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The White Queen, 10 hours of medieval mystery shot in Flanders

24/06/2013

Currently airing on BBC One is the broadcaster’s latest prestigious drama series The White Queen. This 10-part historical series set in 15th Century England was almost entirely shot in Flanders, with the medieval city of Bruges as its prime location. Making use of both federal and regional incentives and local talent and crew, the production is a prime example of what Flanders has on offer.

Based on Philippa Gregory’s bestselling novel series ‘The Cousin’s War’ and adapted for TV by Emma Frost, The White Queen is set in 1464, during the height of the War of the Roses.

Directed by James Kent, Jamie Payne and Collin Teague and starring a.o. Max Irons (Red Riding Hood), James Frain (The Tudors), Rebbeca Ferguson and Janet McTeer (Parade’s End), The White Queen tells the thrilling story of three women caught up in the ongoing conflict for the throne.

“Bruges felt very mysterious and medieval. If we had been doing it on the outskirts of London in a studio, it wouldn’t have been half as good.”

Max Irons, lead actor in The White Queen (Company Pictures, BBC, Czar Television)

The shoot of the series took 125 days of which 120 were shot in studio or on location in Flanders. Amazed by the authenticity of its medieval architecture, the production decided to base their production centre in the city of Bruges. There the production was able to shoot in some of the exact locations that the historical characters had visited over 500 years earlier, such as the Our Lady Church in Bruges and the small village of Damme. Popular locations such as the Belfry, the Holy Blood Chapel and Provincial Hall were combined with less know locations such as the old Waterhouse and Lissewege barn to create an authentic atmosphere. Other unique medieval locations could be found in Ghent, Ypres, Ronse and Rumbeke.

Flemish talent and crew also joined the production, with actress Veerle Baetens (The Broken Circle Breakdown) starring in the role of Margaret of Anjou and Lize Feryn (In Flanders Fields), Joren Seldeslachts (Little Black Spiders) and Ben Van den Heuvel (Crazy About Ya) taking on smaller parts. Over 120 local professionals and companies were involved in the production with key functions for Kurt Loyens (art director), Jimmy Van Meel (standby art director), Wim De Waegenaere (location manager), Jan Deca (sound recordist), Raissa Hans (costume supervisor), Wim Temmerman (gaffer), Kurt Reybrouck and Bo Molderez (key grip) and Koen Fransen (production manager).

The White Queen is a co-production of the UK based Company Pictures and Belgian production company CZAR TV. Also the Flemish public broadcaster VRT supported the series. The BNP Paribas Fortis Film Fund provided the financing share through the Belgian Tax Shelter system. The series was granted support by the Media Fund of the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF) and by Screen Flanders. Rights in the US together with most international territories have been secured by Starz in a deal brokered by All 3 Media International.

Photo credits:
Set photo The White Queen, main actress Rebecca Ferguson © Czar TV, Belfry Bruges © Bart Dewaele