Get set to be obsessed with BBC’s new drama series Requiem, which features secrets and lies so mysterious that you can’t help but be drawn in to the story.
Concert cellist Matilda is devastated and confused by her mother’s unexplained suicide – but when a box of her belongings appears to link her to the disappearance of a toddler from a Welsh village 23 years earlier, the plot thickens more than she could imagine.
Most of the story is set in the fictional Welsh village of Penllynith, but read on to find out more about the programme’s real-life filming locations.
Why is Requiem set in Penllynith?
The story starts out following Matilda and her friend Hal through their everyday lives in London, but quickly moves the action to the fictional Welsh village of Penllynith.
Creator Kris Mrksa explained why the location was so important: “The protagonists are a pair of urbane London sophisticates who listen to classical music. I wanted to throw them into a place where they were maximally 'other'. They had to end up in a remote part of the UK that was a stark contrast to London. I wanted there to be a clash of two worlds. The protagonists had to be out of their element. They are fish out of water.
“When I visited Wales, I fell in love with the place. It has a mystical feel, and the history there is very palpable. There is a druidic vibe there, too. Matilda and Hal are quickly drawn into that world and enmeshed in it. The Welsh town becomes a character in its own right. It’s the perfect setting for this drama.”
Director Mahalia Belo added: “I spent a lot of time in Wales when I was growing up, and I have a big love for that country. There’s something at play in the countryside. That epic landscape enhances the scale of the drama, and we wanted to make sure we captured that on camera. That’s very particular to that community. It feels that Nature is pushing the story along as much as Matilda’s investigation.”
It wasn’t just shooting in Wales that was important, though – Joanna Scanlan, who plays Matilda’s mum Janice, talked about the idea of setting the story in a small village.
She said: “The remote North Wales village where Matilda ends up is a metaphor for isolation. It is a place that is cut off from the rest of the world. Life in the city is anonymous, which has given Janice and Matilda a chance. But as soon as they lose that anonymity, they’re vulnerable.
“Once you’re being surveyed in a village, you’re at risk. So the village is a symbol; it indicates that Matilda is not at liberty to pursue the truth.”
Where was the series really filmed?
Filming was based in Newport, but the cast and crew travelled out to the Welsh countryside to make the most of the dramatic, wild backdrop.
The Welsh Government supported the series by providing some funding and the producers were happy to let their location bring even more atmosphere to the story.
Executive producer Willow Grylls said: “Wales is such a beautiful place. There is also a sense in which Wales is a frontier and there are lots of secrets buried under its hills. Wales is the perfect theatre to situate a story like this. It gives us a great sense of myths and mysticism. That’s essential to Requiem because although the story is rooted in real people, it also touches on ancient myths.”
What did Requiem’s stars think of the filming location?
It seems that Wales was a popular choice of setting for everyone in the cast and crew.
The stars of Requiem agreed that filming there added something to the production with every scene.
Joel Fry, who plays Matilda’s accompanist Hal, said: “We went to some very remote, very beautiful places in North Wales and that really helps because you’re so far away from everything. It also helps because it creates a travelling-company vibe. Everyone is in it together and feels very bonded. It harks back to the time when actors were travelling players, going around the country putting on plays. That was a very nice extra element to making this drama.”
He added that the house his character and Matilda stay in was perfect for the story: “It was really quite strange and spooky. It’s one of those old houses where you walk in and can’t help feeling, ‘What kind of things have happened here in the past?’.”
Claire Rushbrook, who plays Rose - the mother of missing girl Carys - said that the wild location had genuinely frightened her at times.
She explained: “Rose has a very wild, remote place she goes to when she's feeling trapped and she wants to be on be on her own. She copes by going to stand on the edge of a beautiful precipice in the Welsh mountains to check she's still alive.
“It was a very dangerous, sheer drop. I had to be rigged up by stunt people and attached to a post in the ground. When I had to turn around and walk, I froze. I've watched the scene, and it doesn't look that scary. But believe me, it was!”
Requiem begins on Friday, February 2 at 9pm on BBC One.