AN EPIC TV mini-series which starts tonight has many of its roots on Teesside.
Parade’s End, which airs on BBC2 at 9pm, is based on a quartet of novels by 20th Century writer Ford Madox Ford and is tipped as a racier BBC rival to ITV success Downton Abbey.
Adapted by Sir Tom Stoppard and starring Benedict Cumberbatch, it’s set during a formative period of British history – from the twilight years of the Edwardian era to the end of the First World War.
And if some of the scenes and setting have a familiar feel to them, you’d be right – Ford based much of his work on his time on Teesside, where he was stationed towards the end of the First World War.
Considered one of the 20th Century’s greatest writers, Ford enlisted in the Welsh Regiment in 1915 and had two spells of duty in France, but was invalided back to the UK in 1917.
After being stationed at the regiment’s 3rd battalion HQ in Redcar in 1918, he spent several years living on Teesside, including a spell in Eston.
So it’s little wonder that what many consider to be his best work has a Teesside flavour.
Much of the action in Parade’s End centres on a manor house, Groby Hall, which is believed to be based on Busby Hall at Carlton-in-Cleveland, residence of Arthur Marwood (1868-1916) and co-founder, with Ford, of the English Review in 1908.
Marwood sporadically appears in Ford’s work and is the model for one of the main Parade’s End characters, Christopher Tietjens – played in the show by Benedict Cumberbatch.
The Parade’s End novels also mention Newcastle races, Redcar sands and, with a doff of the cap to North Yorkshire, “great black nights above purple moors”.
Executive producer of the five-part TV series Michele Buck said: “I think an audience will identify with the central love story and see that these people were living through an extraordinary time when the world was turned upside down.”
Cumberbatch said: “Parade’s End is an elegy to the death throes of the Edwardian upper classes.”
Some of the series was filmed at Duncombe Park, Helmsley.