How a news team sprung into action when Hollywood arrived in town

What do you do when you hear through the Grapevine that Hollywood is coming to your patch to start filming the new Charlie and The Chocolate Factory spin-off Wonka!

Here, Live Team News Editor Harry Rutter talks about how his new team, that has only been up and running for a week, sprung into action.

“We heard on Thursday last week after spotting a small post on Facebook about a big white tent being put up in Verulamium Park in St Albans.

Jumping to social media, myself and Senior Live Reporter Rosie Boon quickly began searching for what was going on before seeing a message which mentioned Wonka.

Live Reporter Pearce Bates jumped in his car and drove down to the park and began filing photos and videos from the set-up, crews even invited him to take a closer look.

We webbed that filming was ongoing but didn’t know anything concrete (yet)…

At around 9pm that night, after some sweet talking on social media by Rosie, we were leaked an official Warner Bros production letter from a nearby resident.

Not only did it confirm that Wonka was in fact being made in St Albans, but it gave us exact filming dates, days, times and locations — gold dust!

We kept it to ourselves until the filming date (Thursday) — Pearce had been on set every day gathering pictures and we continued to run pieces on the set up.

‘Wonka Watch’ was created. I’d asked our SEO expert Cat Lennon for a Wonka Watch topic tag which gave us an entire site section for all of our content!

On March 3, the day of the 12-hour Live blog, we kicked off at 9am with Pearce on the scene and Rosie running the article online — live webbing pictures and videos.

We were waiting for Hollywood star Timothée Chalamet who is playing Willy Wonka in the new film set for release in March 2023.

Excitement built all day with thousands viewing our live blog. Rosie had been webbing content all day until she left at around 4pm.

I picked up the Live blog as Timothée Chalamet still hadn’t been spotted…

Photographer Terry Harris had been waiting to capture the moment, and then suddenly Pearce sent me a message saying teenagers are screaming and going crazy.

It only meant one thing…. Terry files his pictures back and Timothée Chalamet had arrived!

I continued the Live blog into the night — which finished at around 9.30pm when we had the final photos of Timothee in full Willy Wonka costume filming the final scenes in St Albans.

This was a true team effort from start to finish and was all achieved with Pearce on the ground in St Albans and myself and Rosie working from home miles away in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.”

Live Team News Editor, Harry Rutter

All Harry and his team are waiting for now is a golden ticket to the premiere screening!

  • In 2022, Behind Local News aims to celebrate local journalism in all its forms through our 365 Acts of Local Journalism Project. Lets us know what you think should be included. You can email us here or contact us via Twitter on BehindLocalNews or on Facebook here.

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The stories behind the stories, from the regional press in the UK

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