In our annual spotlight looking at guided tours, Brenda Watkinson and Abbe Bates highlight some of the opportunities available for groups to book tours with experts or to explore ‘behind the scenes’.Amongst themes that might inspire a guided tour in London and elsewhere are locations used in films and TV series and, as Mark King, Chairman of the British Guild of Tourist Guides notes, there’s a continual supply of new TV or cinema productions featuring both well known and unknown locations.
Mark says that Poldark is still popular with groups exploring the West Country and JK Rowling’s productions continue to pull in visitors all over the country, from Alnwick Castle in Northumberland and Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire to ‘Platform 9¾’ at London’s King’s Cross Station.
Did you know?
Wentworth House in Rotherham took on the role of Buckingham Palace in the film ‘The Darkest Hour’.
“But,” Mark adds, “take care to consult a knowledgeable guide! Familiar locations such as Buckingham Palace may be somewhere else entirely. For instance, Greenwich’s Old Royal Naval College stood in for the Palace in the Netflix production, The Crown, and the country house Wentworth Woodhouse, in Rotherham, took on the regal role in the film, The Darkest Hour.”
Each year there’s a changing programme of guided tours and events at Warner Bros Studio – The Making of Harry Potter, which will allow your group to discover at firsthand secrets about the series of films based on the imaginary Wizarding World.
Coming up from 28th September until 10th November, ‘The Dark Arts’ is a themed tour for Halloween during which your members will be able to try out their wand combat moves against Death Eaters in a live duel that will demonstrate how battle scenes were directed.
Meanwhile, over the festive season Hogwarts in the Snow will see the Great Hall transformed for the Yule Ball. Bookings must be made in advance.
Did you know?
‘The Dark Arts’ is a themed tour during which your members will be able to try out their wand combat moves.
In Kent, The Historic Dockyard Chatham is the only place in the world that lets you explore a complete dockyard from the age of sail and beyond but it is also the backdrop to many iconic scenes of the television series, Call the Midwife.
On ‘The Official Call the Midwife Tour’ lasting 90 minutes, groups will tour The Dockyard to see props, costumes, sets and feature material from the latest series with their very own costumed midwife guide.
This year, in partnership with the creators and producers of Call the Midwife, Neal Street Productions, the official tour includes the sites where Chummy learnt to ride a bike, and the ship which Sister Evangelina and Trixie had to climb aboard to help the Captain’s Daughter give birth.
Tours run until October and are expected to sell out quickly.
Behind the Scenes at Triumph
Newly opened at the Triumph Motorcycle Factory, near Hinckley in Leicestershire, is the Visitor Experience – a new, free, experience which introduces visitors to Triumph’s history, the processes involved in making motorcycles and reveals some iconic Triumphs including a special exhibition of Bonneville classic bikes and stars of ‘the silverscreen’ including the one ridden by Steve McQueen in the film, The Great Escape.
There is also a factory tour, which can be prebooked by groups, although dates are in high demand! This takes you behind the scenes on to the factory floor and you will be guided through the making process from concept to manufacturing and final assembly and you group will also learn some little-known facts and insights into Triumph along the way.