Vicky is one of the first, if not the first, fans that followed our Facebook page the day Fan Fun with Damian Lewis came to life almost three years ago. She wrote her brilliant fan story we are proud to have published in our Fan Story Series and she is back today with an equally beautiful story about how she followed Milo Shakespeare’s footsteps in Grosmont, South Wales, the village where Gareth and Damian Lewis shot their killer comedy The Baker! Thank you, Vicky!
Before we dive into Vicky’s road trip, I would love to share a few notes regarding the location choice for the film from the film’s production notes that I found a while ago online:
“Both Gareth and Damian spent a great deal of time in Wales when they were growing up, thanks to their patriotic Welsh father.
“I’m quite romantic about my Celtic roots,’ says Damian. “And although I went to school in England, grew up in London, we’ve always been made aware of Welsh roots by dad, who’s been very keen to stay in touch with his Welshness, even though he can’t speak more than five words of Welsh! It’s London-Welsh, I guess! But certainly some locations in the film come directly from the local villages and towns in West Wales near where we near where we live”.
“Not only did the shooting location have to carry the right quirky atmosphere, it also had to house some key buildings, a pub, a bakery, a village shop, a church, a village hall and, ideally, a fish-and-chip shop. “We started looking in West Wales, where Damian and Gareth grew up; they’re Welsh by way of Abbey Road…” says producer Adrian Sturges. “There were lots of pretty villages that were too small and many that were big but too busy. There was nothing in between, and no villages with chip shops.
In fact, the fish shop scenes were filmed in Cardiff, but still the filmmakers scoured the Welsh countryside looking closely at 12 different villages, and Grosmont, in South Wales, was the last one they saw. “We particularly liked a road in this village that’s called Poor Script Lane,” laughs Sturges, “which is a dead end. We’ve got a great photo of Gareth standing by that!”
The village had a pub, a town hall, church, shop, tea rooms that would serve as the bakery, plus it had a castle.
“Initially the big fighting sequence at the end of the movie was in a quarry but we changed it to a castle because of the castle being here,” says Sturges. In addition, Gareth wanted his village to feature a number of brightly coloured houses, wanting his movie to have a certain texture to reflect the quirky comedy. “Billy Wilder is a massive influence and so is Jeunet; Delicatessen is a big influence,” Gareth says. “The basic palette in our movie is taken from Degas, very pastel, and it’s a great palette for comedy, the greens, red and soft colours; it all feels great. It works on Amelie, with all its greens and reds.”
And here is Vicky following the footsteps of Milo Shakespeare and giving us a unique flavor of Grosmont!
Before I start another Damian-related story, let me set the scene… I am a petrolhead, who is obsessed with all things motorsport-related, especially on 2 wheels… I am also very proud of my family’s Welsh roots, and will happily visit that side of the border for any given excuse… So, when the British Speedway Grand Prix was in Cardiff on my 28th birthday, a family weekend away was booked!
My Dad (yes, the one with the aerial outside the caravan when I was watching Band of Brothers in 2001) drove the four of us down to South Wales on the Saturday & we enjoyed time in Cardiff & stayed in the village next to where my Nan & Great Aunt had grown up. Sunday was planned for a bit of sight-seeing & the journey home… But what my parents hadn’t realised was that I’d planned a more cross-country route back…
When I saw Damian’s film ‘The Baker’, I thought it was wonderful. A good old family comedy. The treasure-trove that is IMDB meant I knew exactly where it was filmed; Grosmont, a little village near Abergavenny in Monmouthshire, Wales. So I thought a little detour would be nice! I directed my Dad through country lanes & valleys, into the back-end of nowhere! A tiny little village, with a narrow road and parked cars. I squealed as we drove past the pub, trying to find somewhere to park. (This squeal was met with much groaning & head shaking from my parents & boyfriend, who just laugh at me when I start talking about ‘the ginger prince’…again haha.)
The pub is actually The Angel Inn, but happily displays the signs from The Daffodil, as it was called in the film.
I was stupidly excited eating lunch in there, and the lovely barman shared some information about how to get to the castle, which houses in the village were used, and even had autographs from some of the cast (including Damian) displayed behind the bar.
Thanks to his helpful anecdotes, I could go sight-spotting… I found out Milo’s bakery is actually a café and b&b (how lovely would it be to stay there?!).
Then came the magical moment, when I got to Grosmont Castle itself (via a tiny path down the side of a farm house and over a small bridge). The sword-fighting scene between Damian Lewis & Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is one of my favourite parts of the film, so standing in that spot myself was incredible.
The castle may be a ruin, but it has a special place in my heart. I went running round taking photos from every angle, including the view back to the village from the top of the tower.
And, of course, my poor boyfriend had to re-create the scene with me, in what is still one of my favourite photos!
Now, three years later, when I watch the film The Baker, I spend much of the time squealing “I’ve been there!”, pointing and clapping with fangirl excitement. Heaven knows what I’d be like face-to-face with the man himself…