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The whodunnit Queens of Mystery series filmed at Cranbrook and Farningham near Sevenoaks is back on our TV screens


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Residents in Cranbrook and Farningham near Sevenoaks will be glued to their TV screens this month to catch the new series of Queens Of Mystery - if only to see if they can spot any local landmarks.

The programme tells stories about Detective Sergeant Matilda Stone as she sets about solving cases with the help - or is it interference? - of her three crime-fiction loving aunts.

Florence Hill as Matilda Stone at the wheel of her Morris Minor. Picture Rob Baker Ashton
Florence Hill as Matilda Stone at the wheel of her Morris Minor. Picture Rob Baker Ashton

Like series one, the second series was filmed last spring (during Covid) partly in Cranbrook and partly in Farningham, as well as at locations in Sussex and London.

The crew even came to the rescue when there was an accident in Cranbrook High Street while they were filming there, as the programme's producer, Savannah James-Bayly, explained.

She said "In Farningham, we predominantly shot on the Mill estate which is a gated residential area, which was ideal during Covid, because it meant we had complete control of the area.

"We could keep all our kit and crew away from the public. It was very safe from a public health perspective.

"We used that for quite a lot of locations this series."

Farningham features in the Queens of Mystery
Farningham features in the Queens of Mystery

She said: "We re-dressed it in lots of interesting ways. It's a train station; it's a doctor's office; it's the High Street, it's people's houses. It doubles up for quite a lot.

"The other main location in Farningham was Wadard Books in the High Street which is our location for Murder Ink (the bookshop in the series).

"In series one, we used Wadard Books as both the shop part of Murder Ink and as the owner Jane's living area, but for series two, because of Covid we decided to build a replica of the living area in a studio so that we could take out walls and make more space and keep our distance from one another. But we did return to Wadard Books for the exteriors and also the shop element.

"In all we were in Farningham for about two weeks spread out over the shooting period from March to June.

"And we also filmed at the nearby Castle Farm that's famous for its lavender fields."

Wadard Books in Farningham fills in for Murder Ink
Wadard Books in Farningham fills in for Murder Ink

She said: "We used that as the crash site, there's a car crash scene. We were there for a day, and also another local farm allowed us to use their barns to build some additional sets which was really helpful.

"In Cranbrook we filmed for a day. We filmed in St Dunstan's Churchyard and also in The High Street and then we filmed in what is called a twitten, which is a little alley that cuts under over-hanging buildings and that was our back-alley to a shady underworld gambling den.

"In Cranbrook we filmed as more of a splinter unit, so we had quite a small crew there, about 40. Whereas when we were in Farningham we could be up to about 100 people.

"While we were in Cranbrook, there was a road accident. Someone had fallen in the middle of the road and was quite badly hurt.

"Luckily, although we were filming a little bit further down the road, one of our crew had gone back to get some kit from our base and walked past the accident and we were able to call our medics up and also our location team."

Series producer Savannah James-Bayly
Series producer Savannah James-Bayly

Miss James-Bayly said: "So our medics helped attend to the gentleman who was injured while he waited for the ambulance and our location marshals controlled the traffic while he was being treated in the middle of the road.

"They were very glad we were there, because it was right on quite a treacherous corner in Cranbrook High Street. It was right on the bend so there was no visibility that someone was in the road as you came up to that point - it was stroke of luck that we were there.

"I went to school in Cranbrook, so its always nice to be back.

"We were very kindly welcomed by a lot of businesses which were actually closed during Covid, but were very happy to reopen to allow us to use them as green rooms and holding rooms and to keep our crew out of the public's way.

"Hopefully we will be back to Kent again for season three."

Savannah James-Bayly as a student, attending Cranbrook School speech day with her father Stephen Bayly
Savannah James-Bayly as a student, attending Cranbrook School speech day with her father Stephen Bayly

Miss James-Bayly grew up in Foxhole Lane, Hawkhurst, and was a student at Cranbrook School from 2005 until 2010, studying all the sciences and maths to A-level, before leaving to do a degree in molecular biology at University College London.

Queens of Mystery is a light-hearted whodunnit created by Julian Unthank, who also did Doc Martin.

The second series sees the return of Julie Graham, Siobhan Redmond and Sarah Woodward as Matilda's three aunts, though Matilda herself is played by a new actress, Florence Hall, as Olivia Vinall who played the character in the first series was not available.

Miss Hall said: "It was a lot of fun. The hardest thing was learning how to drive Matilda's Morris Minor!"

Queens of Mystery is made by Sly Fox Productions and is screening on Acorn TV now, where you can also catch up with series one if you missed it."

Julie Graham as Aunt Cat on location in Farningham
Julie Graham as Aunt Cat on location in Farningham
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