New Zealand did wonders for Lord of the Rings. It gave Peter Jackson’s film trilogy scale and beauty and dizzying helicopter shots of tiny guys running over majestic mountain ridges. So much running. So many majestic mountain ridges. But now, thanks to an approach to pandemic border control that actually borders on control, it’s apparently time for Lord of the Rings to go. For the second season of Amazon’s new megabucks TV series, it’s goodbye to the Land of the Long White Cloud and hello to the Land of the Thick Grey Cloud. That’s right, Tolkien’s creation is coming home to the UK. And here’s why it’s the best decision Amazon could have made.
Four words: Chessington World of Adventures
You want action in this new Lord of the Rings series? You want something to make the Battle of Helm’s Deep look like the lacklustre dregs of a Sunday morning car boot sale? It’s waiting for you just off the A3, with ample parking, glamping options and a Gruffalo Gift Shop. Picture it: Sauron, servant of Morgoth, plunging 25 metres into the jaws of a giant crocodile at the new Croc Drop attraction. There’s your season finale.
Why stop there? What better backdrop to a climactic meeting of the Last Alliance of Men and Elves than the Witch’s Kitchen cave, Wookey Hole – home to the Somerset attraction’s largest stalagmite, The Giant? That’s not even mentioning Amberley Chalk Pits, Cheddar Gorge, the Weald and Downland Living Museum, where they film The Repair Shop… It’s unending. The majestic elf forests of Lindon? Winkworth Arboretum. The Misty Mountains? Scafell Pike. England was the OG Middle Earth, remember. We’ve got it covered.
No need for CGI battle extras
As a land mass, New Zealand is roughly 10 percent bigger than the UK, but only five million people live there. In the UK, we’ve got more than that shoved up Scotland alone. No wonder WETA had to invent all that ground-breaking crowd-simulation software for the Peter Jackson films; there literally aren’t enough people over there to fill up a battlefield. Not in the UK. There’s loads of us, we all love a scrap, and, thanks to Covid-19, we’re currently at about 5% unemployment. Round up every man, woman and child roaming the streets, give them a fake beard, and an axe and voila… instant army. Just come to Peterborough town centre after the football or Glastonbury in a mud year and you’ll see.
The breath-taking island kingdom of Númenor is ready and waiting
Númenor is in the shape of a five-pointed star. The Isle of Wight is in the shape of a diamond. Númenor was brought out of the sea as a gift to Men by the Valar. The Isle of Wight has its own eBay. Why would the Three Houses of the Edain look anywhere else?
We’ve got eagles
Oh yeah, we’ve got eagles. We’ve got eagles for days. According to the RSPB website, there are currently 440 breeding pairs of golden eagles in the UK, as well as 220 pairs of highly protected white-tailed eagles reintroduced into the natural habitat. If the new Lord of the Rings series needs soaring raptors, they’ve come to the right place. Not good enough? Marsh. Harrier. Mate.
Tax relief, sir?
New Zealand is no slouch when it comes to TV production tax incentives, but when the current UK government asks massive corporations to fulfil their fiscal responsibilities, it does so with a big Agatha-from-WandaVision wink. Don’t worry Jeff, we’ve got you, son.
The mostly British cast will be able to get home in time for tea
And they’ll thank you for it with magnificent performances, the kind of supreme acting you can only do when you know that you’re just a half-hour drive away from an M&S Count On Us pan-fry coconut chicken masala, Strictly: It Takes Two, and your own bed.
The UK Film and TV industry is actually skill
Stupidity aside, this should be excellent news for the UK film and TV industry, which obviously produces countless huge and independent films and award-winning series. It’s excellent news, that is, unless you’re another film or TV show in production in the next five years and you need to hire a horse, in which case it’ll be the great 2014 Game of Thrones TV horse drought all over again.
Read more about the Lord of the Rings TV series here.