Julie Hesmondhalgh, Miles Jupp and Marcus Bentley among those in new BBC podcast

TV star Julie Hesmondhalgh, comedian Miles Jupp and legendary voiceover artist Marcus Bentley are among those starring in a new BBC podcast that takes listeners to the special places of some of the country’s best-loved personalities.

Recorded under lockdown conditions, former Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh recalls a working visit to the Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester, actor and comedian Miles Jupp goes back in time to a youthful trip to the old racecourse in Derby now the County Cricket Ground and voiceover artist Marcus Bentley transports us back to his booth in the Big Brother house.

My Special Place is a new series of eleven short podcasts produced by BBC England, available across local BBC radio and BBC Sounds from 12 April.

The series will take listeners on a journey with well-known personalities who imagine exploring their special places, a selection of particular spots that offers them joy and respite.

Actress Julie Hesmondhalgh, who played the role of Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street talks from rehearsing with her “theatre family” to borrowing a tea-bag from Tommy on the stage-door, but it’s backstage at a particular Manchester theatre she misses the most.

In this short, podcast she looks forward to returning once again to the deep peace of her dressing room. In this room there’s a poignant reminder of the theatre’s recent past. Julie says: “The plain cream roller blinds in my dressing room are the most exciting thing in here, as somebody started the tradition years ago, of signing their name on it and it’s a bit of history.

“It’s got Roger Lloyd Pack, Derek Griffiths, Brenda Blethyn and Maxine Peake, all the people who’ve performed at the Royal Exchange at the end of the roll – have signed their name and put the date and name of production on it. I’m on there too, in small letters to make room for future actors coming into the dressing room.”

Each episode will be five minutes long and allow listeners to escape and explore the powerful sensations, sounds and feelings as each well-known personality reveals their much-loved locations in the series.

Marcus Bentley the voice behind TV hit Big Brother remembers the sanctuary of his sound booth at Elstree Studios. His distinctive voice became part of the show’s signature style and he recalls the excitement of preparing to reveal the latest water-cooler moments in the house to the nation.

“I pick up my script and I start with Day 35 in the Big Brother house,” says Marcus, “8.54 am and some of the house mates are having breakfast, when I’m delivering the lines I am the music, the tone, the way it’s filmed – all the camera’s whizzing around are all part of it. I am Johnny Rotten, belting it out sometimes and being subtle sometimes.”

Others featuring in My Special Place include the BBC’s former Royal correspondent Jennie Bond, who takes a rocky ramble along part of the SW Coast Path, BBC drumming weatherman Owain Wyn Evans walks to the rhythm of rain and wind along part of the Gower peninsula and Black Girls Hike founder Rhiane Fatinikun goes on her first night hike through a section of the Witton Weavers Way, fortified by tea and cake.

Chris Burns, Head of Audio and Digital for BBC England said: “This new collection of short podcasts is a great way to show how – even in restricted times – our imaginations can fly off to our favourite places and these memories can keep us going.  We hope that amongst the collection there’s a variety of stories, offering something for everyone.”

My Special Place will be available on BBC Sounds and local BBC radio stations from next Monday 12 April.

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