Countryfile at Abbotsholme: Part 3 of 3 – Filming, and post filming

Posted: 22nd February, 2016. Topics:

I am sure you will have watched Countryfile on TV last night. Abbotsholme was on for 12 minutes of film even though they cut the programme down by 25% from an hour to 45 minutes, which we were clueless as to know why with the viewing figures that Countryfile has been achieving in its recent series.

Anyway, how proud of Abbotsholme, and our pupils are you!? Well we are so proud of every single one of them – we think they were just amazing.

So you have watched the segment; now find out below what the days filming was like and the behind the scenes secrets!


So the day had arrived. Nine hours to go to keep it as low key as possible, and then we would be allowed to tell the world!

We had the fire on in Reception in anticipation of the arrival of Matt Baker and the crew; and they arrived – just before the car park started to get to busy at drop-off time. They signed in then went around to the farm with minimal interest from parents, staff and pupils, so it was a great start to the low key day! We put barriers up around the farm so that no-one could come into the farm area which was a real help.

Filming began – following bacon butties for breakfast – with Rachel Hames, and Matt Baker talking about lambing preparation. Prep school pupils from Year 3 and 4 were also on site during this, and they were so well behaved whilst filming happened. They were next to be celebrities and answer questions from Matt Baker as they helped to feed our pygmy goats. Matt was brilliant with one Prep pupil – who will remain nameless – who had a lot of energy during the filming and to keep him busy, Matt suggested that he run to the tree on the horizon and the pupil in question actually started to run out of the film and up the hill; everyone found it hilarious – before a Sixth Form pupil went to make sure he was ok and get him back!

We had a further eventful morning with burning bacon, and jumping pregnant ewes as the team filmed Greg King talking about his experiences on the farm and the pupils building lamb hurdles in preparation for lambing. This was then followed by Adam and Alice learning how to inject sheep supervised by local vet, Rob, from Glenthorne Vets. The pupil’s had designed the pen that had been delivered that week by IAE, and it worked perfectly letting the sheep in one by one to be vaccinated.

It was a long morning and grateful thanks must go to Sixth Formers, Frannie and Barney (both of whom want to go into media and journalism), who were runners for the day and kept everyone fueled up with tea, coffee and cake as well as helping lug equipment!

The headmaster was up next in the history feature and filming happened on the hill by the farm and then at Reddie’s Grave above Toboggan Hill. Before lunch the final set of the morning was at the front of the school – which was difficult with having to keep pupils away as we filmed, and stopping people coming out of the front door.

It had been a long cold morning, so we were all – pupils, crew and Abbotsholme staff – ready for Rachel and her awesome catering. Lunch was set for 1.30pm to ensure that the dining room was clear from pupils and staff. Matt did walk past a few Year 8 girls on their way to registration and audible screams were heard!

The lunch choice included lamb from the farm which was fab and most people tucked into that with the usual Friday chips! It was so delicious! We were joined by a BBC publicity member of staff – Gareth – to look after a visiting journalist from the Mail on Sunday doing a piece on the rapid rise and popularity of Countryfile (which if you have not seen you can read here and Abbotsholme is mentioned!)

Just after lunch, Frannie, one of the Sixth Form runners, interviewed Matt Baker. We were keen beforehand to ask him a set of questions, but were told it might not happen. Anyway, we were given the go-ahead and Frannie was able to do her first interview of a celebrity. The interview will be published soon.

The afternoon filming centred around Tara and Ben and tractor driving skills, and both did very well even though they have not had much practise with this skill. Miss Liddle also centred in some filming about tractor driving as the Head of Rural Estate Education.

At this point Ellie Harrison arrived and certainly caused a ripple of interest from every male present. One boy who shall remain nameless – when I asked what he thought of Ellie – said, “She is so fit!”.

Ellie was filmed driving the tractor and doing the goodbye scenes with Matt on our bales … and that was it, filming was over. Goodbyes were had, pictures were taken and Mr Fairclough got his picture with Ellie Harrison which made his week I think!!

The marketing team who had been present all day and spent days keeping everything hush hush, rushed back to the office following all the departures to ‘press the button’ on press releases, tweets, facebook stories, videos, and pinterest images. Low key was over finally, and we could tell the world – and we have been ever since!

The crew we worked with were just fantastic. Special thanks must go to Jo, Jess, Katy and Rachel who were brilliant, and really kept us in the loop about everything.

The last paragraph of part three of the Countryfile blog must be dedicated to our Sixth Form agriculture pupils РRachel, Greg, Adam, Alice, Ben and Tara Рwho did Abbotsholme proud. They were brilliant on the day, they understood how important it was to keep the news quiet (and kept their mobile phones from the farm area and focused on the filming which was awesome considering we only had a day to shoot all the various scenes),  they wore what they were asked to wear, and behaved in a such a responsible and supportive manner that belied their age. All I can say is that we are very lucky with our pupils, with all of our pupils; they are just amazing!

Abbotsholme featured for roughly 12 minutes, across two films. The first included the history interview with Headmaster followed by the farm and joining the Sixth Form pupils sorting out the shed which included an interview with one of the Heads of School Gregory King. During this shots of the Prep School pupils were included and then the film moved to Alice and Adam doing the injections with the vet.

The second film was about the tractor training which included some shots of Ben driving, then Tara and then Ellie. A brief chat with Christina was included too about what the pupils were learning regarding the tractors.

Countryfile also used a number of archive images to show that the school has been at the forefront of farming education since the beginning.



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