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Boarders (BBC Three): How the Bristol-made comedy drama put representation & talent development first on both sides of the camera

22nd February 2024

Boarders, the brand-new comedy drama created by Bafta-nominated Daniel Lawrence Taylor (Timewasters), is now available on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer after filming entirely in Bristol and the South West with support from Bristol Film Office last year.

The six-part high energy series, produced by Studio Lambert (The Nest, Three Girls) in association with All3Media International, follows the lives of five talented black inner-city teenagers navigating their way through an alien world – the British public school system.

The main filming site for the series was in Clifton, and Bristol Film Office worked closely with Studio Lambert to provide nearby production offices and parking for the crew during the five-month shoot. Other Bristol locations that feature include Ashton Court, Carolina House on Dove Street, Redcliff Hill, Stokes Croft and St Nicholas Market. Filming for interiors also took place on sets built at The Bottle Yard Studios. Further afield in the region, filming took place at Chavenage House near Tetbury and in Weston-Super-Mare.

As well as assisting with locations, Bristol Film Office liaised closely with the production team to connect it with local crew talent including Bristol company Latent Pictures which runs a paid development programme for underrepresented filmmakers. Around 90 crew members worked on the production per day, 70% of which were regional crew, with more than 55% from Bristol and the South West.

Line Producer, Carleen Beadle-Larcombe, says “Bristol Film Office were exemplary in helping source locations. There were last minute location changes needed because of weather or cast availability – alternatives options were quickly suggested and things like parking suspensions and road closures were issued quickly and efficiently. In addition Bristol Film Office helped Boarders source last minute Graffiti artists which were needed in order for us to complete filming at a new location.”

Madeleine Sinclair, Executive Producer for Studio Lambert adds: “The premise of the show is about access to opportunity and that was important to reflect in the production and crew. With the help of the Bristol Film Office, we aimed to attract local talent and give opportunities to those from underrepresented backgrounds across the crew. In addition to this, we brought on Latent Pictures, a Bristol-based company working with underrepresented filmmakers, to produce all our ‘behind the scenes’ footage.

“We had a number of ScreenSkills trainees in our HMU, Sound and Assistant Director departments and shadow directors joining us regularly on set. I think it was hugely valuable to the production because we had some really fantastic people and it made for a really interesting and buzzy set with crew from a whole range of backgrounds, who each brought their own different experiences.”

Prince Taylor, Executive Producer at Latent Pictures, says: “Collaborating with All3Media and Studio Lambert to create an engaging EPK (electronic press kit) was a great experience not only for the team, but for all of the Latent Talent we were able to provide paid training for. We could see how representation and authenticity were priorities for all involved and this helped create a learning environment that meant our trainees could really thrive, connecting with what they were learning and the wider teams involved.”

23-year-old Jojo Bossman (they/them) from Bedminster in South Bristol, was a Camera Trainee on Boarders. They say: “Boarders was definitely the most diverse show or feature I’ve ever worked on, which was wonderful. It was a really significant milestone for me in that it was the first long form job created by and starring Black people I’ve worked on.” Read a Q&A with Jojo about their experience working on Boarders here.

Following a problematic viral video involving a student, Jaheim (Josh Tedeku), Leah (Jodie Campbell), Omar (Myles Kamwendo), Toby (Sekou Diaby) and Femi (Aruna Jalloh) are offered sixth form scholarships to St Gilbert’s, one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious schools, in an attempt to rehabilitate its image. They soon find themselves in a world they can only describe as something out of Harry Potter, surrounded by lush playing fields, cloistered grandeur and complex social rules which they must decipher quickly in order to survive. They will go on a journey as they learn about themselves, their identity and what it’s like to live alongside the one percent – which they discover is nothing like life as they knew it.

Boarders is created and written by Daniel Lawrence Taylor, with episodes written by Emma Dennis-Edwards, Yemi Oyefuwa and Ryan Calais Cameron, and script edited by Missy Howard. It is directed by Ethosheia Hylton and Sarmad Masud and produced by Ali MacPhail. Executive producers are Daniel Lawrence Taylor, with Susan Hogg and Madeleine Sinclair for Studio Lambert and Nawfal Faizullah and Ayela Butt for the BBC.

Boarders is now available as a boxset on BBC iPlayer. Episode one aired on BBC Three on Tuesday 20th February and further episodes will air weekly.

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