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Hugh Bonneville, who plays Professor Gregory 'Dolly' Parton
Hugh Bonneville, who plays Professor Gregory 'Dolly' Parton
A camera man on campus
A camera man on campus
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who plays Viv Davis, has her make-up re-touched
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who plays Viv Davis, has her make-up re-touched
The camera crew set up a shot
The camera crew set up a shot

Internal News - 07 July 2008

University-based BBC1 drama Bonekickers to be aired tonight

New archaeological adventure drama ‘Bonekickers’ begins on BBC1 tonight with the University playing a central role in the storyline.

Although Bonekickers is based at the fictional Wessex University, much of the six-part series was shot around the campus, with filming taking place on The Parade, in the library, by the lake and in the office of Professor Nick Mitchell, in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering (2E 2.10)

The series is written by local writers Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah, who were behind the successful time-travel dramas Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes.

Bonekickers is a fast-paced drama which follows a team of academics from Wessex University archaeological department, as it makes a number of discoveries packed with historical mystery but contemporary relevance.

The first episode sees them excavate the skeletons of 14th century soldiers and unearth evidence of a religious battle with present day consequences.

Before the preview, which was held in Bath’s Little Theatre on Friday evening, Matthew and Ashley explained why they chose Bath and the University as locations for the show.

Matthew said: “Bath was such a strong candidate for the location of Bonekickers because there is so much history here. There is Roman, Medieval and Georgian history all around us. And, of course, it’s also very aesthetically pleasing.

“We wanted the filming to be good for the City and also wanted to show Bath in a modern light, as so many of the programmes made here are period dramas. This is why it was so important to use the University.”

After the success of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, Matthew and Ashley formed their own Bath-based production company, Monastic, and Bonekickers is their first project.

Ashley said: “Our love of history in this show is reflected very differently to how it is in Life on Mars. Here we are dealing with real history through archaeology. We have tried to make archaeology exciting and history come alive by making it relevant to today.”

Matthew and Ashley said they always intended to include the University in the Bonekickers script.

Matthew said: “We were so thrilled when we found out that we could film at the University as we were not sure if it would be possible. There was also a question about whether we could give the University an archaeology department.

“Filming on campus was terrific. One day we turned up and there was a bunch of students dressed up in suits of armour. We thought they were getting ready for filming but it turned out they were just having a fancy dress party!”

Matthew and Ashley are waiting to find out if a second series of Bonekickers will be commissioned by the BBC.

Ashley said: “We need to wait until episode three is aired and then the BBC will decide if they want to commission a second series. If we get another series we hope to use more of university life in the filming.”

Matthew and Ashley are now working on the next series of Ashes to Ashes. They said: “We are writing the new series now and will start shooting in September.”

Bonekickers is aired on Tuesdays at 9pm on BBC1.

A microsite has been created for anyone searching for a department of archaeology at the University. See Related Links.