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Wednesday, 23 October 2019
A HOUSE in Stoke Row has a starring role in this year’s Christmas TV advertising campaign by Waitrose.
The frontage and gardens of Little Acorns, which is owned by Georg and Clare Bleimschein, can be seen covered in a thick layer of artificial snow in the series of adverts to be shown between now and the big day.
The series consists of skits from the lives of several families who are celebrating Christmas together themed around the slogan “Too good to wait”.
The Bleimscheins’ sequence, which is yet to be broadcast, will show three generations of a family and their dog getting dressed for a Boxing Day walk before deciding it is too cold and going back inside to enjoy a Waitrose salted caramel cake.
The Bleimscheins, who have owned the property off Main Street since 2006, were approached by a location scout a few weeks before filming started in September.
The couple were warned that the process could be disruptive so they consulted their neighbours before agreeing.
There were no objections and in fact some other residents allowed the 60-plus film crew to park on their driveways. A few days before the shoot, a team of set dressers arrived to blast the house and front lawn with artificial snow made from a mixture of shredded paper and a light adhesive, both of which were biodegradable.
On the eve of filming, the team returned to top it up and clean and arrange the interior of the house as well as installing a Christmas tree, lights and decorations.
The crew arrived in about 20 vans and lorries carrying cameras, lighting kit and generators as well as a catering unit and snow machine.
The fleet included a double-decker bus which served as a dining area, changing room and make-up studio and there was a special van for the dog.
Filming began early in the morning and continued until about 10pm before the team returned the following day to clear up the “snow” using leaf blowers.
Mr Bleimschein, 64, said: “It was a very quick process — we had a knock at the door from the agent who told us what it would all be about and the contracts were all sorted within a week or so.
“We’ve got a big open kitchen, dining room and living area which they were able to use, although they changed the furniture around and also built an ‘island’ unit to put in the middle of the kitchen. There are a number of sequences to the advert and it hasn’t been shown in full yet. I assume they’ll be showing different ones over the next few weeks.
“It wouldn’t have been possible without the support of many villagers, including Noel Greenaway who owns the farm around the corner, as it was a huge crew and their vehicles had to go somewhere.
“The road was quite congested for the day but we introduced the location agent to our neighbours so that they could discuss any concerns and I think people enjoyed it as it was something a bit different.
“They took over the downstairs area for the whole day so we spent most of our time in the study upstairs or on the golf course over at Mapledurham. There was a lot going on and we just let them get on with it. They had these huge generators because it requires an enormous amount of power and you couldn’t just take it from a domestic supply. There were representatives from Waitrose watching everything on a monitor from a separate room as it was being shot.
“It’s quite a complicated process and the actors had a lot of standing around between takes while they shot and reshot scenes with clothing, furniture and things like that in different positions to see what would work best.
“It was a lot of effort for something that’s only a few seconds long but I’ve been involved in making adverts so I know how much effort goes into getting everything just right.”
Mr Bleimschein, who used to work for BP and later ran his own engineering consultancy, added: “It was all a bit strange and we couldn’t use a large part of the house on the weekend before it started but that wasn’t a problem. We were happy to go along with it because we thought it was a good thing.
“We haven’t seen the finished clip yet but I’m sure it will be screened in the not-too-distant future and we’re looking forward to it.
“I’ve already had a few people gently pulling my leg and I think everyone in the village now knows where we live.”
Mrs Bleimschein, a former administrator at the Oratory School in Woodcote, said: “I wasn’t there when the location agent visited but I thought it sounded quite fun so was very happy to take part.
“Until you’ve seen it for yourself, you don’t realise what goes into an advert but now whenever I watch television I will have much more respect for the amount of work it takes.
“It’s quite an honour to have your house shown like that as they must have seen something special in it. I know they’ve done six or seven adverts so they probably won’t be showing ours for a while longer yet but it will be lovely to see it. It could look quite different because of all the changes they made.”
The first advert, shown during a break in the new series of I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! on Sunday night, gently mocks this year’s Christmas advertisement by Waitrose’s sister firm John Lewis.
It shows a mother, father and teenage daughter watching television when they see the advert, which stars Elton John singing his 1970 hit Your Song and recreates the moment he received his first piano for Christmas as a boy.
The daughter, who says she has been looking forward to watching it, is appalled when her parents fast-forward to the end in order to eat some Waitrose stollen.
The father then remarks: “I preferred the one with the penguin” in reference to John Lewis’ festive advert from 2014.
26 November 2018
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