Application for lights, camera, action

A REPLICA First World War battlefield painstakingly created in a peaceful part of Suffolk could today be set to become one of Britain's most recognisable film sets.

A REPLICA First World War battlefield painstakingly created in a peaceful part of Suffolk could today be set to become one of Britain's most recognisable film sets.

Where once tractors and ploughs worked the fields, film crews, lorries and roadies could be set to roll into Akenham where proposals have been made to officially turn agricultural land into a First World War film set.

Mid Suffolk District Council is set to consider an application from an unlikely partnership between a farmer and a company which specialises in recreating the days of the First World War to make the farm, a magnet for film crews from around the world.

The application could see film crews and casts of actors arriving on site for up to four years.

The farm is already used by film crews sporadically but the owners want it to hear the words “Lights, camera, action” on a more regular basis.

Over the past four years, thousands of pounds have been spent building trenches identical to those used by British troops in the First World War and more recently German-style trenches have been added.

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Battlegrounds eerily similar to those of the Great War have been recreated and, if approved by the council after a 21-day consultation period, filming could potentially take place there for up to 20 days a year.

Taff Gillingham, a co-director of the firm Khaki Devil which is behind the plans, said: “We've got this incredible resource and it just seems crazy it's just used occasionally.”

Khaki Devil specialises in supplying actors, uniforms and equipment to recreate First World War situations for film and television documentaries and has already overseen and helped with filming of several high-profile film and television shows from the farm.

Mr Gillingham, who lives in Ipswich, said: “There's ten acres of film set battlefield there and we push for historical accuracy.

“The trenches have been built exactly as First World War trenches were.

“When filming takes place there's a huge amount of local industry that benefits from it and I have up to 100 local extras who have come and helped us in the past.”

Tom Warne, who has a farm on Ipswich's Old Norwich Road and has appeared in one of the films shot at the farm, said: “I think it's a good use for it.

“It's a rough old bit of land and they've turned it into something that is useful.”

Film crews visiting the site, at Rise Hall in Henley Road, would be expected to stay for up to five days at a time and safety marshals would be employed to ensure anyone walking in the area are warned about gunshots while filming is taking place.

To view the applications visit

What do you think about the proposals? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

Programmes and films already shot at the farm:

Britain's Boy Soldiers, a Secret History programme for Channel 4

Days That Shook the World - The Christmas Truce, BBC2

The Last Tommy, BBC

The Somme - From Defeat to Victory, BBC

SUFFOLK has been the scene for scores of movie and television scenes over the years including:


Akenfield (1974) starring Peggy Cole. Several Suffolk villages were also included

Eyes Wide Shut (1999) starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Filmed at Elvedon Hall

The Angry Silence (1960) starring Richard Attenborough. Ransome and Rapier and Reavells in Ipswich were used for filming.


Dad's Army (1968 to 1977) starring Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier and Clive Dunn. Filmed in Thetford Forest.

Dr Who (1978) The Power of the Kroll episode, starring Tom Baker and amphibian swamp monsters. Filmed in Iken and Snape.

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (2000) BBC filmed at Hawkedon House and St Mary's Church at Bury St Edmunds and Felixstowe.


Field of Dreams

Animal Farm

How Green is my Valley

Silence of the Lambs


Chicken Run

Charlotte's Web

Raging Bull

The Constant Gardener

Ben Hur - d

or they could even film a moosical!