The Dig helps to lift profile of potential East Anglian filming sites

The Dig

A scene from Netflix's The Dig with Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes, which based a lot of its filming in East Anglia - Credit: Larry Horricks/Netflix

A "huge" database of potential film locations may help lift East Anglia into the movie limelight as archaeological pre-war drama The Dig hits TV screens, business leaders believe.

Sparks fly between posh landowner Edith Pretty played by Carey Mulligan and crusty 'son of Suffolk' Basil Brown played by Ralph Fiennes in the Netflix production as one of the biggest archaeological finds in UK history is unearthed at Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge.

While the acting gets rave reviews so too does the East Anglian backdrop, with 80% of the action filmed close to the real Anglo-Saxon burial site.

Now New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is hoping the region can cash in on the expected success of the film after it hits TV screens on Friday, January 29.

It believes film and TV production companies' interest in East Anglia will be piqued after director Simon Stone chose to shoot most of the film at Snape, Iken, Butley and Rendlesham Forest.

Screen Suffolk - which has secured more than 500 locations since it was set up - and newly-launched Norfolk Screen are both heavily promoting the region to the TV and film industry in the wake of The Dig.

Screen Suffolk operations and business development manager Rachel Aldridge said: ‘We now have a huge database of locations that we manage on behalf of the council and private owners. We work with many organisations all over Suffolk and have worked hard to build contacts. 

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“This ensures that when a film like The Dig comes to Suffolk, we know exactly who they need to talk to.”

Meanwhile Norfolk Screen, newly-founded by managing director Claire Chapman and head of development Craig Higgins, is championing the county to local and incoming production companies.

"We we all know, incoming screen production reaps huge benefits for the local economy, so it's great for Suffolk and Norfolk that The Dig chose to shoot in the East of England," said Ms Higgins.

“It is no secret that Norfolk has hosted a number of notable film and TV productions – ranging from classic TV shows such as Dad’s Army to epic Hollywood blockbusters such as Atonement, Shakespeare In Love and Avengers: Age of Ultron, British feature classics like 45 Years, Yesterday and Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, and most recently The Personal Life of David Copperfield.

“It is so important that we shout about the county and its assets to production companies and encourage economic and cultural growth in the regional screen sector.” 

Tourism may also benefit once restrictions allow, the LEP hopes.

Sutton Hoo - which is run by The National Trust - received a £200k grant from New Anglia LEP's Growing Places Fund to develop its visitor facilities, including a viewing tower for the celebrated Royal Burial Mound.

Nick Collinson, general manager at Sutton Hoo, said: “Many of the events and characters depicted in The Dig are inspired by real events and real people and we’re excited to see the incredible story of Sutton Hoo brought to life, in this new film by Netflix.

“It remains one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time and we look forward to welcoming people back with renewed interest in one of Suffolk’s great treasures when lockdown restrictions ease.”