various combinations, but it was the recently refurbished Grade I listed Georgian splendour of Chandos House that turned out to be perfect for the sketch.
“I knew straight away Chandos House would be the perfect location” says Tara Mendelson, Events Account Administrator at Chandos House. “We hosted a few location visits to determine what they were looking for and how we as a venue could assist in order to make the project successful. There were many logistical queries and we had at least two or three site visits with twenty of their crew members on-site taking measurements, testing lighting and determining what they could and couldn’t do.”
Film for breakfast
Being a hotel as well as an events space, the two teams had to work together to ensure filming noise levels were kept to a minimum and didn’t disturb guests before 9am. It also meant putting extra heaters in the corridors to keep guests warm while doors were left open to run cables to an outside power source. “We were filming in the venue while guests were still finishing their Sunday breakfast!” says Tridgell. “Fortunately because this is such a good cause everyone was very understanding.” Mendelson agrees, adding, “Guests were actually quite excited to find out what the filming taking place was about!”
The production and venue teams also had to work together to address the challenges of shooting within a 246-year old building. Mendelson explains “As with all Grade I Listed Venues, we had to be particularly protective of our venue while at the same time allowing the production team to create their vision.” This meant that the production’s props department had to take extreme care in testing and sticking up the 45 or more portraits lining the staircase – no mean feat without any of the usual wall fixings.
Both the production and Chandos House teams also knew that everything they were doing was for a great cause, and managed to create the most highly anticipated segment of Comic Relief 2017. “The team at the house were very welcoming and flexible. In an act of overwhelming generosity, they agreed to waive their fee in support of Comic Relief” says Tridgell. Mendelson adds “it was an amazing experience, and I think everyone from our site enjoyed working with Comic Relief and BBC on this project. Not only was it an amazing achievement but also an honour to be part of this great charity.”
About Chandos House
Chandos House is a Grade I listed building, designed by Robert Adam, the most prominent architect in Georgian Britain, and built by William Adam and company. The building opened in 1772 in the West End, and contains large formal rooms filled with natural light. It previously featured in Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility. Following a £5 million restoration in 2005, Chandos House has six principal conference, meeting and event rooms to hire, all of which have been beautifully restored back to Robert Adam's original 18th century designs.
For filming enquiries, please contact Masha Boh at Masha.Boh@1wimpolestreet.co.uk or 020 7290 3851.
About Comic Relief
Comic Relief is a UK charity which aims to create a just world, free from poverty - where everyone is safe, healthy, educated and empowered. Since 1985, Comic Relief has raised over £1 billion. That money has helped, and is helping, people living incredibly tough lives, both at home in the UK and across the world.
For information about Comic Relief and the work it carries out, please visit www.comicrelief.com.
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