Suffolk hound set for stardom

It is one of East Anglia's most famous legends, whose ingredients are death, religion and fear. Now the story of Black Shuck is being turned into a film set in Suffolk.

It is one of East Anglia's most famous legends, whose ingredients are death, religion and fear.

Now the story of Black Shuck is being turned into a film set in Suffolk. Work on Shuck the Movie is expected to start next month, starring Tony Scannell, best known as DS Ted Roach in The Bill, and Norfolk actor and Harry Potter star Chris Rankin.

It will focus on one of the best-known episodes in Black Shuck's career: the day in August 1577 when he tore through the church congregation at Blythburgh, killing a man and a boy, causing the spire to collapse through the roof and leaving scorch-marks on the door as he left. That same day he is said to have appeared at St Mary's Church in Bungay, killing two and injuring another.

The legend is commonly thought to have inspired Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles, though the author moved the setting to Dartmoor, but it has never before been the subject of a feature film.

The director is Martyn Pick, who specialises in a mixture of live action and animation and has directed trailers for the BBC, among others.

The producer and the man behind it is Andrew Selwyn, artistic director of the Fisher Theatre in Bungay, who lives in Eye.

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He said: “I have been fascinated by ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night since I was a little boy. I kept coming back to the idea. It was a film that wanted to be made.

“We are producing what is aimed at being a major motion picture. We think it's going to be great for Bungay and East Anglia. We are looking at deals so we can get into cinemas across the country. Otherwise we will be looking at the very active DVD market.”

He added: “I want to make this a Bungay event, I want to use local people. It is also a great opportunity to bring tourism and regeneration to the town. We hope this will be the start of a film production company based in Bungay.”

Mr Rankin, who has just finished filming for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, said he was looking forward to Shuck the Movie.

“I think it is a great film. It is the kind of thing I would really enjoy doing, I have never done before, and also it is local. If it is a success, as we all think it should be, it should bring a lot of tourism to the areas as well as being a great film.”

A promotional video, which will be used to attract funding, is due to be made next month, and it is hoped that filming will begin properly in the spring. The project needs about another £100,000 in grants or investment to get off the ground, and Mr Selwyn is keen to hear from local businesses that can offer sponsorship or investment.

He said: “We are quite close to cracking open the champagne and moving forward with the full feature.”

If you can help, contact Mr Selwyn on 01379 870761.