New BBC historical drama filmed in Belgium

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The town hall of Bruges as the Palace of Westminster Abbey and St Martin’s church in Ypres as Westminster Abbey are key features of the BBC’s new flagship drama series The White Queen which starts on Sunday. The drama which deals with life in the time of the Wars of the Roses was filmed in Belgium on account of its unspoiled medieval buildings.

Supported by a favourable tax regime Belgium has attracted British TV for a number of drama series requiring an authentic historic setting.

The White Queen tells the story of the women caught up in the conflict between the houses of York and Lancaster, with scenes set in Westminster Abbey, the Palace of Westminster and Bosworth Field. Th e BBC producers said that too many of England’s medieval buildings have been covered in satellite dishes, CCTV cameras and television aerials. Many other 15th century buildings were now in ruins, while the Belgians have maintained and restored theirs.

Max Irons, who plays King Edward IV, said: “The great thing about Belgium is that they really take care of their architecture, whereas, we in England have a tendency to stick CCTV cameras on classic buildings and paint the streets with white and yellow lines.”

Among the locations used are St Martin’s Cathedral in Ypres, which doubled as Westminster Abbey and Bruges town hall which served as the interior of the Palace of Westminster. The original palace was destroyed by fire in the 19th century, with only Westminster Hall left.

The 10-part series starting next Sunday is based Philippa Gregory’s bestselling historical novel series, The Cousins’ War.

Filming in Belgium started in September and lasted six months. In total, 250 sets were made to depict three weddings, two coronations and 12 state banquets over 20 years.