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Crickley Hall: Creating the illusion of the past

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Hannah King Hannah King | 11:21 UK time, Friday, 16 November 2012

The Secret of Crickley Hall, adapted from the best-selling novel by James Herbert, is a chilling ghost story that moves between two time frames: 1943 and 2012.

Filming the contemporary set for the BBC One series was straightforward. However, taking that same location back in time by nearly 70 years was more of a challenge for writer and director Joe Ahearne.

Joe worked closely with visual effects supervisor Chris Mortimer and computer graphics supervisor Jonathan Privett, from the London-based post-production house Rushes.

They applied effects after the drama had been filmed to create the illusion of this passage of time, along with several other highly detailed finishing touches.

Here Jonathan explains how the magic of Crickley Hall was enhanced after the actors had all gone home...

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"We don't want to draw your eye to the fact that anything has happened at all."

Watch the trailer for The Secret Of Crickley Hall.

Jonathan Privett is the computer graphics supervisor on The Secret Of Crickley Hall. Hannah King, who filmed this interview, is a researcher in BBC TV and iPlayer.

The Secret Of Crickley Hall is on BBC One on Sunday, 18 November at 9pm. For further programme times please see the episode guide.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    I have been looking forward to watching 'The Secret of Crickley Hall' by James Herbert but have been disappointed by the lack of advertising , I am presuming it is because of some of the nature of the storyline and the current issues surrounding the BBC but trying to get an answer is like trying to get blood from a stone.

  • Comment number 3.

    What a brilliant programme, well the bit I could hear....why do we have to have such loud music ? I couldn't hear a lot of the script for the supposedly 'back ground music', more like foreground music. I'll have to put the subtitles on for next week and watch tonight's again on the i player, perhaps I can guess what they're saying !!!

  • Comment number 4.

    We enjoyed the first programme but the supposed 'background music' was far too loud and at times we could hardly hear the dialogue. This seemed to happen at all the times when the cast were talking quietly e.g during the night.
    Please for future episodes turn down the music!

  • Comment number 5.

    Brilliant first episode. Just the right amount of suspense. Can't wait for next two episodes!

  • Comment number 6.

    In view of the very sensitive and difficult situation in which the BBC currently finds itself, I am surprised and concerned that programme schedulers consider it appropriate to air a drama serial focussing on child abuse!! Is this yet another case of financial decisions dictating the schedules?!

  • Comment number 7.

    The speech was very quiet at times and not very clear. Please adjust for next two episodes.

  • Comment number 8.

    Crickley Hall is supposed to be set in Devon and yet the BBC used an unadulterated Bluebird Manchester bus for the school bus service!

  • Comment number 9.

    They moved "up North" about a third of the way through.In fact the local village looked very much like Downham where Whistle down the Wind was filmed.

  • Comment number 10.

    Winter time and a great ghost story. A superb production so far and two of the bravest slaps on television. In this 'story', the leading characters recognise the abuse. Looking forward to next Sunday.

  • Comment number 11.

    quite agree background music too loud,,,,otherwise gripping play

  • Comment number 12.

    Few scenes have ever given me more pleasure than seeing the elder daughter (Sue?) give the school bully a punch in the mouth. I couldn't help shouting "good on you!".

    Great story, gripping and chilling and in the flash-back scenes representative of some attitudes prevalent in those days.

    Can't agree with Garbo50's comment. What is wrong with airing this now? It's always a good time to bring such matters into the open and this is not jumping on the band-wagon as it must have been filmed/videoed months ago.

  • Comment number 13.

    I have never written on a blog site befoe but after watching the series of The Paradise on the BBC, I have got to comment on how fantastic the programme was. The characters,costumes,settings and storyline were just amazing and am so sorry that its come to an end. Is there going to be another follow on series? Congratulations on a most briliant drama,which i will miss.

  • Comment number 14.

    Excellent first episode, nice to see Downham village being used again.
    I think last used in Born and Bred.

  • Comment number 15.

    Hmmm mixed feelings. I quite enjoyed it, but having recently read the book, was a bit baffled that certain details seem to have been changed just for the sake of it. Why change Gabe from American to British? And incongruously why then change the family car from a British Range Rover to an American Jeep? Why change the dog's name from Chester? Why change the setting from Devon to 'oop North'? David Warner was a believable Percy and Douglas Henshall was suitably creepy, but Magda came over as insufficiently unattractive and sinister. Would probably be more enjoyable if you hadn't read the book.

  • Comment number 16.

    A with many others I find the sound balance on this (and many other drama series) poor (I am a semi-professional sound engineer who has in the past worked freelance for the bbc).

    Is this because it is mixed for surround sound and the sound stage is wrong in stereo or is it because the engineer doesn't use sensible reference speakers (when I mixed for radio I used to mix on lovely studio speakers but kept flicking in a cheap speaker that was more like the transistor radio the average listener listened on. I shouldn't need to put sub-titles on in order to hear the dialogue

  • Comment number 17.

