Trouble in store as Wearside-filmed The Paradise returns to TV screens

The Paradise. Photograph by Laurie Sparham

The Paradise. Photograph by Laurie Sparham

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A MULTIMILLION-POUND period drama shot entirely on a mysterious Wearside estate returns to TV screens this weekend.

Few get to see behind the stone walls of The Lambton Estate, the ancestral home of the Earls of Durham, but for the past two summers it’s been home to the cast and crew of The Paradise.

They spend around five months at a time filming on the Burnmoor site’s Biddick Hall, Lambton Castle and a specially-constructed Victorian shopping street.

The second series begins at 8pm on BBC1 on Sunday and will run for eight weeks.

Since the first series, which pulled in around six million viewers, the action has moved on a year and The Paradise, an 1870s department store, is struggling to survive without its charismatic owner, Moray.

Viewers last saw Moray jilting Katherine and choosing Denise in the show’s compelling love triangle.

Speaking to the Echo, Jo Vanderham, who plays Denise, said: “I was so frustrated when the first series ended because I wanted to know what happened next. The audience too were left on tenterhooks. We get lovely letters from people saying how captivated they are by the show.

“Denise and Moray have been writing to each other while he’s been away and keeping the love alive, she’s missed him desperately.”

During the new series there’s a shock arrival as Katherine returns with a new husband Tom Weston, played by Ben Daniels.

Ben, whose TV acting credits include Cutting It and House of Cards, said: “Just before Christmas I got a call from Bill Gallagher (writer of The Paradise) to say that he was writing this new character for Paradise and would I like to play him. He went on to describe this fantastic character called Tom Weston who comes into this world, creates friction and blows it apart.

“He’s ex-military stationed in India, an event has happened that has marked him for the rest of life and he is in constant fear of his secret being revealed.”

Though a popular character, Miss Audrey, the snobbish head of the ladieswear department played by Sarah Lancashire, will leave halfway through the forthcoming series after the actress quit. The former Coronation Street star blamed a filming clash with her other BBC series, Last Tango In Halifax, for her decision. Bosses say the door is being left open for her to return.

The BBC chose to sign a long-term contract with The Lambton Estate as it means all their sets can be self-contained and there is no interruption from the public on the private land.