Northampton students make sound of trenches in TV's Birdsong

Students stop for a picture while recording at the university
Image caption Students provided the sound of soldiers for the BBC production

The screams and shouts of the British soldiers in trenches in the popular TV adaptation of Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong were provided by university students in Northamptonshire.

The programme creators turned to the University of Northampton's School of the Arts to provide the "soundscape" after deciding the on set extras in the World War I drama, which was filmed in Europe, did not sound authentically British.

Twenty of the university's first year students agreed to stand in a field and sound as though they were being shelled.

The director was so pleased with the result that the students feature in both parts of the BBC production.

Chris Burdett, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Northampton's School of the Arts, said: "We were approached by a friend of the university who asked if we could provide the voices for these young soldiers, the voices in the trenches, the voices in the bars, the voices in the restaurants, and we happily agreed."

First year student Marcus Churchill, who took part in the production, said that pretending to be shelled while on his university campus was an odd experience.

"It's quite a difficult thing to picture yourself being blown up in a trench when you are standing in a field just outside the university," he said.

"The actors [in the drama] are standing in a trench, we were standing in a field staring at a bloke with a microphone."

'Lost voices'

The students said they shouted as loudly as they could for hours after being told to shout as though they were being shelled.

Mr Churchill said: "We lost our voices - we aren't used to screaming for four hours at a time."

Their efforts paid off as Ian Wilkinson of Working Title said the recording made at the university would feature heavily in the second part of the drama.

He said: "In Episode 1 it is primarily the scenes in the trenches, but in Episode 2 we have used far more for the soldiers milling around, street scenes in Amiens, the bar in Amiens, wounded soldiers, and the Battle of the Somme."

More than six million people tuned in to watch the first part of the programme when it aired on the BBC on Sunday.

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