TV show goes behind the scenes at two North East tourist attractions

The Inside the National Trust series, which starts this weekend, is fronted by a BBC journalist and newsreader Michael Buerk

Viewers will be given a glimpse of life behind the scenes at two of the region’s best loved tourist attractions in a new TV series.

ITV’s new series Inside the National Trust will showcase the work that goes into keeping the organisation’s Cragside and Farne Islands Northumberland sites open for visitors.

The series, which starts this weekend, is fronted by a BBC journalist and newsreader Michael Buerk.

Over the course of the 20-part ‘docu-series,’ Michael visits a total of six trust properties across the country, meeting the people behind the scenes at each.

Staff, volunteers and animals resident at the sites will all be the stars of the show with everyday occurrences captured on film from puffin counting on the Farnes to an insight into Victorians at Cragside - built by Lord Armstrong – a Victorian inventor, innovator and landscape genius.

Andrew Sawyer, who has worked as a conservation officer at Cragside for 25 years, features in the series, which will jump between sites in each episode.

He said: “My favourite moment was talking with Michael about jelly and jelly moulds.

“It is just one of those wonderful moments in life you have to pinch yourself and say, am I really talking to this influential, serious journalist about Victorian jelly making?

“It was just so much fun with all the jolly jelly japes we all had! It was just brilliant to be part of the film crew camaraderie.”

The series features the five yearly puffin count on the Farnes, lead by head ranger David Steel and his eight strong team.

He said: “The puffin count is the only way we can truly measure how our colonies are doing.

“With the extremes of weather and rain especially last year, we have been really concerned about population numbers falling.

“Viewers will see the outcome of the count; and the coming and goings of our birds - particularly during the nesting season – as well as witnessing the challenges all island inhabitants’ face with the extremes of weather.”

Michael added; “I love grand houses, but the Farne Islands are special.

“With all the birds in the breeding season, they’re the closest thing England has to the Galápagos.

“To be there during the (arctic) terns’ breeding season was hair-raising in almost every way and the closet you can get to nature this side of the African bush.”

Katherine Foggon, house steward at Cragside who also features, said the series will provide welcome nationwide publicity for the sites.

“It gives people an insight into the running of the big properties but Cragside especially with us being one of the biggest in the North East.

“It is a massive undertaking to keep the property running.

“We have been quite lucky that the North of the country has featured quite heavily in the programme. So it is good publicity.”

Inside the National Trust is to be broadcast weekly on ITV1 on Sundays at 12.25pm from October 6.

The first 10 episodes will be screened before Christmas with the others to follow at a later date.

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