Published: 00:01, 29 November 2018
Aled Jones seems to have started a trend on the Isle of Sheppey.
No sooner had the TV presenter and singer wrapped up filming for an episode of Songs of Praise for the BBC than we learn of another programme using the area as a backdrop to a popular crime drama.
Writer Chris Lang’s ITV series Dark Heart was filmed on Sheppey - though those in the know were sworn to secrecy until the six-part show aired.
The final episode of the popular programme was shot at Shellness in March and broadcast on Thursday.
The six-part show starring Tom Riley as Detective Inspector Will ‘Staffe’ Wagstaffe ended up on the beach outside a cottage used by Sheerness town chaplain the Rev Jeanette McLaren.
She said: “I had been itching to put something on Facebook but I couldn’t because I’d signed a secrecy clause.”
She said the film crew spent a week filming the sequence.
Jeanette explained: “They tracked me down through our estate agent.
It appears Shellness is in big demand for film and television companies these days as it is a prime location because it is so isolated.
“A director told me it is like Dungeness was 40 years ago.
"Wild locations like this are becoming very rare.”
Even pop star and ex-Take Thatter Robbie Williams used Shellness to shoot his music video My Life.
Jeanette added: “It was very odd listening as the director said it was a wonderful location but the inside had to be completely redecorated. It was as if we were invisible.
“They stripped out all the furniture and re-papered the walls with 60s wallpaper.
"We didn’t see it again for five days and when my husband Chris and I returned it was completely back to normal.
"You would never have known a film crew had been there.”
She said she managed a brief chat with some of the cast over tea.
Tom Riley starred as a detective haunted by the murder of his parents when he was 16.
Most of the filming took place in London. The drama was produced by Silverprint Pictures and written by Chris Lang who also wrote Unforgotten, Torn, Undeniable and A Mother’s Son.
It was inspired by characters created by novelist Adam Creed and also starred Charlotte Riley, Miranda Raison, Anjli Mohindra and Claire Goose.
During filming, Tom Riley, who was born in Maidstone and went to Maidstone Grammar School, celebrated his 37th birthday.
He said: “It was weird working on my birthday. I was on set until midnight so there were no drinks.
“I didn’t tell anyone but they gave me a cake!”
The Island is due to be featured in Songs of Praise on Sunday, January 13 on BBC1 following recent filming which saw presenter Aled Jones explore the likes of Minster and Bluetown and visit a number of locations including the Criterion Theatre and Heritage Centre and the award-winning Oasis Academy’s dementia cafe, which was recently filmed across various Island locations.
Welsh singer and TV presenter Aled Jones described his awe at the “uninterrupted sea views” enjoyed on Sheppey when he visited the Island to film Songs of Praise.
The 47-year-old, famous for singing Walking In The Air as a teenage chorister, has spent a day exploring Minster and Blue Town this week with a TV crew from the BBC.
For the episode, due to air in January, he visited the Criterion Theatre and Heritage Centre and the Oasis Academy’s award-winning dementia cafe.
It was two years ago when former Take That singer Robbie Williams was spotted filming on the Island.
The X Factor judge was in Leysdown in October 2016 to complete a video for his then Christmas single I Love My Life.
But the superstar’s fame wasn’t enough to stop Garden Cafe from continuing to serve loyal customers.
An offer from the director to feature in the shoot was politely declined when the eatery was offered a paltry £100 compensation to close for the day.
But there was a reaction of an altogether different kind when one fan was so excited at the sight that they pranged their car in the process.
The star of a new television game show grew up on the Island.
Ray Howard, who was born in London, moved with his family to Sheppey when he was a child.
He went to St George’s Middle School and Minster’s Sheppey Comprehensive, before leaving the Island to join the air force in 1985.
After coming back to work at the Steel Mill in Sheerness for a year, Ray then joined Thames Valley Police in 1988 – where he worked his way up to Detective Superintendent.
Ray, who now lives near Banbury in Oxfordshire, retired from the force in June this year, but he’s kept himself busy with a new Sky One series called The Heist.
The series, created by Shine TV, the production company behind MasterChef and The Island with Bear Grylls, sees 10 ordinary people commit a heist.
Once they have taken the money, £250,000, from a white Transit van in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, they must keep it hidden from a crack team of former detectives.
If they evade detection, the contestants keep the money.
For the show Ray is tasked with working with Sue Hill, former detective chief superintendent with the Met Police, and a team of detectives across the country to try and solve the case.
The 51-year-old said: “It was hard work, but I absolutely loved it.
“It was like being a police officer but without all the massive pressures.
"We, obviously, wanted to catch these people but there were no victims.
“It was like a big game of cops and robbers and we absolutely loved it.”
He added: “Without having been in the police for 30 plus years, I definitely couldn’t have done the show. Episode four, of six, will air at 9pm on Friday on Sky One.
More by this authorJohn Nurden