It’S a trendy nightspot that attracts crowds of loved-up couples every weekend. And one or two that somehow dodge Cupid’s arrow.
But love moves in mysterious ways and one particular ‘fail’ has led to The Prince Albert in Wolverhampton being used as the set for a new TV sitcom.
The city centre venue, in Railway Street, was transformed into an upmarket club, bar and restaurant in 2012 after extensive renovation.
But it was chosen by a Bridgnorth-based writer as the backdrop for his new show and was turned into a set for a week of filming.
For The Love of Ella stars Ewen MacIntosh – who played ‘Big’ Keith in The Office – as an Eastern European scientist who falls in love with Ella, played by Lucy Drive who had a small role in The Borgias.
The sitcom also features cameo appearances from comedians Bobby Ball, Darren Day and Billy Pearce, Celebrity Big Brother winner Alex Reid and TV presenter Melanie Sykes.
Writer Simon Golding, who grew up in Dudley and Kinver before moving to Bridgnorth 15 years ago, said he came across the Prince Albert during a first date that went wrong. “I came in here on a night out in Wolverhampton with a woman I had recently met,” said Mr Golding.
“As soon as I walked into the place I was completely in awe of how lush and beautiful everything was. I was writing Ella at the time and I knew it would provide the ideal setting for a couple of scenes I had planned.
“Unfortunately the woman didn’t seem to share my enthusiasm and left after a couple of hours.”
Two scenes have been filmed in the club and bar areas of the grade II-listed building, both featuring McIntosh and Driver.
Mr Golding, who is 50, said: “The staff and owners have been fantastic, giving us a free rein to use as much of the building as we like.”
Further footage is due to be shot at Astbury Hall in Bridgnorth, which is owned by former Judas Priest guitarist KK Downing, while other scenes will be filmed at outdoor locations in London.
Mr Golding has written six episodes of the show, but first the team is hoping to secure a TV deal for the pilot.
“The BBC have already shown an interest and if they follow through with it we will go straight into producing the other episodes,” said Mr Golding.
“In the past I have written scripts for television and they end up getting changed so much the final product is barely recognisable. This time we decided to go down a more independent route so we have complete control over the finished product.”
Mr Golding said he had ‘scraped together’ the budget of around £12,000 for the project through donations from private investors. “It costs a lot of money to make a TV programme, and we have only been able to do this because of the faith people have put in us. All of the actors are working for expenses only, which is unheard of when you consider they all have busy careers.”
Describing the show as his vision of ‘the pursuit of the unobtainable’, Mr Golding said: “Each one of the six episodes stands alone, with a common theme of Ella being pursued by a different character played by Ewen. In the pilot he plays an eccentric scientist who tries to woo Lucy Drive’s character using a love potion he invents. Things don’t go according to plan which results in a series of highly unusual circumstances.”
Mr Golding said he started writing the script around two years ago, with one of his choice for one of the lead roles already decided.
“When I was writing the script I always had Ewen MacIntosh in mind for the main role,” he said. “I am a massive fan of The Office and had seen his stand-up performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.”