Tent firm called up to ‘front line’ for TV drama

Tent firm called up to ‘front line’ for TV drama

Some of the cast of The Crimson Field with the tents made in Bradford

BCT Outdoors director Grant Hinchliffe on the shop floor

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Business Reporter

A Bradford specialist manufacturing firm has played a key role in the staging of a prime-time television period drama.

Tents of various shapes and sizes have been produced in the city for the BBC’s Sunday evening First World War drama The Crimson Field, set in a military field hospital in northern France in 1915.

The series producers turned to BCT Outdoors, based off Wakefield Road, to make the authentic-style period tents in which much of the action takes place and which provide a backdrop to the drama, whose stars include Oona Chaplin, grand-daughter of Charlie Chaplin.

The events in the story are set a decade after BCT Outdoors was founded. The firm started operating as Bradford Cover and Twine Company in 1896.

Chris Fawcett, BCT Outdoors owner, said he was approached by the programme’s production team and the firm worked closely with set designers to recreate the canvas aspect of the field hospital.

BCT Outdoors designed and made ten large marquees measuring 80ft by 20ft along with a range of bell tents and other types of tents.

“The BBC set designers turned to us with a brief to help create an authentic field hospital of the time. We worked from original photographs of World War One sites and made the different tents over a period of six weeks last year.

“It was a high-profile and prestigious job to get, especially as our work is being seen by millions of viewers every Sunday night,” said Chris.

The programme’s production designer, Cristina Casali, said: “The Crimson Field is a drama set in 1915 in a tented field hospital. This meant the tents required were integral to the look and feel of the set we built in a field on the Charlton Park Estate, Wiltshire.

“We worked closely with BCT Outdoors because we needed the tents to be a very specific shape to be accurate to the period and we were delighted with the tents they supplied for us to use.”

Cristina researched historical photographs and paintings from the Imperial War Museum archives, and noticed from pictures of a military hospital at Etaples – where the drama is set – that all the tents had been adapted to make them practical for hospital use.

Entrances and exits had been cut into the canvas wherever necessary, with a variety of wooden doors, storage areas and practical shelving added in.

“So I joined three tents together to make a large L-shaped ward tent and imagined that the connecting corridors were storage areas and nurses’ stations,” she said.

Since winning the prestigious TV contract, BCT Outdoors has also landed a second order to produce 1,000 custom-made tents for the world-famous Glastonbury music festival.

The company produced a similar number as part of a £250,000 order from the festival organisers last year, and Mr Fawcett said he was delighted that they had repeated the order.

The tents will provide festival-goers with accommodation already set up and waiting. The Bradford-made tents will replace cheap ‘throwaway’ accommodation from the Far East.

BCT Outdoors, which has a £2 million turnover and employs 36 people, last year received a £10,000 grant from Bradford Council to buy new machinery. The Small Capital Grants scheme was set up by the Council to assist companies to grow.

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