    I know you need to suspend your scepticism to watch shows like this, but to me it seemed an unfortunate mishmash that couldn't decide whether it was drama or shock horror. Does it really need so many different elements to make it work: child abduction; child abuse; creepy haunted house; disability discrimination; caricature characters like David Warner, the headmaster and psychic dog? I was half expecting a Dalek or a vampire to appear at any moment. To me it came over as formulaic nonsense that tried to cover too many bases and failed as a result. I haven't read the novel, but the TV script felt as it was written by a focus group. I really don't think I'll be watching episodes 2 & 3.
    Roll on "Last Tango in Halifax"! Maybe that will be better...

  • Comment number 18.

    Hello all, thank you for kicking off the discussion here. Interesting to see your comments about the balance of dialogue and background music JennyWootton #3, Dave Johnson #4, Wilf #7 , phil #11 and Jona #16. Jona - I can't answer your specific question but I will pass all your comments onto the Crickley Hall production team. Meanwhile I thought I'd share this more general link: Is the background music too loud? Danny Cohen (controller of BBC One) wrote the post on this blog a while ago, presenting the findings of research that the BBC did into the common audience complaint that dialogue was hard to distinguish. Just for interest.
    Thanks again for all your comments.

  • Comment number 19.

    Love a good winter ghost story! However, the music was too loud at times and drowned out some quietly spoken, but possibly key moments. Please can the music be taken down a decibel or so? Really looking forward to seeing the rest of it. Well done all.

  • Comment number 20.

    I agree with some other reviewers, an excellent drama but the background music is far too loud, the dialogue is impossible to hear in places. Please put this right for the next episode. Thank you

  • Comment number 21.

    I quite enjoyed it.. there were some good bits and some daft bits but once again the programme was ruined by over loud background music. The dialogue was drowned out for much of and I had to put the subtitles on. There must be someone in the BBC who can sort out this problem - it ruins so many programmes.

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    Chilling first episode building to a suspenseful climax...

    ...which was immediately destroyed by "next time" clips from the following episode.

    This irritating gimmick is particularly inappropriate in a mystery drama. It is an insult to the craft or the author and screenwriters, and to the intelligence of the viewers.

    Who decides to run these spoilers, and why?

  • Comment number 24.

    I saw Suranne Jones on BBC breakfast and she alluded to some spooky experiences the cast had while staying on location and filming - hope to hear more about this in future blog posts!

  • Comment number 25.

    Really enjoyed this, spooky, well acted BUT please stop with the spoilers, I am fed up having to dash for the remote so as not to see whats coming next, it ruins the tension.

  • Comment number 26.

    Can I please add to the comments about the over-loud music and the spoiler masquerading as a preview for the next episode? I had to resort to using subtitles after missing parts of the dialogue due to the music drowning out the actors and I wasn't quick enough with the remote to miss the spoiler. In any case, I wanted to see the cast list which, annoyingly, came afterwards. Please stop spoiling the effect of a good story, well-acted (especially by the children in the cast) with unnecessarily loud music and "previews".

  • Comment number 27.

    I am a big fan of James Herbert’s novels so I was really looking forward to seeing this made into a drama, so far I have I have not been disappointed, as for the sound level of the background music I can't say it bothered me, maybe I have superhuman hearing. When novel's are made into a drama or film there are always parts that are changed to some degree, they never match exactly, don't forget too that if you read the novel you have then your own imagination playing a bit part which again will never match what you see either on the big or small screen so yes some could end up being disappointed. The only criticism I have read and agree with are the spoilers, yes they are very annoying, these are quite common place for a lot of programmes on all channels but that is why they are called what they are 'spoilers'.

  • Comment number 28.

    I was really disappointed because of the 'background music' was so loud and intrusive.This is happening a lot these days. I turned off 'Last Tango in Halifax 'for the same reason.Good background music is not to be noticed but be absorbed subliminally. Whats going on???

  • Comment number 29.

    Well done...but the background music was too loud and the 'Next Week' section spoilt the ending..it seems to be a trend nowadays to spoil it by showing half of next weeks episode...it's the same with Doctor Who....stop it, it's annoying

  • Comment number 30.

    I have just watched this and found it to be excellent. Really gripping and so scary.
    Can't say I had any real problems with the sound.
    Looking forward to next episode. I personally enjoy watching whats in the next episode.
    Would like to find more about filming etc. I don't think the timing is wrong with regard to recent BBC troubles.

  • Comment number 31.

