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13 November 2014

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You are in: Norfolk > Entertainment > Arts, Film & Culture > Film, TV & Animation > Norfolk's appointment with The Duchess

The Duchess starring Keira Knightley (Picture: Nick Wall)

Keira Knightly as the Duchess

Norfolk's appointment with The Duchess

A-list stars Keira Knightly and Ralph Fiennes can be seen alongside Norfolk extras in the period blockbuster The Duchess. The film hit cinemas in September 2008 after months of filming in the Norfolk countryside.

The Duchess, starring Keira Knightly as Georgiana The Duchess Of Devonshire, chronicles the life of the 18th century aristocrat - whose appetite for gambling and love made her infamous.

Holkham Hall, in north Norfolk, was one of the locations used for the production which featured hundreds of supporting actors alongside the Hollywood A-list to make the film look authentic.

Instead of bringing in extras from far and wide, local people were given the opportunity for their five minutes of fame.

When a casting session was held at Fakenham Methodist Church in October 2007, so many people turned up the doors had to be closed after just two hours.

The Duchess starring Ralph Fiennes (Picture: Nick Wall)

Ralph Fiennes plays the role of the Duke

Despite the queues, Tom Clarke, from King's Lynn, managed to land himself a part in the film.

"I was going to be a coachman for about 10 days, which was great, £100 pounds a day or something like that and then they said they couldn't find a costume to fit me - it was crushing, it really was," he said.

"In the end I did two or three days as a gamer - it was great, great fun, to see yourself for two-seconds on TV is a bit of fun isn't it," he added.


Holkham Hall was used to recreate the interiors of Devonshire House, the home of the Duke of Devonshire - a building which no longer exists.

The county is no stranger to being shown on the silver screen. Stardust, Atonement, Cock And Bull Story, 007's Die Another Day, Shakespeare In Love and The Dambusters all used Norfolk locations in their production.

Laurie Hayward, the CEO for Screen East, promotes the Eastern region as a location for film and television productions. Film directors and producers have an increasing perception of Norfolk as a film-friendly county.

The Antiques Roadshow at Holkham Hall

The grounds of Holkham hall

"The county sells itself, Holkham Hall is just a wonderful location so really we have a fantastic landscape here," said Mr Hayward.

"Also, film friendliness - the county, the council, the local authorities - they work together as a team," he added.

With Norfolk becoming increasingly popular among film-makers, there could be more opportunities for local people to make their big break.

Tom has a full time job, but that doesn't mean he's not qualified to act.

"You don't need to have any experience, in fact most people have done nothing.

"They're just looking for someone with the right look, someone who is the right height and doesn't take too much attention away from the main star," said Tom.

The Duchess opened in cinemas on Friday, 5 September, 2008.

last updated: 06/09/2008 at 14:43
created: 05/09/2008

You are in: Norfolk > Entertainment > Arts, Film & Culture > Film, TV & Animation > Norfolk's appointment with The Duchess

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