The scares were as real as they were actual on the set of BBC1's The Living and the Dead, according to the series' creator...
Ashley Pharoah has revealed his new supernatural thriller, The Living and The Dead, served up some real-life scares during filming.
The new BBC drama centres on Nathan and Charlotte Appleby, a couple whose marriage is threatened when a series of strange events occur after they inherit a rundown farm in 19th Century Somerset.
Best known as the creator of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, Ashley revealed there were plenty of spooky things happening behind the scenes as they filmed on location in the county.
Ashley told What’s on TV: “We were there filming late one night, about two in the morning, so we’re all a bit tired and grumpy and wanting to go home. We’re just about to go for a take when we heard, somewhere in this house, an old-fashioned telephone ring. We couldn’t find where the phone was and, the next day, I asked the National Trust guy: ‘Whose phone was that?’ And he said: ‘There hasn’t been a landline in that house for 15 years.”
Nonetheless, Ashley has always wanted to create a series in the place where he grew up.
“I grew up in Somerset and I still live there, so it’s always been a very special place to me. As a kid, I used to hear these myths and ghost stories, so I’ve always wanted to set something there.
“That period when the industrial revolution came to the English countryside, there was farm machinery, there was also Darwin and God is absent, and I thought what an amazing time. If there are ghosts and demons, what a time for them to rise up?”
The Living and The Dead boasts many moments that viewers will want to watch from behind a cushion – but Ashley hopes the drama won’t leave viewers too scared.
“It is a ghost story, so it’s meant to make people a bit frightened, but it’s not in-your-face horror. And I hope people will just enjoy that ‘frisson’ of being frightened and maybe run up stairs a bit quicker than they normally do.”
While the drama – starring Colin Morgan and Charlotte Spencer – doesn’t screen on BBC1 until later this month, the entire series is available right now to watch in its entirety as a boxset on BBC iPlayer. But Ashley’s hopeful that fans won’t give away any spoilers to those watching on terrestrial TV each week.
“I think people are getting pretty good at that,” said Ashley. “I mean, people watch Game of Thrones and keep stuff to themselves. I hope so anyway.”
Watch our full interview with Ashley Pharoah, above…
The series broadcasts on BBC1 later this month, with the entire box set being released today (Friday) on BBC iPlayer. Click here to watch all six episodes.