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New Poliakoff drama puts Severn Valley Railway on prime time telly (30th January 2013)

LOCAL viewers tuning in to the new Stephen Poliakoff BBC2 drama series 'Dancing on the Edge' which airs on Monday February 4th 2013 (9pm) might spot something strangely familiar about 'Folkestone' station, which features in the five-part drama.

Others might think they recognise ‘South Bromley’ station too – even if they’ve never been to that London suburb.

They’d be right too - for ‘Folkestone’ in reality is Kidderminster Town station, ‘South Bromley’ is Bewdley station - and the mocked-up 1930s scenes were filmed at the Severn Valley Railway over two days in February 2012 - almost exactly a year ago.

The acclaimed film and television playwright and director chose the Kidderminster-to-Bridgnorth steam heritage line to link scenes in his latest drama which is set mainly in London in 1932-33, and follows an ambitious, young working-class journalist on the Musical Express, who discovers and promotes a black jazz band of mostly American musicians.

The band soon attracts racy and even Royal fans, and before long fashionable young aristocrats are falling over each other to make friends with the musicians, in some cases falling into bed with them. One of the love scenes was shot in a Severn Valley Railway sleeping car.

The drama explores the allegiances, loyalties and ultimate betrayals between high society and black jazz in 1930s London, through a cast that includes Jacqueline Bisset, John Goodman, Anthony Head, Mel Smith, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Caroline Quentin, Matthew Goode and Jane Asher – and also the SVR’s former London, Midland & Scottish Railway 2-6-2 locomotive No.42968, and a raft of classic 1930s London & North Eastern Railway teak-bodied carriages. 

Screening was originally forecast to have been last Autumn, but welcoming next Monday’s launch of the series and what is another notch on the SVR’s belt in the re-creation of period drama scenes for film and television, General Manager Nick Ralls hailed what he called “an important endorsement of the Severn Valley Railway’s ability to provide time-warp film settings for the film and television industry, to almost any specification.”

It is not the first time that Stephen Poliakoff has worked railway sequences into one of his productions.  ‘Caught On A Train’, originally shown on BBC 1 in 1980, was based upon an overnight journey Poliakoff himself made from London to Vienna. Starring Dame Peggy Ashcroft and Michael Kitchen, it won a BAFTA Television Award.

Might ‘Dancing on the Edge’, with a little help from the Severn Valley Railway, do the same?