Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Is it Aden? Or is it Simon's Town?


Earlier this year, we had the privilege of watching part of the shooting of The Last Post, a BBC TV series set in 1960s Aden, a former British territory. Except... we weren't in Yemen, but in Simon's Town.
Yes, Simon's Town was chosen as a "double" for Aden, with its streets turned into Arabian markets and the old sanatorium site at the top of the mountain standing in for the army barracks where much of the action in the series takes place. There is a nice symmetry to choosing Simon's Town, which was, of course, for many years a British enclave and the home of the Royal Navy's South Atlantic fleet.

Just along the road from us, the production company set up a huge green screen which formed a neutral backdrop to various scenes which might need a different background inserted after filming. We returned one day to find a vibrant street action being shot with the heroines posing in pastel, full-skirted frocks and headscarves. With the addition of trestle tables laden with fruit and shaded by dusty umbrellas, old fashioned bicycles propped against walls and extras in traditional robes, suddenly we were in the Middle East of the 1960s. But there are clues to the location if you look carefully. In some of the scenes taken at the top of the mountain, you can see Simon's Town historic aerial ropeway rearing its head in the background. And every so often there's a magnificent view of the docks and the sweep of Simon's Bay, like in the picture above.

So... if you happen to be intrigued by the setting of The Girl from Simon's Bay, take a look at this series on TV catchup and see if you can spot some of the buildings and streets described in the novel - even if they've been given a Middle Eastern flavour!
If you're outside the UK, hopefully you'll soon get the chance to watch it via the BBC's worldwide channels...
The port was tucked into a protective curve of mountains, with Simon's Bay at its feet.
A huge flag flew in the grounds of Admiralty House...


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