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Dracula swoops in for filming

30 August 2006   |   Written by E. Cooney

The blood-sucking vampire Dracula swooped on Bath yesterday as the city centre was transformed into a film set.

The 90-minute BBC television drama featuring Hustle star Marc Warren as Dracula and Poirot’s David Suchet as his nemesis Van Helsing is expected to be screened after Christmas. It is the third time in a year North Parade Buildings has been used by film crews. But Dracula promises to be very different to the costume dramas usually filmed in the city.

The script was written by Bath writer Stewart Harcourt, and is based on Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel. It explores the darker side of London and incorporates the life of the author, who is believed to have died from syphilis.

“The film looks fantastic,” said Mr Harcourt. “It’s very realistic, very sexual and very violent. When I was asked to do it I thought it was exciting, but what I thought was more exciting was Bram Stoker’s life.”

Mr Harcourt’s three children are appearing as extras in the film, but will probably not get to see it, said Mr Harcourt, who wrote TV series Hearts and Bones and is working on an adaptation of Frankenstein, which was penned by Mary Shelley in Bath.

“Bath is fantastic for this period of history and it’s inspirational,” he said.

Producer Trevor Hopkins added: “This production is about the subculture of Victorian society – sexual immorality, the cracks in the mirror. It’s very dark. It’s not cape and fangs.”

Abbey Green was transformed into a bustling daytime scene for the final shots of the film. The Bath Sweet Shop became a bookseller and publishers, and the Pink Lemons Too boutique was covered in chairs for sale.

North Parade Buildings – where filming took place after dark – became the headquarters the Brotherhood of the Undead cult.

The Georgian terrace was used for BBC Four’s Beau Brummel in March, and as a reconstruction of Jack the Ripper’s London for National Geographic TV in July.

Now a major Jane Austen drama could soon use the city as a backdrop. The film commissioner for Bath and north east Somerset, Maggie Ainley, is in final talks over an ITV1 adaptation of Persuasion.

The city previously starred in a 1995 BBC version of Persuasion and a 1980s version of Northanger Abbey. It also formed the London backdrop for the 2004 Hollywood version of Vanity Fair.

Filming for Dracula will finish on Monday. Scenes have been shot in several other locations in the south west, including Dyrham Park.