Downton Abbey: Why the second movie premiered on Monday was nearly filmed in Bognor Regis

The producer of the coming Downton Abbey film has said how Covid-19 meant the film was almost shot in Bognor Regis

The hit ITV period drama's latest film, 'Downton Abbey: A New Era' is set to arrive on the big screen on April 29 this year and it is reported to be set in the French Riviera.

The franchise can already lay claim to Sussex links with Midhurst's Hugh Bonneville, who plays Robert Crawley, 7th Earl of Grantham, and Pulborough resident Dame Maggie Smith playing Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham.

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But few will know how close the cast and crew came to filming the whole project in sunny Bognor Regis.

DM1975182a.jpg. Scenic. Bognor Regis seafront. Photo by Derek Martin Photography.

The film's producer, Gareth Neame, told The Sun that Covid-19 difficulties meant filming on location was going to prove difficult so a last resort was devised.

Speaking to The Sun, Mr Neame said: “We even had a back-up plan – so unpalatable that its code name was Plan Z — that involved shooting the whole French story here in Britain. Yes, really, in Bognor.”

In order to avoid the 'unpalatable' possibility of filming in the West Sussex town a fleet of private jets were used so the cast could 'avoid restrictions'.

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