Around 15 years on from the Harry Potter films bringing global attention to Alnwick, the billion-dollar Transformers franchise looks set to do the same again across north Northumberland.
Filming for the fifth instalment in the series, Transformers: The Last Knight, took place at Alnwick Castle last Thursday and Friday before moving up to Bamburgh Castle and beach over the weekend. Car chases were also filmed on the rural roads outside Alnwick.
And the production’s arrival in north Northumberland brought with it genuine Hollywood A-listers in the form of Mark Wahlberg and Sir Anthony Hopkins, as well as director Michael Bay.
Mark Wahlberg is reprising his role from the fourth film while Sir Anthony Hopkins is new to the cast for a movie which is reported to feature British history with a plot revolving around King Arthur and knights of Camelot. It is slated for released on June 23, 2017.
The stars took the time to meet fans, particularly while in Bamburgh, and Wahlberg also went to Mass at St Aidan’s Church in Seahouses on Sunday morning before playing 27 holes at Bamburgh Castle Golf Club.
Francis Watson-Armstrong, owner of Bamburgh Castle, said the cast and crew had loved Bamburgh – the village and the castle.
“They thought it was fantastic and they loved Alnwick as well,” he said. “They were very impressed with the history of Bamburgh.”
And the Americans will now know that if they need any help with Latin then there’s a farmer in Northumberland who can help.
Frankie was asked if there was anyone who may be able to assist with the pronunciation of some Latin for the script and happily he did - his neighbour, Michael Hutchinson, from Shoreston Farm!
Frankie said that ‘it was good to get the A-listers’ and while he concedes he was a little scruffy when he met them – having jumped off a tractor to go and see them – they had ‘a good chat’.
“Anthony Hopkins was very approachable, a very nice chap,” he said. “It was quite interesting to meet him and he was very generous with his time. He really was a gentleman.
“This really puts Bamburgh and Northumberland on the map so let’s have more of it. Harry Potter did a lot for Alnwick, so hopefully things like this will do good for not just Bamburgh, but the whole of north Northumberland. They all enjoyed themselves and hopefully they will be impressed and come back.”
Mark Wahlberg enjoyed playing golf at Bamburgh so much that he hit the back nine again after his initial 18.
“He absolutely loved the course,” said Paul Stout, the club steward. “He thought it was fantastic.
“It’s very good publicity (for the club), I had a little chat with him and he thanked us for letting him play on the course, I didn’t want to bother him too much. But he was a cracking guy, I couldn’t fault him. He spoke to a few of the members, took photos and signed autographs.”
Wahlberg is known to be a keen golfer – he transformed his garden into a deluxe practice facility – and told Paul that he hit six birdies.