Tanks roll in for big-screen Peak District invasion

Allies movie shot in the Peak District
Allies movie shot in the Peak District
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Tanks rumble across the hills, the sound of gunfire shatters the peace of Derbyshire’s countryside glory.

War has come to the Peak District – but only for the film cameras.

Film crews have focused their sights on the Peaks where a star-studded cast has been on location shooting a wartime thriller soon due for worldwide release.

And with them came a stellar cast including World Cup-winning footballer Frank Leboeuf, boy band pin-up Matt Willis, Hollywood movie star Chris Reilly and Downton Abbey heart-throb Julian Ovenden.

The stars were on location in the most beautiful countryside in Britain filming the action thriller Allies which is due for worldwide release later this year.

Director Dominic Burns, who lives in Derby and co-wrote the script with Jeremy Sheldon, said: “I chose the Peak District because I was absolutely astounded by its beautiful countryside and that within 15 minutes of leaving Derby city centre you could find yourself in the middle of nowhere.

“We visited an amazing farm, drove down into a grass field and into a basin where you could turn a full 360 degrees and see breath-taking views all around which gave us huge scope for filming.

“Filming has been a long process when you are dealing with 1940 tanks which can break down.

“With filming, you shoot as fast as you can but the problems with the old equipment, such as tanks, slowed us down. It was very stressful but a lot of fun at the same time.”

The artillery included 35-ton Panzer tanks, armoured trucks and a half-track (half tank, half truck) which rolled into action in the award-winning movie Saving Private Ryan.

Crew members visited various locations in the Peak District, including spots near Matlock, Ripley, Ashbourne and Buxton over two summers. The final scenes were shot last month.

More than 200 extras filmed alongside the 20-strong cast.

Dominic said: “We had a lot of local guys coming down – members of World War Two re-enactment groups and residents

“There were quite a few girls queuing up to get their photos taken with Matt Willis, especially since his band McBusted has gone from strength to strength over the past year.”

In Allies, the pop star plays a British sniper who is led behind enemy lines into occupied France in 1944. Chris Reilly, from Game of Thrones, plays a British captain in a film which will hit the screen ahead of Hollywood epic Everest in which he stars with Josh Brolin and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Football ace Frank Leboeuf is cast as the leader of the French Resistance and Julian Ovenden, who played Charles Blake in the last series of Downton Abbey, takes on the role of a American captain.”

Edmund Kingsley, who starred in Hugo and Beast and is the son of Sir Ben Kingsley, plays a gunner.

“We have been really lucky with the cast,” said Dominic.

Allies is the latest of half a dozen films in which Dominic has been involved. including UFO in which he worked with Jean-Claude Van Damme in Derby.

He said: “I am immensely proud of Allies and the performance of its boys and girls. I feel it is the best film I have made.”