All you need to know about Netflix's Sutton Hoo blockbuster

THE DIG: RALPH FIENNES as BASIL BROWN. Cr. LARRY HORRICKS/NETFLIX © 2021 

Ralph Fiennes as Basil Brown in The Dig - Credit: LARRY HORRICKS/NETFLIX © 2021 

Netflix blockbuster The Dig, based on the discovery of an Anglo-Saxon ship at Sutton Hoo, is out now. Here's everything you need to know about the filming of the tale of Suffolk's greatest find.

Who is in the film?

The Dig, itself based on the John Preston novel of the same name,  was originally set to be created by BBC Films before Netflix took over production in 2019.

Carey Mulligan as Edith Pretty and Ralph Fiennes as Basil Brown in The Dig Picture: LARRY HORRICKS/NETFLIX

Carey Mulligan was cast as Edith Pretty - Credit: Larry Horricks/Netflix

It was originally reported that Nicole Kidman would be cast as landowner Edith Pretty - but the role eventually went to Carey Mulligan.

Ipswich-born actor Ralph Fiennes was cast as lead excavator Basil Brown and Lily James stars as archaeologist Peggy Piggott.

Was it recorded in Suffolk?

Large parts of the movie were recorded in Surrey, but film crews did set up a key production studio in Snape Maltings for the scenes that were recorded in Suffolk.

While no recording took place at the Sutton Hoo burial site itself, scenes were shot in nearby Aldeburgh, Shingle Street, Rendlesham and at RSPB Boyton Marshes.

Lily James as Peggy Preston in The Dig Picture: LARRY HORRICKS/NETFLIX

Lily James also features in the star-studded castlist - Credit: LARRY HORRICKS/NETFLIX © 2021

Film crews were spotted in Suffolk towards the end of 2019, as many village roads were closed.

Screen Suffolk estimated a single day’s filming from a movie like The Dig can generate £11,500 spend in the local economy - meaning the county would have benefitted from a cash boost of tens of thousands of pounds throughout production.


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Experts have said Suffolk's tourism industry could cash in on the exposure and the film's success, with many people looking to holiday in the UK this year due to coronavirus.

How did the actors prepare?

To help Ralph Fiennes portray a convincing Suffolk accent, the BAFTA winner enlisted the help of Suffolk dialect coach Charlie Haylock, and had additional support from Wenhaston's Jay Ducker.

Jay Ducker and Ralph Fiennes

Suffolk musician Jay Ducker helped Ralph Fiennes nail his accent - Credit: LARRY HORRICKS/NETFLIX

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Jay served as a reference point for dialogue and helped the actor fine-tune his lines.

Edward Greenwell, whose land was used for filming, said he once saw Fiennes smoking a pipe while cycling on the set.

What has the reception been?

The first trailer for the film was released by Netflix in early December.

Crews filming a boat

Scenes were shot in Suffolk in late 2019 - Credit: Screen Suffolk

Reviews for the film have been overwhelmingly positive - with the performances of the cast universally praised.

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