    Totally agree with above posters about the "Next week" spoilers. Why are they there? If you have enjoyed the programme you have literally just finished watching, you will probably watch again next week. If you haven't you probably won't. Those spoilers seem to be aimed at theoretical people who didn't enjoy it, but might possibly be persuaded to watch again next week on the promise something exciting will happen. It just spoils surprises - like sometimes when you buy a DVD of a film they show clips of the film you are about to watch in the DVD menu!

  • Comment number 32.

    I would love to know about the location in more detail - I think it's Downham too - I'm sure I had a brilliant lunch in that pub back in September. I know that Devon is full of atmosphere and could spook the life out of us if asked, but there is something undeniably uncanny about all those villages around Pendle Hill. Downham is extraordinarily beautiful too so perhaps include it in the "Meet the characters" section....

  • Comment number 33.

    To all those people who don't listen to dialogue, the location of Crickley Hall is, for the purposes of this adaptation, in the north east of England, so the Manchester bus is not surprising, the village of Downham, where the school and shops are, is in Lancashire, but those of us who have read the book, will remember that it was set in the west country, possibly Devon, though I don't recall a county actually being mentioned....

  • Comment number 34.

    Last nights episode was ruined yet again by the ridicuously loud background music and mumbling by the cast. When someone has to put the subtitles on to be able to follow a programme there is something wrong. How many times does the BBC have to be told about this problem before they will eventually get the message?

  • Comment number 35.

    Just watched 25 November episode. In the wartime hospital the doctor referred to the possibility of "sectioning". I thought this phrase wasn't used until the 1983 Mental Health Act? It certainly sounded completely wrong.

  • Comment number 36.

    well having watched the first 2 of 3 the BBC have not done bad, yes it filmed and located in the north but the book was written for a location in the south. it took a while to find a suitable hall to do the filming at and to get the era correct. i have not yet read the book myself but is next on my list of to reads. must praise James on his writing of this novel, as ghost story it does send chills down my spine when im watching the programme, more of his novels should be done by the BBC they have done a fantastic job on this one, looking forward to seeing next weeks , will they get there child back? as no indications at the mo from next weeks spoilers

  • Comment number 37.

    Hello, I’m the Executive Producer of The Secret Of Crickley Hall. Thank you for all your comments on this blog. It’s been really interesting to read your feedback on the programme and I’d like to try to respond to some of your points here.

    Firstly, on your criticism of the sound quality, JennyWootton (#3), Dave Johnson (#4), Wilf (#7), phil (#11), Jona (#16), elaineagain (#19), parkinsonsu (#20), Zelda (#21), Vickytorious (#26), freedomlass (#27), kaaboot (#28), Nick Brighton (#29), Ashles (#31).

    This is always a difficult balance to get right and my apologies if this has marred your enjoyment of the show. In this genre, creating suspense and frights is a key part of the success of the show and it feels like music is an integral part of creating this atmosphere and has therefore been raised in the mix. In the sound dub the sound team, director, producer and myself all monitor sound levels and debate each section as we come to it. Whilst it is clear that the finished version hasn’t felt successful for all of you, we have worked hard to try and get the mix right. I do of course regret that for some of you the music has proved too overpowering.

    As to the location, you’re right Sweetmollymalone1964 (#9), yingtongting (#14) and JoanEB (#32). We filmed the pub, bicycle and church scenes in Downham Estate, in Lancashire. It was a great location for us and it looks as fantastic on screen as it does in real life.

    And regarding the ‘Next time’ clips – Peakeen (#23), Scalywitch (#25), Vickytorious (#26) and freedomlass (#27), I take on board your point that they’re not appreciated by everybody. And caroline (#30) thank you for your mention that you do enjoy them.

    Our aim was to create an exciting trailer to tempt you back next time and to do this we needed to reveal some of the upcoming plot. However, I promise that we’ve kept plenty of plot twists back for next time!

    Thanks again for creating this discussion, it’s appreciated by all of us on the Crickley production team and I do hope you enjoy this Sunday’s final episode.

  • Comment number 38.

    hello there up on watching the secret of crickley hall, I am quite discussed that children were subjected to this kind of abuse. i know its acting but its just morally wrong. I will continue to complain on this issue if I see anything like this again on BBC television

  • Comment number 39.

    Very disappointed with the final episode. Far too many changes from the novel, including cutting out the most horrific and creepy bits. The book's ending worked well, but the TV version was incoherent and unconvincing.

  • Comment number 40.

    Having watched this series I was impressed by the originality and acting.However,as a victim of child abuse many years ago,I was left feeling disturbed and angry. It had stirred up feelings that I thought I had dealt with and put behind me.I feel you should think carefuly about the subject matter in programmes you air at a prime time.The story was very grim,in a number of ways,and I question whether such issues should be shown as entertainment.

  • Comment number 41.

    Where were the cemetery scenes at the end of the third episode shot ?

  • Comment number 42.

    One of the best programmes i have seen for ages. Suranne Jones is amazing!!


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