This week saw the final episode of the 6 part series Grandma's House on BBC2. This seemed like a good time to just confirm to those that have been asking, that the whole of Grandma's House was shot in a set at Pinewood Studios. Everything you see on screen, was a set build. (apart from the exteriors)
I started doing research for the interiors around January 2010, having shot the pilot the previous year, all on location.
The aim was to keep the layout of the actual house where we shot the pilot, in Gants Hill, 2 streets away from where Simon Amstell's actual Grandma used to live.
Using old family photos provided by Simon, and some of his old family videos, I was able to piece together a look that was both true to his actual memories, whilst also capturing the essence of a present day Jewish house, owned and lived in by elderly people. It also had to be filming friendly.
The biggest challenge for me was sourcing old looking wallpaper and carpets, as the look of the interior needed to be as it would have been decorated around 20+ years ago.
After much searching and an ever ticking clock, I was able to find some carpet up North, and some wallpaper in Germany. All of which arrived with literally days to spare.
I also wanted to make the house look as real as I possibly could, so to help sell the illusion, I took some high resolution photographs outside of the location we used for the exterior shots, also in Gants Hill.
I then had these photos blown up to over 25 feet, and hung them outside of the big bay window and front door, to provide a real looking view. I then matched as close as possible the plants on the driveway, and put these outside, so that when the front door opens, it matches what you saw looking the other way, at the real location.
Apart from the wallpaper and carpets, the furniture was less of a challenge, as it's relatively easy these days to get hold of period furniture. The tricky task, was getting a good mix of periods, dating back from perhaps the 50's or 60's all the way up to modern day, because in reality, people keep some furniture, and add to other bits as time goes on. A dressed set would very rarely ever be of just one snapshot in time, because objects and furniture would always be bought over some time.
And finally, the smalls, or ornaments, the fine bits of prop dressing, were all sourced from a variety of places. Some things hired from prop house, some things bought at car boot fairs or Ebay, and some things borrowed.
These are the things that give the characters their sense of place, and are the things you have the most fun with. We went to a great level of detail with all the dressing, even down to shopping lists on cork boards, and coupons for kosher food on the fridge. Most of which will never be seen by the viewing public.
So that's a short tour around Grandma's House. I do hope you liked it.