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When visiting Shrewsbury last Spring we were intrigued to see some of the little paved streets leading down to the market square full of activity with men hauling giant lights around and scattering grit on the roads.

Other personnel fussing around wearing headphones gave the clue that this was a film crew and a light carriage tucked away in a corner awaiting its horse suggested it was a period drama.

No-one was giving anything away until we spoke to a council worker putting out traffic cones. He said there would be filming that evening and Olivia Coleman would be on set. As it happened I doubt whether there would have been any filming that night. A tropical downpour persisted for much of the evening keeping us in our holiday lodge.

Now we know what was going on as Sunday March 26 sees the launch of Stephen Knight’s new BBC1 adaptation of Great Expectations. Taking a starring role alongside Olivia Coleman’s Miss Haversham is the Shropshire town of Shrewsbury.

Providing the perfect on-location backdrop, its gloriously historic streets and passageways are lined with a handsome mix of Tudor and Georgian originals.

But beyond the age-old façades, the town has a real contemporary buzz, making it perfect for a short break.  A hotbed of independent shopping, it also has a fabulous local food scene, great nightlife, culture, green spaces and, thanks to the loop of the River Severn, plenty of on-the-water adventures too.

Stay: Predating Dickens, in age not style, is the recently renovated restaurant with rooms With contemporary Shropshire artworks (from the gallery across the road), six newly styled rooms and a restaurant (Rhubarb), serving the very best of local Shropshire produce, prices start from £130 per night, based on two sharing on bed and breakfast basis.

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