Famous Faces From TV and Radio Uncover More About England’s Heritage
Famous faces from TV and radio go on personal journeys of discovery in a series of short films being launched by Historic England to spark curiosity in the nation’s heritage.
Strictly Come Dancing champion Oti Mabuse and her partner Marius Iepure, Radio 2’s Reverend Kate Bottley and TV presenter Monty Halls visit dramatic historic locations that have a special emotional connection for them.
In each film, the popular personalities discover a thread through time that brings to life the stories of people, places and spaces that have survived through the decades.
They learn about the remarkable knowledge and expertise of the people who work there and how support from the Culture Recovery Fund has enabled essential repairs to the historic buildings to take place, as well as safeguarding jobs and craft skills through the pandemic.
We hope that seeing these familiar faces discover the delights of some of the nation’s incredible heritage will engage and excite people, motivating them to find out more for themselves.
The last year has been an extremely challenging time and the joy of discovering the heritage on our door steps provides an emotional anchor for many of us, as access restrictions open up.
All the amazing places featured in the films – and many more heritage organisations and historic buildings - have been helped through the pandemic by life-line grants from the Culture Recovery Fund. These have paid for essential repairs and helped protect jobs and crucial craft skills. This support means that they will once again be able to offer fun, exciting and unique experiences to visitors when it is safe to do so.
Oti Mabuse and Marius Iepure
In their film, Oti and Marius are transported back in time as they dance at two of England’s oldest ballrooms.
They perform the tango at the romantic ‘secret’ music room at Powderham Castle which was built by William, the third viscount of Devon, to host balls, entertain noble families and help his 13 sisters find husbands.
And they glide across the floor in the Great Hall at Hampton Court Palace, following in the footsteps of England’s famous monarchs, including Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.
We are so excited to explore a couple of the most special ballrooms in the country, uncovering their history and dancing in the same space many have for centuries.
Reverend Kate Bottley
BBC Radio 2’s Good Morning Sunday presenter Reverend Kate Bottley opens a giant wooden door into the ‘Narnia of Bells’ at the Loughborough Bellfoundry, where local business John Taylor & Co has been making and mending bells since 1859.
Kate talks to dedicated volunteers and staff and finds out how bells of all shapes and sizes are forged, tuned and ‘match-made’ to create the perfect sound, which rings out from churches and bell towers across the UK and around the globe.
The first thing that struck me, as I came through those great big doors, was the vastness of the space and how small I felt within it. I felt like I'd been transported to another world entirely. It's like the Narnia of bells!
If you think about it, every person in the UK has heard a Taylor’s bell being rung. It's something that unites us all.
It’s the uniqueness of a place like this. This is an individual place which over the years has grown and evolved. It's like a living, breathing creature that creates these amazing and beautiful objects.
Monty Halls, host of BBC2’s The Great Escape, and his young family have an ‘absolutely magical experience’ at The Lost Gardens of Heligan.
A real-life ‘secret garden’, it disappeared from view after the First World War and was lost to the world for almost 70 years.
Then a small section of wall - containing the signatures of Heligan’s First World War gardeners - was discovered in 1990. This lead to the hard work, dedication and skill that has created a much-loved tourist attraction in St Austell, Cornwall.
The first time you arrive at Heligan, there’s a huge sense of anticipation, and then you walk in and step back in time.
We came to Heligan expecting a good day out and what we got was an absolutely magical experience.