Stretford Mall shoppers get close to the action as TV comedy is filmed

SURPRISED shoppers stopped to watch the action as a film crew shot scenes for a top TV show in the heart of Stretford Mall.

The area close by to Love Coffee became a temporary set when a dozen-strong team from London-based independent film company Tiger Aspect Productions moved in to shoot a sequence for the popular Sky Living comedy series Mount Pleasant, the third series of which will air later this year.

Starring former Coronation Street favourite Sally Lindsay, along with Samantha Womack, Nigel Harman, Dan Ryan, Sian Reeves, Bobby Ball, and Paula Wilcox, Mount Pleasant had its first outing in 2011 and has since become a hit with viewers.

The scenes using Stretford Mall as a backdrop, which are set to be aired in the autumn, involve two characters, Denise, played by  Ainsley Howard, and Frankie, played by Chandeep Uppal, working for a promotions agency selling face painting.

Denise is wearing tiger face paint and a tail. In the first scene Frankie is seen asking Denise to cover for her. In the second, Denise is on the phone to her boyfriend and the third scene will show a boy pulling her tail.

The entire sequence took only about an hour to shoot before the crew, complete with cameras, lights and hi-tech sound recording equipment, moved on to film further scenes at other locations in and around Manchester.

Just after the cameras stopped rolling, 22-year-old actress Ainsley Howard, said how well the day’s filming had gone and how glad she was to be in Stretford Mall where she is a regular shopper.

Ainsley, who has been a Mount Pleasant cast member since the first series, said: “I’m originally from Wigan but I now live in Manchester, so I come to shop at Stretford Mall quite a bit.

“I like it here because of the big selection of shops it has.

“When I heard we’d be filming at the mall I was really pleased as it’s very familiar to me.”

She added: “Today’s filming went really well because we have a great crew and the people at Stretford Mall helped us with everything.

“I’ve been in Mount Pleasant right from the start a couple of years ago and it’s going really well. The third series is due to start later this year and it was scenes for that we were doing here at Stretford Mall.”

Colin McCrory, Stretford Mall Manager, said: “We were only too happy to have the film crew with us today and I am glad the cast and crew feel it has gone smoothly.

“We are a busy, light and airy shopping centre at the heart of the community of Stretford which I think makes us a useful filming location and I know our shoppers have enjoyed being in on the action too.

“It has been a pleasure to work with the production company and in lieu of a location fee, we have asked them to make a donation to The Christie Charity which I know is a charity very close to people’s hearts in Stretford.”

Among the large group of shoppers watching the filming as she sipped coffee with a group of friends at Love Coffee was 83-year-old Renee Gibson from Stretford who recalled that she was one of the first people who worked in Stretford Mall when it opened in 1969 and was then known as the Stretford Arndale Centre.

She said: “I started out working as an assistant at McColls newsagents and then to Boots where I spent a happy 28 years before I retired.

“I still come here with my friends every day to have a coffee at one of the tables outside the café and it was very interesting watching them filming Mount Pleasant right in front of us here today.

“I was thinking that if they turned the camera round we might be in the shot and end up appearing on the telly!”

At a nearby table was 66-year-old George Smith and his friend John Elliott, 61, who are both from Stretford.

George said: “I’m retired and in here every day for a coffee but I didn’t expect that today we’d end up in the middle of a film set.

“We’ve just been here watching it all going on and I must say it’s been very interesting.

“I’ll be looking out for the Mount Pleasant episode it’s in and seeing if John and I are actually in it.”

Mandy Sharpe, location manager for Tiger Aspect Productions whose credits include the smash-hit shows Vicar of Dibley and Mr Bean, said: “Sometimes filming outside scenes like these can be a problem but it’s all gone very well here today.

“I’d like to thank the Stretford Mall management for all their help.

“However, we have a busy schedule and we’re now going on to film further scenes at locations in Chorlton and Altrincham.”

Mount Pleasant series 3 will air on Sky Living HD later this year.

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