Dancing on the Edge: behind the scenes

Eagled-eyed viewers and National Trust fans may notice one or two locations in Poliakoff’s period drama Dancing on the Edge, which starts tonight at 9pm on BBC2.

Set in London in the early 1930s, the drama follows an ambitious, young working-class journalist (Matthew Goode) on the Musical Express, who discovers and promotes black jazz musicians, led by the pianist Louis Lester, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Dancing on the Edge

Wunmi Mosaku as Clara, Angel Coulby as Jessie and Chiwetel Ejiofor is Louis Lester with the Louise Lester band in Stephen Poliakoff’s Dancing on the Edge © Ruby Film & Television

Although many recoil at the performance of black musicians in polite society, the band soon attracts some famous fans from within the city’s more progressive socialites, including members of the Royal Household.

For the band’s first performance in front of royalty the National Trust provided the perfect backdrop, as director Stephen Poliakoff explains…

“I was able to stage one of the first concerts under the trees of Fenton House. It was a musical lunch party held in honour of Prince George, fourth son of King George V.”

Dancing on the Edge

Chiwetel Ejiofor and the band at Fenton House © Ruby Film & Television

“Prince George and his older brother the Prince of Wales were avid jazz fans and they both make appearances in the new drama.”

“One of best moments of the shoot for me was standing in the garden of Fenton House and being able to turn 360 degrees and not see a single modern building as a marvellous period townscape surrounds the garden walls.”

Dancing on the Edge

Janet Montgomery as Sarah, Tom Hughes as Julian and Joanna Vanderham Pamela © Ruby Film & Television

Visitors will be able to experience the magical gardens at Fenton House themselves from the 2nd of March when the house, which is situated in the winding streets of Hampstead, opens to the public.

Next-up for Louis Lester’s band was Upton House, near Banbury in Worcestershire.

Upton House, Warwickshire

Upton House, once home to a 1930s millionaire

With sparkling art-deco interiors this millionaire’s home captures glamour and wealth that existed side by side with extreme poverty during the depression in Britain in the thirties.

Poliakoff describes Upton’s appeal,

“In my story it acted as the perfect backdrop as the townhouse of an aristocratic family whose son and daughter become avid followers of the jazz band.”

The Long Gallery at Upton House

The Long Gallery at Upton House where vistors can soak up the 1930s atmosphere and even play the piano

“Its large reception rooms, kitchens and upstairs bedrooms enabled me to evoke the fabulous lifestyle enjoyed by some of the British aristocracy in the early 1930s.”

Fans of the glitz and glamour of the thirties can enjoy events throughout the year at Upton House, including a special mother’s day event (9-10 March) which reveals 1930s fashion, make-up, hair and beauty techniques.

Read Poliakoff’s interview with the National Trust in this month’s magazine (page 11) and discover more about filming at Trust places here.

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One thought on “Dancing on the Edge: behind the scenes

  1. Pingback: Movies and TV in 2012 | BISH – British & Irish Stately Homes

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