Channel 4 Grand National Advert
One of Northern Ireland’s leading tourist attractions was transformed into lively scene from the 1700s for a multi-million pound commercial for the Grand National, which was aired on Channel 4 in 2014.
Over 50 actors and a further 60 crew were involved in the advertisement, which tells the story of how horseracing began in Ireland. Legend has it that the idea for the sport started in a pub in Ireland in about 1750 between two rivals who wanted to settle an argument and did so by racing their horses.
The 90 second commercial relives this famous tale showing two horses galloping through the mud of an old Irish street, jumping over barrels and past shop fronts being cheered on by the villagers. The majority of the 50-strong cast were from Northern Ireland including the stunt riders. The horses featured in the commercial were also used in Game of Thrones, supplied by by The Devil’s Horsemen – a Buckinghamshire-based company that specialise in equine stunts for films
National Museums Northern Ireland’s Head of Business and Tourism Marketing, Patrick McLain, said that choice of location reflected Northern Ireland’s growing popularity as a filming destination; “This is a high quality production and we were delighted the Channel 4 team chose the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum as the location for the filming. Northern Ireland is now very much on the radar for production companies and I am pleased that the museum could be part of this very entertaining commercial. Our extensive site means that we can offer support facilities such as productions offices, spaces for costume, hair and make-up as well as a filming location, making organisation much easier for the crew.”
Hugo Smith-Bingham, Location Manager for Scout Productions, said, “My job was to find a location that gave the feel of a traditional Irish village from the 1700s. When we visited the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum in January we thought it was perfect – all we needed to do was adjust some of the shop fronts to make them more of the period of the 1700s rather than the 1900s and turn the road into a dirt track. It has been an ideal place for us and perhaps more fitting than ever to film a Grand National ad in Northern Ireland considering AP McCoy’s recent milestone win.”
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