Countryfile at Abbotsholme: Part 2 of 3 – The week leading up to filming!

Posted: 15th February, 2016. Topics:

Following Countryfile saying yes for Abbotsholme to feature on the series and once we had got over the delight of this actually happening… for real …… the preparation work started.

Countryfile wanted a mix of pupils (both of age and gender to represent the School). Sixth Form agriculture pupils were key to this, and three boys and three girls were chosen at random (two of which came from Year 12 to feature in the injection filming because Year 12 Agriculture pupils had not done this.) There were four key scenes that each Sixth Form  pupil would be involved in to ensure that every one was used, and in boy / girl teams too.

Of course our Prep pupils had to feature, and we chose pupils in Year 3 who would be on an estate lesson on Friday afternoon. There were not enough in Year 3 to make up eight (four boys and four girls), so we extended it to Year 4 too. Countryfile wanted Prep pupils to be filmed feeding goats or chickens.

We made the decision to only tell those people involved because the BBC asked us to keep the news that they would be filming very low key until after they had gone. Sixth Form pupils were interviewed to complete biographies for the day’s filming as a background for Matt Baker and the team. All pupils had to have consent forms signed which was the hardest bit, so we asked Prep parents of pupils chosen not  to tell their children to try and keep it as low key as possible and not to get them over excited for the filming. Sixth form pupils involved were told that this had to be kept under wraps and not to talk to anyone – or add it to any social media platform – apart from those involved. We explained we did not want thousands of people turning up to see Matt Baker on the day, as well as interrupt a packed filming schedule! (Mrs Barnwell was checking the website socialmention every hour of every day to ensure that the news had not escaped…. I don’t think she breathed, ate or slept properly for a week!)

On the farm, Miss Liddle and the Sixth Form pupils spent hours tidying up, and cleaning the farm and animals. It looked incredible when we went round on Thursday morning checking everything. We were also delighted by agricultural, equestrian and  fencing equipment company IAE for their support of the sheep racing segment, by providing a brand new pen which will feature in the episode too. Pupils designed this racing pen to certain specifications to support their agriculture course, and IAE helped to produce it in time for the filming.

Rachel Lancett and her catering team were especially helpful in changing the menus for that day so that lunch dishes would include meat from the farm, and also helping us with having a late lunch due to the filming schedule. They also helped to ensure that the farm bungalow was the perfect base for bacon butties, pastries, coffee, tea and cakes to keep the crew and pupils fueled up throughout the days filming. Mark Lomas and his maintenance team were on hand to ensure that barriers were put up to restrict access to the key access points to the farm and bungalow to anyone other than those involved with the filming,and also were on hand to help with any movement of heavy items on the farm for filming.

Countryfile also wanted to do a segment on the history of the school with the Headmaster, so Marketing spent a lovely few hours in our archives looking through all our old images – especially farming images – and scanning them for the filming. Our archives are amazing, and we plan to put something together for our open day on Saturday March 12th in the Library.

The day before filming, crew members did a final reccy of the school including walking up to Reddie’s grave, and a check on some more of our archived images for the filming before confirming everything was set for the day! So the scene was set…..

Next week find out all about the filming on the day, how well the pupils sheep pen worked, and how fantastic Matt was with our Prep pupils during their filming stint.  Don’t forget to watch the show on BBC1 on Sunday 21st February at 7.15pm to see Abbotsholme School  and our amazing pupils.


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