Here's how to get your home famous on a film or TV show

Harry Potter, Ron, Hermione from Harry Potter film series in 2001. Photo / Getty
Harry Potter, Ron, Hermione from Harry Potter film series in 2001. Photo / Getty

When it comes to inviting people into our homes, most of us settle for close friends or family.

Jeremy and Susan Uff, however, recently found themselves playing host to the actors Colin Morgan and Charlotte Spencer, who turned up with 40 colleagues.

The Uffs' home, a handsome 19th-century former mill house in Hartpury, Gloucestershire, with 46 acres of land, recently had a starring role in this summer's BBC One supernatural period drama The Living and the Dead, starring Morgan and Spencer.

"We simply had a knock on the door," Susan says. "A location spotter saw the house had a lake and was close to a road, exactly what the drama required."

Taking the house back to its Victorian origins for the show was not for the faint-hearted. There were eight visits to check health and safety, including the condition of the lake water - one scene was to be of a star diving in - and then three days of setting up props.

Filming involved dozens of trucks, some based in the grounds and the rest parked nearby.

The 19th-century former mill house in Hartpury, Gloucestershire, used on BBC One's The Living and the Dead
The 19th-century former mill house in Hartpury, Gloucestershire, used on BBC One's The Living and the Dead

"Shooting took four days. We stayed to look after our animals but the crew was terrific. We even had meals with them. At the end they restored everything to exactly the condition when they arrived. It was a really positive experience," Susan says.

The Uffs are now selling their home for £1.25 million through Knight Frank and hope the buyer will register it with a location agency, a route that thousands of owners now take to cash in on the growing popularity of using homes as television and film sets.

The websites of agencies such as jj Locations, Shootfactory, Lavish Locations and Fresh Locations carry hundreds of homes each, ranging from the stately to the scruffy.

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Owners usually pay a small fee to list a property, submitting a thorough description and high-quality photos.

Production location scouts trawl through these lists and may want to visit a property several times before selecting it for use.

The production company then issues a standard contract specifying dates on which your home will be used, a pledge to restore it to its original condition at the end and the fee.

For a one-day magazine photo shoot this would be £500-£1,000, rising to £1,500 a day for a TV production and as much as £3,000 per day for a Jason Bourne-style big-budget movie.

The Hastings home used on ITV's Foyle's War
The Hastings home used on ITV's Foyle's War

By all means satisfy your curiosity by seeing A-list actors recite lines at your breakfast bar, but most experts say owners should leave them to it.

"A lot of people will be in your home, with very early starts each morning, shifting things, walking in and out," says Emma Clarke-Bolton, a location agent at jj Locations.

"It can be a bit off-putting for nervous owners as it's more hectic than many people imagine. But everything is always restored before the crew completes the shoot."

Her firm has found homes for locations from Vogue photo shoots to blockbuster films, including Cornbury Park, the estate used for the christening scene in this autumn's much-vaunted Bridget Jones's Baby.

Although period country piles may stick in the memory when seen on screen adaptations of Dickens and Hardy, the plethora of gritty contemporary dramas, from Happy Valley to Line of Duty, means modest homes also enjoy their 15 minutes (or 12 episodes) of fame.

"Ordinary houses are popular but they should have large rooms, enough for a crew of at least 20 to cram in, and easy street access for production trucks outside.

Being close to London is an advantage as it cuts travel and accommodation costs for the crew, as TV productions won't have Hollywood's large budgets," Clarke-Bolton says.

The suburban semi or market town terraced house is also popular with advertisers.

Clarke-Bolton is seeking a house for a Christmas TV supermarket advertisement "which shouldn't be too aspirational" (media jargon, no doubt, to describe the sort of house most of us live in).

A Berkshire house better known as No 4 Privet Drive, home to the Dursleys in the Harry Potter films.
A Berkshire house better known as No 4 Privet Drive, home to the Dursleys in the Harry Potter films.

This did the trick for a rather plain-looking detached house in Bracknell, Berkshire, perhaps better known as No 4 Privet Drive in the fictional suburb of Little Whinging, the house Harry Potter grew up in before escaping to Hogwarts.

The three-bedroom house, complete with cupboard under the stairs, is £475,000 with Chancellors.

As it so happens, the childhood home of Harry's best friend, Hermione Granger, is also on the market.

The house on Heathgate in Hampstead Garden Suburb, listed with Glentree for £2.4 million, is used in the penultimate film of the franchise when Hermione returns home to wipe her parents' memory.

"They told us they wanted a place that was quiet, elegant but not ostentatious, a house that was symmetrical and contained, sizeable but not sprawling," says Andrew Bud of his parents' house. Having St Jude's, the Grade I listed Gothic church, at the top of the road was vital to create "the emotional power of that scene", he says.

His father, Martin Bud, had been concerned about a few clauses in the contract. Not wanting to appear too difficult and lose the deal, Martin wrote Warner Bros a poem. "He got a charming reply from Warner Bros," Bud says. "Also in verse."

The Hampstead Garden Suburb home of Hermione Granger's parents in the Harry Potter films
The Hampstead Garden Suburb home of Hermione Granger's parents in the Harry Potter films

The house was too small to fit large filming crews, so an exact replica of the interior was created at the studios in Leavesden. But the front of the house, including the door Hermione walks through, and the street, were filmed on location.

The exterior of the house is often all that's needed, as charity worker Jane Colts-Tegg can confirm. The exterior of her Hastings home was used in all eight series of ITV's Forties drama Foyle's War as the principal character's home, with Michael Kitchen's doorstep pose one of the most recognisable shots from the show.

A props team repainted her front door and a crew spent up to three days filming outside for each series, but never ventured indoors.

Even so, Colts-Tegg's house, now on sale through Phillips and Stubbs for £725,000, is known worldwide.

"Coachloads of visitors still come from the US and Canada on Foyle's War pilgrimages," she says. "They walk up the path to have pictures taken and sometimes I pop out for a chat. They're usually lovely and it's actually very positive."

As if on cue, more tourists approach her house. The cameras and actors may have long gone, but for properties captured on screen, it seems the show must go on.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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