You would not expect to find a film set in rural Pity Me, Durham, but that’s exactly what staff and tenants at local charity, Finchale, have seen when they have been coming to work over the past few months.

It’s been lights, camera, action as film producers of the hit BBC series North East crime drama, Inspector George Gently, completely transformed Pity Me based charity, Finchale, turning the former 1940’s Roadhouse and more recently Finchale Training College into a 1970’s Police Station.

The set team arrived late December and the transformation of Finchale began with the dressing of the buildings and the erection of a full police station custody suite replacing the charity’s main reception area. Windows were modified to match whilst a police cell and offices occupied other areas of the site. Signs and other sets appeared within some of the buildings and several buildings received a lick of paint to take the corridors and offices back in time. The onsite road and carpark were closed off during filming and period vehicles could be seen. Filming itself began in mid-January and lasting around 6 weeks.  

“It was a fun experience to see Finchale get transformed into a film set. It’s really clever what they have done and the amount of detail they have gone to create the 1970’s aura.” said Finchale’s Projects Officer, Jim Cooper. “Not many people get a behind the scenes look at how a drama series is made and we are happy that we could be a part of it. The BBC were very helpful, our clients and visitors continued to access the site and staff and tenants enjoyed being at the heart of the action with some of them even getting parts as extras during filming.”

Producers picked Finchale to recreate the police station because of its architecture and based the administrative and production teams on its 13.5 acre site during North East filming of the series. The location was organised by Northern Media – which has already brought productions such as Vera and Transformers to the North East.

The cast and crew of the BBC’s popular police drama George Gently have been filming scenes on site over the past months and the rural location and available space made for easy creation and assembly of the sets.

Mel Pears MBE, CEO at Finchale said: Although we are sad to hear that this is Inspector George Gently’s last series we are delighted to have been a part of it. The buzz around the site has been amazing and it’s a really impressive amount of work for such a relatively short amount of screen time.

“Our vast buildings have taken on new life” Mel explains, “The production team have promised to return it to it’s original form. We had to keep the project hush hush during the filming but we are looking forward to talking to customers about it once the series is aired.