While all the world’s a stage, some parts are more in demand than others. Bolton School, for example, has served as the location for everything from the school of choice for James Nesbitt’s son in Cold Feet – a series co-produced by Bolton alumna, Deanne Cunningham – to a recent Scottish Widows advert.
The Greater Manchester institution was also the setting for Sarah Lancashire’s portrayal of a headmistress in Last Tango in Halifax, as well as featuring in Bancroft, Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, Our Girl, CBBC’s Creeped Out, a GambleAware ad, and the film Mark of Cain.
Adele Hughes coordinates the hiring out of school premises.
“We do seem to be on a good streak at the moment,” she says. “The word about Bolton School being great for filming seems to have filtered out to various film companies and their location managers. This week we have just filmed some scenes for a new Netflix series, The Stranger, and for a forthcoming Channel 4/Netflix comedy. We are also involved in some exciting negotiations over hiring out the premises this summer.”
“We are lucky to have such spectacular buildings,” she adds, “and visitors often say how it feels like they are on the set of Hogwarts. In fact, thinking about it, the school was even transformed into Hogwarts for an episode of Don’t Tell the Bride! All the money that we make – along with revenues from hiring out our premises and services for weddings – is ploughed back into the school’s bursary fund, which enables many pupils to study for free here.”
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Location shoots across the school’s 32 acre site have so far taken place in the Great Halls, heads’ studies, sports fields, corridors, classrooms, laboratories, arts centre, Oxbridge-like quadrangles, headmaster’s lawn, sports hall, sixth form centre, and memorial staircase.
Besides serving as film set, the school’s alumni includes a number of people known for appearing in front of camera, including Sir Ian McKellen, Mark Radcliffe, Carol Klein, and Ralf Little.