WITH the North East as a backdrop and a Geordie in the lead role, a new fantasy drama for children hitting TV screens next week is the latest boost for the region’s film industry.
Building on the success of the vampire saga Twilight, Wolfblood will begin on CBBC on Monday. It stars Newcastle teenager Aimée Kelly as Maddy Smith who appears normal but is secretly part of an ancient race called wolfbloods.
Along with her friend Rhydian, played by Bobby Lockwood, they have razor sharp senses with an amazing sense of smell, are incredibly fast and super- strong.
The drama follows the tense relationship of Maddy and Rhydian as they make their way through the trials and tribulations of high school, rivalries, friendship and heartbreak – plus added wolf powers. The 13-part series was filmed at Charles Thorp Comprehensive School on Hookergate Campus and in the woods of the surrounding Rowlands Gill countryside.
Aimée, 19, grew up in Fenham before the former Sacred Heart pupil left the North East to pursue her acting career in London.
She was nominated for a top film award for her first acting role in the film Sket when she impressed producers so much during her audition that they changed the script to make her character a Geordie.
Now instead of exploring the world of girl gangs on the streets, she had to spend most of the filming deep in the woods.
She said: “We filmed in and around Rowlands Gill and Blanchland. The fields and woods would get quite creepy at night with our fake smoke. It was also freezing cold – sometimes I had to wear three coats and two hot water bottles.”
The series has been compared to Twilight, but aimed at a younger teenage audience.
It was filmed by many of the same crew who work on the set of children’s series Tracy Beaker, shot at the former La Sagesse school in Jesmond, Newcastle.
Producer Foz Allan said: “We wanted to create a very natural and organic backdrop and the location around Blanchland was perfect.
“The moorlands and crags make you feel on top of the world and using the best digital cameras we have been able to capture that beauty.”
On casting Aimee in the lead female role, he said: “We were not looking for a North East actress. It was simply that when she came to the audition she blew us out of the water. She is a superstar.”
A special preview screening was held last night at Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema, where Aimée appeared along with co-star Kedar Williams-Stirling, 17, who plays her friend Tom.
Wolfblood begins on Monday on CBBC.
Watch a clip of the show here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/clips/p00y1v50